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(397 posts)
Mon Jul 3, 2017, 05:16 PM Jul 2017

Bernie Sanders and the Progressive Lefts Selfless Defense of Obamacare [View all]


If Republicans repeal the law, single-payer health care could become reality. And yet, unlike the conservative right, the left wing of the Democratic Party is putting the public interest over ideology.

By Brian Beutler

"Republicans have never been closer to repealing Obamacare than they are right now, but they’ve reached this precipice just as the partisan consensus that Obamacare should be repealed has begun to fray. These two phenomena are related, but distinct, and together they explain why the effort to pass Trumpcare has been so herky-jerky. The hideous unpopularity of the GOP’s proposed alternatives to the Affordable Care Act has helped to drive Obamacare’s popularity upward, which has in turn fed the view that fixing Obamacare makes more sense than repealing it and replacing it.

To cut this dynamic short, Republicans have contrived the conceit that the choice facing their party isn’t between fixing Obamacare and replacing it, but between replacing Obamacare and allowing single payer—universal, government-run insurance—to become the nation’s health care model by default.

This argument serves three useful purposes for Republicans. First, it advances the false supposition that Obamacare is collapsing; one of President Donald Trump’s most consistent claims, in public and on social media, is that Obamacare is “dead.” Second, it helps rally wavering Republicans who may not like Trumpcare, but despise federal social insurance. Third, intentionally or otherwise, it has the potential to divide the Trumpcare opposition between those on the left who would welcome the abrupt emergence of single payer and those in the center who want to do whatever’s necessary to save Obamacare.

One of the most remarkable things about the fight against Trumpcare, though, is how resistant the left has been to this kind of thinking. It is worth noting at this juncture that the GOP conceit is almost completely backward. In reality, by obliterating the middle ground between the left and right’s health care visions, the enactment of Trumpcare would shorten the way to single payer. Obamacare isn’t dead, but if Republicans kill it, single payer will suddenly become much more urgent and politically viable. After all, if Trumpcare becomes law, Democrats won’t abandon their commitment to universal health care, but they also would be foolish to try to organize the party around passing Obamacare all over again.

Thus, in a perverse way, it is in the left’s long-term political interest for a GOP health care bill to become law—and yet, the most committed single-payer advocates in the country have distinguished themselves as the most vital and effective soldiers in fight against Trumpcare. There is a great deal to learn from this interesting and selfless choice, but I want to focus on what it reveals about the much-discussed schism in Democratic politics, and about the differences between how the progressive left and the conservative right think about and approach politics in America" ...
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