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Democrats' perils of populist posturing for 2020

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    Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post, February 21, 2019: The left is bubbling with ideas. They’re just the wrong ones.

    Fareed Zakaria's provocative article in the Washington Post is worthy of discussion. I'm sure the far left will rage upon him, but he is saying the same thing several of us "moderates" have been saying in this website for years. We can generate a populist appeal to get elected, but to get legislation passed through two houses of Congress and the Executive, it requires Republican support. Period! And in the Senate, that means 60 votes unless they can somehow use reconciliation. Right now the liberals have only 47 votes in the Senate, and there is no way in hell we are going to pick up 13 Senate seats in the 2020 election. Mitch McConnell will continue to rule either as majority leader or minority leader, but either way Republican filibuster will be the rule of the land. -- 60 votes.

    While I admire the passion and energy of Rep Ocasio-Cortez and the way both she and Bernie Sanders have awakened a part of the electorate with "promises" of free stuff, in the end they will have to deliver on those promises. President Obama found that out when the Republican Party became the "Party of No" on just about everything Obama proposed. Not only saying no on his job initiatives , they then mocked him for not creating the jobs and economy at faster pace to pull us out of the Great Recession. Zakaria writes about the current wave of populism in the Democratic Party:

    "In their zeal to match the sweeping rhetoric of right-wing populism, Democrats are spinning out dramatic proposals in which facts are sometimes misrepresented, the numbers occasionally don’t add up, and emotional appeal tends to trump actual policy analysis." I added the bolding.

    "When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was confronted recently by Anderson Cooper on CBS’s “60 Minutes” about an egregious misstatement concerning Pentagon spending, she responded, “I think that there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.”

    Her dismissive attitude will not make her any friends except with her base...just like Trump and his base.

    Zakaria goes on to to describe how Ocasio-Cortez totally misrepresented the Amazon deal in New York, focusing on just one aspect of the venture and not looking at the big picture and how the project would be good for New York. She just could not get past her so called $3 billion "give away" part of the deal. She should have done her homework.

    I really like Rep Ocasio-Cortez, but her brand of populism doesn't often jive with facts or reality, and that includes the New Green Deal, which I also like, but it could have been couched differently to expand the appeal beyond just her far left uncompromising passionate demographic.

    Okay I made my point. You've heard it from me before. You can read the rest of Zakaria's article at the above link. I agree with him.

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    Schmidt as usual, indeed you made your point. In other words you are actually stating as I've done for many years that an two party system with all these convoluted rules etc. as well our strange way of governing will ask for a mess. You can't blame Ocasio-Cortez; she just points out where things are screwed up. Indeed the Pentagon is an waste bucket as well she was correct about the Amazon deal (why give an"huge"subsidy, while they bulk of cash an barely pay taxes) . We are so stuck in our old non working system of which we know that it is antiquated and stupid; she at least is using common sense. Yes it would be nice to use some common sense in this country; don't expect any from Trump and his cronies or the "old" indoctrinated buzzerts who still live in the 1950's.
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    From Schmidt above:

    "We can generate a populist appeal to get elected, but to get legislation passed through two houses of Congress and the Executive, it requires Republican support. Period!"

    Schmidt, I agree. Lets elsct Bernie and shoot for the moon! Bernie is not a my way or the highway guy. He wont shut the government down over pride. As Hillary pointed out he even voted for the right wing Gramm's legislation that almost collapsed the economy. In the world of collective bargaining each side asks for the most that can benefit their constituents and then accept the settlement. Nothing you or Fareed say makes a point that Bernie can't get elected. Electing Bernie will get the most benefit for the country. What you said about getting Republican votes to pass legislation applies to anybody elected President. It only makes sense to vote for whoever asks for the most. No reason to enter negotiations with a conciliatory posture. Zakaria made no point to not elect a left progressive. He stated true facts about negotiations but that is all the more reason to elect the person with the best vision to help the neglected working class.

    Remember probably the most significant proposal of Bernie's:

    Opinion | The Case for a Tax on Financial Transactions

    The New York Times


    Jul 22, 2015 · Senator Bernie Sanders's financial transaction tax would raise revenue and ... of a percent, on trades of stocks, bonds, derivatives and other securities .

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    Schmidt,

    We shouldn’t want to turn the Democratic Party into the Green Party or Occupy Wall Street if we want professional results. But Zakaria is kidding himself if he thinks the agenda he has laid out is going to drive people to the polls.

    I like what he said about taxes. The compliance and enforcement costs of taxes is enormous and diverts tons of resources and is varely rarely considered. When judging a tax it’s all about what the tax does to taxpayer behavior and not the revenue raised. The perfect tax raises no revenue but changes tax payer behavior exactly as policy makers desired.

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    Just to be clear, I support a financial transaction tax. I support increasing the capital gains tax. I support increasing the estate tax. And I support closing all the loopholes that make the super rich and corporations pay less in taxes than their fair share. MSNBC's Ali Velshi has been going down a list of highly profitable corporations that have not only zero taxes but are getting massive rebates from the government. I don't know how to fix that without hurting some of the smaller companies that are investing in America, but I understand that one size dies not fit all.

    I have read very thoroughly the actual bills put forward by Bernie Sanders on his version of Medicare for all and free college tuition. Then I have compared these bills to his campaign rhetoric, and it doesn't match reality. That's my problem. Bernie Sanders has run a less than honest campaign selling the positives of his Medicare for all legislation and ignoring everything else. He even has the gall to compare it to the Canadian health care system. No it is not. Nor is it anyway comparable to traditional Medicare, which I am a beneficiary...and really like it. It would be wonderful for people to buy into it as a public option.

    I will fall back on the Colorado experience with a version of Bernie's "Medicare for all". Once the Colorado people fully understood what was in the bill, that they would lose their employee sponsored health care insurance, and that it would cost taxpayers a ton of money, they voted it down, 81-19. Hell, Bernie could not even sell his Medicare for all legislation in his home state of Vermont once people understood what was in it and how it would be funded. Ditto for California.

    Bernie seemingly has not learned from those three examples (same ole stump speech again and again), and in a way he's doing a "Trump"...lots of promises and wonderful promotion with beautiful, exciting language, a little hyperbole, and positive media coverage that helps to buy votes, but no plan on how it could realistically be approved in Congress let alone funded.

    What does Bernie's plan (link above) say about funding and cost? This is it: "By not later than September 1 of each year, beginning with the year prior to the date on which benefits first become available as described in section 106(a), the Secretary shall establish a national health budget, which specifies the total expenditures to be made for covered health care services under this Act." That's it.

    He goes into more detail on the costs associated with the four year transition period when existing policies are phased into "BernieCare", but no costs or funding mechanism once the plan is fully implemented other than the "Secretary shall establish". The devil is in the details, and I would like to more what is in the mind of the "Secretary" before I vote on it.

    There are many other versions of "Medicare for all" that are not as far reaching and might garner more support. Even fixing ObamaCare seems like a much better and less costly option...or how about that Swiss version that Zakaria mentioned? Bernie, however, cannot deviate or compromise one iota from the Senate bill S.1804 that he submitted in 2017. He is chained to it.

    To his credit, in Sanders College for All Act, he did put the cost in the bill. The total tuition at public colleges and universities amounts to about $70 billion per year. Under Bernie's program, the federal government would cover 67% of this cost, while the states would be responsible for the remaining 33% of the cost. However, his rhetoric again doesn't match what's in the bill. Unless asked, he seldom makes any mention of the $70 billion and that the states would have to cover 1/3 of the cost. Some states like New York might be okay with that, but if you live in a state that is struggling to balance its budget, then the state legislatures (and the people if put to a vote) are less likely to go along with these costs.

    Now I fully realize, politicians always make promises that they cannot deliver on. Just look at Trump's wall and that "Mexico is going to pay for it". It helped elect Trump, much the same as his rhetoric in the Rust Belt states about "China and Mexico stealing your jobs," but with no realistic plan to reopen those obsolete factories once elected. Actually Trump and Sanders shared the same rhetoric on "blaming China and Mexico" with no mention of robots stealing jobs, or changing market conditions. That's why so many Bernie supporters in these states voted for Trump. They both were vote pandering to the same demographic with the same language.

    So far I am witnessing a rerun of Bernie's 2016 campaign, but now he has Rep Ocasio-Cortez also carrying some of the weight of selling his proposals to the electorate. And some of the candidates have also endorsed Sanders Medicare for All, but I wonder if they have read the bill like I have. Maybe Sanders will even get elected. But what happens next with Mitch McConnell in charge of the Senate? None of his legislation will even get a vote on the Senate floor.

    Remember this famous quote that I have used on more than one occasion in this website:

    “You can't con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don't deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on." – Donald Trump, The Art of the Deal, 1987

    It could as well apply to Bernie Sanders campaigns on Medicare for All and free college tuition.

    Just saying...

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    the corporate tax is a pass thru regressive tax paid by consumers and/or labor, not capital - this is taught in the mainstream textbooks

    the financial transactions tax is said to be needed to curb speculation and high frequency trades, why not just make those sort of things illegal?

    I think the tax abatement thing is just one of the issues activists have with Amazon. Labor conditions, compensations, gentrification, and responsible corporate behavior are all part of their complaints. The tax abatement/incentives thing is a problem, and the U.S. Congress is the only thing that can stop the race to bottom among local/state govts.

    also, I’ve seen a chart recently that Sanders put out that showed the costs of his spending initiatives vs revenue raised by his proposed tax increases. I didn’t add it all up but eyeball math indicated they were close to matching but not quite.

    In any event, Sanders knows better and needs to stop with the public deficit terrorism while recognizing MMT in private. In that sense, he’s kind of like you in that he’s too afraid to ‘go there’ fearing it will go over the heads of voters. But he ends up complaining about deficits while simultaneously proposing additional deficit spending. He just needs to let Stephanie Kelton run point, let her be the policy clearinghouse, and then get her message out there.

    MFA is going to be a deflationary event without taxes added. It is an offset. People demanding additional offsets are calling for austerity! MFA might cause a financial crisis. We are talking about destroying trillions and trillions in balance sheet wealth and future earnings of a large sector of the economy. Meanwhile, everything produced in the U.S. will be cheaper to make because healthcare would not be a cost of production for businesses. Presumably, we would have a healthier workforce and society with all sorts of positive externalities and 2nd and 3rd order effects that make our economy more efficient. Yes, if healthcare is free to people, that’s like a tax cut. But we know some of the ‘tax cut’ will be saved. And the inflationary pressure would have to be as large as the deflationary effects just get back to neutral. Meanwhile, the inflationary ‘tax cut’ effect would be delayed over time; whereas, the deflationary effects begin on day one. So I think MFA legislation needs to be accompanied by a payroll tax holiday.

    I stand by this logic and it’s more thought out than calls for deficit neutral MFA. I could be wrong about the need for such a large tax cut but at a minimum much smaller tax increases are needed than currently suggested.

    Nobody has modeled the need for offsets (positive or negative) for price stability purposes. Everything is about revenue and deficit neutrality (and these sorts of forecasts are notoriously unreliable and wrong - see the CBO’s predictative track record).

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    "the financial transactions tax is said to be needed to curb speculation and high frequency trades, why not just make those sort of things illegal?"

    Barring any illegal diversions criminalizing those sort of things is the path to prosperity.

    Anything short of MFA accepts earlier death and increased suffering for multi millions of people.

    Why is there such a horrible attitude toward poor people? Thousands die every month denied healthcare.

    Disecting Bernie's plan is not an exercise for progressives. A properly applied financial transaction tax is the road to prosperity. Money managers will always seek investment opportunities. Eliminate non productive paper trades and money will invest in jobs producing ventures.

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    Carlitos -- Now you explain to the American people of how the MFA will work and watch their eyes glaze over. I've knocked on too many doors to think that the American public has any patience to see something as big and complex as Bernie's "Medicare for All" phased in over a four year period. Public polling might support it now, but I'll bet 90 percent of those polled have not one iota idea of what it take to get the MFA implemented. Hell they cannot even grasp something as simple as the Affordable Care Act. Look again at what Colorado voters thought of it once they got more informed...81-19 no vote should be the canary in the coal mine for Bernie's MFA advocates, but they live in their own bubble.

    As far as costs go, when you add maybe 30 million currently uninsured, eliminate all deductibles, co-pays and fees, and then include such things as free eyecare, free dentists, free podiatry, free long term care, and free abortions (no Hyde Amendment), free just about everything, then costs go way up. I don't know if that 30 million figure includes American territories, but those Americans too are included in Bernie's plan -- plus all American residents (presumably green card holders). Health care rationing? No not the way Bernie tells it.

    Cost savings come from getting rid of all the associated costs of the private insurance companies. No need for them because everyone is insured. The money in the Medicare Trust Fund will also be rolled into the new Trust Fund that collects all revenue from the various taxes to fund the program. The Medicare Trust fund will jump start the program.

    And there will be also cost savings by reduced salaries and fees from hospital, doctors, nurses, and other care givers whose salaries and fees will be tightly controlled by the government. No more private entities making big profits. These fees are already set by Medicare, but the problem is right now is it is difficult to find a doctor that serves Medicare patients. Some take a small percentage of Medicare and Medicaid patients, but it is the employer based plans that make them the big profits and why they choose to stay in business. How many doctors, nurses, and such choose to remain in the system if their fees for service are reduced to Medicare type rates?

    Various aspects of Bernie's MFA will be the Number 1 talking point of every Republican politician in the 2020 election. I just touched on a few, but the Republican propaganda machine is a hell of a lot more effective than the Bernie "glassy eyed" tactics of how wonderful it will be for everyone.

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    Chet -- Do you understand that Medicaid is a program that is designed for poor people? The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid coverage to anyone making below 133 percent of the poverty line. However, because of the Supreme Court ruling, 13 Republican controlled states have yet to expand Medicaid coverage to the poor -- Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, & Wisconsin. So when you are asking why people don't care about poor people you should direct that statement to Republicans in those states.
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    The subject was the Democrats perils. Looking at the "field" of candidates, I just wonder about the "direction". Looking at all the above "threads" then I'm looking at lots of "words" but nothing concise and straightforward. All of it is looking into an crystal ball . The more I look at it, it has become an country of "words" without "deeds" or "common sense". All of this comes forth due to the structure of our "system" ; case laws as well a zillion lawyers make an total mess of "rules" or outdated "laws"

    So I suggest to start at A for a change and hopefully we will end up at Z. People forget here to start at the "cause" but here they start at the "effect" most of the times. If the "base laws" (A) does not work; improve such so it works, then the "effect" will be noticed. For instance: "the second amendment" it says: the "militia" can own guns; so rewrite what that means for 2019. It never said that "civilians" could own them. So the whole Constitution has lots of things which don't apply to 2019. Let alone the Presidential "powers". So write an special chapter which should apply for 2019 leaders, because of that we conveniently "forget" that then you get the crazy things, like an President can dictate "tariffs" or sent "troops" to our borders without any reason. etc etc.

    Thus as long as these things are not fixed, then this country will remain in turmoil; because of it the "rich" are taking over the government as well apply their own rules; the "old" Constitutional rules don't apply for them anyway, since these don't work for 2019 and are full of "loopholes" which they and their lawyers love.

    All of this applies to everything including healthcare or infrastructure. If the "base laws" don't work then it is and remains an house of cards.

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    Schmidt Wrote: Chet -- Do you understand that Medicaid is a program that is designed for poor people? The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid coverage to anyone making below 133 percent of the poverty line. However, because of the Supreme Court ruling, 13 Republican controlled states have yet to expand Medicaid coverage to the poor -- Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, & Wisconsin. So when you are asking why people don't care about poor people you should direct that statement to Republicans in those states.

    "So when you are asking why people don't care about poor people you should direct that statement to Republicans in those states."

    Schmidt, People on this forum have said Single Payer / MFA is too expensive.

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    Schmidt Wrote:

    As far as costs go, when you add maybe 30 million currently uninsured, eliminate all deductibles, co-pays and fees, and then include such things as free eyecare, free dentists, free podiatry, free long term care, and free abortions (no Hyde Amendment), free just about everything, then costs go way up.

    The crux of the thing is what costs are you talking about? Real or financial? Per unit prices or total prices paid (total spending or total costs of production)? And what prices?......in healthcare or the general economy?

    To be absolutely clear, I'm not making fun or trying to be argumentative. I'm just thinking things through from my POV, i.e. MFA would be a deflationary event.

    Medicare is going to fix healthcare prices paid under MFA for better or worse. Healthcare prices are going to be "administered" by the government subject to its revision. So the inflationary impact from expanding healthcare output is the real resources that get diverted as result of healthcare from other uses in the economy (leading to shortages in non-healthcare goods and services, driving up their prices). That diversion comes from not just the real resource input costs of healthcare delivery but also the consumption of non-healthcare goods and services by healthcare suppliers.

    Cost savings come from getting rid of all the associated costs of the private insurance companies. No need for them because everyone is insured. The money in the Medicare Trust Fund will also be rolled into the new Trust Fund that collects all revenue from the various taxes to fund the program. The Medicare Trust fund will jump start the program.

    Under current law, Medicare Part B and D have no solvency risks because shortfalls are fully funded by the U.S. Treasury.

    We need to do the same with every Trust Fund, including Social Security and Medicare parts A and C (if we are to have Trust Funds at all).

    And there will be also cost savings by reduced salaries and fees from hospital, doctors, nurses, and other care givers whose salaries and fees will be tightly controlled by the government. No more private entities making big profits. These fees are already set by Medicare, but the problem is right now is it is difficult to find a doctor that serves Medicare patients. Some take a small percentage of Medicare and Medicaid patients, but it is the employer based plans that make them the big profits and why they choose to stay in business. How many doctors, nurses, and such choose to remain in the system if their fees for service are reduced to Medicare type rates?

    My bigger concern with MFA is the idea of maximum pay structures. That could kill 1099 staffing of physicians and nurses.

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    Schmidt Wrote: Chet -- Do you understand that Medicaid is a program that is designed for poor people? The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid coverage to anyone making below 133 percent of the poverty line. However, because of the Supreme Court ruling, 13 Republican controlled states have yet to expand Medicaid coverage to the poor -- Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, & Wisconsin. So when you are asking why people don't care about poor people you should direct that statement to Republicans in those states.
    Besides the states that haven't expanded Medicaid there are restrictions in states that have medicaid. I know a couple that are poor and have virtually no income but owning their own house disqualifies them from aid. No matter what the reason there are many millions with no healthcare. Each month thousands die earlier and suffer more because they are denied healthcare.
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    Schmidt Wrote:

    Carlitos -- Now you explain to the American people of how the MFA will work and watch their eyes glaze over. I've knocked on too many doors to think that the American public has any patience to see something as big and complex as Bernie's "Medicare for All" phased in over a four year period. Public polling might support it now, but I'll bet 90 percent of those polled have not one iota idea of what it take to get the MFA implemented. Hell they cannot even grasp something as simple as the Affordable Care Act. Look again at what Colorado voters thought of it once they got more informed...81-19 no vote should be the canary in the coal mine for Bernie's MFA advocates, but they live in their own bubble.

    As far as costs go, when you add maybe 30 million currently uninsured, eliminate all deductibles, co-pays and fees, and then include such things as free eyecare, free dentists, free podiatry, free long term care, and free abortions (no Hyde Amendment), free just about everything, then costs go way up. I don't know if that 30 million figure includes American territories, but those Americans too are included in Bernie's plan -- plus all American residents (presumably green card holders). Health care rationing? No not the way Bernie tells it.

    Cost savings come from getting rid of all the associated costs of the private insurance companies. No need for them because everyone is insured. The money in the Medicare Trust Fund will also be rolled into the new Trust Fund that collects all revenue from the various taxes to fund the program. The Medicare Trust fund will jump start the program.

    And there will be also cost savings by reduced salaries and fees from hospital, doctors, nurses, and other care givers whose salaries and fees will be tightly controlled by the government. No more private entities making big profits. These fees are already set by Medicare, but the problem is right now is it is difficult to find a doctor that serves Medicare patients. Some take a small percentage of Medicare and Medicaid patients, but it is the employer based plans that make them the big profits and why they choose to stay in business. How many doctors, nurses, and such choose to remain in the system if their fees for service are reduced to Medicare type rates?

    Various aspects of Bernie's MFA will be the Number 1 talking point of every Republican politician in the 2020 election. I just touched on a few, but the Republican propaganda machine is a hell of a lot more effective than the Bernie "glassy eyed" tactics of how wonderful it will be for everyone.

    If doctors and healthcare agencies wouldn't try to scam the system like they do now, things could be better,

    e.g. a procedure to treat a disease, no insurance? $50.00, with insurance? $500.00

    no oversight.

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    Dockadams Wrote:
    Schmidt Wrote:

    Carlitos -- Now you explain to the American people of how the MFA will work and watch their eyes glaze over. I've knocked on too many doors to think that the American public has any patience to see something as big and complex as Bernie's "Medicare for All" phased in over a four year period. Public polling might support it now, but I'll bet 90 percent of those polled have not one iota idea of what it take to get the MFA implemented. Hell they cannot even grasp something as simple as the Affordable Care Act. Look again at what Colorado voters thought of it once they got more informed...81-19 no vote should be the canary in the coal mine for Bernie's MFA advocates, but they live in their own bubble.

    As far as costs go, when you add maybe 30 million currently uninsured, eliminate all deductibles, co-pays and fees, and then include such things as free eyecare, free dentists, free podiatry, free long term care, and free abortions (no Hyde Amendment), free just about everything, then costs go way up. I don't know if that 30 million figure includes American territories, but those Americans too are included in Bernie's plan -- plus all American residents (presumably green card holders). Health care rationing? No not the way Bernie tells it.

    Cost savings come from getting rid of all the associated costs of the private insurance companies. No need for them because everyone is insured. The money in the Medicare Trust Fund will also be rolled into the new Trust Fund that collects all revenue from the various taxes to fund the program. The Medicare Trust fund will jump start the program.

    And there will be also cost savings by reduced salaries and fees from hospital, doctors, nurses, and other care givers whose salaries and fees will be tightly controlled by the government. No more private entities making big profits. These fees are already set by Medicare, but the problem is right now is it is difficult to find a doctor that serves Medicare patients. Some take a small percentage of Medicare and Medicaid patients, but it is the employer based plans that make them the big profits and why they choose to stay in business. How many doctors, nurses, and such choose to remain in the system if their fees for service are reduced to Medicare type rates?

    Various aspects of Bernie's MFA will be the Number 1 talking point of every Republican politician in the 2020 election. I just touched on a few, but the Republican propaganda machine is a hell of a lot more effective than the Bernie "glassy eyed" tactics of how wonderful it will be for everyone.

    If doctors and healthcare agencies wouldn't try to scam the system like they do now, things could be better,

    e.g. a procedure to treat a disease, no insurance? $50.00, with insurance? $500.00

    no oversight.

    If just drugs were controlled there would be a significant savings. When i was a kid the drugs did not cost more than the Dr. visit. There are multiple drugs that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. OTC drugs have skyrocketed. Before, during and after hurricanes people are arrested for price gouging. What can immunize drug companies from price gouging when they skyrocket prices of life or death drugs. Choice is pay or die. A far worse case scenario than raising gas prices during hurricanes.

    Americans are dying because they can't afford medicine; Dispensary of Hope ...

    WCPO.com › batavia-township


    May 4, 2018 · ... people who can't afford their medication to continue living healthy. ... Updated: 3:19 PM, May 04, 2018.