Biden Dismisses Democratic Party Base’s Support For Medicare For All

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Above photo: March 15, 2020 Presidential Debate. Evan Vucci/AP.

We often hear criticism of Donald Trump for, among other faults, his overwhelming Olympian arrogance, which drives millions of Democrats to pray daily for an end to his presidency.  But on the topic of Medicare for All, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, exhibits similar heights of arrogance.  Recently, Biden told MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell, that even if the Congress sent him a Medicare for All bill, he would veto it.  And a week later, he confirmed that position.

Under our current private, for-profit, health system, the lack of treatment and care for the 75 million uninsured and underinsured puts them at extreme risk.  Now with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, that risk will extend to tens of millions of the newly unemployed in our country, as well. The harsh impact of COVID-19 will be felt by those millions of employees who lose their health care along with their jobs, those who live paycheck to paycheck, those without paid sick leave, the uninsured, the underinsured, and those with underlying health issues.  They all will bear the brunt of a system riddled with holes. Legislators who refuse to take swift and bold action to fix this broken system are complicit in their suffering.

That’s why Biden’s arrogance is so disturbing.  The pandemic exposes the glaring faults of our system, and the urgent need for Medicare for All.  Yet Biden tells people in need of health care to sign up for ACA policies and hang tight onto the employer-based insurance that is falling through their fingers as they’re laid off (even Trump is offering totally free care for those diagnosed with COVID-19 and Medicare level reimbursements for hospitals).

Last week, Biden proudly announced what he sees as a warm extension to the left–a proposal to lower the Medicare eligibility age to 60.  Back in 2016, Hilary Clinton proposed lowering the age to 55. How is it that now, amidst the biggest healthcare crisis of our lifetimes, Biden’s proposal is even less inclusive and expansive than that proposed by the Democratic nominee five years ago? In addition to leaving millions of people uninsured, his proposal reinforces a healthcare system that is built on employer-based coverage. With the expected rise of premiums post-crisis, workers will have no choice but to accept a more expensive plan with even fewer protections and coverage.

Why is candidate Biden so deaf to the wishes of a large majority of likely Democratic voters who have said in numerous polls that they support Medicare for All?  Apparently, in his world of arrogant elites, the wishes of ordinary people can be ignored.  Does he understand that he will need their votes to become president?

And in the midst of the deadly pandemic, when the people cry out for a more just and efficient health care system, Biden expresses even more arrogance, by promising to veto a Medicare for All bill should it be passed by the Congress. Frankly, I don’t recall hearing Donald Trump express such a dismissive attitude toward his base.  Biden, and apparently the whole Democratic establishment, believe that Democrats will come out in sufficient numbers to beat Trump despite their suffering during this pandemic and despite having their hopes and pleas publicly kicked aside as naive pipe dreams.

But, maybe I’m missing something.  Maybe his statements aren’t even meant for the average Democratic voter or legislator.  Maybe the real audience of Biden’s overweening arrogance are the top executives of the health insurance and drug companies who profit so mightily from our current system.  Is Biden actually talking over our heads, to them?  Is he saying, “Don’t worry about what the little people say, I’ve got your back.  Just keep the donations flowing.”  Maybe.

Bill Bianchi is a board member with the Illinois Single Payer Coalition and the Jane Addams Senior Caucus.  He lives in Chicago with his wife, Judith and two Jack Russells.  

Laura Christensen-Garcia is a healthcare organizer with the Jane Addams Senior Caucus and lives in Chicago.

This article was updated on April 23, 2020, at 2:50 pm Eastern per the authors’ request.

  • didactic1

    Cautious Joeay may not agree that power generation, transmission and delivery of energy should be run by public authority if we want renewable energy. “Folks,. I never heard of it”.

  • iowapinko

    Those of us who support Medicare For All are a rapidly growing majority. We need a strategy to manifest our POWER.

    Remember when the Christian-based right-wing had a program to encourage youth to commit to remain celibate until marriage?

    What if we started a campaign to organize voters who were ready to commit to NEVER, EVER AGAIN vote for a candidate who opposed Med-4-All?

  • You mean after this time?

    We have the power now. I suggest we use now. This time, so that the Clinton-Obama legacy of racism, male chauvinism, classism, greed and war-mongering that brought us to Trump is extinguished.

    If the Left foolishly supports the proven racist and war-monger Biden to defeat the obviously racist but ineptly blustering sabre-rattler Trump and by some astronomically unlikely chance succeeds, we will witness how once again, as with the Great Demobilizer Obama, the vox populi of this nation will be effectively marginalized and silenced, reduced to begging for scraps. And the cycle will continue.

    #Demexit.

  • Completely and utterly predictable.

    Time to end this charade.

    #Demexit . . . to the Green Party, or the Socialist Equality Party, or the Peace and Freedom Party, and a coalition of the Left.

  • Edward Winslow

    Hmm…. There’s a pattern emerging in the Democratic Party. In 2016 they picked for their presidential candidate the hated and despicable Hillary Clinton, the worst possible choice. Now, comes the senile and corrupt Biden that most thinking people would agree ensures Trump’s reelection.

    It is as if both corporate parties want exactly the same thing.

  • DonRice

    With apologies to Nancy Reagan, Just say NO to Joe.

  • Barbara Mullin

    Exactly the same as what Barach Obama did.

  • Roxy

    Biden will need more than Democrats to win. Over 60% of the public is in favor of M4A and approximately 45% of registered voters identify as Independent. He is alienating a whole lotta voters including some Republicans who might have voted for Bernie based on M4A alone. Joe is toast.

  • Paul E. Merrell, J.D.

    @ “Does he [Biden] understand that he will need their votes to become president?”

    Surely. But he also understands that many Progressives are so frightened of Donald Trump that they will vote for Biden.

    I do not believe Progressives will gain control of the Democratic Party before they demonstrate the courage to cost Party candidates elections by staying home or voting third party.

  • Zeena Wilson

    Reason? He has taken large amount of campaign donations from the “for profit” healthcare corporations. How did this happen – Perez. He has a rabid affliction against Sanders and did everything in his power to get ANYONE out in front of him. Last man standing – Business as Usual Biden.

  • kevinzeese

    Good points. Many people, like readers of Popular Resisance, are issue focused and not partisan Dems or Repubs no matter how the are registered.

    he political question of the day after Trump’s bizarre medical advice from his daily COVID-19 TV Show, is Joe Biden a competent enough candidate to defeat an opponent who urges people to inject bleach?

    Great video on Trump’s recommendations yesterday:
    https://twitter.com/sarahcpr/status/1253474772702429189

    If Biden cannot defeat Trump who is urging people to inject bleach, that is a problem for Biden and the Democrats, don’t blame the Green Party, Russia, China, or some other scapegoat.

    Sadly, for the Dems, it remains an open question whether Biden is competent enough to defeat Trump.

  • “as if” . . . ?

  • Edward Winslow

    My understatement is meant as sarcasm. Sorry for the confusion.

  • mmckinley

    I disagree. Perez is just a front man for the oligarchs that run things, he has no control or power. And the oligarchy is all supported by the DNC, the superdelegates and party officials who sit on the Democratic National Committee, who understand completely that the Democratic Party Inc. is a machine for making money for them what own it, the oligarchs. It is a corporation, for God’s sakes! Us little people (the public, the people, the voters) who have needs are a necessary bother to the oligarchs who call the shots, so the Party Inc. directs all its might to making us think we have a stake in the Party Inc., with elaborate make-work “participation” that has no power whatsoever, such as platforms, and complicated rule-making meant to tie up Party power in the hands of insiders. Even such as voting, itself, which has very little effect on representation, on holding those elected accountable to the will of the voters. This is not unique to the Democratic Party, I’m afraid, but to the essence of what a political party is in our system—the essence of all political parties. That is why I worry that focusing on creating a new political party is doomed. Not that it can’t be done, of course it can. But that it will inevitably fall to the same corruption of all political parties—to the power of concentrated wealth. I would rather focus on developing a unified, universal movement to democracy.

  • GypsyFreyja

    If we had single payer health care in this country it would be a huge liberator for labor. And the powers that be know this is true.

    Employers would not longer have medical insurance as a bargaining tool to attract and keep employees that they then think they can abuse and control.

    More people would be free to work at jobs they may actually enjoy doing but could not before because it didn’t offer medical insurance at all or didn’t offer affordable/adequate insurance. More people would be able to open businesses, start a collective or be an independent worker without worrying about how to pay for medical insurance. People would not longer lose everything they’ve worked their entire lives to acquire due to a catastrophic illness.

    It is not only about the greed and ridiculous amount of money that is made (by some) in all aspects within the health care industry. There is also power and control in denying single payer health care to us.

  • chetdude

    I used to wonder why big corporations put up with the expense of a for-profit sick care industry and didn’t advocate for Medicare for All instead.

    Then I realized that they would rather use a rather huge percentage of the profits created by their workers to keep their workers in bondage by using “health insurance” to keep them chained to their workstations and desks.

  • chetdude

    4/24/20 – Corporate-Joe Biden is 709 delegates short of qualifying as the nominee!

    It’s amazing that the DNC and corporate media (especially “liberal” NPR) has so completely bought the lie that he’s already the anointed one when nearly half of the democrats have not voted in primaries yet!

    If the DNC doesn’t find a way to disenfranchise those tens of millions of voters, there is STILL a mathematical possibility for Sanders (and HR1384/S1129 style Expanded and Enhanced Single-Payer Medicare for All) to be nominated INSTEAD…

  • iowapinko

    I have been in a ‘Sophie’s Choice’ nightmare for a while now, SH. Our only relatively good choice already exited.

    We are left with some catastrophic options. The wolves are at the door and the power we have is poorly organized. We came closer with the Sanders movement (and the energy and potential of this has not been dissipated!) than at any time in recent memory. I am convinced that the vitality of the coalition that was the working class movement alongside Sanders is far from spent.

    I am afraid of the fascist potential of Donald Trump in the context of an increasingly unstable world, SH. He represents a potential operationalization of hatred and violence that has remained relatively dormant within U$ culture, but is far from extinct. Let’s not forget that Hitler modeled much of his evil empire on American tradition and history.

    The potential for unspeakable tragedy unfolding in the context of a leader with massive personality disorders, multiple mental health afflictions and control of the world’s largest military forces, including nukes and god knows what else, should concern any sentient being.

    Of course, Biden is ALMOST as dangerous. Spare me the Venn diagram, let’s just agree there are no good options here. There are bad options and then there are worse.

    Trump is the worse. And since we have sunk to the place where one of these tragic options will threaten the people of the world, it seems to me our responsibility to work toward the least worse.

    And then do the work to open the door to better options.

    I have never, not even in my youth, been a Dem. I supported Sanders because the movement around him has political potential. That movement represents many good minds from a multitude of left perspective. I am listening to those voices, Naomi Klein and Cornel West and Nina Turner and Michael Moore and Evo Morales and Lula and the most militant workers in the U$ from the NNU (National Nurses’ Union) and I am learning from their experience.

    The U$ left is currently suffering from decades of failed policy and inadequate intervention. We have a lot of ground to make up during a time of crisis that threatens everything we love.

    Many of our on-line cohort are socially advantaged and protected and have little comprehension of the unspeakable horrors that U$ fascism portends. We are not participating in ego games, we are engaging in a struggle for the survival of people and planet.

    We are navigating a minefield on the long path toward a place of safety so that we can then plan our strategy of liberation. I am afraid there is no quick fix for the mess we find ourselves within.

  • Robert

    Juan González: “Make No Mistake: This Country Is Edging Closer to Neo-Fascist Authoritarianism”
    https://www.democracynow.org/2020/4/21/juan_gonzalez_coronavirus_update

  • GypsyFreyja

    Yes! And what employers say they pay for our insurance on our behalf is money they don’t pay as wages.

    And of course, thanks to BI-PARTISAN legislation (notably the ACA) and industry greed, employee’s costs are rising precipitously, their wagesare held stagnant and “networks” of access to remedial sick care are
    shrinking.

    Exactly right. Giving them more power and control while they are making more and more profit. With the likes of Buffett and Bezos looking into how “they” can supply employees health care, it is only going to get worse not better.

  • GypsyFreyja

    If the DNC doesn’t find a way to disenfranchise those tens of millions
    of voters, there is STILL a mathematical possibility for Sanders (and
    HR1384/S1129 style Expanded and Enhanced Single-Payer Medicare for All)
    to be nominated INSTEAD…

    Holy Hannah! Wouldn’t that be something to see? It would decalcify their spines. I will not hold my breath though. I fully expect a substitute for Biden at or directly after the convention with feigned shock and surprise by the DNC machine at his mental decline. What do you think?

  • mmckinley

    Hillary has been drooling in the dark wings of Milwaukee Convention Center, her eyes glowing. Either that or Bloomberg and his billions and billions…

  • GypsyFreyja

    That’s scary to think about, isn’t it?

  • Shlomo Orr

    Indeed, 80% of the people voting for Democrats want Medicare for all, and definitely more of that now with the ongoing pandemic. This was the suicide (by the DNC establishment) the Republicans were looking for. But this is also an opportunity. This leaves no choice but starting or joining a third party. We need to contact (and convince) all the progressives that there is no hope with Biden – not just for the progressives, but for the Democrats in general, as many of us who were still hoping that Biden/DNC will follow the people’s wish, are now not only disillusioned with the Democrats, but also realize that they have no chance in the coming elections.Kevin, Margaret, it’s all yours (and ours too).

  • Nylene13

    We got it.

  • Shlomo Orr
  • Nylene13

    Where is the video?

  • Jan Naxon

    Get Biden elected so he can take save our democracy and go forth from there.

  • Nylene13

    Sherlock-where are you? Are you OK? I have found no recent comments from you, and some others too.

    There have been few comments at all on PR that last few days.

  • I’m alright. Just busy with stuff offline, and still working on digging up third party info to put something together on my own blog. Hope you are well also.

  • Nylene13

    Glad you are OK. Have you noticed how few new comments there have been here in the past several days?

    Maybe everyone is just busy.

    How can I find your blog?

  • Well I think there’s been a scattering of former Truthdig regulars, but most are still around now and then. Actually by my reckoning Popular Resistance is still getting substantially more commenting traffic than it had even a few months ago, probably due to the Truthdig lockout and shutdown, and more recently the suspension of the Sanders campaign–people looking for media outlets which represent a real progressive, Lefty alternative to the establishment ones they’ve been trained and conditioned to follow.

    You can get to my Word Press blog via the link on my Disqus user profile page. I have an update sitting in drafts and just need to dig up the graphic for it, which will probably be tonight; it’s a bit belated by now but I think worth posting. Then the longer–probably multi-part–stuff on finding and connecting and building up a liberal/progressive real and proper Left-wing political party/coalition alternative to the Right-wing Democrats and Republicans.

  • Nylene13

    Thanks. Will check it out. Yes, I am concerned that a lot of us old Truthdig readers are ‘online lost’ at the moment. We talk about organizing and here is a group of progressives -we need to organize. People are looking, maybe your blog can help!

  • NightriderXP1

    Are you ok???

  • Yes. I am well. Been having some issues with my internet connection. But now I’m back on–crossing fingers–and working on the blog and otherwise messing about online. Many thanks–to yourself and to anyone else in the neighborhood who’s been worried about me in these especially worrisome times–for the concern.

    I hope you are ok yourself. : )

  • NightriderXP1

    Good to see you back!!! I thought we were going to have to send out a search team to find you. You sure chose a bad time to have to deal with internet issues. Hopefully after being offline for 23 days, you’re rested up and ready to go…