The vigorous contest
of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent
policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Bernie Sanders,in Des Moines
ahead of the Iowa AFL-CIO convention, announced a comprehensive plan to at
least double union membership during his first term as president, rebuilt the
middle class and substantially raise wages. This is from the Sanders campaign:
“Corporate America and
the billionaire class have been waging a 40-year war against the trade union
movement in America that has caused devastating harm to the middle class in
terms of lower wages, fewer benefits and frozen pensions,” Sanders said. “That
war will come to an end when I am president. If we are serious about rebuilding
the middle class in America, we have got to rebuild, strengthen and expand the
trade union movement in America.”
Sanders’ Workplace Democracy Plan would essentially repeal Iowa’s Chapter
20 law that stripped the rights of public sector workers to collectively
bargain for better benefits and safer working conditions by giving all public
sector workers the freedom to negotiate.
The sweeping proposal
to strengthen unions would end right to work laws, give every union worker in
America the right to strike and ban the replacement of striking workers.
As president, Sanders
also pledged to sign an executive order preventing large, profitable
corporations that engage in union busting, outsource jobs overseas or pay
workers less than $15 an hour from receiving federal contracts.
The plan would also
make it substantially easier to form a union and stop employers from ruthlessly
exploiting workers by misclassifying them as independent contractors or denying
them overtime by falsely categorizing them as a “supervisor.”
Other key elements of
this proposal include:
Requiring companies that merge to honor existing union contracts.
Bringing workers, employers and the government together across industries to negotiate wages, benefits and working conditions through sectoral bargaining.
Stop corporations from forcing workers to attend mandatory anti-union meetings as a condition of continued employment.
Protect the pensions of workers.
Establish federal protections against the firing of workers for any reason other than “just cause.”
In addition, the plan
makes sure that all union workers would be better off under Medicare for All.
If Medicare for All is signed into law, companies with union-negotiated health
care plans would be required to enter into new contract negotiations overseen
by the National Labor Relations Board. Under this plan, all company savings that
result from reduced health care contributions from Medicare for All will accrue
equitably to workers in the form of increased wages or other benefits.
The vigorous contest
of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent
policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Bernie Sanders, in the town
of Paradise, California, which was obliterated in last season’s wildfires, unveiled
his Green New Deal, “the only plan bold
enough to confront the climate crisis and create an economy that works for all.”
Under Sanders’ plan, the United States will reach 100 percent renewable energy
for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030 and complete decarbonization
by 2050. This is from the Sanders campaign:
is a pivotal moment in the history of America — and really, in the history of
humanity. The climate crisis is not only the single greatest challenge facing
our country; it is also our single greatest opportunity to build a more just
and equitable future, but we must act immediately,” said Sen. Sanders. “When we
are in the White House, we will launch the decade of the Green New Deal, a
10-year mobilization to avert climate catastrophe during which climate change,
justice and equity will be factored into virtually every area of policy, from
immigration to trade to foreign policy and beyond.”
Green New Deal boldly embraces the moral imperative of addressing the climate
crisis and builds on an unprecedented grassroots movement powerful enough to
take on the fossil fuel industry and win. As president, Sanders will mobilize
the political will necessary for a wholesale transformation of our society,
with support for frontline communities and massive investments in sustainable
energy, energy efficiency, and a transformation of our transportation system.
Green New Deal will avert climate catastrophe, transform our energy system,
build an economy for all and end the greed of the fossil fuel industry
Ending unemployment by creating 20 million jobs needed to solve the climate crisis.
Ensuring a just transition for communities and workers, including fossil fuel workers.
Ensuring justice for frontline communities, especially under-resourced groups, communities of color, Native Americans, people with disabilities, children and the elderly.
Saving American families money with investments in weatherization, public transportation, modern infrastructure and high-speed broadband.
Committing to reducing emissions throughout the world.
Green New Deal will pay for itself over 15 years by holding the fossil fuel
industry accountable for the damage it has caused. Sanders’ plan will:
Make the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees, and taxes, and by eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies.
Generate revenue from the wholesale of energy produced by the regional Power Marketing Authorities. Revenues will be collected from 2023-2035, and after 2035 electricity will be virtually free, aside from operations and maintenance costs.
Scale back military spending on maintaining global oil dependence.
Collect new income tax revenue from the 20 million new jobs created by the plan.
Reduce the need for federal and state safety net spending due to the creation of millions of good-paying, unionized jobs.
Make the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share.
The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Bernie Sanders released his plan to reform the entire criminal justice system. This is from the Sanders campaign:
Blueprint aims to reform every aspect of America’s dysfunctional criminal justice system, ridding it of institutional racism and corporate profiteering
COLUMBIA, SC – Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running to be the Democratic candidate for president, released a comprehensive plan to reform the entire American criminal justice system in a speech he delivered August 18 in the Greenview neighborhood of Columbia, South Carolina. The plan is designed to root out the institutional racism and corporate profiteering that is plaguing the existing system.
“If we stand together, we can eliminate private
prisons and detention centers. No more profiteering from locking people
up. If we stand together we can end the disastrous “war on drugs.” If we stand
together we can end cash bail. No more keeping people in jail because
they’re too poor. If we stand together we can enact real police department
reform and prosecute police brutality. If we stand together, there is nothing,
nothing, nothing that we cannot accomplish.”
Sanders has fought mass incarceration during his decades in Congress, and
for president in 2016 on a pledge to end for-profit prisons —
a pledge that other Democrats have subsequently decided to support 4 years
later. Sanders’ new plan reiterates his original call to ban for-profit
prisons, and builds on his leadership on criminal justice with new proposals
for a top-to-bottom reform of America’s law enforcement, judicial and
incarceration systems. They include:
greed in our criminal justice system, top to bottom
Ending for-profit greed in our criminal justice system, top to
bottom, including banning cash bail and banning civil asset forfeiture, which
allows police departments to seize property from people who have not been
accused or convicted of a crime.
Ensure the criminal justice system is not the “best justice
money can buy” by vastly increasing funding for public defenders and creating a
federal formula to ensure populations have a minimum number of public defenders
to meet their needs, and working with states to set a minimum starting salary
for public defenders.
Mass Incarceration and Excessive Sentencing and Inhumane Incarceration and
Transform the Way We Police Communities
Reversing mass incarceration and setting a
goal of cutting the incarcerated population in half.
Transforming the way we police our
communities, creating an unarmed civilian corp of first responders to handle
mental health emergencies, homelessness, and other low-level issues that should
not require contact with the police and criminal justice system.
Creating national standards for use of police
force that emphasize de-escalation rather than violence, and holding police
misconduct to strict federal standards, including limiting qualified immunity
for police officers, creating a federal deadly use of force database, and a
registry of disreputable officers.
Ending the War on Drugs, including legalizing
marijuana and expunging past convictions for marijuana-related offenses and finally
ending the sentencing disparities for crack cocaine and powder cocaine
Abolishing the death penalty and solitary
Enacting a Prisoner Bill of Rights for
incarcerated individuals, including living wages, access to families, access to
educational and vocational training, and the right to vote.
Criminalization of Communities, End Cycles of Violence and Provide Support to
Survivors of Crime
Reversing the criminalization of disability, addiction, and homelessness.
Treat children in the criminal justice system
as children. This means raising the age to charge children in adult court to
18, ending long mandatory minimum sentences and life without parole sentences
for youth, decriminalizing truancy, and investing in youth diversion programs
and alternatives to the court and prison system.
End cycles of violence and interrupt them
before they begin. This means focusing law enforcement resources on solving
homicides and other serious crimes, funding Cure Violence programs and similar
proven violence interruption models, and ending the national rape kit
Support the victims and survivors of crimes by
providing sustained resources to survivors and their families, including mental
health care, trauma recovery services, relocation services, and assistance with
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, running to be the Democratic nominee for president, on July 17 delivered a major address on Medicare for All, coinciding with the 54th anniversary of Medicare being signed into law. In his remarks, Sanders outlined his plan to make health care a human right for all Americans. Here is highlighted transcript of remarks as they were prepared for delivery: – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features
Thank you all very
much for being here to discuss one of the major crises facing our country.
Let me also thank the dozens of organizations throughout America who
support Medicare for All and the tens of thousands of doctors, nurses and other
health professionals who support my legislation. Let me thank the 14
Senate co-sponsors that we have on this legislation and the 118 Members of the
House who support similar legislation. And mostly, let me thank the
American people who by the millions understand, as I do, that health care is a
human right, not a privilege.
Together, we will end
the international embarrassment of the United States being the only major
country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all of its citizens.
It is not acceptable to
me, nor to the American people, that some 87
million people today are either uninsured or underinsured.
It is not acceptable
to me that we end up spending almost
twice as much as any other major country on health care, while our life expectancy continues to decline
and our healthcare outcomes lag behind many other countries.
Frankly, I am sick and
tired of talking to doctors who tell me about the patients who died because
they were uninsured or underinsured, and walked into the doctor’s office when
it was too late. And we are talking about over 30,000 Americans who die every year because they are uninsured or
under-insured. What a tragedy.
I am sick and tired of
seeing working class families and small
businesses pay far more for healthcare than they can afford, and 530,000 Americans declare bankruptcy each
year because they cannot pay off the outrageous cost of a medical emergency
or a hospital stay. Families should not be driven into financial ruin
because someone in the family became seriously ill. How insane is that?
I am sick and tired of
hearing from Americans who lost loved ones because they could not afford the unbelievably high cost of prescription drugs, or
hearing from constituents who are forced to cut their pills in half due to the
In fact, later this
month, I will be travelling from Detroit, Michigan to Windsor, Ontario with a
busload of Americans who have diabetes in order to purchase insulin in Canada
at one-tenth of the price that they pay in America.
I am sick and tired of
talking with people who are struggling with mental illness but cannot afford the mental health counseling they
I am tired of talking
to people who have teeth that are rotting in their mouths, but cannot afford the high cost of dental care.
Let me be very honest
and tell you that, in my view, the
current debate over Medicare for All really has nothing to do with healthcare.
It has everything to do with greed and the desire of the healthcare
industry to maintain a system which fails the average American, but which makes
the industry tens and tens of billions of dollars every year in profit.
It is about whether we
maintain a dysfunctional system which
allows the big drug and health insurance companies to make over $100 billion in
profits last year, while the top CEOs in that industry made $2.6 billion in
total compensation – all the while 1 out of 5 Americans cannot afford the
prescription drugs their doctors prescribe.
It’s about whether we
maintain a system in which the CEO of the Aetna insurance company, Mr. Mark
Bertolini, received a golden parachute worth nearly $500 million after his
company merged with CVS Health, while elderly people lack the resources to
purchase a hearing aid.
It’s about whether we
maintain a system that allows the former CEO
from Gilead (John Martin) to become a billionaire by charging $1,000 a pill for
a hepatitis c drug called Sovaldi that costs a dollar to manufacture.
Let us make no mistake
about it. The struggle that we are
now undertaking, to guarantee health care to all Americans as a right and to
substantially lower the cost of prescription drugs, will be opposed by some of
the most powerful forces in America – entities that have unlimited amounts of
money. We’re talking about the insurance companies, the drug companies,
private hospitals, medical equipment suppliers, Wall Street and other powerful
Let me make a
prediction. In order to defeat the Medicare for All movement, powerful special
interests will be spending millions on 30 second television ads, full page
magazine ads, and corporate-sponsored “studies” to frighten the American people
about Medicare for All – which is exactly what happened before the passage of
Medicare in the 1960s. They failed then and they’re going to fail now.
And let me give you an
example of the kind of money and power we are talking about.
Over the last 20 years, the insurance industry
and pharmaceutical companies have spent more than $330 million in campaign
contributions and over $4 billion in lobbying to get Congress to do its
The pharmaceutical industry alone has hired
some 1,200 lobbyists – including the former leadership of both political
I find it quite
interesting that Billy Tauzin, the
Republican Congressman who wrote the bill to prevent Medicare from negotiating
for lower drug prices and then went on to become the President and CEO of
Pharma, received over $11.6 million in compensation in 2010.
That’s how business is done in Washington. Well, I have a different vision of what
a rational healthcare system is all about. Instead of massive profits for the drug companies, the insurance
companies and Wall Street, we must provide a healthcare system that provides
quality healthcare to all in a cost effective way.
And that is exactly what Medicare for All does.
legislation, every family in America
would receive comprehensive coverage, and middle-class families would save
thousands of dollars a year by eliminating their private insurance costs as we
move to a publicly funded program.
The transition to the Medicare for All program
would take place over four years. In the first year, benefits to older people
would be expanded to include dental care, vision coverage and hearing aids, and
the eligibility age for Medicare would be lowered to 55. All children under the
age of 18 would also be covered. In the second year, the eligibility age would
be lowered to 45 and in the third year to 35. By the fourth year, every man,
woman and child in the country would be covered by Medicare for All.
Medicare for All will reduce – let me repeat,
reduce — overall health care spending while lowering the number of uninsured
and underinsured people in this country to zero.
We accomplish this
because Medicare for All creates a
system of health care insurance that isn’t designed to generate profits for
insurance and drug companies — it will be a system focused on delivering actual health care. It will save lives, save money, and end the
frustration of endless paperwork, denials, and desperate fights with an
insurance company to cover medically-necessary medications and procedures.
Medicare for All will
fully eliminate health insurance premiums, deductibles and co-payments. Make no
mistake about it: These are nothing less than taxes on the middle class.
And when we do that, the
average middle class family will save an estimated $3,000 each and every year.
Further, unlike the
current dysfunctional system, Medicare for All allows people the freedom to
choose any doctor, clinic, and hospital without worrying about whether their provider is in-network or
not. People will be able to make
the health care choices that are best for themselves and their families without
some insurance bureaucrat telling them which providers they can see or not
see. Medicare for All is at the end of the day empowering patients and health
In addition, a
Medicare for All system will allow us to
address the serious problem of medically underserved areas.
Just to demonstrate
how absurd our health care system is, I was in Philadelphia two days ago
rallying with the people of that city to try to stop the closure of Hahnemann
University Hospital, an important, safety net hospital in that community.
Why do the owners want to close this hospital? Because they can make more
money redeveloping that property into condominiums and hotels.
Let me address some of
the half-truths, misinformation, and, in some cases, outright lies that people
may be hearing about Medicare for All.
Medicare for All
critics tell us that Americans just love their private health insurance
companies. We heard this most recently from UnitedHealth CEO David Wichmann,
who by the way, made $83 million in 2017 and who said Medicare for All would
“destabilize the nation’s health system.”
But let’s remember: the current system is already disrupting
and destabilizing millions of people’s lives. In the current system, 50 million
Americans every year lose their existing health insurance when their employer
changes insurer, when they change jobs, or when they cannot afford their current
plan. For many of them, they will no longer be able to see the doctor they have
relied on for years. For others, important treatments for long-term
conditions or disabilities will be changed or stopped altogether.
Here is the simple
truth. The American people do not like their private health insurance
companies. In fact private health insurance companies are quite unpopular.
What the American people do like are their doctors, nurses and other
health care providers.
While our opponents
claim that Medicare for All is too expensive, the reality is that it is much more cost effective than our
The Center for
Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that, if we do not change the system, this country will be spending $50
trillion over the next ten years –19.4 percent of our nation’s GDP.
This is unsustainable and will be incredibly harmful to the people of our
country, to the business community, and to the entire economy.
And the reason why we spend so much is obvious. It
is not just the huge profits in the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical
industry, but it is the incredible and wasteful bureaucratic maze developed by
thousands of different healthcare plans. Today, hospitals and doctors
must deal with patients who have different deductibles, different co-payments,
different networks of coverage, and different coverage for pharmaceuticals, or
no insurance at all. All of this is not only driving doctors and nurses
and hospital administrators to distraction, but it is wasting
up to $500 billion a year on unnecessary administrative costs.
Unlike our current
system, there is broad consensus – from conservative to progressive economists
– that Medicare for All would result in substantial savings to the American
people. Two of the most recent studies on this issue have estimated that Medicare
for All would save the American people between $2 trillion and $5 trillion over
a 10-year period.
Let us be clear, the
fight against Medicare for All today is not a new development. Powerful
special interests have always opposed healthcare programs that work for the
people and not for corporate interests.
Let us not forget that
when President Harry Truman first proposed a program guaranteeing health care
to seniors that idea was billed as radical, “un-American,” and an attack on
basic freedom. And because of that assault, the idea stalled in Congress for
years — until voters made their voices heard.
In 1960, America
elected John F. Kennedy after he campaigned in support of Truman’s idea. That
election prompted serious work on universal health care bill, and Kennedy at
the time noted that “what we are now talking about doing, most of the countries
of Europe did years ago.”
Finally, following the
1964 Democratic election landslide, the new Congress was able to pass what is
now known as Medicare despite intense opposition from the health insurance
industry and the pharmaceutical companies.
More than a
half-century after that achievement, the time is now to go forward. The
time is now to expand Medicare to every man, woman and child in this
Let us be very clear.
When it comes to health care, the insurance and drug industries have been
able to control the political process.
If we are going to break the stranglehold of
corporate interests over the health care needs of the American people, we have
got to confront a Washington culture that is corrupt, that puts profits before
That is why I am
calling on every Democratic candidate in this election to join me in rejecting
money from the insurance and drug industries. That means not accepting
donations over $200 from health insurance or pharmaceutical company PACs,
lobbyists or executives. Candidates who are not willing to take that pledge
should explain to the American people why those corporate interests believe
their campaigns are a good investment.
Of course, President Trump should do the same but I am not going
to even waste my breath suggesting that he will. His efforts to throw 32
million people off their health insurance to have it replaced with junk
insurance shows exactly what side he is on.
Finally, let me say,
eliminating health insurance and drug company money from the Democratic primary
won’t solve all the problems, but it is an important step forward. Now is the
time to tell the health care industry that your profits are not more important
than the lives of the American people.