It often seems as if AOC is the most extreme voice in the Democratic Party but it turns out that’s not true. In fact, this month AOC has been accused of being a corporate sell out by people on her left who are even more anxious to demand big progressive wins from Congress.
The issue at hand is Medicare for All, something that AOC supports but which hasn’t had much traction because of the massive price tag associated with it. Last month a progressive pundit named Jimmy Dore who has a show on YouTube suggested a course of action to jumpstart M4A in Congress:
Dore argued that AOC and her progressive allies can best advance the cause of universal health care by denying Nancy Pelosi the support she needs to retain the Speakership — until she agrees to hold a House vote on Medicare for All. Dore considers this course of action so self-evidently optimal that the only possible explanation for why Ocasio-Cortez declined to pursue it is that the congresswoman is a fraud who cares more about her career than the needs of her constituents. “She is standing between you and health care,” Dore told his viewers last week.
Again, it’s usually AOC who is lecturing others about the need for dramatic change now without regard to either its cost or its impact on the party. But in this case, AOC made what amounts to a moderate argument, i.e. forcing a vote on this now won’t accomplish anything useful.
Problem w/ this idea is that there isn’t enough thought given to step 2.
The Dem votes aren’t there yet, and with a razor-thin margin the Dem NOs are > margin.
So you issue threats, hold your vote, and lose. Then what? If you want to know who’s opposed look @ cosponsor list
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 12, 2020
Dare I say it? AOC is right. Even if the Squad could force a floor vote on Medicare for All, the result would be watching it go down to defeat. Not only would it not have passed, it would reinforce the idea that it can’t pass. And even if it did somehow pass (it wouldn’t but let’s pretend for the sake of argument) it would only go down to defeat in the Senate. And that’s almost certainly the case even if Democrats win both special elections in Georgia. Joe Manchin is not going to vote for Medicare for All.
Anyway, like a lot of dumb progressive ideas, this one won’t go away. Briahna Joy Gray, who was formerly a press secretary for Bernie Sanders’ campaign wrote a piece arguing that now was the time for bold strokes:
Perhaps unsurprisingly, support for Medicare for All has reached historic highs during the pandemic. Even a Fox News exit poll showed that 72 percent of Americans support a single payer system, and impressively, about half of Republicans support Medicare for All. But importantly for the purposes of the Dore proposition, a whopping 88 percent of Democrats support the policy. A floor vote on Jayapal’s bill could capitalize on the public’s overwhelming approval for Medicare for All, and expose the chasm between the policies Democratic voters want and the positions their elected representatives are willing to take. It’s difficult to imagine a better historical context for this fight…
A floor vote and the debate that comes with it could spark a referendum on our failing health care system at a moment when no other issue takes credible priority. “Now is the time [progressives] have power,” Dore argued. “In two years, the Democrats are going to get wiped out in the House. They will lose their majority and their speakership. The only time the progressives are going to have any power is right now at this moment,” before the Speaker is elected in the first week of January. Dore’s prediction that Democrats will lose seats during the 2022 midterms is far from guaranteed, but given the party’s recent losses there is a certain pragmatism to his urgency…
Progressives want to force a vote now precisely because they believe the chance they can secure the votes for Medicare for All in the near future is remote. If barely half of House Democrats are willing to cosponsor Medicare for All even while it has the support of 88 percent of Democratic voters during a global pandemic, what are the odds the holdouts will be more amenable once the vaccine is distributed and life begins to normalize?
There’s a lot more to the argument which you can read for yourself here. But hopefully you get the gist. It’s a kind of desperate plea that AOC and the Squad should force this vote because…who knows? In 2020 anything can happen! Anyway, it seems more likely to happen now than after the vaccine makes its way around the country. Never let a crisis go to waste.
And obviously if you aren’t fully on board with this extreme longshot idea that will probably amount to nothing, it can only mean that you’ve sold out to the man.
In other words your meaning and your purpose is derived from the process of the fight to achieve that which is ethically correct. If you're not doing that, what are you doing? What's the point of even being a politician? Careerism and self aggrandizement? It's so hollow.
— Secular Talk (@KyleKulinski) December 13, 2020
Seriously, there were people responding to AOC warning her that her spirit was dying.
And because she refused to be corrected by the many people explaining why this is really a good idea it must mean she’s arguing in bad faith.
The fact that she keeps making the same excuse after being told this again and again kinda proves she's arguing in bad faith.
She's freaking deviding the left.
— ThatMoondragon (@TMoondragon) December 18, 2020
I’m picking these people off Twitter at random but there are a lot more making similar arguments. But as New York magazine points out, this whole thing still doesn’t make much sense. In fact, Briahna Joy Gray’s argument for it is misleading:
Lamentably, support for single-payer simply is neither as widespread nor intense as Gray suggests. Medicare for All does poll well — but it polls best when respondents are given few details about what the policy actually entails. And when voters are presented with a choice between single-payer and other alternatives for expanding coverage — rather than a choice between single-payer and the status quo — surveys sometimes find that the Democratic base is more sympathetic to Joe Biden’s views on health-care policy than to Bernie Sanders’s.
The poll Gray cites — in which 88 percent of Democrats voiced approval for Medicare for All — asked respondents, “Would you support or oppose providing Medicare to every American?” This phrasing is highly ambiguous. It is not obvious that “providing Medicare to every American” means mandating that all Americans forfeit private health insurance and enroll in a single-payer plan. And it is almost certain that a majority of the survey’s respondents did not interpret it that way.
I’ve made this point many times. People support single payer until you present them with the bill. When you include the fact that their taxes would literally double to cover the cost, their enthusiasm for it wanes.
And that’s the part that Briahna Joy Gray and even AOC are leaving out of this whole discussion. What forcing his vote would really highlight is the fact that we can’t possibly afford a new entitlement that would cost $30 trillion dollars over ten years. That’s especially true when the economy is in the toilet as it is now thanks to the virus. But again, the far left isn’t interested in hearing reasons this is a bad idea. They want AOC to charge into battle even though she’s telling them this effort would fail.
What a weird experience it must be for AOC to suddenly find herself on the wrong side of history. Here’s 22 minutes of Jimmy Dore ranting about AOC using some very NSFW language.