As Bernie Sanders Is Showing, This Country Is Much More Progressive Than You Think

It’s true. Even as we descend into an election year defined by right-wing extremism, the numbers simply don’t lie.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Eliza A. Webb

Emphasis Mine

With the races for the presidential nominations heating up, and Iowa and New Hampshire just a stone’s throw away, it is time for Americans to come to terms with the undeniable truth: We are a country of equality-loving, regulation-supporting, bleeding-blue liberals.

Despite the political division in Washington, the far-right rancor being spewed by G.O.P. candidates, and the contention in the Democratic race over Wall Street, campaign finance reform, universal health care, and how to handle ISIS, poll after poll shows that the people of this country strongly support progressive, liberal and democratic socialist ideas.

We just don’t like the linguistic packaging.

On wealth inequality, polls find that “a strong majority” of U.S. citizens believe the current situation is an urgent problem (including one-half of Republicans and two-thirds of independents), and think the current income and wealth distribution is unfair.

Despite Republican fear-mongering about big governmentAmericans “favor taxing the wealthy to expand aid to the poor,” and want Congress to rectify this inequality by levying “heavy taxes on [the] rich” and increasing rates on people making over $1 million a year.

Americans also support steep progressive reform on Wall Street, with 50% to 58% of likely voters in favor of breaking up the big financial institutions.

Concerning the infusion of money in politics, Americans want campaign finance reform “with near unanimity,” and half would personally vote for a law establishing the government funding of federal campaigns. The support for reform is strong across party lines, with a prodigious 80% of Republicans, 84% of independents, and 90% of Democrats believing money plays too large a role in the political process. Other polls show three in four Americans think there is too much money in politics and disagree with the concept of unregulated campaign finance.

Americans also support a substantial raise for low-wage workers, with 63% in favor of a $15 minimum wage by 2020, and 75% in favor of $12.50 by the same yearOther polls show that a majority of swing-state Republican voters support an increase, and 69% of working people favor an increase to $15. Concerning workers’ rights, a majority also want to improve scheduling for chain-store and fast-food restaurant employees.

On the power of money and big business in general, 75% of Americans think large corporations have too much influence in the country. With top CEOs making 373 times what their workers do, Americans think the government should take action to narrow the gap: one-third of Republicans want to cap the income of corporate executives, and 59% of Americans support government restriction of CEO pay.

Likewise, there is very strong support for universal health care. Just over 50% of Americans support a single-payer system, and 65% of voters think every American should have access to quality healthcare. Most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have care, and put more faith in the government’s ability to hold down health-care costs than the private sector’s. 58% of Americans support a Medicare-for-all system, and a majority of Americans think the government should ensure coverage. A majority of voters in Republican states support Medicaid expansion as well, as do 56% of Virginians, including 55% of Republicans. A majority of Americans also support Social Security, with 65% of Americans in favor of its expansion.

On paid family and sick leave, four in five Americans support legislation requiring employers to offer paid parental leave (and even more support paid sick leave). Other polls have similar findings: 70% support paid sick leave, 67% support paid maternal leave, and 55% support paid paternity leave.

On ISIS, Americans oppose military action, with 65% of Americans against sending special forces to the Middle East, and 76% against sending conventional ground troops.Other polls show that a majority of Americans support the regulation of CO2 as a pollutant, with over half of all parties — Democrats (80%), Republicans (54%), Independents (60%) — in agreement.

U.S. citizens also want better trade policies, with almost two-thirds favoring some form of trade restriction.

And on police reform, 86% of Americans think police should be required to use body cameras, and 87% are in favor of independent, outside investigations when police kill unarmed civilians.

Americans are hemorrhaging democratic socialism!

We are a people who idolize Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Jesus Christ, Mother Teresa — individuals who represent solidarity, kinship and empathy. We respect and agree with the teachings that call us to revolution; to fight for all our fellow human beings; to deeply, truly transform the injustice and corruption long imbedded in human society; to eliminate such a tragic non-necessity as poverty with the institution of fair pay, health care, equal education, decent working conditions and financial reform.

We are a people who lionize the 1776 revolution, who look up to and admire those who stood strong against inequality.

We support Robin Hood-like taxes for the rich and the de-infestation of money from politics. We want a hike in pay for working-class people and health care for all humans sick and injured. We are in favor of destroying the vise-like grip corporations and their owners wield over our economy, regulations on the ghastly melting fumes we are spraying on the protector-bubble surrounding our planet, and heavy oversight of the people bestowed with murderous power and the grave duty of protecting others.

This slew of ideas have come to be known as liberal, as progressive, as democratic socialist, when, in reality, they are simply what we teach our children: don’t be greedy, treat others as you want to be treated, and speak up when you see injustice.

Who cares what they’re called?

As poll after poll shows, we like them.

Americans concur: a compassionate, fair land where babies grow up in equality and human beings are treated with respect and dignity is the country for us.

To make our values fit our reality, all we have to do is vote.Because, after all, as studies show, when people vote, liberals win.

See: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/bernie-sanders-showing-country-much-more-progressive-you-think?akid=13893.123424.0yRbD9&rd=1&src=newsletter1049167&t=8

How the Wall Street Journal’s Attempt to Take Down Bernie Sanders Backfired

Source: AlterNet

Author: Tom Hartmann

Emphasis Mine

Bernie Sanders is leading Hillary Clinton in early primary states, and he’s gaining on her in national polls. Major media outlets are starting to treat Senator Sanders seriously, but not necessarily with complete honesty. Take for example Laura Meckler’s article in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. It was provocatively titled “Price Tag of Bernie Sanders’s Proposals: $18 Trillion.”

The article starts off by dismissing Sanders’s campaign as a long-shot, and then goes on to call his proposals “the largest peacetime expansion of government in modern American history.” 

“In all” Meckler writes, “he backs at least $18 trillion in new spending over a decade… a sum that alarms conservatives and gives even many Democrats pause.”

That estimate may give conservatives and corporate Democrats pause, but the whole article should give any reader who can do simple arithmetic pause. One red flag is that the click-bait headline makes it seem like the piece is talking about a one- or maybe two-term estimate of what Bernie’s budgets might look like. Or even more extreme; that just getting his proposals off the ground would take $18 trillion.

But the reality is that we’re only looking at $1.8 trillion a year under Bernie’s sweeping proposals. But that’s just a little editorial sleight of hand to drive traffic to their site right? Well, not quite.

You see, the Wall Street Journal piece cited research by Gerald Friedman, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. And there was just one small problem with their interpretation of his research. They blatantly omitted his conclusion.

But in the age of information, major newspapers are rightfully under more scrutiny than ever. Professor Friedman saw the Wall Street Journal’s piece and responded in the Huffington Post with “An Open Letter to the Wall Street Journal on Its Bernie Sanders Hit Piece.”

He writes that the Journal wasn’t completely wrong: the program would involve spending $15 trillion over a decade. But they left out the key detail: it would actually save the country a total $5 trillion over those 10 years. We’d see those savings in reduced administrative waste, lower pharmaceutical and device prices, and by decreasing the rate of medical inflation.

Because the simple fact is: We, as a people, are going to spend that $15 trillion on health care anyway. The difference is that under the current model, we pay that money to private insurance companies. And those private companies have much higher levels of administrative costs, fraud and general waste than Medicare does. Another difference is that the government would be negotiating drug prices, making drugs more affordable for everyone.

And who would see that $5 trillion in savings? Businesses for one. Along with state and local governments. Because they wouldn’t have to pay for their employees’ insurance — who’d be covered by Medicare for All.

And individuals, like you and me, wouldn’t have to worry about co-payments and deductibles. Or worse, finding that the “affordable plan” that we choose doesn’t cover a necessary procedure.

You see, as Bruh1 points out over at DailyKos, the Wall Street Journal presented government spending in a fundamentally dishonest way. Because what we spend can’t be separated from what we’d save by going with different policies.

Take Bruh1’s example of shopping for a car: “You don’t buy a car by saying ‘well it would cost me 10,000 here, but the same car would cost me 7,000 there, so the price tag on the 7,000 car is too expensive.’ You say ‘it saves me 3,000 to buy from the other guy.”

And that’s the point — it’s not $15 trillion that Bernie’s plan would cost the country, because we as a people will spend that amount, and more, on health-care costs anyway.

It’s $5 trillion that we the people will save with Bernie’s plan — and get back — by adopting an efficient and affordable single-payer health-care for all system. And that would be good for everyone, and the economy as a whole.

Unfortunately the Wall Street Journal’s analysis of Bernie’s proposals isn’t just another routine example of shoddy corporate journalism. It’s an example of how the corporate media tries to discredit and discard anyone who they can’t control. And that’s not just bad news for our political process. It’s also bad news for the Fourth Estate, which really should at least try to be honest in its critique of policy issues.

Thom Hartmann is an author and nationally syndicated daily talk show host. His newest book is “The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America — and What We Can Do to Stop It.

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/how-wall-street-journals-attempt-take-down-bernie-sanders-backfired?akid=13505.123424.D73aju&rd=1&src=newsletter1042811&t=8

Bernie Sanders: We Need Medicare for All, Not Cutbacks That Will Kill Our Seniors

The 50th anniversary of Medicare is a reminder that this program needs to be stronger to meet today’s challenges.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Sarah Burris

Emphasis Mine

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Maryland Representative Donna Edwards joined the rally celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare in Washington, D.C. this Thursday with several hundred nurses, health care workers, and labor allies.

Senator Sanders touted the success of the Medicare program and the millions of seniors and disabled patients it has helped. “Before Medicare, If you were poor and old or sick, you had no options, you died or you suffered,” he said.

The familiar Sanders crusade to fix financial inequalities is a key reason Sanders says he supports a single-payer system and promised to announce legislation within the next year. “We need to expand Medicare to cover every man, woman, and child,” he told the cheering crowd. “Every year, thousands die just because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. No one should go into the hospital and have to file for bankruptcy when they come out.” The Sanders plan, he said, will provide healthcare through the most “cost effective way, and that is a Medicare for all.”

Recent suggestions from Republican Party presidential candidate Jeb Bush that Medicare should be phased out has lead to linguistic punches from many progressive thinkers including economist Paul Krugman, who wrote this week “It’s the very idea of the government providing a universal safety net that they hate, and they hate it even more when such programs are successful.”

Senator Sanders told The Hill Bush’s comments are an example of how far right the Republican Party has become when their so-called moderate candidate is advocating “phasing out” Medicare.  

“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Medicare, it is important that we defend this enormously important program rather than talk about ending it,” Sanders continued. “Medicare provides health care to 51 million American seniors and people with disabilities and has saved the lives of countless Americans. Further, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the finances of Medicare have been significantly improved and it is now fully funded for the next 15 years through 2030. Our goal as a nation should be to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all Americans, not end a highly-successful program which protects seniors and the disabled.”

Representative Donna Edwards (D-MD) followed Senator Sanders speech with a powerful story about her grandfather who died at an early age forcing her grandmother to scrape together money to cover her healthcare costs.

“My grandmother lived much of her life before Medicare,” Edwards told AlterNet in a statement “I know how much she and our family struggled to pay medical bills. Thanks to Medicare, Americans like my grandmother can see their doctor and not go broke paying medical bills. This is why I continue to fight to protect Medicare and ensure that all Americans can lead healthy and productive lives.”

“After 50 years, we have a lot of experience with Medicare,” National Nurses United co-President Jean Ross, RN, said in a statement. “Enough time to see that it works, has kept tens of millions of Americans out of poverty, and remains enormously popular.”  The coalition of nurses and other health care professionals have organized a day of actions including lobbying legislators in Washington to encourage expanding Medicare for all. Other cities including Boston, Detroit, El Paso, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Oakland, Portland, Maine, St. Paul, and Lakewood, Ohio will be holding rallies, town hall meetings, parties, picnics and barbecues where nurses and other health care workers can celebrate the success of Medicare and talk about ways to expand the program to cover more people. The coalition of nurses and other health care professionals have organized a day of actions including lobbying legislators in Washington to encourage expanding Medicare for all. Other cities including Boston, Detroit, El Paso, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Oakland, Portland, Maine, St. Paul, and Lakewood, Ohio will be holding rallies, town hall meetings, parties, picnics and barbecues where nurses and other health care workers can celebrate the success of Medicare and talk about ways to expand the program to cover more people.

See: http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/bernie-sanders-draws-line-sand-we-need-medicare-all-not-cutbacks-will-kill-our?akid=13344.123424._gla7O&rd=1&src=newsletter1040172&t=3