by William Skink
Posting at RD will be light for the next month or two. That said, there will still be opportunities to point out how duplicitous Democrats are.
Health care is getting lots of attention right now because Republicans are positioned to do some serious harm to this country’s most vulnerable people. This effort is, of course, disgusting and it’s made even more disgusting by the cowardliness of these Republicans to face the people they are going to screw over.
The problem with only focusing on what Republicans are doing is that their legislative effort is only half the story. The other half of the story I’ll frame as a question: will Democrats do everything in their power to advocate for a single payer approach to health care?
In California the answer is a very discouraging no:
Nothing better illustrates the political bankruptcy of the Democratic Party—for all progressive intents and purposes—than California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s announcement on Friday afternoon that he was going to put a “hold” on the single-payer health care bill (SB 562) for the state, effectively killing its passage for at least the year.
The Democratic Party finds itself in a bind in California. They hold the governorship and a supermajority in both houses of the legislature, so they can pass any bill they want. SB 562 had passed the Senate 23-14.
There was enormous enthusiasm among California progressive activists, who, with organizations like Campaign for a Healthy California (CHC,) and the National Nurses United (NNU,) and the California Nurses Association (CNA) were working tirelessly, and hopeful of success. After all, Bernie’s people were taking over the California party from the bottom since the election. I recall a night of drinking last year with an old friend who has been spearheading that effort, as he rebuffed my skepticism, and insisted that this time there would be a really progressive takeover of the California party, and single-payer would prove it. After all, once enough progressive pressure was been put on the legislators, the bill would be going to super-progressive Democratic Governor, Jerry Brown, who had made advocacy of single-payer a centerpiece of his run for President in 1992, saying: “We treat health care not as a commodity to be played with for profit but rather the right of every American citizen when they’re born.” Bernie foretold.
Unfortunately, today that Governor is, according to Paul Song, co-chair of the CHC, “doing everything he can to make sure this never gets on his desk.” And it won’t. Unfortunately, all the Democrats like Rendon, who “claims to be a personal supporter of single-payer,” will make sure that their most progressive governor is not put in the embarrassing position of having to reject what he’s been ostensibly arguing for for twenty-five years, of demonstrating so blatantly what a fraud his, and his party’s, progressive pretensions are.
Thus unfolds the typical Democratic strategy: Make all kinds of progressive noises and cast all kinds of progressive votes, while carefully managing the process so that the legislation the putatively progressives putatively support never gets enacted. Usually, they blame Republican obstructionism, and there certainly is enough of that, and where there is, it provides a convenient way for Democrat legislator to “support” legislation they know will be blocked and wouldn’t really enact themselves if they could.
Progressives take note, Republicans aren’t the only ones you are going to have to fight if you want to get progressive policies moving forward.