sA short post today on yet another instance of the DCCC trying to control candidate messaging, in this instance stifling debate about single payer healthcare despite it being favored by 52% of all Democrats, 64% of liberals and 66% of young Dems.
Of late, I have been highly critical of our US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. And today there is yet another commentary on the DCCC’s apparently discouraging House candidates from discussing single payer healthcare. As I prepared the post, I thought to myself that despite each of the recent Lujan-focused posts being measured and based on credible written reports surfaced on multiple sources, it felt like I was “going after,” Ben Ray. I could definitely see how you could view it that way, but in truth, I like the guy and for the most part he represents our District well. I am certainly not out there calling for him to be primaried or to undermine his campaign in any way.
I just feel that given his being in an entirely safe District, it is reasonable to encourage his using his leadership role to get the Democratic Party to respond to the grassroots and younger Democrats who are the Party’s future and worry less about placating centrists or currying favor with Republicans who may be regretting their Trump vote. “Anything is better than Trump,” is simply not inspiring and my efforts to press Rep. Lujan are entirely focused on getting the Democratic Party to strike a more inspiring tone. The majority of Democrats favor single payer and the majority of Americans favor stricter gun control. Asking candidates to stay away from these topics is the opposite of what Democrats should be doing. We should be telling America very specifically how our budget, our tax plan, and our approach to gun control and healthcare differ from the GOP approach. “Not like them,” isn’t going to inspire a vast swathe of Democrats and will just cause the younger Democrats, our future, to drift away. It is in the spirit of making the Party stronger and Ben Ray more of a leader that our criticism of our Representative is presented. See below.
Town Hall, Sunday, March 4, 2-4pm. Center for Progress and Justice, 1420 Cerrillos Rd. Santa Fe, NM. Yesterday’s post announced a shift in plans for the Town Hall. We will test a Town Hall model used in Las Cruces every month for the past 14 years. Each person will get 2 minutes to speak to the very general theme of: How can we better advance social, economic, racial, and environmental justice in New Mexico? Out of this conversation, we hope to identify some threads that can be woven into a future strategy. Your strategy. But given the theme of the past few posts, I’d like to pose an additional theme: How can we get Ben Ray Lujan’s attention? How can we get him to push the Party forward instead of trying to placate corporate centrists? As the summary below makes clear, the DCCC prefers to appeal to the old, the moderate, and the GOP rather than to its future. Please join us, bring friends and let’s talk. For more on the Town Hall and to RSVP, please click here.
DCCC Doesn’t Want Candidates To Talk About Single Payer
According to Healthcare-NOW! and The Intercept, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is trying to control another message. You will recall that way back…..yesterday, I reported that the DCCC didn’t want candidates to talk about gun control. It wasn’t the right time, better to express sympathy than to actually stick your neck out and propose solutions. They don’t want candidates to talk about single payer, either. According to Healthcare-NOW! and The Intercept, the DCCC did some internal polling last year on healthcare and came out with a clear message to their candidates: stop talking about single payer.
If the DCCC was sincerely interested in how Democrats felt about single payer they could have looked at the Pew Research Center’s non-partisan survey results discussed below. Instead they hired a firm who has Blue Cross Blue Shield as one of its clients: Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and GBA Strategies. Instead of asking: Do you support single payer (as Pew did), they asked a question meant to justify the Democratic Party’s preferred position: tweaking the Affordable Care Act rather than advancing a transformative solution supported by most Democrats. The DCCC’s pollsters asked: “If you could change one thing about your healthcare or health insurance, what would it be?”
Naturally, a plurality of respondants said they’d choose lower premiums, deductibles, and other forms of cost-sharing, and 5% wanted a system that is easier to understand (chart at left). From this, the polling team concluded: “The American people overwhelmingly want Congress to improve the Affordable Care Act, not repeal it or replace it with something radically different. We need to offer reasonable solutions to improve the law instead of a massive overhaul.”
I am not sure how you draw this conclusion from this polling since there is abundant research that shows that a single payer system would reduce deductibles and would be easier to understand. But if the DCCC wanted to really understand how Democrats felt, all they had to do was look at independent polls conducted by Pew Research.
The chart at left is from a non-partisan June 2017 Pew Research Center poll. It shows that a majority of all Democrats (52%) favor a single payer healthcare system, an increase of 9% since January 2017. What’s more, support rises to 64% among liberal Democrats. And 66% of young Democrats (under 30) support single payer.
What troubles me here is that if the DCCC is telling candidates not to discuss single payer, it certainly can’t be to keep candidates from appealing to younger Democrats or to progressives. It appears that the point is to appeal to centrist Democrats and Republicans who are disillusioned with Trump. Given that fully 2/3 of young Democrats support single payer, it would seem the DCCC is willing to turn its back on the Party’s future in favor of its past or to curry favor with those who are not in the Party. Click here to review the Pew Research report.
In a separate poll conducted by the Economist,
81. Opinion on health reforms – Expanding Medicare to provide health insurance to every American (Single Payer). The percent who favor strongly or favor somewhat is summarized below.:
- 60% Total
- 75% Democrat
- 82% Liberal
- 63% Family income under $50K
58% Family income $50-100K
63% Family income over $100K
What is even more discouraging is that it appears that the DCCC doesn’t even want to encourage (perhaps not permit) healthy debate. In an Intercept article examining both the original DCCC polling and their subsequent memos on how to ‘message’ about healthcare, the DCCC is quite clear. Focus on what is wrong with the GOP plan (loss of coverage and raised premiums and deductibles) but don’t mention anything about the Democratic alternative “unless asked,” and then only focus on negotiating with pharma to lower costs. At no point is single payer to be discussed. Click here to read the very illuminating and entirely discouraging Intercept article.
Some might ask: why would Democrats working so hard to undermine a policy favored by 75% of its constituents? You just have to follow the money. From Truthout: “The Center for American Progress (CAP), a Washington-based Democratic Party think tank funded by Wall Street, including private health insurers and their lobbying group, unveiled a new healthcare proposal designed to confuse supporters of Medicare for All and protect private health insurance profits. The new legislation, disingenuously named ‘Medicare Extra for All” is anything but extra and isn’t even for all. Just those who can afford it. Truthout goes on:
“The public is aware that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) protects the profits of the medical-industrial complex (private health insurers, Big Pharma and for-profit providers) and not the healthcare needs of the public. “Fixing the ACA” is not popular. Last year during repeal attempts, people made it clear at town halls and rallies that they want a single payer healthcare system such as National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA). By offering a solution that sounds good to the uninformed, “Medicare Extra for All,” but continues to benefit their Wall Street donors, Democrats hope to fool people or buy enough support to undermine efforts for NIMA.”
So, instead of being out front and advocating for the people, the Democratic Party is being deceitful and trying to trick the American people in order to preserve the profits of their corporate donors. The Truthout article goes into great detail outlining the differences between NIMA (real single payer) and Medicare Extra and I will devote an entire post to it next week. But the point in the context of this post is that the DCCC and the Democratic Party are far out of step on healthcare, gun control and virtually every other issue related to social, economic, racial, gender or environmental justice.
Chris Garcia, Congressman Lujan’s campaign aide, has given me an email address for the Congressman that I am assured can be used to provide input on Lujan’s policy positions OR his DCCC leadership. Given yesterday’s post with links to fully six other concerns about the DCCC, I think it is time to write to the Congressman. Please reach out to Congressman Lujan, but do so with respect. You may want to let him know that not only do you want Democratic candidates to proudly speak about and advocate for gun control and single payer, but you also object to the DCCC trying to control candidates or stifle the campaigns of progressive Dems.
From the email address, apparently he wants to hear from the grassroots!
Paul & Roxanne