Biden Defends Undying Allegiance to For-Profit Healthcare During Interview With Dying Medicare for All Advocate Ady Barkan

Yves here. I suppose I should not be surprised to see that Biden is such a heartless pol that he could stare down someone who was dying and has had to spend too much of his precious remaining time fighting with insurance companies to defend private health insurance. And the bought and paid for loyalty of people like Biden means that if we ever get an expansion of public healthcare, every effort will be made to crapify it so as to make private coverage look not so terrible by comparison.

By Jon Queally, staff writer at Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

Medicare for All advocate Ady Barkan along with his wife, Rachael, and his two young children Carl and Willow, as they speak via conference with presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. (Photo: Screengrab/BeAHeroFund/NotThisNews)

After studiously avoiding a face-to-face interview during the Democratic presidential primary, presumptive nominee Joe Biden finally agreed to answer questions from Medicare for All advocate Ady Barkan, a progressive activist who suffers from the terminal and degenerative disease known as ALS.

In a video of their exchange posted online Wednesday, the former vice president defends his commitment to the nation’s private insurance industry and says that while “he fully gets” why so many people are fed up with for-profit insurance companies and the employer-based coverage—and even amid a raging pandemic that many argue has further exposed the system’s cruelty and inefficiencies—he still remains steadfastly opposed to Medicare for All as a viable alternative.

“It’s no secret that I support Medicare for All,” says Barkan about mid-way through their exchange to which Biden interjects: “I don’t.”

During the primary, Barkan was able to interview most of the top Democratic contenders—including Medicare for All champion Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who Barkan later endorsed—but Biden refused to accept repeated invitations.

Finally given a chance to challenge the former vice president with pointed questions on the subject of healthcare, Barkan asks Biden: “Do you see a future where health insurance is no longer tied to employment? Will America ever have a single payer system where health care is guaranteed as a human right?”

“Health care guaranteed as a human right,” Biden responds, “but taking away the right to have a private plan if you want a private plan, I disagree with.”

Healthy California Now, which advocates for both Medicare for All and a state-based single-payer solution, lamented that Biden—”running for president during a global pandemic and economic collapse”—had the ability to look Barkan “in the eye” and tell him “flippantly” he opposes Medicare for All, “the only compassionate and efficient solution” to the national crisis.

While Biden repeats that he believes healthcare “is a right, not a privilege” several times, Barkan presses him on specific features of the private insurance industry and the frustrations of navigating it as a terminally-ill person in the United States.

“Vice President, I hope you understand this issue is personal for me,” Barkan says. “This isn’t abstract or theoretical. When I say I’m Medicare for All advocate, I hope you understand it’s because I’ve spent hours on hold with insurance companies when they won’t cover the cost of my care. It’s because I’ve had to sue insurance companies when they tell me I need to pay thousands of dollars out of my own pocket for the cost of full-time care. And I have a great private insurance plan.”

“I understand what you are saying about keeping private plans,” Barkan continues, “but I guess my question is, what does preserving private insurance really do for people?”

“It depends on the plan,” Biden responds. “Look, you know what my bills were for my hospitalization? They were $280,000. I get it, man. I’m not new to this. I’m not where you are, but I get it. I fully get it.”

Progressives and human rights advocates, however, continue to ask if Biden really does get it.

Instead of Medicare for All, Biden has pushed for expanding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed under the Obama administration, by adding a public option, further subsidizing “Gold Plans” on the private market, and adding home care costs to benefits that could be covered.

Experts and economists have long argued that simply adding a public option or other tweaks to the private system will never achieve the kind of efficiencies, universal coverage, and cost-savings that a Medicare for All system would achieve.

Watch the full interview below:

Barkan said in a tweet that while he and Biden “have meaningfully different perspectives on the world,” he was glad to hear the Democratic nominee out and also issued an official endorsement for his candidacy. During the interview, Barkan told Biden he was “fully committed” to seeing President Donald Trump defeated in November.

Despite Biden’s refusal to embrace Medicare for All, said Barkan, “I left the conversation knowing that putting him in the White House is a critical step in our struggles for justice.”

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  1. carl

    This is why I’ll be departing the US for Europe in the near future. I began paying attention to the predatory US healthcare system fifteen years ago, when I had an emergency appendectomy and had to be in hospital for seven days. Since then, the system has gotten steadily more outrageously expensive and crapified. Unlike the activist in the post, I have zero hope that anything will change in my lifetime.

    1. juliania

      The majority of US citizens cannot do what you are doing. I for one was going to not vote this election. However, I will vote for local Dems in my state, and I will write in Jill Stein as universal health care is what we need, and she advocated for that. I voted for her last time; I am not sure all such votes were counted, but this brave man requires my support, even though Medicare for all is not universal healthcare. I know because I have the minimal medicare and it took me three years to pay for my hip operation at $50 a month — still preferable to the next step up on Medicare which involves private insurance, and that was doable for me. Get the virus? I will wear my mask in public, stay home and die here if I do get it.

      Write in Jill Stein. Do not support the current system or any halfway measures. If my write-in is not counted, that will be on them, not on me; I will do my best. We could at least have Canada’s system, tried and working right next door. It is criminal that we don’t!

      Thank you for this post, Yves. Health care is what this election ought to be all about. It is one thing the virus is telling us.

      1. Massinissa

        Thats what I always do: Vote dem downballot and vote for whoever is the Green candidate at the top. Green candidate this year is going to be Howie Hawkins.

        1. rur

          2 more votes for a right wing scotus nominee that will gut all health care

          ah well twas brillig and the slithey toves did gyre and grumble in my lairr

          1. richard

            have you paid any attention at all to how the dem party has “opposed” trump’s judicial appointments so far? he brags about setting a record for how many he’s got through, as schumer has fast tracked or at least decided not to obstruct at all.
            spare us the vote shaming, nobody needs your opinion and how they use their franchise
            not voting for biden is NOT a f*&^ing vote for trump
            let me repeat that again, as the straightforward simplicity seems to have eluded you:
            not voting for biden does not equal voting for trump
            your reasoning invariably leads to uncritical compliance in an an abusive relationship
            free your mind

          2. Kurtismayfield

            Please show me how Merrick Garland was not going to vote center right and gut my health care. Or how the next Center right nomination that Biden brings up will not gut it.

            I have no way to vote for a major candidate for President that does not support corporate policies and Center right positions in the US.

            1. witters

              And the poor bastard on the receiving end of the evil is still going to vote for evil – ‘endorse’ it, in fact. I sometimes wonder at the depths of degradation modern ‘representative democracy’ demands of its loyal Potemkin voters.

          3. Massinissa

            I mean, maybe we should just change the system so that Scotus gets democratically elected or something? Rather than constantly wailing about the Republicans putting more right wingers on the court, only for the Dems to come in and… Put more right wingers on the court? I’m rather tired of this nonsense. Its not like we can force the Dems to choose someone progressive if we do end up voting for Joe.

            1. a different chris

              At least term limit the family-bloggers somehow.

              To me, “bad behavior” would be staying well past your welcome! And we’ll set a date on how long they are “welcome” to hang out on the taxpayer’s dole.

              Worth a shot. :D

        2. Mike Elwin

          Oh yes, it’s a wonderful time to weaken the only candidate with a chance of beating Trump.

          Good thinking!

  2. Dwight

    Biden could simply say that if Congress passes Medicare for All, he will sign the bill and faithfully execute it, but that until then, he will faithfully execute the ACA to maximize benefits to the people. But he said he would veto Medicare for All. Has he changed that position?

    1. L

      No he has always been opposed to M4A and was quite clear that he would veto it even earlier in the primaries.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      That is a Lucy pulling away the football position, because he knows there is no way a Medicare for all bill will get past both houses.

      1. Dwight

        That is why I don’t understand why he says he would veto it. Saying he would veto it drives away more voters than it attracts. The voters it attracts would also be attracted by a neutral position.

  3. Charger01

    I think Glen Ford is correct. Dems are the more effective evil. The solution (and crisis) is gift wrapped at their feet, they would be instantly popular and would crush in the upcoming election. Why won’t they do it?
    Surprise- their donors would drop them like yesterdays garbage. Nothing is as clear cut as this interview. M4A would provide a tangible benefit improving everyone’s lives, but ‘ol Joe can only stammer out that empty phrase “heathcare is a right”….just not in our constitution or bill of rights. Hollow words from a hollow man.

    1. Carla

      Absolutely. Dems are the more effective evil. Glen Ford rocks.

      And that comment about Biden’s “empty words”? The vessel which utters them is empty, not merely the words.

      1. polecat

        Does this Barkan fellow suffer so much from TDS, that he STILL feels compeled to endorse such a total fraud as Biden … and by extension, the entirely corrupt Democrat elite??

        So, essentially he’s saying ‘I’m going to vote for you … even though your health policies suck Bigly!’ … because !OrangeManBad! … rather than excoriate Joe’s utter fecklessness in refusing do what’s right for the plebs?

        Seriously, WTF!!

        1. foghorn longhorn

          Slo joe also claimed he spent 280,000 when he’s been on the congressional plan or medicare his whole effing life.
          I would cut off my pecker before I would vote for that peckerwood.

          1. Tom Doak

            He said that’s what the bills were. He didn’t say he paid that much, if anything at all.

            1. Spring Texan

              I think it might have been his son’s bills, not on the federal plan. Though it’s not what he said.

              He clearly learned nothing.

            2. Sue inSoCal

              Yes, Tom. He doesn’t say what his out of pocket was. I think we know Congress et al have super Gold plans and I doubt he paid much out of pocket. So, he “gets it?” Oh please! A Medicare for All or any other universal healthcare will no doubt be crapified if it’s a public/private endeavor. The predatory employer based private health insurance model is over. The jobs are…gone. And, it’s set up for CEOs and boards to profit in the billions on our misery. Is this a right – for us? Medicare itself can be like fighting a private company for many parts of it. Exhausting whether or not you’re chronically ill. God bless the DNC…

          2. Anthony Noel

            Joe also left out the fact that he’s worth an estimated 9 million dollars (that we know of, who knows what his hidden wealth adds up to).

            So slight difference between a $280,000 bill being roughly 1/35th of your net worth, and $280,000 being a bill that bankrupts you and puts you in never ending debt.

            Or you just can’t pay it so you die.

        2. L

          I think it comes down to whether you see going with this as a way to advance towards the goal which a public option might be. Or converesely if you see Trump’s attempts to deregulate what we do have as a step back.

          1. JeffK

            Essentially its a choice between a week-old ham sandwich versus a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

            1. Prairie Bear

              A ham sandwich that’s been left out on the kitchen counter at room temperature for that week. With LOTS of mayonnaise.

          2. John Wright

            If the Dems grab the senate and continue to hold the house, they could stymie Trump.

            But if the last few years are indication, the Dems will follow in Obama’s “Talk loudly and carry a small stick” model and offer little opposition to Trump’s actions.

            While Obama could cloak his actions with smooth oratory, Trump lacks this ability.

            If the leader of the opposing party telegraphs he plans to do harm and the Democrats continue to offer little opposition, then the Democratic rot is far more extensive than their lame assumed candidate Biden.

            1. Mike Elwin

              It’s up to the progressive Democrats to take the party away from the DLC libDems, mainly the old-fashioned way of winning elections. They failed at that this year. Non-progressive voters who aren’t wholly mesmerized by Trump are scared to take a chance on the left’s untried (in the US, at least) programs.

              1. ambrit

                A good way to frame the argument is to show that the so called Left-wing policies being proposed are just retreads of the New Deal.

        3. CarlH

          This was my reaction as well. I actually got angry at Barkan at that point, however unjustifiable that may be.

          1. tegnost

            My hopeful thought on this is that the only way the call would be made was with an endorsement. I personally would pay that price in order to get bidens whole hearted opposition on the record for all to see as was done here.

      2. A Michael

        An empty vessel can be filled. Joe Biden, over decades, has been filled to the rim with corporate coins, dominant ideology, and insane neoliberal talking points.

    2. richard

      yes, exactly. The dems generally run from popularity like it’s typhoid. But not just because their donors abhor everything that could even marginally improve our lives. I’m sure donor interests play a part, but essentially I think their anti-populism has more to do with preserving the Party exactly like it is. Expanding the Party or creating a lot of popular enthusiasm would ruin it for them. Corrupt privilege creates status and wealth for politicians; actual good governance would make a lot of that disappear. I see the donations they get less as bribes than engagement rings. They say: “I am safe and with you. Let’s work together.” It’s like an engagement ring because the monetary part isn’t fungible. Me and my commie friends couldn’t get together and raise $50,000 and buy a representative to push M4A. They don’t want to be engaged with me, even if the money is the same, because that relationship wouldn’t create a lot of corrupt privilege, a situation that brings them status and wealth. The situation is framed to make it look like the donors are in control, because that serves elites and makes everything seem more hopeless. But fundamentally, the legislators have the power in the relationship. imo anyway

      1. Redlife2017

        Re: Preserving the Party as is…

        That got me thinking about the Lepoard. I’ve only ever read the book, but I found an amazing review of it at Criterion and the last paragraph was very incisive to this moment in time:

        “For things to remain the same, everything must change.” Spoken near the beginning of the film, the famous catchphrase simply sug­gests adaptation. For the prince and his class, a modified monarchy is better than a republic. As it echoes through the film, the phrase comes to mean something very different and gets close to the heart of Visconti’s [the director’s] criticism of modern Italy [1960s]. It means that anything goes as long as we get to stay at the top of the political pile—whoever “we” are. This is not the prince’s world, but it is Tancredi’s. “You wouldn’t have spoken like that once,” one of the prince’s daughters says to Tancredi at the ball, when he talks so casually of the need for (and the cost of) law and order. “You’re wrong, my dear,” he answers. “I’ve always spoken like that.” And he has. He has changed his opinions and allegiances, but he has always spoken like a man who knows what’s necessary—for him and, as Visconti would say, for the thousands like him to be found in many times and many places.

    3. Mattski

      This has long been my contention, too. They’re more competent, and better educated, can finesse things (see Clinton and Obama) in a way that the more rough-hewn Repubs often cannot. Both parties are useful. The Republicans drive the economy and conversation far to the right, the Dems tidy up.

  4. sharonsj

    Another reason why I will not be voting for Biden in the general election. I realized some time ago that the Democratic establishment was no longer interested in doing much for the average American. They may be better than Republicans in some areas, but when push comes to shove, they will always take care of their corporate overlords first.

    1. Noel Nospamington

      Unfortunately not voting for the Democrats in a two party winner take all system is a vote for the Republicans.

      Trump and other Republicans benefited greatly by the 42% of eligible voters who did not vote in the 2016 election.

      Biden is the lesser evil compared to Trump.

      Americans are better off simply holding their nose and voting strategically for all presidential, senatorial, congressional, and other candidates in the 2020 election who would do the least harm.

      1. edmondo

        Biden is the lesser evil compared to Trump.

        You have any proof of that statement? Because I can’t see it.

        1. Anarcissie

          The ‘vote for Biden just because he’s not Trump’ people forget that Biden, (or the junta that runs him) is the greater warmonger. I don’t know why people don’t take this more seriously. Trump is bad, but when it comes to warmongering he’s objectively the lesser evil. It’s true that the war talk could be just one more phase of dirty domestic politics, but in the past that sort of thing has degenerated into real, very destructive wars.

          1. Jen

            And he supports the TPP (remember that?), which is a deal breaker for me. They are both utterly repellent. Might write in Bernie, might leave the top of the ticket blank, but I’m not voting for either of them.

            1. Off The Street

              The arguments against Biden make quite a long list.
              No M4A
              Crime Bill
              Those $%#@ Credit Card people
              Student Loan BK
              His kid
              Et cetera ad nauseam

              Sorry, I have to go throw up now.

              When did voting become such a disgusting forced choice about what option one may tolerate only slightly more than another?

              1. L

                When did voting become such a disgusting forced choice about what option one may tolerate only slightly more than another?

                When our political system became a monopoly of two corporate channels.

                1. Elizabeth

                  Too bad Joe Biden couldn’t live up to his father’s ideals (if indeed, those really were his ideals). Biden is nothing but a hollow shell with absolutely no humanity or compassion. I really don’t understand how Barkan can endorse this family blogger. The whole interview really made me so upset I profoundly can’t stand Biden even more than I did yesterday.

                  1. John Wright

                    It would be good if someone would ask Joe Biden if replacing the current Medicare system with ACA and a “public option” is something he would advocate in the Biden Administration.

                    If Biden’s proposal is so good, then he should push for everyone, regardless of age, to be covered by “Biden care for all” rather than have the “medicare for some” reserved for those for those over 65.

              2. Mike Elwin

                And the arguments against Trump?

                Hey, are the stunningly destructive anti-Biden submissions here being written in Russia?! Their impact is to weaken him, which automatically strengthens Trump.

          2. m sam

            Actually I think it is crystal clear that the Biden junta (I like that one, it fits so well with the absorption of Bush, and even ‘I like Cheney’ into the program) is to the right of Trump on many issues. The whole Biden phenomenon is so gross it would make Faust blush (as in, “you made that deal with the devil???)

            So many think it is some sort of “voting strategery” to pull the leaver for Biden, but I’m afraid I couldn’t stop myself from vomiting enough to do it. The Democrats have lost their minds to think he is the right candidate, and have basically chosen which direction in which we’ll be sinking into the sea.

          3. Prairie Bear

            Joe Biden has no empathy. He said it right out loud. Yeah, I know, the context is supposedly “young people today,” but it’s attitude toward everybody else, too. As Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

      2. Oso

        Noel Nospamington,
        unfortunately you are both math challenged and ethics challenged. a vote for a republican is a vote for a republican. a vote for a democrat is a vote for a democrat. period. that’s how it works.
        and if you were capable of setting aside whatever point of privilege allows you to function as a literal lobbyist for yt supremacy you would stop referring to votes for continued oppression as strategic voting. third party voting is strategic. voting for the same thing again and again is insanity.

      3. Pat

        Excuse me, but why does everyone assume that if you could put a gun to the heads of people who do not vote or just do not vote for President and say pick one they would pick your lesser evil, thus changing the outcome of the election? Hell it might just have meant the first Libertarian Party President. Voters do not owe anyone their vote.

        Please put the blame where it really belongs on candidates who cannot or don’t even bother to hide their disinterest in the concerns of those voters. If they cannot make a real case that they are actually better than the other guy, then they aren’t going to get people to vote. And they are the ones who have failed.

      4. Glen

        Please, don’t even think that I won’t vote.

        I’m going to vote ALL of the Democrats on the ballot OUT if Biden is on the ballot. ALL OF THEM.

        1. polecat

          Hear here! Scorched earth, my friend, Scorched earth.

          Why save a rotted burning edifice, when a push over the precipice will do …

          That’s how I, more than not, feel.

          1. Glen

            I prefer to call it bargaining. Want my vote? Ask what I want! Medicare For All NOW!

            Not going to do it? The go “family blog” yourself, you are NOT GETTING MY VOTE.

            Gripe at me if you lose? Go ahead! Because YOU ARE GOING TO LOSE without MY (and the MILLIONS OF VOTERS LIKE ME) SUPPORT!

            You could have done what I wanted and WON.

            It is REALLY JUST THAT EASY.

      5. Chris Smith

        “Unfortunately not voting for the Democrats in a two party winner take all system is a vote for the Republicans.” LOL. So if I vote for Howie Hawkins, then I am voting for Trump. But by not voting for Trump, I am also voting for Biden. And I am voting for Howie Hawkins. Cool! That’s like voting three times and its perfectly legal!

      6. Jeff W

        …voting strategically for all presidential, senatorial, congressional, and other candidates in the 2020 election who would do the least harm.

        In the short-term, maybe. But we’ve seen how the dynamic of voting for “the lesser evil” (if it even is that) plays out over forty years—the “lesser evil” party has only to put up candidates and endorse policies that are “less evil” than the other party and say “Don’t vote for them!” You still get “evil” over time—and progressively more “evil” at that, since voters just act on the relative “evil” in each electoral contest. The party that is nine units of “evil” to the other party’s ten (assuming such things are so neatly quantifiable) in one election can be 18 units of “evil” to the other party’s 20 in the next.

        There is, of course, no guarantee that if you don’t vote for the “lesser evil” party, things will change for the better but it seems to me that, as forty years has shown, if you do continuously vote “strategically” for the “lesser evil” party, over time things get progressively worse (and that progressive worsening, arguably, helped get Donald Trump, who, in 2016, ran a campaign against the status quo, elected). I’m not convinced that’s the better strategy.

        See also this post “What’s the Earliest a Progressive Democrat Can Be Elected President?” which says there’s at least a chance of having a progressive run against a non-incumbent Democrat in 2024 if Biden loses to Trump but later, perhaps much later, if he wins. Again, there’s the same short term/long-term dynamic at play—and it’s not clear that voting strategically in the short-term is better option.

      7. JohnMinMN

        “…not voting for the Democrats…is a vote for Republicans.”

        I disagree.

        a vote for Biden is a vote for Biden

        a vote for Trump is a vote for Trump

        3rd party vote or no vote is a vote for neither.

        If I’m torn between the two (I’m not, but for the sake of argument) and decide neither, a Trump supporter could just as easily argue that a vote for neither is a vote for Biden.

        1. a different chris

          >3rd party vote

          And in a polity where 48/45 is a “crushing” victory, signalling where you are at should really get the two top Parties attention. Which is why TPTB spend so much time telling you not to vote third party.

          If the 45% Party (this is a general election statement, as another specific statement I’d like to make is “family blog the Electoral College”) can get half of that 7% next election they would win.

          But that’s math, and math is way too hard for our whole political class, let alone “Noel Nospamington” above.

      8. swangeese

        I look at it this way. I get more ‘bang’ for my voter buck if I vote third party.

        I vote for the person that most reflects my views. That person more often than not is a third party candidate.

        Therefore I get to also “vote” for whomever wins that everyone on one side hates.

        I like to call it ‘value-added voting’.

        Unfortunately there is no “none of the above” or ranked choice voting in my state, so I register my disapproval where I can. It’s not my fault that the Ds and Rs keep nominating unacceptable candidates. Shame the parties that nominate the crappy candidates;not the voters.

        I vote strategically in the only way a person like me can.

        1. a different chris

          >Unfortunately there is no “none of the above”

          But you just made (otherwise good post) why NOTA is not a useful statement. Because it doesn’t answer “why” none of the above.

          The one time I don’t make fun of Libertarians is when they vote for the Libertarian Party. “I want somebody who also stopped thinking about society when they were 14 years old like I did” is a clear statement at least.

      9. richard

        try thinking of your statement the other way around, a trump supporter telling me that voting for a third party is a vote for biden. It makes exactly as much sense as what you are saying.
        also, blue no matter who and hold your nose brought us trump
        and it will bring us worse than trump, you have my word
        that logic only ratchets things perpetually to the right
        to where GW Bush is now on “our” side
        you never vote for just a democrat or a republican
        you always get both: you get the useless dem years, with dem leadership “reaching out” to the other side, to give us more war, cuts in pensions, etc
        and then you get the inevitable reaction because the dems are completely useless for any concrete material benefit to anyone

      10. Oh

        Sounds like the same excuse the DemRats used when Gore could win the Presidency; they blamed Ralph Nader.

        1. Mike Elwin

          I supported Nader’s right to run, but his voters did hand the presidency to Bush. They didn’t intend to, and if Gore had run a better campaign, the Nader votes wouldn’t have mattered, but Gore didn’t and Nader’s voters did.

          And I repeat, are these severe anti-Biden submissions being written in Russia!

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Daily Kos is over there.

            This is also ad hominem and a violation of our written site Policies. And it appears you are responding this way because you can’t defend Biden on the merits.

            And your assertion re Gore is false. First, Gore didn’t contest Florida effectively. Tons of legal commentary on that.

            Second, even before the hanging chads and all that, Greg Palast has pointed out that Jeb Bush hired the most expensive firm bidding for the contract to scrub Florida voter rolls of felons (who can’t vote in FL even if they have done their time). The firm scrubbed every black-sounding name that dimly resembled a felon’s name, like Lakishsa Washington if the felon was Letty Washington. The result was 7x more names scrubbed than the names of actual felons removed from the voter rolls. There were many contemporaneous reports of black voters, such as pastors, being turned away at the polls.

            Palast estimates a minimum of 90,000 black voters removed that way (could be as many as 2X that number.).

            90,000 x 30% black turnout x 90% propensity of blacks to vote Democrat = 24,300 more Gore votes in Florida, nearly 8x as many as the hanging chads.

      11. sj

        not voting for the Democrats in a two party winner take all system is a vote for the Republicans.

        I can’t tell you how tired I am of hearing that repeated and repeated and repeated. If I have a piece of cake which I could give to the bully to the right of me or the bully in front me, and I choose to eat it myself or give it to my little sister, neither bully took it all. I might get beaten up for that moral choice, but neither bully gained.

        It’s up to them to find their own damn cake.

        And lesser evil is still evil. I may have to stay in hell, but I’m not going to actively vote to keep myself there.

        1. Mike Elwin

          The thing is, it’s not cake. It’s more like a case of life-saving medicine. You can give it to the guy who’ll keep all of it for himself even though he doesn’t need it OR to the guy who’ll share a lot of it with people already sick.

          Which will you do?

          1. sj

            You have provided a classic example of a false dilemma or false choice fallacy. But I’ll bite anyway. As soon as I found a guy who would share it with the least among us, I would give it. The current options provided are takers who only share with other takers.

  5. Glen

    Who is going to take their family out for dinner, a visit to the mall, or anything knowing that EVEN IF they get sick, BUT GET WELL, they are going to get tens of thousands in medical bills.


    American small businesses, want to recover? Better get Medicare For All.

    And Biden, I’m a fifty year Democratic voter and I will NEVER vote for Biden. Because he is wrong and his polices will KILL America, kill Americans, and kill American small businesses.

    1. Susan the other

      Biden is the worst. He cannot be trusted about anything. But his obsolete dedication to healthcare insurance is even worse than usual. It is hopeless and stupid. The great american health care system of for-profit hospitals and emergency rooms and for-profit healthcare insurance make american healthcare expensive, inadequate and unworkable. There’s no mystery to what is happening and what can happen. The only thing that can happen is the bankruptcy of hospitals and patients; of doctors and clinics; of the economy generally. The only wormhole left will be for the healthcare industry – the for-profit healthcare industry – to do some private equity shell game, call it a Public-Private-Partnership and insinuate themselves into the government-supported future healthcare industry – for a profit. Look for it, they’re prolly writing up the contracts now. The privateers are maneuvering for a way to secure their old position. Paid for by the government.

      1. GramSci

        Billions for unproved vaccines and remdesivir… the contracts are already being cashed out.

    2. fwe'zy

      I’m with you too, Glen, but under the current system, small businesses treat their employees the worst in order to “keep the lights on,” as they constantly hold over their workers. /Incidentally, please read Greg Sharzer on the perils of smaller-is-better and localism.

      Maybe there is a place for small business, but as we are seeing, capitalist relations need to go. Is that a non sequitur?

      Trust me: I was formed under capitalism too, and yearn for petty bourg yeoman farmer autonomy too. Sadly, with high stakes intensifying class society, that idyll is reeeeallly hard to come back from.

      1. Glen

        I hear you, but small businesses would benefit greatly if they didn’t have to worry about health insurance FOR EMPLOYEES OR CUSTOMERS. Medicare For All is a huge game changer if you start thinking about everything it touches. Then we can tackle other problems with them, and I agree there are many.

        But quite frankly, any small business owner that watched the billionaires on Wall St get bailed out while they got screwed, and is still all in with the existing system is smoking crack. They should have figured out that all that can best happen to them right now is get bought for pennies on the dollar by a bunch of Wall St/Fed backed billionaires masquerading as a PE firm. Or the long tough road of building a business when they KNOW that the deck is totally stacked against them in favor of Wall St/Fed back multinational corporate monstrosities that crush startups and small guys without a thought.

  6. jo6pac

    Bernie’s progressive d working with biden right wing ds is a waste of time. If he wins potus he’ll through the progressives under the wheels the bus and bring obombers crew.

    1. Dirk77

      Interesting. I’ve read speculation that the main motivation of Obama’s actions these days is to secure his legacy. Since Obama was so hot to defeat Bernie for that reason, dumping any progressive elements after the election is a given. Bringing in the old crew would be a bonus. So it does make sense in that way. Is it possible though In this line of thinking the old Obama crew might consider any Bernie type of policy if they could take credit for it?

      1. jo6pac

        I would have to say No. The old crew is to the right and would never help us on Main Street. wall street and merchants of death pay more:-)

      2. trhys

        Perhaps you have forgotten Obama’s drive for his “Grand Bargain”. Have you forgotten the deficit commission that Obama stocked with life-long opponents of Social Security. I won’t go on. Really? A Bernie type policy?

        1. Dirk77

          Ha. I had thought that but was grasping at straws. So with legacy and, especially, being totally owned by their corporate masters, we can expect what joe6pac said, and jsn and you backed up.

  7. Pat

    The conundrum presented by serial liar Joe Biden doesn’t really exist. Private insurance could and would still exist. It would just be supplemental, and actually have to provide the service promised. What would disappear would be the highly choreographed confidence game currently being played by our Private Medical triumvirate aka Insurance, Private hospitals/medical practices, and Big Pharma. All of which is designed to wring every cent possible from people while supplying the least amount of healthcare. There are a few side players who use employer based insurance to limit employee options, but those are slowly dying as the other players are strangling them.

    Unlike Barkan, I see no value in voting for a man so arrogant and divorced from reality. For me the kicker is his using his supposed $280,000 hospital bill. I like how he phrases it. The bills for my emergency room visit were cheap $2280, my actual cost was $250 as my plan was catastrophic and this was one place my coverage kicked in sans deductible. He expects people to infer that his cost was $280,000. I am pretty damn sure it wasn’t. Biden has had excellent government insurance for decades, and Medicare after that. And if you don’t think that Joe and Jill Biden have comprehensive supplemental insurance, well I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. But even if it were true, Joe Biden is apparently totally divorced from the real devastation that a $280,000 medical bill would cause for most Americans. For a large percentage it would be a trip to visit One of Joe’s other accomplishments, the particularly punitive American bankruptcy system.

    This man should rot in hell.

    1. richard

      well expressed
      i just can’t see how we can ever use him
      and he will bring us to a more hawkish position globally
      which is hard to imagine short of war

      1. RMO

        I thought he was implying that his bill was $280,000 and covered by his plan but the idea that all citizens should be able to avail themselves of treatment that expensive is ridiculous – HE is an important and valuable person so he gets that coverage. The notion that a janitor should be allowed to keep living if they fall prey to a similar disease? Preposterous! The little people are expendable. Their lives aren’t worth that much so they should just go die.

        I was sure that Sanders would be taken down by the party but I wasn’t expecting that the Dems would be able to find a candidate that vied for awfulness with Trump a second time. Quite an achievement really.

  8. John

    A $280,000 mdical bill would leave me penniless and in debt. When I saw this story and the “lesser evil” comments, I was reminded of a graphic I saved “Cthulhu 2016: Why not the Greater Evil”

    For profit healthcare is not really healthcare so much as it is rent seeking by whoever owns the practice and does such things as lays off, furloughs, pick your poison, doctors in the midst of an epidemic. Private equity owns medical practices. With their vaunted interest in ‘efficiency’ via cost cutting the “partners” extract the maximum rent while delivering something. Is it the best or even what was delivered before their intervention? I don’t know.

    Biden is sadly mistaken if he thinks opposition to even the concept of Medicare for All is a non-starter. He is a better than Trump in that he is not a narcissistic ignoramus. In his adherence to the corporate-Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party he is no better.

    1. Alex Cox

      Cthulu is running in 2020. If you do a search you can find bumperstickers and a tshirt with his/her/its campaign motto, “No Lives Matter.”

  9. Aron Blue

    I’m a one-issue voter and that issue is Medicare for All because our healthcare system as it stands is a fraudulent deathtrap. If Orange Julius came out tomorrow and supported it, I would vote for him. This is a very big hypothetical. I’m just saying. As it is, I’m not voting. California is bluer than the sky on national politics so my abstention is not a vote for non medicare-for-all supporting Trump, either.

    We’re not supposed to be on their team. They’re supposed to be on ours.

    1. Oh

      Medicare for all is already is a step down and a compromise from the original single payer bill. Medicare has the supplemental insurance albatross that takes away $$ from you via deductibles and copayments. None of the costs are transparent and you’ll receive a bill after the service. And the provider will bill you if your supplemental insurance company doesn’t pay. It’s far from the healthcare system in Canada or some of the European countries. If you change your insurer, you have to select a different primary physician. Kaiser may be an exception.

  10. Arizona Slim

    What, pray tell, is so precious about these private health insurance plans? I have yet to experience any plan that I would want to sign up for voluntarily.

    1. Watt4Bob

      What, pray tell, is so precious about these private health insurance plans?

      Maybe the fact that you won’t have to sit next to poor people in the doctors office?

    2. sj

      “I have yet to experience any plan that I would want to sign up for voluntarily.”

      I go the other direction. I always sign up for the best health care plan that is available at my workplace. It’s always as expensive as all get out, but not as expensive as paying for catastrophic health issues on my own. Because I have experienced some of those issues.

      I would give it up in a heartbeat for M4A. Raise my taxes, remove my premiums and co-pays and I still come out ahead.

      But you know getting rid of my employer based plan isn’t my real issue. Right now, I can afford this health plan, but I also right now have family members with health issues. I would gladly pay in taxes twice what I am paying now to insurers if I knew they were receiving the care they need. All the care they need.

      1. a different chris

        *This* is a very interesting point.

        You are, say in your early 40s. Your brother, say, is in his late 40s.

        You pay a comical amount, but can easily afford it because you have a high-paying job, for comprehensive quality (by US standards, anyway) low deductible low hassle healthcare.

        You would gladly pay that much again, every month, if it would support your brother to the same level. Unemployed maybe, or a brilliant guy finally starting his own brilliant company, whichever.

        Yet you can’t even do that in America. There is no law that says you can’t, just like there is no law that says you can’t shop for unobtainium. It just doesn’t exist, it’s baked into the fabric of the whole stupid scheme.

  11. Dr. John Carpenter

    This makes my blood boil. I won’t go into the long story but, in February, my significant other started having trouble walking. Then seeing. By the time I finally got her into the doctor, they didn’t exactly know what was going on. In fact, they still don’t. They’re treating it as a neurological disorder whose name escapes me. It’s related to MS but seriously rare.

    At any rate, she’s started receiving her medical bills. To set the stage, she works for a major university and has “good” insurance. Since February, she’s looking over $400k so far with no end in sight. So far, they’re still in the figuring things out stage. She’s not any better and “health care” is just getting more expensive. She’s still trying to work because she has no choice.

    The cruelest part? She’s European and a dual citizen. Had this happened at home, or were we able to get her home, she wouldn’t be considering selling her house and declaring bankruptcy over four months of medical bills. Up to now, she’s been remarkably resilient and good natured about it all, but the combination of no progress in the treatment and bills there’s no way she will ever pay are starting to wear her down.

    So yeah. I’m not personally affected like Ady, but it’s hit my family. I’m worried for her health and I’m also worried about what happens next. I’m worried that even if they get things under control, she’s going to be in a financial hole she will never get out of. And that’s assuming the insurance doesn’t just decide to drop her or the university fire her or any one of a number of things that could happen.

    As for Biden, I wouldn’t across the street to p*ss on him even if he was on fire. I dare a Democrat to try to shame me for not voting for him.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      >I wouldn’t across the street to p*ss on him
      > even if he was on fire.

      I would.

    2. Tom Stone

      Dr Carpenter, with over $300K in medical bills myself I understand your friend’s situation all too well.
      I may have a suggestion that would help, my address consists of my first and last names run together follwed by the numerals for seven fifty six.
      It’s a Yah account.

    3. JeffK

      Everyone here has a reason to disrespect Biden – good reasons. But there aren’t any perfect politicians – never have been. If you won’t vote for Biden or Trump do you think your unchecked box for president will mean anything? The party that wins will read the tea leaves of the election results and fabricate a phony “mandate” regarding health care. If you write in Sanders, Nader, or Conye West, do you think that some entity looking over the post-election census will write a report to the wining party that says “look at how all these disenfranchised voters voted – maybe we should reevaluate the healthcare mandate”? Won’t happen. This may sound cynical, but the only way to make change, however incrementally small, is to win – or to start throwing hand grenades.

      I think the healthcare system will implode on its own regardless of who is in office. The question is whether Biden can surround himself with enough smart people who can fashion something socially responsible from the ashes. That’s a big unknown. We already know what kind of people Trump chose.

      1. Oso

        your reference to perfect politicians is a strawman. nobody is saying they want perfection. Some of us want a small bit of decency, a small bit of humanity. those of us in the streets are trying to make a better world, and the streets are more crowded now. you can continue to sit on the sidelines and vote for nothing. your call.

      2. Charger01

        The question is whether Biden can surround himself with enough smart people who can fashion something socially responsible from the ashes. That’s a big unknown

        I disagree to the extreme. He’s a fully formed 76 year old man, he will not be swayed by former Obamacare staffers to make radical changes. His donors are the same people who profit from the status quo, and will fight viciously to maintain their position within that system. There’s no “give” to the DNC or democratic operatives. Their know which side their bread is buttered, full stop.

        I would seriously look to Donnie (as a certain jagoff comedian has mentioned) on the off chance he give us a form of M4A in response to the sickness crisis. Donnie may do it as a distraction or out of pure necessity, either way a wild card may be better than Joe “Sure Thing” Biden.

      3. Lambert Strether

        > The question is whether Biden can surround himself with enough smart people who can fashion something socially responsible from the ashes. That’s a big unknown.

        It’s not unknown at all; Biden will surround himself with The Obama Alumni Association (the people whose response to the last crash meant ten years for the working class to crawl back to parity with pre-crash wages, and who destroyed a generation of black wealth) and an admixture of Bush Republicans (the people who gave us Iraq).

        Do people really think that Obama stood up Biden so that he would implement anything like Sanders’ policies, compromises though they were? Come on, man.

        1. JeffK

          Who is on the ticket? Who will be on the ticket in November? Why do you think that AOC, Sanders, and Warren endorsed Biden? Are you saying they are sell-outs?

          I think they believe that we can change things from within. I think we are going to have to limp forward for a while more and continue to build progressive representation in the house and senate.

          I think you are right that grandpa Joe is too old to think progressive on his own and will likely pick people he is familiar with, but I don’t know what concessions Biden made to get the Sanders, Warren and AOC endorsement. He is old and won’t last long.

          1. Jobs

            Yes. They are sellouts. And things cannot be changed from within – look at how the last primary went. People who believe that are either delusional or in on it, and don’t want it to change because they benefit from it. At the very least, it’s a distraction from the difficult and hard work of building up a viable third party that can offer actual competition to the duopoly. In the electoral space, that is what will cause the Democrat Party to change, and nothing else.

      4. Dr. John Carpenter

        To echo what Oso, Charger01 and Lambert have said:

        1) I’m not asking for perfection. I am well aware that does not exist, especially in this two party farce. I am asking for someone not actively working against my best interests and those of my loved ones. Biden does not meet that requirement. A vote for Biden is a vote for nothing fundamentally changing, as he himself has said.

        2) The idea that Biden is going to have a bunch of people around him pushing him to do the right thing is a fantasy. We can see the people around him and they’re the same people who created the moment we are in. The idea that Biden can be pushed to do the right thing is a fantasy. He’s been in public office longer than I’ve been alive and has been on the wrong side of pretty much any issue you can name, often times in a leadership position. It’s absurd to think a lifer at the end of his career propped up by the status quo is going to suddenly change.

        3) This idea that the Dem candidate is running right but will turn left after they are elected is the same Lucy and Charlie Brown’s football game the Dems ask us to play every four years. It simply doesn’t happen that way. And for this specific issue, Biden has stated multiple times M4A isn’t happening if he’s elected. He hasn’t chosen to say much of substance, but that this is one of the few things he has tells me he means it. I really don’t see how much clearer it could be.

      5. a different chris

        > “look at how all these disenfranchised voters voted – maybe we should reevaluate the healthcare mandate”? Won’t happen.

        Oh you know that?

        I guess you’re right, that Donald Trump guy tried to run for the Republicans back in 2016 with different ideas about a lot of stuff (including a promise for a “better” health care plan) and he disappeared from history, so there’s that.

  12. flora

    Even Nixon (!) proposed and advocated universal healthcare. Biden is to the right of Nixon on healthcare, and much to the right of Nixon on a lot of economic and public policy issues. Nixon was, imo, the last Keynesian president of either party. (An arguable point.) Now it’s new neo Dems and neo Reps all the way down. For these neo guys, perceived market “wishes” and rich donor wishes override regular voters’ wishes and good public policy. Universal healthcare is good public policy. Look at Canada, UK, France, Germany, etc. Our neo guys send good public policy to the back of the bus.

  13. David in Santa Cruz

    Let’s see, I don’t have to be ripped apart and eaten alive by this pack of rabid hyenas if I just choke-down this one dog turd?

    Biden 2020! Divine would have done it!

  14. Prairie Bear

    Joe Biden has no empathy. He said it right out loud. Yeah, I know, the context is supposedly “young people today,” but it’s attitude toward everybody else, too. As Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

    1. JBird4049

      A Sister Souljah moment? Really? It wasn’t kicking down. More like pulling wings from a butterfly for fun is what he did to a dying man and his family.

      Seeing Biden cheerfully pernicious grin reminded me of why I’m a widower. To Hades with him and the Democratic Party.

  15. attila the hun

    The Democratic Party is morally and intellectually bankrupt. The election and reelection of Clinton proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. The resurrection of Biden, errand boy for the credit card companies, is additional proof, if more proof is needed. No vote for mc4all, no vote for Biden, period, end of story. Let the Democratic Party disintegrate. It’s a fate those phonies richly deserve. The country will survive, and hopefully
    a new party will rise from the ashes of the old and pursue policies that are in the PUBLIC interest. What an amazing development that would be.

  16. Bob


    Here’s how it works –

    Each Candidate presells their positions to “Donors” who then tender “Donations” which are actually bribes.

    Expect that the the Pharma / Health insurance scam of skimming off 25% to 30% of the take will continue. This 25% to 30% can be and is used to bribe folks like Joe Biden.

    So ordinary folks get over charged to pay for their enslavement.

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