Episode 32 Promo - 2020 VisionBad Faith
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- 28 Dec 2020
Subscribe to Bad Faith on Patreon to instantly unlock this episode and our full premium episode library: http://patreon.com/badfaithpodcast After a week of punditry, we called upon Michael Lighty -- former director of public policy for National Nurses United, Healthcare Constituency Director for Bernie 2020, and founding fellow of the Sanders Institute -- to weigh in on the grassroots plan to secure Medicare for All. What is the timeline for securing Medicare for All now that Biden is going to be president? Are we really resigned to wait for the next Bernie? Find Bad Faith on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, and our RSS feed. Follow Bad Faith on Twitter (@badfaithpod) and Instagram (@badfaithpod) and YouTube. Produced by Ben Dalton (@wbend). Theme by Nick Thorburn (@nickfromislands).
As you are well aware, there has emerged a movement called Force the Vote and some people are saying it's dividing the left. Some people are saying it's galvanizing the left. But I want to I wanted to bring in somebody with the level of expertise that you have and a number of different constituency groups that are at play here to help us understand what is, in fact, going on.
Thank you. OK, now you throw the ball and you're like, what's going on here? Well, look, I mean, I think this is one of the first moves for a lot of us on the left where we have really perceived a meaningful gulf potentially between what some portion of the grassroots is agitating for and what our most progressive members of Congress are willing to do. And it's happening at a moment where the progressives in Congress have more real, tangible power to do something than they ever have had.
And that's something being, you know, using the fact that they their votes are necessary for Nancy Pelosi to maintain her speakership, to extract some concession, if not a floor vote on Medicare for all and a number of other concessions that have been put on the table by people like David Sirota that include getting a new head of the way, the Ways and Means Committee, getting rid of PAYGO and a number of other changes which would help, you know, foam the runway, as it were, for Medicare for all.
So why don't you think there hasn't been support from so far members of the squad and or institution groups like the National Nurses Union, P, NHP, etc.?
I think it really has been a galvanizing demand. I mean, I'm on that side and I think it's galvanized a good chunk of the base, maybe a majority of the activist base. And certainly you're getting that sense in DNA that people are like, yeah, let's organize around. This reflects the frustration that people have with the leadership of Nancy Pelosi, that part of the neo liberal Democratic establishment that denies us the programs that really are going to materially improve the lives of workers so that we can fulfill our vision.
Right. And so there's huge frustration after the break campaign, as you've said. I think that the dynamic for some of the institutional players is different. I think this this forced to vote is kind of like much of the pandemic here. It reveals things that are kind of underlying that have been there that we haven't seen. And one of the key dynamics in the single payer movement is this issue that the leadership is elected officials, members of Congress. And that wasn't true.
The civil rights movement. It's not so much a movement for black lives. Black lives matter. It's not true. There are a lot of counterexamples to that that are very efficacious. If you look at it historically. Right. And so now we're going the calls, the question, because the congressional paradigm is very different from the movement paradigm, as you know, you know, imperatives of how you play the leadership, how you do that. And the organization Save the Medicare Reform Movement has largely invested in a legislative lobbying strategy to get co-sponsors after targets for if the sponsor.
That bill is not down with that and the co-sponsors aren't down with that. It's very hard to proceed within that sphere and we had the same fight in 2010, believe it or not, Anthony Weiner tried to get a floor vote on six, seven, six against the wishes of John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich, the primary co sponsors.
So why was it why were they opposed? Well, for many of the same reasons, they believed it would go down to a defeat. Weiner might want to change some things to make a little more palatable that they didn't necessarily want to change. It was perceived as a kind of grandstanding move.
And was Weiner's rationale similar to the rationale that's being advanced by the force, the vote people?
Well, yes, it wasn't the same point of leverage, of course, with the speaker. And I do think there's a question there. So I do think strategically there is a question to link this issue to taking on the speaker. First of all, if you're going to take on the speaker, you've got to win. And I learned that lesson in 1987 when I was a precinct captain for Harry Britt, who challenged her when she first ran for Congress.
We didn't win. Right. And the story has been written since. So you've got to if you're going to take on take on the queen, you got to win.
So by winning, do you mean ousting her from her speakership or something else? Because there certainly isn't any I mean, if they have the votes, they have the votes. It doesn't take that many. And there certainly are enough progressives.
That's that's part of what's so interesting about this, right, is that the risk of losing, if losing means she remains speaker are actually very slim, assuming you don't think that someone is going to have in your coalition is going to pull out at the last minute compared to certain other legislative aims or coalition building projects or organizational projects, this one in particular, it's not like we're relying on you know, if we get enough people protesting in front of Congress, then it may or may not have an effect.
And everyone who participates in the and the and the protest is going to be screwed if it doesn't have an effect with this. It's literally 15 members of Congress or so opt not to vote. And there it is. She's not speaker. No, no, I agree.
They have a direct impact on the result. But I was saying linking the issue to it, though I don't know that linking Medicare for all is the rationale to take on the speaker serves either the fight against the speaker or Medicare for all, because you're going to take on the speaker, you're going to do it for these deeper reasons. You're going to do it to win, hopefully. And you're right. You've got the direct leverage to do it. Now you're saying, well, why not?
If you if you actually have the votes to do it? She wants to keep speaker. She won't give us Medicare for all. So that's the difference. You can directly insult the speaker, but all you can get is a vote on Medicare for all. So I just don't think that gets us into my alternative, because I know we've discussed this with others is that I would like to see this part of the health care reform package.
We're going to deal with the pandemic. We're going to deal with the health care needs of people in this country because of the pandemic. Why not? The biggest advantage to me of the floor vote is number one. Which side are you on? As you said, galvanizes the movement and then gives us the opportunity to make the policy case because the policy case is our winning hand. We nail it hands down. The CBO agrees with us. And you start talking about savings, you start talking about covering everybody and you go to people say, OK, can your plan do that?
No, I can't. That's the debate we want. And the only time that happens is during markup, when there's intensive focus on what's the bill going to be, what's the bill going to say?
Think of the think of the covid relief bill that just passed into much detail on provisions. That's the debate we want. And I don't think you get that.
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