We recently reported on Bernie Sanders’ single payer bill gaining traction in Congress, in particular from Senators whose names have been bandied about as contenders for the 2020 presidential nomination. The bill is more popular than Obamacare, far more popular than the garbage the Republicans tried and failed to pass through Congress, so who could possibly oppose it when it’s such a terrific tool for mobilizing the Democrats for the upcoming midterm elections in 2018? Enter the Party’s Congressional Leaders, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
According to The Hill, "Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday previewed the much-anticipated release of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) “Medicare for all” bill by taking the notable step of refusing to throw their weight behind it. “Right now I’m protecting the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi told a group of reporters in the Capitol. “Democrats believe that health care is a right for all, and there are many different bills out there,” Schumer echoed a few hours later.
Actually, Leader Pelosi, Bernie was also focused on protecting the Affordable Care Act, which is why he didn’t introduce the bill until the Republicans definitively failed to repeal it. And no, Senator Schumer, there aren’t actually different bills in the Senate (at least none that have any political relevance) and the House bill which Congressman Conyers introduces every Congress can certainly be used to reconcile it with Bernie’s bill in the Senate in the event that the legislative process gets that far. Their excuses ring as hollow as Hillary Clinton’s campaign last year. Ultimately, they “leadership” style, to the extent this is called leadership, is not in lockstep with where the base of the party or the country is at this particular time.
We can only continue to put pressure on Congress, among other ways by becoming citizen cosponsors of the Medicare for All bill, and watch them have no choice but to embrace a more progressive stance. The time to vacillate between the interests of the donor class and the will of the people has long come to an end.