Will the Congressional Progressive Caucus become the Freedom Caucus of the left?

Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar posing in the front row with other incoming members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Capitol Hill on November 14.

The new, 235-member strong Democratic majority set to take power in the U.S. House of Representatives in January will be, on average, the most progressive Democratic ruling faction on Capitol Hill in decades — or ever.

The party’s left flank is further to the left than ever: Democrats’ most celebrated freshmen, upstarts like Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are vowing to push for single-payer health care and other left-wing policies. Meanwhile, the Democrats to their right, like Rep.-elect Dean Phillips, unabashedly defend the Affordable Care Act, gun control, and other liberal priorities. The pro-gun, sometimes pro-life conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats who populated Democrats’ last House majority from 2007 to 2011 are all but extinct.

Progressives finally have a fresh chance to govern in D.C., and the Congressional Progressive Caucus is aiming to make it as successful as possible. The decades-old faction of the most left-leaning Democrats — most recently co-chaired by outgoing Rep. Keith Ellison — was, over the last eight years of Republican control of the House, a group of a few dozen liberals that slowly increased its clout in Congress as Democrats languished in the minority.

The 2018 midterm election not only put Democrats in the majority, but it swelled the CPC’s ranks to historic levels: the group is expected to have more than 95 members in the 116th Congress, which is even more than it had during the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. Commanding nearly 40 percent of the Democratic House contingent, the CPC has the votes to play a decisive role in which legislation passes Congress, if they vote as a bloc — like the 40-some members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus did under the GOP majority, a strategy that infuriated party leadership but gave the group outsize sway on the Hill.

But the CPC is not the Freedom Caucus, lawmakers and Congress experts say, and it’s unclear if progressives could, or would even want to, function as a bloc. What’s clear, though, is that CPC leaders and members want to set the agenda for congressional Democrats over the next two years, and they plan to champion an unapologetically progressive platform that may not produce many sweeping legislative achievements in divided government, but will serve as a statement of Democrats’ values ahead of the 2020 elections.

Showing what progressives can do

Democrats will return to the majority in January facing some significant challenges: they’ll have to find ways to advance their priorities with Republicans in control of the Senate and the White House, figuring out where they can compromise with the GOP and where they can’t.

The House will be at the forefront of Democrats’ efforts to make their case for the 2020 election, and it will play a major role in setting the landscape for that election: buoyed by their midterm romp, House Democrats are also planning to provide rigorous oversight of President Donald Trump and his administration.

The CPC is well-positioned to influence how the broader Democratic majority takes on all of these tasks. It is representative of the Democratic base — Omar told MinnPost the caucus was the “soul and conscience” of the party — and it is at the vanguard of some of the ideas that excite progressives most right now, from Medicare-for-All to abolishing the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to a more aggressive approach to mitigating climate change.

Omar, who was just elected to CPC leadership as whip, said that the caucus’ priorities in the upcoming Congress will be immigration reform, Medicare-for-All and other measures to make health care reform more affordable and accessible. “I’m quite certain we’re going to be aggressive pushing for a bill to come to the floor,” Omar said of health care issues.

The progressive Medicare-for-All dream is highly unlikely to go anywhere in the U.S. Senate — it’s unclear if it’d even pass the House — but in the eyes of CPC members, moving on bills like it helps to show voters what Democrats would accomplish if they were in control of more than just the House. “Part of what we need to do,” said Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan, a CPC co-chair, is to “pass legislation to show people what the alternative is if they were to elect more [legislative] bodies to have Democrats.”

The other point of moving big-picture bills: pushing the Democratic Party to the left. “We know that people agree with progressives on the issues,” Pocan said, citing a Reuters poll that showed 70 percent of Americans in support of Medicare-for-All. “Our job is to convince those who are elected that that’s what their constituents want… We want to make sure Democrats are responsive to taking such a big majority, to show people we heard their message.”

That’s an important project for the CPC, because the Democratic House will also be shaping must-pass legislation, like annual spending bills, which can become vehicles for larger policy fights. Likely Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and other Democrats, have also talked about compromising with Trump and Republicans on infrastructure legislation and bills to tackle the cost of prescription drugs.

With its numbers — Pocan ventured that the CPC could ultimately have closer to 100 members come January — the group could be in a position to preserve or kill any Democratic deal-making with Republicans when it comes to spending bills and other essential legislation.

Progressives are well aware of that possibility: over the last eight years, they watched as conservatives in the Freedom Caucus threatened to withhold their votes on government funding bills over all manner of things, from the national debt to immigration.

“We all watched what happened,” Pocan said, citing the current funding standoff over funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall — conservatives don’t think there’s enough money for it — as the final example of a GOP failure to govern. “None of us want that. As much as I may have differences on issues with some parts of the caucus, I realize how completely disastrous the last eight years have been.”

Taken for granted?

The idea of conflict within the Democratic majority is not just theoretical. While the 2018 election grew the CPC, it also boosted the numbers of two of its rivals to the right: the New Democrat Coalition, a caucus of pro-business, center-left Democrats, and the Blue Dogs, the party’s long-standing conservative wing.

The Blue Dogs, decimated by the 2010 tea party wave that retired many conservative Democrats, will have 24 members next year, up from 18 this year. (Rep. Collin Peterson, of Minnesota’s 7th District, is one of the longest-tenured and most conservative Blue Dogs.) It’s the New Democrats, however, that are poised to match the CPC: the group will have more than 90 members after adding 30 incoming freshman Democrats, including Angie Craig of Minnesota’s 2nd District and Dean Phillips of Minnesota’s 3rd District. (With Ellison and Rep. Rick Nolan leaving Congress, Omar will be the only CPC member from Minnesota.)

The New Democrats’ chair, Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, framed the 2018 midterm as a mandate for “thoughtful, service-driven leaders who will work across ideologies to get things done… Together we look forward to advancing key priorities like investing in American infrastructure and reducing the cost of health care.”

Democrats have made a point of showing a unified front since their election win: their first big piece of legislation is a slate of democracy, ethics, and good-government reforms that many candidates ran and won on this year. At a press conference last week, a range of Democrats from Omar to Phillips appeared onstage with Pelosi to voice support for the legislation.

Observers of Congress don’t expect that the 116th Congress will be full of such kumbaya moments for the expanded, more ideologically diverse Democratic majority. The party is expected to have intense debates over single-payer legislation and other controversial items.

According to Matt Glassman, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute, the Democratic majority will be a “lot of different blocs struggling against each other.”

“The Democratic Party is bigger, but the seats they’ve added tend to be people who are going to be more on the conservative end of the party. On the left side of the party, you have a lot more outspoken progressive types coming into office who were in safe seats.”

Despite that, Glassman is not anticipating the Democratic majority will have similar problems as the recent GOP majority did, because the two parties are oriented differently in Congress. “Democrats are a collection of interests, representing African-Americans, labor unions, and progressive coalitions. The Republicans are more representing a general ideology of conservatism,” he said.

That difference, Glassman says, is a big reason why the CPC is unlikely to turn to the scorched-earth brinksmanship of the Freedom Caucus. Another distinction is that the CPC is increasingly a part of the top echelon of the party: after being shut out for some time, CPC members saw their representation in House leadership increase by five positions in last week’s internal elections. A CPC member, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, was elected to the important post of Democratic Caucus chair and is seen as a possible successor to Pelosi. (In that race, Jeffries defeated California Rep. Barbara Lee, an early CPC chair and a darling of the left.)

Beyond that, the CPC is poised to have greater influence on key committees like the tax-writing Ways and Means panel, the Financial Services panel, and the crucial Appropriations Committee. Pocan said that CPC leaders secured commitments from Pelosi to shuffle veteran progressives into leadership positions on those panels.

Glassman says that the CPC “is much better integrated into the Democratic structure, it’s much larger, it seemingly works to exert its influence by pushing its agenda within the party.”

Ultimately, it could be the case that one of the CPC’s strengths — its numbers — make it too big to have the type of influence that blocs like the Freedom Caucus and the Blue Dogs had in the past.

At a certain point, Glassman says, “you are the party in some ways… It’s not like they’re bargaining with leadership to get things, they’re front and center in the dealmaking.”

The last time Democrats were in the majority, members of the smaller Blue Dog caucus were more sought-after than CPC members were with sales pitches and deals to get them to support the Affordable Care Act. It could happen again: Ruth Bloch Rubin, a congressional scholar, told the website FiveThirtyEight that the Blue Dogs historically “have been much better organized, and thus in a better position to credibly bargain with party leaders and threaten to defect from the party line as a bloc.”

Glassman argues the CPC has historically been taken for granted. “I think Democrats have cared more about having centrists, sewing up the Blue Dogs during the ACA fight or, under Obama, shifting toward the center on fiscal issues,” he said.

The caucus is aware of this history — and they’re hoping to change things, starting in January. “We have to govern from a place of knowing we have a mandate from the American people to get our agenda accomplished,” Omar said.

“I think of us as the soul and conscience of the Democratic Party… We have made that clear, and I’m pretty certain and confident that the Democratic caucus has a full grasp of what that is going to mean going into this new session.”

Comments (41)

  1. Submitted by Bob Barnes on 12/04/2018 - 09:40 am.

    Going hard left won’t be a good plan. It’ll most likely backfire and cost the party seats in 2020. Most people don’t like radical change. Lest they forget, the radical left was booted out in 2010 over their attempts at pushing Socialism.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 12/04/2018 - 02:29 pm.

      Which would mean bad news to the right in 2020 for pushing Fascism in 2016-2018.

      Now, I’ll bet you take a little offense to my stretching Trump’s kind words for nationalism into a full on move to Fascism.

      The same could be said for describing any attempt at government influencing anything to improve peoples lives, through education, health care, etc… as Socialism.

      Within the world’s developed nations, we are the least socialized and the attitude that a single move towards socialism makes the equivalent to 1930’s Russia is false

  2. Submitted by Pat Brady on 12/04/2018 - 10:41 am.

    Glassman analysis quoted in the article is spot on.
    The CPC has already gained seats on various committees .
    The lazy MSM will of course try to equate them to the Freedom Caucus.
    The CPC is the aargest of the various coalition that make up the Democratic Party in DC and throughout the nation.

  3. Submitted by Pat Terry on 12/04/2018 - 10:43 am.

    Based on the Pelosi as speaker fight, I’m less concerned about this group than the moderates who are saying they will vote for. Republican speaker.

    You are always going to have ideological diversity. The question is really about tactics used to try and get your way. Its one thing to press your case. Its another to blow things up if you don’t.

  4. Submitted by Geo. Greene on 12/04/2018 - 11:02 am.

    Straw men like “Socialists” not withstanding, the Democratic Party has felt the need to move right for decades now. That strategy has obviously not worked.

    Core democratic values are shared across the various factions within then party and among ad hoc groups on the left. It is the degree to which factions are willing to walk away from our shared values that defines the factions.

    I think it’s great that we’ve begun moving back to our core values rather than continuing our march rightward. After all this is not a new problem; Harry Truman said:

    “I’ve seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the fair Deal, and says he really doesn’t believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don’t want a phony Democrat. If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don’t want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign.

    But when a Democratic candidate goes out and explains what the New Deal and fair Deal really are–when he stands up like a man and puts the issues before the people–then Democrats can win, even in places where they have never won before. It has been proven time and again.”

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 12/04/2018 - 11:47 am.

      That isn’t borne out by the facts. The idea that Democrats can run to the left in conservative districts and win just isn’t true.

      • Submitted by Geo. Greene on 12/04/2018 - 02:23 pm.

        Not if we never get about talking about who we really are.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 12/04/2018 - 03:19 pm.

          Oh its been tried. And failed. What you are pitching is a fantasy. They idea that all voters are secretly progressive just isn’t real.

        • Submitted by Alice Gibson on 12/04/2018 - 03:55 pm.

          “Who we really are” turned out to be too far to the left of the general public in 1968, 1972, 1984, 1988, 2000, 2004 & 2016, and helped cost us the presidency in each of those years. Why will 2020 be different?

          • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 12/04/2018 - 06:20 pm.

            Channeling my inner John McEnroe, You cannot be serious!

            The main stream corporate friendly Dems who ran in 1984, 1988, 2000, 2004, and 2016 were very much centrists.

            For Pete’s sake the 2016 nominee made thousands giving speeches to Wall Street. But maybe you forgot that Al Gore was a leader of the DLC.

            • Submitted by Aaron Albertson on 12/05/2018 - 11:01 am.

              How do you explain McGovern losing 49 states then? Far more than Gore and Kerry, I should add.

              • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 12/06/2018 - 09:44 am.

                HRC lost a lot of Dem voters to 3rd parties. Do you suppose that she would not have lost so many if she had abandoned her tepid $12/hour minimum wage? She only moved that far left in response to Sanders. Even red states are raising the minimum wage via the ballot box. How about trade, if she had been even more in favor of corporate negotiated free trade agreements, she’d have done better?

                HRC was a corporate friendly centrist. How would moving further right have helped?

                • Submitted by Aaron Albertson on 12/07/2018 - 02:49 pm.

                  She didn’t lose 49 states like McGovern did. Besides, the idea that 3rd party voters were a bunch of leftists isn’t borne out by facts. If you look at the defectors, they were moderates

                  • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/11/2018 - 12:09 pm.

                    Yeah, white women as a demographic aren’t third Party voters. They broke for Trump. Sure, Clinton lost a lot of votes, but she lost so many of them in so many ways it’s almost impossible to pin it down.

          • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 12/05/2018 - 12:41 am.

            “Too far left” or the wrong candidates or bad campaigns?

            1968 was one of the closest races in history up to that time, and if Hubert Humphrey had strongly repudiated the Vietnam War, he might have won over the young people who sat out the election. I was too young to vote, but I knew slightly older students who boycotted the election because they had favored Robert Kennedy or Gene McCarthy and were disgusted at the “police riot” that occurred at the Chicago convention.

            George McGovern was consistently portrayed in the media as “the hippie candidate,” despite being a straight arrow himself. The older generations, reeling from the social changes of the 1960s, especially the social changes that had occurred among their own children, saw Nixon, Eisenhower’s vice-president for eight years, as a way to return to the 1950s.

            Sorry, I liked Walter Mondale and Mike Dukakis, but their campaigns were cringeworthy. It was as if someone was giving them bad advice to make sure that they would lose.

            Al Gore played Tweedledee to Bush’s Tweedledum. Bush would say, “I firmly believe this…” and Al Gore would say,”Me too, but maybe not so much.” He failed to distinguish himself from Bush, with the result that just days before the election, 1/3 of likely voters were undecided. I don’t think that has happened before or since.

            I volunteered for the campaign of a Democratic contender in 2004, and it was soon obvious that the Democratic Establishment and the mass media wanted Kerry or Edwards. When the debates were held, it was clear which candidates were receiving the most questions and given the most time to answer. In the Twin Cities, the favored candidates received TV and newspaper coverage for talking to small groups of wealthy contributors. We had to beg the Strib and the TV stations for coverage of our candidate’s appearances at large rallies.

            I saw Kerry in person twice in Minneapolis. Both times he seemed unenthusiastic about his own candidacy, as if he was just going through the motions. He made no case for why anyone who didn’t dislike Bush should vote for him. When I went to his website, I had to dig through PDFs written in wonkish language to find out what he thought about anything. In contrast, Bush’s website was colorful and simple, and even though I disagreed strongly with him, I could easily see what his positions were.

            2016? Hillary Clinton couldn’t overcome nearly 30 years of being treated like the Wicked Witch of the East by the right-wing media. I was initially a supporter of Bernie Sanders, and contrary to the stereotype of the “Bernie Bro,” a lot of older women preferred Bernie to Hillary, because we felt that he had a better sense of what was going on among ordinary people.

            Almost all of us voted for Hillary, but what votes she lost among Democrats can be attributed to the high-handed way in which her supporters treated Bernie’s supporters. Remember when Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright told young women that they were supporting Bernie only to please their boyfriends? Remember the strong implication that it was time for a woman president and no one else had the right to run? Remember choosing Kaine, a bland conservative Democrat as her running mate? Remember the declared intention of winning the presidency by wooing Republican women? Those moves probably cost more Democratic-leaning votes than the “deplorables” statements.

            All of this is incidental to the fact that none of these candidates are “far left” by any reasonable standard. Even the farthest left of recent candidates, Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich, simply wanted the Democrats to return to their New Deal days of bold initiatives and putting ordinary people’s needs first. None of them would be considered leftists anywhere but the U.S.

            I suppose that the New Deal would be considered “far left” by the yuppie Democrats who now form the party Establishment and are somewhere in Nixon territory ideologically. This group has dominated the Democratic Party since the Reagan administration, and until this year, the trend was steady losses on the state level. It’s time for something new.

            Furthermore, we have to define what we mean by “left” and “right.” There are actually two different dimensions here, and they do not necessarily correspond to the two major parties.

            There is the behavioral-social scale, in which the right wants a strictly ordered society and social Darwinism and the left wants more freedom of choice and equal opportunity. There is the political-economic scale, in which the right wants Milton Friedman’s economics and a militaristic foreign policy, while the left wants an society that protects ordinary people from economic exploitation and treats other countries as equals rather than as naughty countries that need to be whipped into shape.

            I think it is fair to say that conservative areas have little use for the behavioral-social left. No argument there. Wendy Davis was delusional to think that she could win the governorship of Texas in 2014 by centering her campaign on reproductive rights. However, one reason Trump won so much support was that he appeared to understand the economic frustrations of ordinary Americans, something that both parties had neglected over the years.

            The late James Oberstar was part of the economic-political left, but he opposed abortion in his largely Roman Catholic district and won the single-issue voters. Peter DeFazio has represented the second-most conservative part of Oregon for years, despite being one of the farther left members of Congress, but his trick is opposing gun control and winning that particular set of single-issue voters. Maybe they were onto something.

            The Democratic Establishment seems to think that the way to flip a Republican-held district is to go around saying, “I’m pro business and for a strong defense.” Or, as Senator Claire McCaskill did in the last election, go around saying that you’re not crazy like those other Democrats. Sorry, but you have to be different from your opponent and not suggest in any way that your opponent is right.

            It is also interesting to note that some red states voted for initiatives that are typically considered left: higher minimum wages, medical marijuana, nonpartisan redistricting, and expansion of Medicaid. This suggests that it’s not the issues but the parties whose reputations have been poisoned by their lack of attention to the country’s real needs.

            Candidates need to understand the needs and concerns of their constituents instead of going by some standard playbook handed down from a Beltway office. Yes, they need a common platform that speaks to the country’s needs and that all of them talk about at every opportunity, but they need to understand their potential constituents and throw in some local issues as well.

            • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 12/07/2018 - 12:42 pm.

              Brava! Great analysis!

            • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/08/2018 - 10:48 am.

              Thank you Ms. Sandness, very comprehensive and well reasoned.

              I would just add that one problem with the radical centrists that would label these politicians and Sanders as “left wing” is they rely on a distorted political landscape built upon a manufactured political “spectrum” … that puts themselves in the “center”. While HRC is certainly a “centrist”, the idea that she’s actually located in the “center” of anything is obviously facile.

              HRC remains one of the most unpopular political figures in the country while Sanders is the most popular. This isn’t about personalities it’s about agendas and propositions. Any analysis that puts the most unpopular candidates in the “center” of a popularity spectrum while marginalizing the most popular is obviously scrambled.

              The fact is if we didn’t already have all of the New Deal programs in place, “centrist” would be resisting them today as “leftist” proposals. Given the fact that these programs were and ARE the most popular programs in US history; centrists cannot possibly place themselves in the center of any coherent spectrum of political or popular perspectives. Centrism turns out to be nothing but pretense pretending to be the “rational” middle.

              Obviously if we step away from the politicians themselves and look at the agenda we find policies and principles that are extremely popular and well within the mainstream of American consciousness and mentalities. With virtually no champions at all until very recently; the principles of health care as a right, living wages, human rights, equality, and affordable college and post High School education have been embraced by a clear majority, while being rejected as pipe dreams by radical centrists.

              One of the things that made HRC such an awful candidate was her initial rejection of popular policies and agendas… is it any wonder that a candidate that disparaged extremely popular agendas had difficulty being a popular candidate? HRC eventually flipped and came up with her own mediocre policies but they were too little too late and her OTHER problem, the fact that she was also widely distrusted as well as unpopular, killed her conversion.

              I think it’s important to point out the fact that centrism has actually been costing Democrats elections for decades. You can point to a few electoral victories here and there, but when you step back and look at the forest it’s pretty clear that the New Democrat’s almost killed the Party. The decline of Democrats is well documented and I would remind everyone that with the exception of Bill Clinton, centrist have been losing to Republicans ever since Jimmy Carter lost to Reagan. Obama won, but he didn’t run as centrist, he ran as new dealer promising that Democrats would do big things again. Then he didn’t deliver on that promise and his popularity dropped and bottomed out. The centrist claim that their “middle” ground is where electoral victory can be found is obviously a false claim exposed by decades of election results.

              The question now with a guy like Tim Walz is whether or not he will govern with the liberal policies her ran on, or return to his centrist station? Will he push ahead with the agenda he ran on, or will he use his “listening” tour as an excuse to dial back and return to “moderation?” Historically centrists will run liberal (Remember when HRC claimed she’s a progressive?) and then reject liberalism once elected. Dayton won two consecutive terms because he DIDN’T do that. Centrists MNDFLers were never great fans of Dayton, but if they return to the centrist playbook they’ll start losing again, and worse, even if they win, they’ll fail.

          • Submitted by Robert Lilly on 12/10/2018 - 04:26 pm.

            I don’t think that is correct. The important part of the quote “when he stands up like a man and puts the issues before the people” Seemed to only happen in 2008 and 12. The rest of the years you mentioned had the Democratic candidate running to the center.

  5. Submitted by Mike Chrun on 12/04/2018 - 12:41 pm.

    “when he stands up like a man and puts the issues before the people–then Democrats can win,”

    The photo on top does have quite a few women in it. Just saying.

  6. Submitted by Alan Nilsson on 12/04/2018 - 01:12 pm.

    According to a recent Reuters poll, 85% of Democrats and 52% of Republicans support Medicare for all (single payer). Supporting single payer is a left-wing policy only within the context of ‘our’ Congress, not within the context of the population whom they ‘represent’.

    • Submitted by Aaron Albertson on 12/04/2018 - 02:04 pm.

      Except when people find out the specifics of single payer they drop support of it. That’s why it lost 80-20 in Colorado and Joe Radinovich lost by 6%

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 12/04/2018 - 02:11 pm.

        Exactly. They also tried it in Bernie Sanders’s home state of Vermont and it failed and was discarded. The devil is in the details.

      • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 12/05/2018 - 05:10 pm.

        The specifics that sank this proposal may not be what you think they are. The ban on state money paying for abortions sank it more than anything else. Progressive groups didn’t want to accept that so ended up not supporting it. Pile on the millions spent be the insurance companies on a disinformation campaign and you have a lopsided vote.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 12/06/2018 - 12:02 pm.

          The abortion funding didn’t help, but what sank it was that it would require a massive tax increase. It lost 80-20. Which is same reason it was abandoned in Vermont.

          Once you disclose the costs involved, single payor is extremely unpopular.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/08/2018 - 11:37 am.

            It ‘s completely false to claim that single payer is more expensive than the current market system. The truth is once you explain how it works people want it decades ago. Single payer (Medicare for All) simply extends an existing single nationwide public insurance program (Medicare/Medicaid) to everyone.

            The new nationwide program is simpler and less expensive than the existing system because it creates the largest possible pool of contributers with the greatest possible leverage over providers. It also reduces costs by 20%-30% by simplifying billing and massively reducing administrative costs for everyone.

            In terms of nuts and bolts your current premiums would be replaced by much lower payroll deductions , a typical family could save $5,000 a year. In exchange you get 100% coverage with every provider in the country that’s medicare qualified (which is… every health care provider in the country with the exception of some boutique clinics). No other plan provide the choices and availability that MFA does. Once in place, you just pick a doc or a clinic, you get your health care, and you go home. You never see a copay or deductible again. Unlike Obamacare you really can keep your current doc if you want because there’s no need to go “shopping” for a more affordable plan. MFA IS the most affordable plan anyone can create.

            Detractors like to point out that MFA would increase government spending, this is true but it’s a facile observation. Nothing can make health care “free”, so yeah, if Medicare pays all the health care bills, that’s going to cost money. However it doesn’t really matter how much it costs as long as it’s paid for, and that’s why we collect Medicare premiums. As long as the revenue pays the costs you’re good to go, and the revenue would absolutely pay the costs, and the system itself would actually reduce the costs. Even conservative analysts conclude that MFA would save trillions of dollars. The cost reduction feature is yet another unique feature that is ONLY provided by MFA.

            Any claim that MFA would increase costs is simply a false claim. A few years ago there were some extremely flawed neoliberal analysis making such claims but now that those flaws and bias have been exposed; you’ll find any reputable analysis reveals single payer to the most efficient system we could adapt.

        • Submitted by Mark Kulda on 12/07/2018 - 01:54 pm.

          People who say they are for it couldn’t explain what it even means. What is means is such low reimbursement rates for providers that the quality of the care is going to plummet. We have the best health care delivery system in the world, period. Single payer will destroy it. And that would be very, very sad. We have a broken payment system that can be easily fixed without destroying the world class system we have.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/08/2018 - 11:44 am.

            Mr. Kulda, you obviously haven’t talked to anyone is “for” single payer. If take the time to look into it you’ll find that all of the information your requesting has been around for decades.

            Your assumption that quality of care would somehow plummet is simply ridiculous. American’s already receive some of the poorest health in the developed world and we pay more for it than anyone else. Our health care metrics score lower than any of our peers, almost all of which have universal health care one way or another.

    • Submitted by Tim Smith on 12/04/2018 - 03:00 pm.

      You must know polls like that are useless until more facts are given and people can figure out if better for them or not. The devil is in the bill and we will read it before it passes.

      Do you plan to pay for it with Cortez’s $21 trillion from Pentagon waste? Oh wait never mind, another mistake by her.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/10/2018 - 10:13 am.

        It might be helpful if someday Republicans abandon their fascination with ignorance and learn how to educate themselves so they can discuss subject matters constructively. All we can do is “hope” I guess.

        Mr. Smith conflating two separate issues. Medicare for All would be “paid for” the same way all insurance plans are funded, you collect premiums. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere those premiums would lower than what you currently pay for private insurance and they would provide universal and complete coverage regardless of income, employment, or geographic location. You’re Medicare premiums would REPLACE you’re existing premiums, they wouldn’t be an additional expense. You would not have to “apply” for this coverage, it would be automatic and irrevocable although some models would let you opt-out if you want to. You could not loose your health care for any reason, and no matter what kind of health care you need, or where you need it… you get it.

        Some models involve small co-pays during the transition period but eventually there would be no deductible, and no co-pays. I know… sounds like Hell doesn’t it?

        When Ocasio Cortez and others talk about the Pentagon budget they’re illustrating the hypocrisy and irrationality of Republican budgets… i.e. for the cost of one fighter jet we could pay for a years worth of school lunches etc. There is no proposal to take money from the defense budget and use it fund Medicare… such a maneuver is completely unnecessary.

    • Submitted by John Evans on 12/05/2018 - 06:30 am.

      Single payer is not considered a left wing policy in any other country.

  7. Submitted by Alan Straka on 12/04/2018 - 04:02 pm.

    If the progressives think they have a mandate, they are sadly mistaken. They owe their seats to the revulsion the electorate has for Trump and disgust with the immoral mindset of the most conservative Republicans. The rejection of the far right does not mean the embrace of the far left. I can get behind most of the ideas they are backing but some of the ideas being put forth by the bolshies are just plain loopy. Thankfully, there are enough Democrats with their heads on straight that the most outlandish proposals won’t gain traction.

  8. Submitted by Chelle Stoner on 12/04/2018 - 04:15 pm.

    Mark Pocan does not know what he is talking about. This comment is extremely misguided and historically uninformed:
    “With its numbers — Pocan ventured that the CPC could ultimately have closer to 100 members come January — the group could be in a position to preserve or kill any Democratic deal-making with Republicans when it comes to spending bills and other essential legislation.”

    Durable legislation happens with compromise. Everyone has to give an inch. Deal-making is an art.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 12/05/2018 - 12:46 am.

      Except that ever since the Gingrich era, the Republicans have mostly refused to compromise and have acted like bullies. Remember how Mitch McConnell declared that he would make Obama a one-term president? Remember how the Republicans refused to consider Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court? Have you noticed how the Republicans claim to have had no input into the ACA, even though it was originally a Heritage Foundation plan that was put into effect in Massachusetts by Mitt Romney and the public option was removed in the hope of attracting Republican votes?

      Part of our problem is that the Democrats have been too willing to compromise, and you know what happens when you give in to a bully? You may as well wear a “kick me” sign on your rear end.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/08/2018 - 11:06 am.

      When you “compromise” with toxic and disfunctional adversaries compromise devolves from an expedient necessity into an agreement to fail. Compromise in and of itself cannot be a legitimate or coherent political ideology. Politicians don’t make “art” that hangs on a wall somewhere, they make laws that have serious impacts on people’s lives. It’s not about “deals”, it’s about representation and solutions. If we decide that politics is about watching politicians make “deals” instead of governing, stick a fork in us… we’re done.

      And yeah, citizenship as a spectator sport can be a fine idea when the “deals” your admiring don’t affect your life in any significant way. But when your homeless teenager dying of an asthma attack in a tent, the “compromise” that’s killing you isn’t so easy to admire. Champions of compromise always have one thing in common… THEY can always live with the “compromises” they’re celebrating, the failures they sign off on don’t effect them.

  9. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 12/05/2018 - 09:43 am.

    The 2020 D candidate should make a special case of West Virginia. A formerly consistent blue state that needs SS and Medicare more than most, lags in education, leads in opioids and believes in the red message for 2 reasons: coal is coming back and screwing minorities with the same needs as “me” is OK. Both, obviously, wrong on almost all counts. Get a message that works in W VA and it works in TN & KY and could make things interesting across the South.

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/07/2018 - 02:43 pm.

    Mr. Brody, your labeling of Single Payer and other policies as “left wing” is simply unconscionable. Medicare is not a “left wing” policy, it’s a decades old establishment. Expanding it is no more “radical” than extending unemployment insurance during a recession. Expanding Medicare has always been the least complex and most economical option kept off the table by radical centrists.

    Labeling anything that falls outside the extremely narrow confines of the status quo as a “wing” of some kind is intellectually lazy and politically incoherent. Creating a false equivalence between the magical thinking of reactionaries and the economically sound propositions of thoughtful and knowledgeable analysts damages our ability to conduct reasonable discourse.

    Instead of mislabeling liberals as some kind of “wingers” based on an artificial political spectrum, you’d do better to discuss the propositions at hand. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter whether or not expanding Medicare is a “left wing” idea, what matters is whether or not it the best idea.

    Some of these policies may seem “radical” to those living in a bubble of comfort and privilege but for tens of millions of American’s this is common sense that would have been enacted decades ago; if we’d had a truly representative government.

    These candidates won their elections like everyone else and they bring a much needed diversity and perspective to our government. Let’s not try to cheapen their potential by placing them in a “wing” of some kind.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/10/2018 - 11:29 am.

    By the way, one of the fallacies of centrism that they strive to preserve the “center”. In fact they move the center to the right because they never reach out the “left”, they always marginalize the left while pretending the “right” needs to be accommodated. Obamacare (nor Hillary Care before it) for instance isn’t/wasn’t a “compromise” with single payer, it was compromise between neoliberal “market” fantasies and reactionary unfettered “market” fantasies.

    My point being, if your one of these “centrist” Democrats like Klobuchar, Phillips, Craig, Walz, etc. and you want to compromise with someone: you better think about compromising with progressives rather than reactionaries for a change. It might become hard to explain why you keep “reaching out” to Trump instead of Sanders’s and Omar.

    • Submitted by Aaron Albertson on 12/10/2018 - 05:15 pm.

      Those centrists you refer to actually won their elections. I’d rather have centrist Dems than Republicans in office. Look at the progressive option, Keith Ellison. Even though he won, he did significantly worse than everybody else.

      And Hillary Clinton tried getting single payer passed in the 90s, when she was First Lady, but it failed. VT, CA, and NY experimented and failed. Colorado rejected it by 60% in 2016. During the ACA fight we tried to get a public option, but Lieberman helped kill it. Then it narrowly got through the court. Given how conservative the courts have gotten, so you really think they’d rule in favor of forcing everyone onto a government health plan? And I think you’re overestimating how popular it really is

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/11/2018 - 11:20 am.

        Mr. Larson you got some serious revisionism going on here. HRC’s plan in the 90’s was a dusted off Heritage Foundation proposal, she never ever attempted to introduce single payer and has always derided single payer as a unworkable solution.

        No state in the US has ever created a single payer health care system, so you can’t claim that it’s been tried and failed. Initiatives to introduce single payer on state levels may fail for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t really tell us anything about viability of single payer in practice. Meanwhile I’ll tell you what else is failing: The existing system is failing tens of millions of American’s on a daily basis; and the idea that market tweaks will suffice is simply delusional. Many other countries are providing health care much more successfully that we are.

        Everyone who won their elections… won their elections. Centrist Democrats are not unique in that respect so I don’t know what your point is there… no one else got more votes than Ellison- that’s why he won.

        As for the courts, Medicare already exists, the courts won’t have to issue a ruling on creating it. Nor is there any legal question regarding its expansion. The beauty of MFA is that simply expands a system that’s already in place, we don’t have to build anything new, we just have to adjust coverage and build out for volume . By the way, this expansion was actually the plan back in the 60’s when Medicare and Medicaid were created, but the insurance industry managed to block it. We have long standing precedents regarding national welfare programs like Social Security, and that’s pretty much was MFA is. You’ll note, we still have Social Security and the courts aren’t about to strike it down.

        Centrist Democrats created a legal jeopardy with Obamacare when they ruled out any kind of public option in favor the individual mandate. Obamacare’s mandate gives the court a ruling to consider but MFA isn’t a mandate per se’ it’s just an expansion of an existing federal program. There’s nothing unconstitutional about having a government service and paying for it. The US Constitution explicitly grants the government the right to levy taxes to pay for services. The problem with the individual mandate is that it’s not a government service or a tax, or even a fee for government services, it’s a mandated personal expense. Anyways, the idea that American’s would be “forced” into having their medical expenses paid is kind of goofy.

        There could be an opt-out, wherein those who choose pay more for more restricted coverage for some reason could deduct the federal withholdings as long as they provide a statement from their private insurer. Look, the reason the insurance industry is so hostile to the MFA is that they know they couldn’t compete with it in terms of cost and coverage. At any rate there’s no reason to assume the Courts would be an obstacle of any kind.

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