So much to report on: LANL’s plume, Trump’s doom and NM’s Blue ZOOOOOM. Today, we report on the Railyard rally, the LANL hearing and a tremendous analysis of what the Health Security Act is and why it is so important to achieving justice. Xochitl isn’t the only outcome that has been reversed and Fl. and Ga are still in play.
Election Update: In the post sent out early Wednesday, Xochitl was identified along with three other House races we had hoped the Dems would flip. Not only has Xochitl reversed that but so have three other Dems we had on our swing House list. Democrat Lucy McBath defeated Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, which Handel won in a special election in 2017. Elissa Slotkin won in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District, and Kim Schrier won in Washington’s 8th Congressional District. This means that we have now flipped 30 House seats with five more still too close to call, but with the Dems winning. What had appeared to be rather tepid national wave, is turning into something more substantive and important, especially if Florida and/or Georgia flips its Senate/Governor races. And then won’t Trump and the GOP throw a hissy fit, already blaming the leftists for continuing to just “find” ballots until they get the result they want instead of being respectful of the process which is simply unfolding as it has in the past. It takes time to count mailed ballots and verify signatures and when there are hundreds of thousands of them to be counted..These races are down to 1/10th of one percent differences. It seems reasonable to take the time to count with some precision. We just want to make sure we weed out all the votes of those folks who voted 50 times, the “illegals” who cast votes, and lord knows what else Trump conjured up in 2016 to help him conclude that he really won the popular vote. One of these days I need to compile an entire blog full of Trump’s most brazen, rude and idiotic assertions. NPR does a good job of explaining Florida, Georgia and Arizona. Click here.
In Arizona’s Senate race, Sinema has retake the lead from Martha McSally. What’s more, the race in Florida, both governor and senate are getting closer by the day as more uncounted ballots are counted. Both these races will require a recount. Ditto Georgia and its Governor’s race so Stacey is still in the game. So pull up some Xochitl juju and keep those fingers crossed.
Of course the GOP with Trump in the lead is calling it all a liberal plot. Such a plot, counting all the ballots like NM in District 2 without a big hissy fit. Click here to read the full report. We’ll keep you posted. Wouldn’t a nice: Nelson and Gillum declared winners email be sweet? An excellent discussion on what is going on in Florida, Georgia and Arizona.
LANL Update. Really not much to report except that despite terrible noticing of the hearing, the room was absolutely packed and unlike at City Hall or the Roundhouse, people offering public comment were given as much time as they needed. There was also a process where on Thursday members of the public can ask questions of the DOE, EPA and NMED. I wish I could have been there for that. But Wednesday’s testimony was inspiring. Many indigenous speakers spoke of their spiritual connection to the earth and water and how the US and LANL had ignored those connections and have already destroyed something sacred. Others came armed with science, facts and alternative approaches to remediation. My testimony focused on the need for representatives from Indigenous and environmentalist organizations to be at the table as legitimate and permanent stakeholders, that we simply couldn’t trust that created the problem to fix it without close, constant scrutiny from others who may have different priorities, prefer alternative approaches, and want more immediate information on progress. I’ll keep you posted.
The Health Security Act, A Guest Blog from Ken Baumann
Ken Baumann, Democratic Socialists Party of NM at Collected Works 11.4.1
First, I invite us all to practice the principle of charity. To practice this principle, you need only to assume that the people you’re talking with are sincere and are not out to trick you, and that any conversation we have should be helpful for everyone in the room.
I’ll talk a bit now about health justice, about what a society that cares for all its people might look like, and about what we can do now to improve lives in New Mexico.
A few facts. One: people in the United States of America kill themselves because of medical debt; in the United States, people are less likely to seek lifesaving care because they know it will cost them money. Two: in the United States, the people who manage for-profit corporations whose only obligation is to consistently make money for their shareholders are able to decide who lives and who dies. Three: in the United States, people ration their medications because they must if they want to keep affording their other market-provisioned needs, such as housing and food, and then die because of this rationing.
These facts are products of one underlying reality. The reality I’m pointing to is one obvious to anyone who has spent ten hours on the phone with an insurance company begging them not to deny a claim, a reality obvious to anyone whose family member has mortgaged their house to pay for their chemo, a reality obvious to anyone who has experienced homelessness or has consumed poisoned public drinking water or has been forced to work to keep their Medicaid coverage, to anyone whose Social Security payment gets spent every month on supplemental insurance for their Medicare: the American health care system is cruel, and can be improved.
This reality is also experienced every day by the doctors, nurses, physicians assistants, lab techs, and administrative assistants whose jobs are dominated by the health insurance industry’s demands.
The American health care system fails too many of us. What can we do about it in New Mexico? And how might changing the New Mexican health care system lead us to a future in which all people treat one another with dignity?
We know that health is a whole-body proposal. If you’re working three jobs to afford rent in a city with not enough public housing and a glut of second homes and short-term rentals, your health is going to be worse. If your EBT dollars are doubled at the Farmer’s Market but the only Farmer’s Market you can make is a 2-hour-long bus ride away, your health is going to be worse. If you desperately want to start your own business but can’t afford to lose your employer-provided health insurance, your health is going to be worse. If your physician says that nutrition has no real connection to your disease, your health is going to be worse. The point is that any community who wants justice—meaning care and dignity for all people—must treat health as a whole-body proposal, and that means treating health as a whole-life proposal.
Every aspect of your life affects your capabilities to do what you want throughout the day. And under heavily-industrialized capitalism, the one thing that dominates most people’s lives is their jobs. If you need the health insurance offered by your employer, you are not free. If your boss insults you or even assaults you, but you’ve got two kids to feed back home, you’re not free. If you’re working sixty hours per week but getting paid for 40, fraudulently, yet you take a medication that’ll cost you thousands per month without insurance, you’re not free. Jobs eat most of our waking hours; jobs shape our moralities. Tying our health care—the services and medicines people need to stay live—to our jobs denies us liberty.
This brings us to the New Mexico Health Security Act. This is a bill that will be introduced in the New Mexico state legislature in January. The bill has been crafted by over 145 organizations across New Mexico over the last 24 years; the bill almost passed last year, in fact. If passed in two months, the Health Security Act would first commission a study about health care costs in New Mexico (a study which hasn’t been done for over ten years). Then the Act would have an independent think tank model whether or not we could afford to run our own health insurance plan, right here in New Mexico. If earlier, pre-Affordable Care Act financial models were right–if the Health Security Act is shown to save all New Mexicans money–then a publicly-run health insurance co-op would be formed that would cover 1.8 million out of the 2 million people in New Mexico, regardless of preexisting conditions. Limiting health insurance networks would cease to exist—you would be able to go to the doctor or hospital in New Mexico of your choice, and even get care outside of the state. Benefits would be at least as good as those given to state employees right now. Drugs would be cheaper because they could be purchased in bulk. Employers would likely save money because they’d no longer have to pay for workers’ compensation programs. Even car insurance premiums would be cheaper. The Health Security Plan would be required by law to operate with low administrative costs. And most importantly, we–you and I in this room, as well as everyone else who lives in this state–could weigh in on what kinds of care this old-fashioned health insurance plan would offer, and how this plan would be run.
Passing the Health Security Act will end many common health injustices in New Mexico. But if the goal is to assure everyone a dignified life and care when they require it, passing the Health Security Act will just be a start. Health insurers and their millionaire and billionaire executives and owners will try to kill or roll back the Health Security Act at every step. Even those who work at non-profit health insurance companies but whose professional salaries rely on the system working as is might resist the HSA. (A side note: the Health Security Act would mandate that the health insurance commission it sets up hires people in New Mexico to handle the plan’s administrative work. We should never leave workers out in the cold.)
I had the displeasure of listening to lobbyists testify in Committee Hearings in our state capitol over and over again last year, speaking against the Health Security Act. The good news is that rent-seeking capitalists, people who fear change because it’ll require them to change their habits, and those who’re paid to defend business as usual use the same argument over and over again. The argument is cowardly, and boils down to one central and nonsensical claim, as all cowardly arguments do: you do not know what you need.
But we know what we need: we need housing, transportation, good food, exciting labor, accessible communities, sunshine, clean water, play and rest, and responsibility. I say this as someone who believes that the promise of democracy has not yet been fulfilled: people need directly to have a say in the decisions affecting their lives. People know what they need, and that people are better off when they have more control over their lives, not less. We have seen and felt that market forces do not adequately take care of peoples, particularly when profits rely on denying people health care. Health care must be decentralized, must be connected to and controlled by communities, not Boards of Governors and executives.
That’s why the Santa Fe chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America is campaigning for the New Mexico Health Security Act: because it would be a great step towards a society in which we care for each other the best we can.