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Bernie Sanders

OK Boomer (Ep. 231)

This week’s podcast looks ahead to the opening of the public impeachment inquiry, the entry of Michael Bloomberg into the Democratic primary race, the new education plans proposed by Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris, and what the “OK boomer” culture war is really about.

Pathological Liar (Ep. 230)

This episode talks about how Democrats can use Trump’s documented pathology of lying to their electoral advantage, the latest from the primary campaigns, and what the outcomes of this week’s statewide elections can portend for the 2020 race.

The I-vote Cometh (Ep. 229)

 

On this week’s podcast, the MPU hosts discuss the sad sagas of Katie Hill, Harvey Weinstein, Trump versus Pelosi, and the GOP candidate who’s shoplifting America’s heart.

Repackaging Medicare For All (Ep. 228)

 

This episode covers Trump’s sellout of the Kurds, John Bolton’s sellout of Rudy Giuliani, Mitch McConnell’s sellout of Thanksgiving, DJ’s sellout of Christmas music, and Kevin’s attempt to sell Medicare For All.

Making Medicare For All Palatable For All

by Kevin Kelton

The good news is that Elizabeth Warren has pledged to explain in detail how she would pay for her Medicare For All plan. The bad news is that Warren has pledged to explain how she will pay for her plan.

The truth is, there is no good way to explain single-payer Medicare For All without acknowledging it will require some form of tax increases and abolishing popular employer-sponsored private plans. But there are ways to make it more palatable to a larger swath of its skeptics and make it a winning issue in the general election.

Here’s how Warren (or any candidate) could make a version of the Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All proposal palatable to a majority of voters, borrowing from the public option Medicare For All Who Want It proposals:
  1. Admit that there will be a cost component, and call it a healthcare surcharge. (Not a “tax.”) Make it clear that the surcharge replaces your current premium, and is guaranteed to be lower than what they’re paying now. Promise Americans that they will get a one-time full tax deduction for any overage between the Medicare healthcare surcharge and your 2025 private insurance premium. (Assuming that’s the fourth and last year of of the roll-in period.) In other words, you can’t lose!
  2. At the end of the four year roll-in period, allow Americans an additional three year “exemption” from switching to Medicare for people opting to stay with their employer-sponsored plans, but charge them a portion of the healthcare surcharge for each exemption year — 20% of the full surcharge for the first exemption year, 40% of it the second exemption year, and 60% the third year. This will induce reluctant Americans to give up their private employer-sponsored plans and opt-in to Medicare coverage.
  3. Write into the law that companies currently offering employer-sponsored plans must devote at least  70% of the savings they get from winding down those plans to salary and benefits increases for their employees. In other words, employers cannot pocket the savings. That will give union workers some confidence that even though they are losing their low-cost workplace coverage that they fought hard and sacrificed for, they will make up for it in higher salaries and benefits.

Done this way, you can still sunset private insurance but over a seven year window instead of four, which would be less jarring for the economy, and gradually bring reluctant consumers into the Medicare For All fold on their own timetable.

Kevin Kelton is the founder of the Open Fire community of Facebook discussion groups and a cohost of The More Perfect Union Podcast.

Rudy’s Partners In Crimea (Ep. 227)

This MPU episode covers the Turkish incursion into Syria and what ethnic cleansing of the Kurds might look like, Rudy’s unfortunate Ukrainian pals and what a straw donor scheme might look like, Trump’s growing impeachment headaches and what a senate impeachment trial might look like, what the fourth Democratic debate might look like, and AOC’s 30th birthday and what a $300 haircut actually does look like.

The Goldilocks Democrats

by Kevin Kelton

I just watched a segment on Morning Joe in which the hosts were saying that the Democratic Party insiders they know are nervous because as much as they disdain President Trump, they simply cannot bring themselves to vote for Elizabeth Warren. But, they countered, there are just as many Democrats who are worried Joe Biden is too shaky and may not be up to the task of taking Trump down. They lamented that the country needs that “just right” moderate Democrat who could excite base voters in a way that Biden cannot, and could appeal to moderates and independent voters in a way that Warren cannot. Where, oh where, is that perfect Democratic candidate?

The discussion reminded me of all those single friends I’ve known through the years who date and date, never couple up, and blame it on the self-comforting rationale that there’s no good men/women left out there. At a certain point, you have to sit these friends down and gently tell them, “It’s not the dating pool; it’s you. You are the common denominator in this equation. You are the problem.”

That’s where the Democratic party is today. We’ve had 24 fine people offer themselves up to run against Trump. Senators… governors… congresspersons… captains of industry…. all with a wealth of experience, proven competence and liberal ideologies across the Democratic party spectrum. Yet none of them have caught the imagination of a wide swath of the the Never Trump universe.

Why is that? Why is no one “just right”? We really need to ask ourselves, out of two dozen worthy suitors, why couldn’t we give our hearts and souls to any of them?

It’s the same thinking as my single friends: one is too old and plain, one too young and risky, a few are daring badboys/girls who make our hearts flutter but our heads tell us aren’t long-term prospects, and several had interesting profiles but something felt naggingly missing.

And nice-guy John Delany might’ve been “the one” if he wasn’t so darn bland and bald!

I know that many of you want to fall in love and believe that Buttigieg, or Harris, or Castro-Beto-Booker-Bennet would be just perfect – if only everyone else thought exactly like you do. But they don’t. To this point, the majority of the Democratic Party has resoundingly rejected all of them, and that’s not likely to change. By mid-October, after several televised debates, if you haven’t climbed beyond 5%, the chances of you exploding by Iowa are slim to none.

So far, only Biden and Warren have shown any real capacity to draw enough votes from enough demographics to compete for the nomination. And yet neither of them is considered electable by a wide swath the party that is poised to nominate them.

Why is that? Why, after three years and 24 proposals, are we still searching for that elusive, perfect match who’s not too hot, not too cold, not too young, not too old?

The fault, dear Democrats, is not in our candidates, and not in our stars.

It’s in ourselves.

 

Kevin Kelton is a co-host of The More Perfect Union podcast.

Whistleblowers-palooza (Ep. 226)

This episode covers developments in the Trump impeachment imbroglio and the latest from the Democratic primary campaign trail.

Michael Moore Is Hysterical (And Not In The Funny Way)

by Kevin Kelton

A lot of Democrats are getting downright hysterical about 2020 – but not in the hysterically funny sense. Democrats seem to be losing their collective minds with angst over the upcoming presidential election, none more so than filmmaker Michael Moore.

I’m not a Moore basher; I love his work and agree with him on many policy positions. But his appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher” this past week rang the looney bell several times.

First, the director of “Capitalism: A Love Story” claimed that even though Elizabeth Warren has called herself a capitalist on many occasions, Moore believes he knows better. “I’m not so sure she believes that,” Moore told Maher.

Excuse me, Mr. Moore, but I think the former Harvard Law professor and two-term United States senator knows what “capitalism” means and knows what she stands for. You may not want her to be known as a capitalist. But let’s allow the esteemed senator from Massachusetts to define her political and economic philosophies without your help.

Then Moore proclaimed that people who have immigrated to the United States from European Socialist nations only came here “because they want to go to Disneyland.” Moore may have been trying to be funny, but he seems seriously incapable of acknowledging any of the many weaknesses of modern-day Democratic Socialism that have driven millions of people away from its home nations.

However, his biggest faux pas was his analysis of the 2020 electorate. Moore said – with zero evidence to back it up – that “if the  election were held tonight, Trump would win.” And Moore made this baseless claim just moments after he said, “with all the polls that we’ve seen, there’s at least four or five of the candidates (who) would beat Trump” and then went on to emphatically state, “Bill, we’re going to beat Trump. We’re going to beat Trump.”

Does anyone else see a slight disconnect in Moore’s thinking on this point?

But let’s look at his dire warning and see how it compares to reality. I cannot tell you what will happen in November 2020. No one has a crystal ball. But I know this: if there had been a national presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden this past Friday, September 13, 2019, Biden would have won easily, and probably in a landslide.

Oh, I can hear the Biden Bashers now: “That’s what you said about Hillary!”

What the skeptics don’t get is that today is a very different world than November 2016. First off, the November 2016 polls were much closer than they are today, and the trend was toward Trump.

Today, Biden and the other top-tier Democratic candidates are solidly ahead both nationally and in swing state pollsincluding even Texas!, and the electorate is trending away from Trump. Let me repeat, I am not saying what would or could happen 13 months from now. I’m talking about if the election were held today. You don’t run 12-16 points ahead in national polls and then lose the election that same day. I don’t care how skeptical you are about the science of polling. A 12-16 point lead doesn’t dissipate in 24 hours.

But the greater point is, there is an hysteria setting into Democrats’ mindset that is destructive to the task at hand. Moore’s “Chicken Little” performance on Real Time is emblematic of that.

Let’s all calm down, take a few breaths and refocus, keeping these salient points in mind:

  • Donald Trump is not undefeatable. He won one general election and it was a fluke of history, a conflagration of multiple unanticipated events (the Comey letter, Russian election interference, the DNC emails, increased third party voting, decreased black turnout) that are highly unlikely to be replicated in 2020. The blue wave of 2018 really did happen, and the national electorate will be just as motivated to vote against Trumpism next year as they were last year. Maybe more.
  • Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton. The claim that Biden is Hillary2.0 is a meaningless talking point. He (or whoever gets the Democratic nomination) will win or lose on their own merits. Just because neither of them are extreme leftists does not make them the same person with the same political fate.
  • There is no perfect candidate to go up agains Donald Trump. They all come with inherent faults and built-in risks. Bernie would be labeled a crazy socialist. Pete would be hit for being too inexperienced and unsympathetic to the concerns of blacks. Liz has about a dozen red flares that could explode over Pennsylvania and the rustbelt. And, no, Harris fans, a black female candidate is not assured of replicating the Obama coalition, as the polls have clearly demonstrated. We simply have to chose from those candidates we have. Stop looking for the next FDR or JFK or Barack Obama. They are not in this field.
  • Don’t take Trump’s bait every time he tweets something controversial. He wants you to be running around with your hair on fire. He laughs when you do that. So stop giving him the attention he so craves. Who cares what he says or tweets? He’s a fluke of history, and he will be a relic of history in 16 months.
  • Obviously, we should not be overconfident to the point of complacency. We must motivate voters to the polls and make sure our turnout is high. But we also don’t want to do anything that could significantly boost Trump’s turnout. That means not running on issues like single-payer Medicare For All, decriminalizing illegal immigration, or gun confiscation that might spike conservative turnout in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, or Wisconsin. Remember, adding millions of progressive votes in California, New York, Colorado, and Massachusetts gets us nothing… not a single extra electoral college vote! Regardless of how well single-payer Medicare For All may play in decidedly blue states, if polling tells us it could cost us even a single swing state, it’s a high-risk gamble we should not take. There is no margin for error in Pennsylvania or the rest of the rustbelt. Don’t run a fearful campaign, but don’t run a dumb one, either.
  • Trump is not “staying forever” if he loses the election. This is a sack of mass hysteria nonsense people like Bill Maher keep repeating and spreading ad nauseam. If a Democrat, say Elizabeth Warren, wins the electoral college vote and is certified the winner in the United States Congress, she will be sworn in on 01/20/2021 by Chief Justice John Roberts and at that moment she will become President of the United States. It won’t matter if Donald J. Trump refuses to leave the White House. A street address does not dictate who controls the levers of power in this country. President Warren (or Buttigieg/Sanders/Biden/whoever) will be certified and widely accepted as the new president, and any public tantrums Trump may throw will not undo that reality. The military will not stay with him, and neither will the FBI, CIA, Congress, Supreme Court, or anyone else sworn to uphold the constitution of the United States. So stop worrying. The worst that can happen would be an elongated reality show in which Trump would finally and humiliatingly be voted off the island. Trust me, Donald Trump is not overthrowing the constitution or the tens of millions of people sworn to uphold it.

Lastly, if you listen to nothing else in this article, take this one piece of advice. No one can predict with any certainty what will happen in November 2020, but we all have lives to lead until then, and going bonkers on a daily basis for the next 13 months will not help you or our cause. Turn off the news (and even “Real Time”), enjoy your life, vote in your state primary, and then work passionately and positively to elect whoever becomes the Democratic nominee. That is all you need to do to defeat Trump. Everything else is aggravation and excess. Enjoy life. Politics will work themselves out.

I cannot promise Trump will lose his bid for re-election. But I can promise that if you don’t calm down and approach this election rationally, you will lose your mind before a single vote is cast.

 

Kevin Kelton is a former SNL writer and a cohost of The More Perfect Union podcast.

 

Spy Games (Ep. 222)

 

This episode covers the fallout from the burned U.S. spy who had to be extracted from Russia, how the Trump administration is dangerously rewriting the norms of federal agency independence, and what to look for (and not look for) in the upcoming Democratic primary debate.

“F” The Gun Culture (Ep. 221)

On the heels of yet another mass shooting in Texas, the More Perfect Union hosts discuss the second amendment, the rationale for hunting as a sport, and how to take on the out-of-control gun culture in this country. Then they turn their sights to the 2020 primaries and the rest of the week in Trumplandia, then finish with a look at Dave Chappell’s new Netflix special and the state of standup comedy in the #metoo era.

Nuking Hurricanes (Ep. 220)

In this episode the MPU gang discusses Trump’s antics at the G7 summit, his idea about nuking hurricanes, and the latest entree into the Republican presidential primary contest.