We thought Bernie Sanders would be a Senator with more bite than bark on health care reform.
The self-proclaimed socialist from Vermont nearly exploded on the Senate floor last week as Republican Senator Tom Coburn forced a reading of his 700-odd page Single Payer amendment, effectively killing its chances of inclusion in the bill. As he stood there, shouting a laundry list of harrowing statistics regarding the state of America’s health care system, we thought he recognized the imperative of bringing sustainable coverage to a growing number of vulnerable Americans.
So why is he going to support the Senate bill, which promises so much less? A great deal of voices have made it clear that they’ve bought the prevailing argument: “any bill is better than no bill at all– it should be passed and built upon later.”
That would be fine if the bill at least addressed the insurance industry’s strangle hold on the American people. The fact is, as Jane and the rest of the FDL team have shown us time and time again, there’s just too much wrong with this bill to make it a viable starting place for reform.
Jon Odum from Vermont state blog Green Mountain Daily, together with Jane and FDL, sent this e-mail to Vermonters yesterday:
The Senate is trying to force a dangerous health care bill to passage by Christmas. Some of our strongest allies — statesmen who touted the progressive line aggressively at first — have definitively turned their backs on us. Bernie Sanders is the latest “progressive” to fall in line as a supporter.”
This pressure from Vermonters is key to helping Bernie see the light.
Vermonters, you continue to put Senator Sanders in office to cast tough votes in favor of your progressive values and convictions. Considering that Senator Sanders will move to support this ugly piece of legislation, you’ve got to wonder if he’s doing the job you hired him to do.
And Sanders knows he’s screwing up. To help the good people of Vermont stomach the bitter medicine of this Senate bill, Sanders secured additional health care funding to establish dozens of clinics across the state. According to a press release from Dec. 19th, these clinics would be “open to everyone, […] care for patients covered by Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance as well as those who have no insurance.”
While this is of undeniable value to the people of Vermont, it’s no excuse for supporting this legislative monstrosity. Sanders needs to spend less time trying to cover up his mistakes with pork for Vermonters and invest his energy in fighting for true reform that will reach all Americans instead.
We want to let Senator Sanders know that he’s headed down a path with ramifications so serious that can threaten his seat.
Vermonters know that Sanders considered himself somewhat of a foil to “centrist” former Governor Howard Dean. For those of you who voted for him with this in mind, does it make you uneasy that Sanders now supports the bill while Dean opposes it? If Sanders really wanted to bring accessible, affordable health care to the millions of Americans who are currently without, why would he support a bill that forces those same Americans to purchase expensive health insurance from private companies or face penalties from the IRS?
Our friends at PCCC have kept attention on Bernie to pressure him to do what’s right for health care. This additional heat from Vermonters can really help. As our partner John Odum wrote at Green Mountain Daily when this email first went out: “Some serious Bernie pushback today. Guess we’re hittin’ a nerve.”
Vermonters gave Sanders his seat so that he’d stand up for the progressive values of his constituents. Don’t let him get away with compromising those values and succumbing to the pressures of the Senate.