In the CNN Town Hall debate between Senators Bernie Sanders and Lindsey Graham (plus Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Bill Cassidy) that was telecast on Monday evening September 25th (see the transcript of it here), the Republican Senators Graham and Cassidy were unable to discredit anything that Sanders said against their Graham-Cassidy Republican healthcare bill in the Senate, but instead they attacked Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act). Sanders said, regarding that attack, “Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water” and received the biggest applause yet in the debate. Immediately after this, someone in the audience addressed Klobuchar and noted that President Obama had lied about what Obamacare would do (lower premium-costs, allow keeping one’s existing insurance policy, etc.), and Senator Klobuchar said that those are the reasons Obamacare needs to be fixed. She was of the Hillary Clinton frame of mind.
The Republican Senators (Graham and Cassidy) both joined with Sanders in attacking the insurance companies and drug companies for (as Sanders said) “Last year, the five major pharmaceutical industries made $50 billion in profit” while soaring their prices. But Cassidy attacked Sanders’s plan as “socialism,” and Cassidy then received the biggest applause yet for Republicans in this debate. Klobuchar responded to that by saying the U.S. healthcare system needs more “competition,” which most people take to mean less regulation, less government-involvement to prevent the healthcare suppliers from cheating consumers — she was simply pandering to misconceptions about democratic socialism.
Graham said that one thing is sure: “Obamacare is failing,” and more ‘big government’ is not the solution. Other industrialized nations have higher quality healthcare than the U.S. and at less than half the per-person cost (and far more controlled by the national government than is the case here), but Graham and Cassidy and Klobuchar apparently don’t want it. Sanders kept on pumping his “Medicare for all program.”
This was therefore no debate on the facts, but only a debate on socialism versus ‘the free market’ (which the U.S. already has more of than anywhere else and also the costliest and among the worst healthcare), and Sanders stood alone against the ideological consensus, and had only the facts on his side — facts that the Republicans and Klobuchar said the U.S. needs to avoid (“socialism” instead of “capitalism” in healthcare).
Graham said: “We’re going to make sure somebody else [no federal agency] gets that money [the Obamacare subsidies] other than the people under Obamacare, because they’re not doing a good job with it. It’s that simple.” Sanders’s issue of capitalism-versus-a-mixed economy-with-basic-services-socialized, thus became, instead, a very different entire issue: ‘big government’ versus ‘states’ rights’ (local control). The issue-switch was done because a straightforward learning from other nations (which do healthcare both better and cheaper than in the U.S.) would threaten the campaign donors who donate the most heavily on this matter (such as the ‘health’care industry, who are profiting from everyone else’s losses). Sanders didn’t bite, and clearly would never buy that, but Klobuchar might vote for something like that if she were part of the Republican contingent in the Senate — maybe like Susan Collins. (But even Collins doesn’t serve an electorate which is that conservative.) The basic idea is: America is very corrupt, and lots of corruption (the free market) is ‘good’ not bad, because it means more “freedom.”
When Graham and Cassidy both agreed that “Bernie is the most honest person in the Senate,” they probably believed it but didn’t really think it to be a compliment. To succeed in the free market, being a skilled con-artist is essential, because fools are the biggest market there is.
The latest issue (the September 29th issue) of This Week magazine, has a cover-headline “Bernie’s cure-all: Will Americans ever embrace single-payer health care?” accompanying a cartoon-picture of a Bernie-impersonator with a con-artist’s smile and holding up for sale a pill-bottle labeled “SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH CARE: Take one pill for everything”. Clearly, the billionaires who buy ‘our’ representatives (and who own the press), will back the phony-‘populist’ Donald Trump, and the phony-‘progressive’ Hillary Clinton, but never the real thing — for either.
The drug companies and insurance companies must have gotten some good belly-laughs out of it. They can feel even more confident than before, that they rule America’s suckered-majority (who think that all of “socialism” is of the dictatorial type, “communism,” and apparently never even heard of: Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, and even UK, France, Japan, Canada …
Ideology can be very profitable — for the suckerizers, who advertise everywhere. And, of course, the suckerizers won’t be donating to Sanders’s campaign. Is this now a country that’s made by the corrupt, for corruption? Is that really the American ‘business model’, today, of government?
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.