Debating The Debate

Sep 13, 2019

Left: Health spending per capita, in $US PPP-adjusted (Public domain)

Right: Hurricane Dorian on September 1 (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration • Public domain)

In solidarity,  Mike Hersh for Alan, Dr. Bill, Dan, Janis, Deb, Kimberly, Bryan, Mike F., and Shayna—your PDA national team.

The Critical Policy Debate Question:
Who’s Gonna Pay For Failure to Act?


Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) endorsed Bernie Sanders because he understands the context in which we must consider a critically important question that came up early and often during last night’s debate.

In response to the first question, former Vice President Joe Biden asked, “How are we gonna pay for it?” regarding Medicare For All (MFA). That question is also routinely asked about necessary investments in education, child care, the Climate Emergency, jobs creation, and more.

That question has historically been rhetorical and a Republican talking point, but neoliberals widely adopted it during the 1990s. It’s actually a valid question, although not it the way these corporatists presume.


We Can’t Afford Delay On Climate Or Healthcare
Inaction Is Not An Option: We Need Action Now


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Sen. Elizabeth Warren answered that “those at the very top, the richest individuals and the biggest corporations are going to pay more, and middle class families are going to pay less.” She also explained the personal costs and suffering the lack of a proven-effective Medicare For All program inflicts on Americans every day, but that misses the most critical question: “Unless we act decisively now, who is gonna pay for inaction on healthcare (and climate)?” Sen. Bernie Sanders exposed the fundamental flaw in Biden’s and the neoliberals’ basic premise. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders exposed the fundamental flaw premise in Biden’s and the neoliberals’ basic premise. He explained, “Joe said that Medicare For All will cost over $30 trillion. That’s right Joe.Status quo over ten years will be $50 trillion! Every study done shows that Medicare For All is the most cost-effective approach to providing healthcare to every man, woman, and child in this country. I who wrote the damn bill, if I may say so, intend to eliminate all out of pocket expenses.”

We can’t afford the status quo as a nation or as individuals. When a health crisis hits, most Americans face astronomical costs, copays, deductibles, etc. that go far beyond what they can afford. This applies to the insured and uninsured alike. Medical bankruptcies devastate us in America, but are unheard of elsewhere.

In an article “This is the real reason most Americans file for bankruptcy,” (February 11, 2019 by Lorie Konish), CNBC reported, “Two-thirds of people who file for bankruptcy cite medical issues as a key contributor to their financial downfall. While the high cost of health care has historically been a trigger for bankruptcy filings, the research shows that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has not improved things. What most people do not realize, according to one researcher, is that their health insurance may not be enough to protect them.”

Actually many Americans do realize that. They delay healthcare or deny themselves care altogether because of the runaway costs. This crisis is getting worse, not better. So, unless we implement Medical For All, how are Americans gonna pay for their healthcare? How can we save the lives of 10,000s of us who die each year because politicians listen to special interest donors instead of voters.

These questions and considerations apply across the board. Unless we take decisive action now to fundamentally change our energy, transportation, and other sectors, the costs of living during an escalating Climate Emergency will explode.

The Pentagon identified Climate Change as a “risk multiplier” and the top threat to national security. This because the already-changing climate is causing droughts and super hurricanes that drive people from their homes and destabilize entire regions.

Banks, insurance companies, scientists, economists, and activists like us all understand that global warming will cause 100s of $trillions in global economic damage unless we act now. reports, “Climate change presents ‘high exposure risk’ to insurers and their policyholders on many fronts.” How high? Too high for anyone to expect to pay for it.

The report, “Climate Change and the Reinsurance Implications” (by Don Jergler June 13, 2019), referenced “a white paper, Climate Change and the (RE)Insurance Implications, [that] notes that 2017 was the costliest year on record for natural catastrophe events, with $344 billion in global economic loss, of which 97 percent was due to weather-related events, while insured loss estimates from natural catastrophes totaled $140 billion in 2017.”

The article also quoted, “A 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that global economic damages by 2100 would reach $54 trillion with a 1.5-degrees Celsius of warming of the planet, $69 trillion with 2 degrees Celsius of warming and $551 trillion with 3.7 degrees Celsius of warming.”

The article also warned about other impending costs including, “General liability claims for third-party bodily injury and property damage, directors and officers claims for a company’s failure to properly disclose climate-related or failure to align its business model with a low-carbon future and first-party loss, including business interruption.”

Unless Congress passes the Climate Emergency Resolution, the Green New Deal, and other necessary legislation, we the taxpayers can expect to get stuck with a monumental bill for 10s or even 100s of $trillions directly because of the Climate Emergency.

In this context, the Green New Deal is a bargain we can’t afford to reject, because who’s gonna pay for the cataclysmic devastation if we don’t invest in solutions on a massive scale starting immediately?

Regarding Climate, healthcare, and other imperatives, inaction or too-slow action is not an option. Because unless we implement necessary fundamental transformational reforms, our society will collapse under the weight of impending destruction and runaway expenses. That is why PDA has always supported an expansive, inclusive grassroots political revolution as Bernie calls for.

If you want to be a part of the team that helps elect the FDR of the 21st century, join our team conference call and get energized and organized! Join PDA’s We Want Bernie Team Call. Click Here to RSVP so we’re sure to have enough lines set aside.

Can’t make it but still want to be part of the team? Let us know if you want to be a part of our We Want Bernie campaign and we can get you cooking to make a real difference today!

PDA helps you make a huge difference with Educate Congress letter drops, action alerts, and coalition efforts with dozens of progressive organizations. Email Mike Fox to make your voice heard on critically important policies.

We appreciate all you do to help make progress on healthcare and other issues. If you’ve never donated to help PDA help you pressure our elected officials, now is the perfect time. We need your support now more than ever. Click here to pitch in $3, $5, or whatever you can afford to support PDA’s issue organizing.


P.S.: Click Here for Robert Pollin’s interview on The Nation Magazine’s Podcast, Start Making Sense. It starts with a discussion of the Economists for Medicare For All petition that PDA Executive Director Alan Minsky helped to initiate with our coalition allies.

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