Maxine Waters, Bobby Scott, Elijah Cummings, Barbara Lee and Jim Clyburn support Medicare for All.

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Chicago, March 25, 1966 — Medical Committee for Human Rights)

Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13), Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-3) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD-7) were all among the original co-sponsors of HR-676 when Conyers first introduced the bill in February 2003. Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43) joined them in December 2005. Rep. Jim Clyburn (SC-6) signed up as a co-sponsor in April 2008.

All five are members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The CBC provides core support for HR-676, 38 out of 47 CBC house members are co-sponsoring the bill. Lee, Waters and Cummings are also members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which is another important base of support for HR-676.

All five of these co-sponsors are deeply committed to the principle of health care as a right, and enshrining it into law with a single-payer system.

Rep. Barbara Lee was on the Democratic Platform committee in 2016 and voted to include Medicare for All/HR-676 in the Democratic Platform (it failed by one vote).

Rep. Jim Clyburn (who has been Assistant Democratic Leader since 2011) is stead-fast in his support for single-payer/HR-676, even when there was a enormous pressure to back away in 2009.

Elijah Cummings wrote a compelling Op-Ed in 2007 about the cost of not having a single payer system. He was writing after having watched Michael Moore’s movie, Sicko:

In one scene, Mr. Moore takes three small boats of sick Americans, including 9/11 volunteer rescue workers, to Cuba. They receive, at no cost, the medical treatment they had been denied at home.

We have heard time and again the statistic that 47 million Americans are uninsured, 9 million of them children. This does not even account for the more than 50 million who cannot get the care they need because they are underinsured.

The numbers are staggering, but they become more meaningful when we talk about how this trend affects the lives of everyday Americans. For me and many others in our community, our nation’s health care crisis has a face and a name. On February 25, 2007, Deamonte Driver, a 12 ­year ­old boy from Prince George’s County, died when an untreated tooth infection spread to his brain.

Deamonte Driver was a victim of our failed health care system. A routine dental checkup might have saved his life, but Deamonte was poor and homeless and he never made it into the dental chair. His is a story that chills the conscience. I simply cannot comprehend how, in a country that sent a man to the moon, we so thoroughly failed this little boy. — cummings.house.gov/…

Like most members of the CPC, Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43) has been a proponent of single-payer for a long time. This is from a discussion of her vote for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare):

A longtime proponent of comprehensive, affordable health care for all Americans, Congresswoman Waters and her allies in the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) insisted that health care reform legislation must include a “public option” – a voluntary, public insurance program similar to Medicare that would be an alternative to profit-driven private insurance companies.

Most CPC members prefer a single payer health care system, but when it failed to gain enough support in the House as health care reform legislation was being drafted, they expressed support for a “robust public option”, which would reimburse medical providers at the Medicare rate plus 5%.  While Congresswoman Waters was pleased that the House passed legislation including a public option, she was disappointed that the reimbursement rates will be negotiated between the government and providers, a plan favored by more conservative Representatives. […]

Congresswoman Waters noted that efforts to provide health insurance coverage to all Americans was proposed in 1912 – almost 100 years ago – by Teddy Roosevelt, and Presidents following him have also supported this objective. Congressman John Dingell of Michigan has introduced the National Health Insurance Act (H.R. 15), which would provide universal health care for all Americans, during each of his terms in Congress going back to 1957. It was previously sponsored by his father when he was a Congressman.

— waters.house.gov/…

I’m thrilled these progressive stalwarts are supporting Medicare for All and co-sponsoring HR-676. If your Congressional representative is not on the list of 115 co-sponsors, please call their office and ask them why.

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted at NotMeUs.org & The ProgressiveWing.com

If we want single payer healthcare, progressives have to pressure the Democratic leadership

Meet the Press had Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) on today to talk Health-Care. Cassidy made headlines in May for insisting any healthcare plan meet “the Jimmy Kimmel test”. Cassidy supposedly agrees that healthcare is a right. The devil though, is in the details, and when he began talking about letting state legislatures and governors determine what was “affordable”, I realized it’s just a talking point for him, to appear “bipartisan”.

Block grants, or state administered programs allow Republicans to play the game they’ve been playing for several decades. Attacks on progressive programs generally fail under the bright lights of Congress, so they fall back to the dimmer rooms of 50 separate legislatures. That’s how the Voting Rights Act, Medicaid, SNAP and unemployment assistance have been gutted, with 50 small cuts and bruises.

If you believe healthcare is a right, there is a simple solution to achieve that right. Rep. John Conyers Jr.’s Medicare for All bill provides universal coverage and expands Medicare benefits in critical ways. HR 676 has more co-sponsors than it’s ever had before (113). Almost 60% of the Democratic caucus supports it.

But crucially, the Democratic Leadership in the House and the Senate does not. This is surprising because Medicare for All is extremely popular policy.

60% of Americans support Medicare-for-All, 23% are opposed and 17% aren’t sure (full poll results). Contrast the Democrats’ “caution” with the actions of the Republican leadership.

ACHA is very unpopular and the GOP is pushing ahead; single payer is very popular and Dem leadership won’t get behind it. Says everything. — @freddiedeboer

3 out of 4 Americans who have an opinion on it want Medicare for All. And yet, here we are wondering why the Democratic leadership won’t get behind it, and I don’t have a good explanation. Please help me out here, and not with some cockamamie story about the country being “center right”. Because on this issue, the country is pretty firmly hard left.

Our leadership is supposed to you know, lead. Propose policies and then gather public support for them. Medicare for All has massive levels of support among Americans. So half the work is done already. If the Democratic leadership isn’t leading us in the direction of Medicare-for-All, then they’re leading us away from it. To what exactly?

And it’s not even like the Democratic leadership support state-level “experimentation” with single-payer.

To get the leadership on board, we have to press them on it, so we can join every other OECD country in providing health care for all. It sounds radical now, but it is far less radical than it was three years ago. Remember when a $15 minimum wage sounded radical?

Wait, what’s this? Senate and House Democratic leaders joined progressives and got behind the Raise the Wage Act which would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 over time? Why yes, they did.

The energy and the momentum is with Medicare-for-All.

The alternative is a loss of momentum.

 

Progressive Lion: Rep Barbara Lee is one step closer to ending our perpetual war in Afghanistan

On September 14, 2001 Barbara Lee strode up to the podium and made this speech to explain her vote against the AUMF in Afghanistan.

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Rep Barbara Lee was the lone dissenting vote.

The AUMF passed 420-1 in the house. We have now been at war in Afghanistan for almost 16 years. Her courageous vote that day echoed Jeanette Rankin’s lone vote against declaring war on Japan and entering World War II.

As Lee explained in her speech:

“We are not dealing with a conventional war,” she said. “We cannot respond in a conventional manner. I do not want to see this spiral out of control … If we rush to launch a counterattack, we run too great a risk that women, children and other noncombatants will be caught in the cross-fire … Finally, we must be careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target. We cannot repeat past mistakes.” — The Guardian

Today, almost 16 years after her lone dissenting voice was heard on the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Barbara Lee’s amendment to sunset the 2001 AUMF was adopted in committee and will head to a floor debate. If her amendment passes and brings to a close this unending war, it will have been one of the most remarkable chapters in the history of our country and Congress.

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@subirgrewal


Lee represents California’s 13th district, which covers Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda and surrounding areas in the East Bay. She has a long association with the area, and studied at Mills College in Oakland. While there, she volunteered with the Oakland area Black Panther party, and worked on Bobby Seale’s bid for the mayor’s office. As a student, Lee was inspired by and worked on Shirley Chisholm’s bid for the Democratic nomination for President. She later went on to earn a Masters degree at UC Berkeley.

Lee was born in Texas into a military family, and named Barbara Jean Tutt. Her father, Garvin Alexander Tutt retired from the US Army as a Lieutenant Colonel. Lee worked on Congressman Ron Dellums’ staff for several years and served in the California State Assembly for 8 years (1990-1996). Dellums was a founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and the only member of Congress to identify as a socialist.

When Dellums retired in 1998, Lee ran for and won his seat in the 9th district. She succeeded one of the most progressive voices of his generation. Upon re-districting in 2013, she ran for office in the 13th district, succeeding Pete Stark, another strong progressive voice, and one of the earliest members of the CPC. Lee has served as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the CPC.

The vote against the AUMF was a defining moment for Lee and led to severe criticism including death threats. Lee has never backed down and has remained steadfast in her commitment to peace. She voted against the Iraq War Resolution, several bills to fund these wars, and the military action in Libya. She has continued to be a vocal, courageous voice for ending our perpetual war. In a speech to her alma mater, Mills College, in 2014, as we embarked on another series of attacks in Iraq and Syria, she had this to say:

“I have called and will continue to call for a full congressional debate and vote on any military action, as required by the Constitution. The American people deserve a public debate on all the options to dismantle ISIS, including their costs and consequences to our national security and domestic priorities.”— The Nation

That Nation article also notes that Lee, is among a dwindling few other Democrats and Republicans

rejects the argument that resolutions from years ago and votes on amendments to funding measures meet the standard for congressional authorization of new military strikes.

In her autobiography, Rep. Lee revisits that moment three days after September 11, 2001 and explain, once again, her lone dissenting vote. She says that even as smoke continued to rise from the ashes of the World Trade Center, she knew, and acted upon this truth:

Congress voted, almost unanimously, to give President Bush a “blank check” to attack an unspecified country, an unspecified enemy for an unspecified period of time… I stood alone against this “blank check” for what has become known as the Global War on Terror. I knew then that the administration would turn this into a Global War and tried to warn the nation and my colleagues in the Congress. — Renegade for Peace and Justice: A Memoir of Political and Personal Courage​​​​​​​

Progressive Lion is an occasional series celebrating a politician or activist exemplifying progressive values. The goal is the recognize their achievements and lives. If you know aspects of their career or work that are not in the diary, please share them in comments.

Warren says Democrats should campaign on Single-Payer healthcare.

Elizabeth Warren has been on a campaign footing to push back against Republican efforts to bestow enormous tax breaks on millionaires and billionaires by decimating health-care coverage for ordinary Americans.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is traveling to Trump-friendly areas of her state hoping to connect with his backers and provide a road map for her party to win back working-class voters. […]

Democrats, she said, would do better if they campaigned on that progressive platform rather than blurring the lines between themselves and Republicans. — WSJ

Warren highlighted the lengths to which President Obama and Democrats had gone in 2009-2010 to garner Republican support for the PPACA.

“President Obama tried to move us forward with health-care coverage by using a conservative model that came from one of the conservative think tanks that had been advanced by a Republican governor in Massachusetts,” Warren told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

“Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer,” she added. […]

“The progressive agenda is America’s agenda,” Warren said. “It’s not like we’re trying to sell stuff that people don’t want. … It’s not that at all. It’s that we haven’t gotten up there and been as clear about our values as we should be, or as clear and concrete about how we’re going to get there.” — The Hill

John Conyers Jr.’s Medicare For All bill in the House now has 113 co-sponsors, that is almost 60% of the Democratic caucus.

—  @subirgrewal


Meanwhile, in California, Assembly Speaker Rendon made a decision to shelve a single-payer bill that had passed the California Senate.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s abrupt decision Friday to sideline a bill that would have established single-payer healthcare in California roused a swift and fiery backlash from the measure’s supporters, who accused the Democrat from Paramount of unilaterally blunting the effort for sweeping overhaul of the state’s healthcare system. […]

But even as the bill advanced through the state Senate, it was apparent that it would have to overcome several obstacles to succeed. Legislators, who voted this year to raise taxes on gasoline, were wary of backing additional taxes. The proposal hinged on approval by voters and the federal government. […]

The bill’s progress alarmed some interest groups that saw crucial questions go unanswered. Laphonza Butler, president of the statewide council of the Service Employees International Union, said her union was eager to discuss the single-payer proposal but worried that specifics about implementation, namely how it would be integrated with care programs offered by county governments, were going unaddressed. — LA Times

David Sirota writes in the IB Times that Governor Jerry Brown, who has previously supported single-payer, did not support the bill. Sirota also outlined millions of dollars in donations to the CA Democratic party and assembly members from groups opposed to the single-payer bill.

Meanwhile, NY’s single-payer bill has passed the assembly but is being held up in the Senate by the Republican speaker (who holds the position with the support of the IDC). The bill is supported by all Democratic senators, except for Simcha Felder. The Campaign for NY Health has been organizing constituent calls to support the bill.

Cal Democratic party chair elected by 62 delegate margin, is being contested.

There continue to be several fissures in the Democratic party as competing factions jockey for party positions and the future direction of the party. One of those fissures opened in dramatic fashion at the California Democratic party’s convention last weekend. We had a really good diary recounting a view from on the ground at the convention, where Los Angeles County chair Eric Bauman was elected to the state party chairmanship with a slender margin of 62 votes, out of over 3,000 cast.

The saga continues because Bauman’s opponent, Kimberly Ellis has not conceded the election and there is a review underway:

“I will not concede this race until we have validated the results,” Ellis said. […]

Ellis said she met with California Democratic Party staff and executives and “shared with them some concerns” with some

Kimberly Ellis

of the voters that were cast. Ellis supporters are questioning whether all the votes came from credentialed party delegates.

“One of the things that party cannot be is a party that’s just like Trump and the Republicans,” Ellis told the crowd. “A party that operates in closed rooms, smoked-filled rooms, behind curtains, in secrecy and shadow. It is time for this party to be a transparent party.” […]

Ellis was the director of Emerge California, a Bay Area nonprofit organization that trains Democratic women to run for office.


Though Ellis supported Hillary Clinton in the presidential primary, former Bernie supporters, including the National Nurses Union and Our Revolution backed Ellis and she emerged as an unexpectedly strong challenger.

Bauman was the state party’s vice-chair for the prior term. When announcing his candidacy, he said the party needed to welcome fresh voices. But news that Bauman’s consulting firm received $12,500 a month from the pharmaceutical industry to help defeat Prop 61 didn’t help him win over progressives. Prop 61 would have capped prices paid by the state of California for drugs at levels the VA pays, though there was a lot of discussion about secondary effects of the bill.

In an interview with The Real News, former Sanders-surrogate and Our Revolution board-member Nina Turner discussed what happened at the CA convention:

It’s a very influential position and it became the target, or the focal point, of what is really an ongoing civil war in many ways between the Sanders forces, who describe themselves as “progressive,” they want single-payer healthcare, Medicare for all, $15. But most importantly, they don’t want to raise money from billionaires. They want to raise money from the general public, and that’s a point of great division in the party right now, and it was a point of great division at the California convention. […]

RoseAnn DeMoro, the leader of the nurses, said something in her speech during the convention that I think is worth noting.

What she said was, there is not going to be consensus or unity for the sake of unity; that the Democrats have to show that they really are the party of the people. And that message is not just for California Democrats; that message is for the DNC as well […]

But what I will give the California Democrats credit for, and maybe it’s because the Berniecrats were such a force, is that there was no illusion there. Folks knew that there was tension in the room. They knew that it was a fight between these so-called establishment Clinton Democrats and people who are more on the progressive side. That wasn’t hid. […]

But the beauty of this, Paul, is even though she lost – and I want our viewers to understand this – sister Fantasia, the singer, said it this way; she said, “Sometimes you’ve got to lose to win again” – the fact that she only lost by 62 votes says a lot. The fact that the establishment-backed candidate, who had every big name, had more money, more influence, more power only won by 62 votes, that the California Democratic Party is really split between the progressive wing and the establishment wing says that progress has been made.

Sanders backers had won the majority of elected positions in California’s party re-organization, but these posts accounted for only a third of delegates, the remaining two thirds were Democratic County Central Committee appointments and elected officials along with their appointees.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Ellis had this to say about the review of ballots underway:

It is critical that the delegation has confidence in the outcome of this Chair’s race so that we might move forward, irrespective of whomever wins. Should the election results stand, we will congratulate Eric on his well earned success.

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News, the new party leadership believes it can lay concerns to rest after a review of all ballots which is currently underway:

“They’re not redoing anything,” said Steve Maviglio, a Democratic strategist hired Sunday by the party to handle communications about the controversy. “They’re just literally looking at the ballots.”

Eric Bauman

In a lengthy, nine-point email sent to reporters Tuesday, Maviglio dismissed speculation about “ballot stuffing” and other ways the election might have been rigged. He said that the ballot boxes “are constantly monitored” during voting, with observers from each side, and that they are opened with those observers present.

The delegates’ ballots, which Maviglio said were counted twice on Saturday, are not secret.

“Any suspected problem ballot can be individually identified, tracked and segregated from the rest of the vote,” he said. “For this reason, the proverbial bad apple cannot spoil the bunch.”

Maviglio seems to be pretty confident the review will validate Bauman’s win, though he does seem to have a bee in his bonnet about the National Nurses Union:

@subirgrewal