Healthcare at the Next Debates

In a couple of weeks, we’ll have the next round of debates with Democratic candidates for 2020.  At the last debate, I thought that the questions about Healthcare were very “gotcha” in nature – trying to find a place for candidates to go after one another.  I actually think all of the candidates are pretty close to one another in what they would like to see in the US healthcare system.  The differences lie in how they would get from here to there.  I assume there’ll be a question on Healthcare at the next debate.  Here are some thoughts.

I support any of the candidates saying they support an eventual destination of Medicare for All or single payer.

Bernie needs to be more specific about how the tax increases he proposes will be offset by elimination of premiums, deductibles, etc.

Any of the candidates that are all in on Medicare for All should explain what they’ll do if Dems don’t hold the Senate and House.  If you’ve got only 50 seats in the Senate, are you going to advocate to eliminate the fillibuster to pass Medicare for All?  What’s the transition?

You can’t just say you’re going to have coattails and, voila, you’ll win the House and Senate.  What are you going to do if the GOP has the House or Senate?  I’d like to see this answer be that you’ll use executive authority as much as possible to help people keep their health insurance.

I appreciate that Joe is trying to defend the ACA, but he needs to quit pretending that the only options are the ACA or Medicare for All.  If you win, Joe, are you gonna just stand pat on the ACA or where will you go with it?

Finally, I want someone’s answer to be something like this.  I’m for the goal of Medicare for All.  I realize that takes at least a majority in the Senate and House to achieve.  I will campaign across the country to help Democratic candidates get elected so that we can achieve our goal of healthcare for all.  If we get the House and Senate in 2020, I will work with all parties to improve Americans’ healthcare.  While I will advocate for Medicare for All, I will sign any bill that works to improve the healthcare of Americans.  If the GOP holds the House and/or Senate and they prove unwilling partners in helping Americans get better healthcare, I will use all the executive authority I have to do so by myself.

Top 10 Candidates for the Democratic Nomination

When I was a younger man – in my teens and early 20s – I used to like to make Top 10 lists.  Everything from the best song ever (still Bohemian Rhapsody fwiw) to my favorite movies (#1 is still Raiders of the Lost Ark) to the qualities I looked for in a girlfriend.  As it turns out, that last list (which would probably not be approved of by my compatriots over here on the Left), included all the qualities that I find in my wife.  Some 30+ years later, I’m not sure if the list predated her or I just fell in love with her and made the list to fit her qualities.  Probably should have married her in the 80s, but I rectified that mistake 4 years ago and I try to make up for the lost time every day.  I love you, baby.

Anyway, I digress.  Here’s the list of the candidates I would like to see win the Democratic nomination for President.  FWIW, I think only the top 4 currently have a chance to get the nomination.  I will update my list after the next debate.

  1. Kamala Harris
  2. Elizabeth Warren
  3. Pete Buttigieg
  4. Joe Biden
  5. Julian Castro
  6. Amy Klobuchar
  7. Kirsten Gillibrand
  8. Beto O’Rourke
  9. Bernie Sanders
  10. Steve Bullock

Then Along Comes a Woman…

Apologies to Chicago…

 

My preference is that the Democratic nominee is a woman.  It’s just time.  I would have preferred that the first woman President was Hillary Clinton.  I don’t have a question that Hillary would have been a good President and infinitely better that the doofus that we have now.  But, c’est la vie.  Now on to 2020.

I’ve said before that I’ll vote for whichever candidate has the D after his or her name when it comes to the general election.  And if there were a guy candidate that I thought was head and shoulders above the pack, I would be for him.  But the candidates this year are all pretty close in policy ideas and none of them is without warts, so, for me, the tie goes to the candidate without a Y chromosome.

Because of this, I decided to take $20 and split it up among the top 4 female candidates – Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, and Kirsten Gillibrand.  Apologies to Tulsi Gabbard and Marianne Williamson, no money this time.

A Theory of Governing…

…and perhaps it works as a guide to how to live your life.

Be nice.  Help when you can.  If you can’t be nice or help, at least don’t be a jerk.

I’m sure this is just stolen from someone else in some way or another.  But, in the last 3 years or so, it’s solidified itself as the way I think the person in charge should act.  The person in charge of the federal government is the Donald.  And Donald Trump is a jerk.  It’s bad enough to be a jerk in your life in general, but it may not affect too many people.  But when your jerkishness is the guiding principle for how you run the government of a pretty big and powerful country, it’s a different story.

There are so many Republican policies where this principle would apply, but it’s especially applicable in the age of Trump.  Take immigration.  Democrats would look for a comprehensive solution to the complicated problem of undocumented people in the country and the increased influx of migrants and refugees at the southern border.  Republicans have, in the past, supported a comprehensive plan, but they prefer to focus on border security and don’t want to offer a path to citizenship.  Under Trump, however, no comprehensive plan and lets cage people at the border and take kids away from their parents.  That’s the jerk move.

Or take Trump’s tendency to call his political opponents names.  Seems like it would be better to kill them with kindness.  Or if you can’t possibly manage to be nice, at least don’t call everybody names.  Just don’t be a jerk.

I think this principle is especially helpful in international diplomacy.  For some reason, the Donald cozies up to autocrats and feuds with America’s traditional allies.  He’s got it backwards if you ask me.  But even aside from that, the Orange one goes out of his way to be difficult and adversarial when he doesn’t need to be.  Be nice.  That’s going to work most of the time.  But even if you can’t be nice, why be a jerk?

So, I figure I’m going to try and hold the Democratic candidates to this same standard in the primary.  Amy Klobuchar may have a strike against her based on rumors about her treatment of subordinates.  And I’m keeping my eyes open for jerkishness from the other Democratic candidates as well.

Donald Trump is a Racist

I think racists are bad.  It’s not that easy to tell one in real life, though.  I suspect that there are some people in my life who secretly harbor racist tendencies, but don’t let those around them know.  I mean, if you’re in the KKK or active on the internet in white supremacist circles, then I think it’s pretty clear.  But what if you’re a white guy who uses the N-word?  I have early memories of my father using that word.  Does that mean he was a racist?  The way he used the word (which was not often), actually taught me that it’s not a word I want to use.  In the same way that his lifelong smoking and his alcoholism made me a lifelong non-smoker and teetotaler.  He was also a sports fan, but the kind of white guy sports fan who would complain about how black athletes would act and then cheer the white athletes really loudly.  Does that make him a racist?  The excuse is sometimes offered that it was a different time.  Everybody acted that way.  And it’s true that his attitudes changed (or at least what I observed changed) somewhat as the years went on.  The N-word use went away entirely and I saw that skin color didn’t seem to be as important to him as how his teams did.  Of course, by that time, I wasn’t living under the same roof as him, so do I really know?  But maybe it doesn’t matter.  If you lean racist, but realize how bad you’ll sound to other people so you keep it quiet, that seems like progress.

What brought all this up was the tweetstorm authored by the Donald this morning.  I’m not going to link that here.  If you follow politics, you know what I’m talking about.  If not, you can go to twitter and find it pretty easily.  The gist is that he referred to some Democratic women members of Congress as being not from the US and that they should go back to their countries and help run those places, rather than try to tell us what to do. Although he didn’t use their names, from context it looks like he was referring to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC), Ayanna Pressley (@reppressley), and Rashida Tlaib (@reptlaib).  These women of color are US citizens and all three were born in the United States.

Now, I come at this from the perspective of a Democrat and liberal, who is inclined not to support the Donald anyway.  But if I pose the same questions that I did for my father, I come to a clearer conclusion on the Donald’s racism.  My father was 76 years old when he passed away last year.  The Donald just turned 73 last month.  So they’re of the same generation.  There is a pretty good indication that the Donald was pretty racist in the 70s and 80s and even later than that.  There are reports that he used the N-word in the 2000s.  He was the most prominent instigator behind the “birther” controversy where he insisted that the only black President should have to show his papers.  Really the list is just too long to cite here.  So, based on the “is he a racist” questions I asked about my father, the Donald was as bad or worse than the typical white guy from that “different time”.  But, rather than change his opinion, or at least the way he showed himself to others, the Donald has not gotten better, but has gotten worse.

But is some of that for political gain?  Could he realize, as a Republican, he needs to appeal to the majority white base and, because he realizes the shock value of what he says and does as President gets him media attention, he plays the part.  Are we supposed to fall back on the idea that, we shouldn’t call someone a racist because we don’t really know what’s in their heart?  Or maybe is it for financial gain, like when he was on The Apprentice and he figured taking extreme positions would make sure that people would tune into his show?  Or maybe he’s just an attention whore, who needs to be the center of attention and will go all birther because that’ll get him in the news?  Probably not even he knows why he says what he says and does what he does.  But I’m not one who believes in the 13th dimensional chess theory that says the Donald is just playing a high level game that we mere mortals can’t understand.  No, I think Occam’s Razor works here.  The most simple explanation is the truth.  The dude is just a straight up racist.  Hates people of color.  Wants white supremacy.  The whole deal.

On Bennet and Bernie

A couple of Democratic candidate notes…

  • Today I listened to an interview with Michael Bennet on the podcast Pod Save America.  It’s a bunch of ex-Obama staffers who have the leaning that you would expect.  The podcasts tend to be on the long side, but there’s some good content in there.
  • My main takeaway from the interview is that Michael Bennet sounds like a Senate institutionalist, rather than someone trying to make a move into the Executive Branch.  I previously lumped him with the group of Democratic Presidential candidates whom I think have something add to the discussion and should stay in the race.  This interview changed my mind.  His vision for the presidency is as a Senator.  Time to get out of the race, Senator Bennet.
  • I’ve previously said I’ll vote for any of the Democratic candidates over the 73-year old former reality TV show host that currently sits in the Oval Office.  This includes the 77-year old Bernie Sanders.  I count Bernie among the top tier of Democratic candidates, in a group that includes: Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren.  But Bernie is my least favorite on that list and I’d probably put him below Castro, Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Gillibrand as far as whom I’d like to see get the nomination.  I’ve said before that there were a lot of factors that led to Trump beating Clinton in 2016, but one of those was definitely Bernie.  So, I’m holding a small grudge against him for that.  While I agree with his endgame on many policy positions (healthcare being one of them), he just doesn’t have a good answer for how you get from here to there.  I also view 2020 as a potentially close race where base enthusiasm will matter.  A battle of 70-something white guys is just not going to cut it for the Democratic base.
  • There is an argument, however, that a general election battle between Trump and Bernie will be all about Socialism, since Bernie describes himself by the dreaded term “Democratic Socialist.”  I wish Bernie had a better defense of the term, honestly, but I think this criticism of Bernie’s candidacy is overblown.  Republicans and conservatives have shown that they will criticize Democratic candidates and their policies as socialist regardless of whether they’re actually right-wing, left-wing or moderate.  Democrats should not choose someone other than Bernie for fear of being called a Socialist.  It’s coming no matter who the nominee is.  This is a predictable attack and any competent campaign should have an answer for this.  The reason not to support Bernie in this lane is because he doesn’t seem to be able to hit this softball.