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More Perfect Monologues (Ep. 234)

In this special episode, each of the MPU hosts speaks directly to you about issues that have been on their minds over the Thanksgiving holiday.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Buying Greenland (Ep. 219)

This week the MPU gang takes on the idea of buying Greenland, Ken Cuccinelli’s idea of what the Statue of Liberty means, and Stephen Miller’s idea of what being ruthlessly Machiavellian means.

Life After Mueller (Ep. 208)

 

Portland radio personality Carl Wolfson joins the gang to discuss Robert Mueller’s press conference, the chances of having an impeachment inquiry, the state of the 2020 Democratic race, potential primary challenges for Trump, and LGBT Pride Month.

Reproductive Justice (Ep. 206)

 

On this MPU episode, Kevin, DJ, Greg, and Rebekah discuss the latest assault on Roe v. Wade, the Trump v. China trade war, and the primary campaign prospects of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

A Mother’s Day Brother’s Day (Ep. 205)

This special Mother’s Day episode features each host talking about their Mother’s Day plans, their families, and a political issue that’s been on each of their minds this week.

The Acrimony Primary (Ep. 203)

 

This week’s podcast features comedian and Portland radio personality Carl Wolfson as the gang discusses Joe Biden entering the Democratic primary race and what that portends for the 2020 election.