Democratic ‘Resistance Summer’ Becomes Protest Against Democrats

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Above: Screen shot from Robust Opposition, Rep. Keith Ellison denying he threatened to arrest single payer advocate. Following this comment, Ellison is shown threatening to arrest an improved Medicare for all activist.

Note: The Democratic Party has called for a “Resistance Summer” to protest against Donald Trump. They are planning to hold events all over the country. This DNC video promotes “Resistance Summer” and features Rep. Keith Ellison, DNC Vice Chair, pushing people to participate. Ellison is also featured in the Lauren Steiner “Robust Opposition” video below, where he is shown threatening to arrest an activist calling for single payer (at 7:29).

At “Resistance Summer” event in southern California, the resistance turned from Donald Trump to the Democratic Party. People attending the event called for single payer, improved Medicare for all. This is a hot issue in California because healthcare activists are mobilized around a single payer bill that passed the senate but has been stalled by Assembly leader Anthony Rendon.  The bill, SB 562, the Healthy California Act seeks to put in place single payer at the state level.

Throughout the healthcare debate when single payer, Improved Medicare for all, is brought up at town hall meetings designed to defend the ACA, single payer dominates the meeting. The support is extremely widespread and people refuse to stop talking about and demanding it. We hope “Resistance Summer” events across the country turn into improved Medicare for all advocacy moments so both parties realize they have no choice but to support what the people demand.  KZ

California Democrats Angrily Call On Dems To Pass Single Payer

Good afternoon. My name is Lauren Steiner, I am an organizer and activist and was a Bernie Sanders delegate at the DNC national convention. I also produce and host the Facebook live show “The Robust Opposition.” We are here today to robustly oppose the Democratic Party’s failure on both the national and state level to support a single payer, Medicare for All system.

As a delegate, I watched as DNC and Clinton members of the Platform Committee tanked Sanders single payer plank. Despite saying in 1994 that we would surely have single payer by 2020, during the 2016 campaign, Clinton said, “We will never, ever have single payer.”

When DNC chair Tom Perez was asked (on MSNBC) if he supported single payer, he could not answer with a simple yes. All he could say was that health care is a right and not a privilege. When House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi was asked by the NYT if Democrats should make single-payer a central theme in 2018, she replied with a flat ‘No.The comfort level with the broader base of the American people is not there yet.

She is wrong. A recent poll shows 60 percent support for single payer, including 75 percent of Democrats and a plurality of Republicans. For the first time in the 14 years since Rep. John Conyers has been introducing his Medicare for All bill in the House, more than 50% of Democrats have signed on. Bernie Sanders plans to introduce his own single payer bill in the Senate. And Senators Kristen Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren are both calling for single payer.

Yet the Democratic Party is not pushing this. Instead they are organizing Resistance rallies such as this to save the ACA, which was originally a Republican program crafted by the right wing Heritage Foundation. This is a program that forces people to buy a private product that they cannot afford to use, a program that siphons off 25% of every health care dollar to enrich shareholders rather than provide needed care.

Obama said during the 2008 campaign that single payer was the way to go but we would never get it. This is despite Democrats having the presidency, the House and the Senate. He promised to include a public option to keep the insurance companies honest, but then he threw that under the bus to get the health care industry on board with the ACA. What resulted was higher premiums, deductibles, co-pays and decreased coverage.

Here in California, 70% of Californians want single payer. It IS in the Democratic Party platform, and Democrats have the 2/3 rd majority needed to pass the tax to fund it. Yet Assembly leader Anthony Rendon just tanked SB 562, the Healthy California Act, after activists worked so hard to make sure it passed in the State Senate.

Eric Bauman, the disputed Chair of the CDP, issued a public statement expressing disappointment. But behind the scenes, he was circulating an article, which slammed the bill as unrealistic and accused the nurses union of deceiving supporters.

Why do the DNC and the CDP not fight for single payer? As always, the answer lies with money in politics.  The health sector, including insurance and pharmaceutical firms, for-profit hospitals and medical device manufacturers, spent more than $500 million on lobbying in 2016 alone and several billion in the last decade, (according to the Center for Responsive Politics.)

A Center for Public Integrity (CPI) analysis of Senate lobbying disclosure forms; shows that in 2009 more than 1,750 companies and organizations hired about 4,525 lobbyists — eight for each member of Congress — to influence health reform bills that year; Eric Bauman took $12,500 a month from Big Pharma to lobby against a ballot initiative last year that would have lowered prescription drug costs. 70% of Californians were initially in favor of it. But it lost after Big Pharma spent $126 million on deceptive advertising against it.

As for direct campaign contributions, (according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics,) Nancy Pelosi got more money from health services than from any other industry — 338,000 in 2015-2016 alone, more than double the amount she receives from public-sector unions and investment firms combined.

During her campaign, Hillary Clinton took more than $3.5 million from the health industry. And a recent analysis showed that CA Assembly Speaker Rendon took more than $700,000 from the industry.

Few people remember that health care was non-profit until 1973 when Richard Nixon rewarded his campaign contributor Edgar Kaiser owner of Kaiser Permanente with a new national health care policy. Nixon touted it as providing health care to all Americans when in reality it did the exact opposite. [The Health Maintenance Act of 1973 which for the first time allowed profits into the healthcare system for investor owned healthcare providers.]

Currently the health care industry makes billions every year from denying people care. United Health Group, for instance, took in $185 billion in revenue in 2016, up $28 billion from 2015, (according to its shareholder report.) And their CEOs have also done very well under the ACA.

The compensation of the CEOs of Cigna, Anthem and Aetna went from $13 million to $17 million a year each. And the more claims they deny, the more profit they make. What they pay out in claims is actually called “medical losses” on their balance sheets.

If, as DNC chair Tom Perez says “health care is a right and not a privilege,” we have to end this perverse system where a private industry gets to control who gets health care or not.

The only way to do this is to enact a single payer, Medicare for All system.

We call on the DNC to do more than just resist Trump and Trumpcare. Democrats need to promote and fight for these single payer, Medicare for All bills.

And here in California, Eric Bauman, Chair of the California Democratic Party, must use those great connections with the party leaders he touted while running for chair to make sure Rendon releases SB 562 from the Rules Committee.

People need to call Rendon’s office and ask him to release the bill. His Sacramento office number is (916) 319-2063.

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