Posted tagged ‘bernie sanders’

Bloomberg Is In

November 25, 2019

Michael Bloomberg unleashed his 2020 Presidential campaign Sunday with a reported $30 million advertising buy.  As also reported earlier, Bloomberg’s strategy will be to aim at Super Tuesday (March 15) and not get forced into campaigning in the first four primaries/caucuses.  Now that Bloomberg’s candidacy is real, what does it mean?

  • Money.  Some of the first comments by Democrat challengers had to do with money.  Like, “does he think he can buy the nomination?”  Interestingly, if one thinks for a minute most all the Democrat candidates will need to raise a lot of money, especially if they are nominated.  With the price tag probably north of $1 billion the “candidate” will need to get large chunks of that billion from others and almost assuredly the “other” will want something in return.  Hmmm.  A Bloomberg candidacy may focus light on how much other candidates will be owing to special interests.
  • Reality.  With 17 other Democrat hopefuls trying to achieve a “breakout” moment, there has been a panacea of “give aways” and  ‘take aways”, like Medicare for all, forgiving college loan debt, and tax the wealthy.  Regardless of whether these proposals ultimately make sense, in 2020 they seem unattainable simply due to the mood of the public and the makeup of Congress.  Bloomberg in his pragmatic, matter of fact manner will speak sense to the electorate.
  • Catalyst.  There is a high probability that no candidate will achieve a majority prior to the convention.  Given that, what basis is there for a Sanders or Warren supporter switch to someone such as Biden, Buttigieg, or Bloomberg?   For progressive candidate supporters they must believe the convention selection, at a minimum, can beat Trump.  Second these supporters will want a nominee who can unite the party.  Thirdly, these supporters will seek someone who is at least sympathetic to healthcare for all and relief for college debt even if not adopting the Warren’s or Sander’s specific proposal. Likewise, the candidates currently drawing less than 3% in the polls will be unable to continue to fund their candidacy and will need to drop their bids.  At this time, it is still unclear whether Bloomberg can win the nomination but each of the remaining candidates will likely be measured with Bloomberg as the standard (experience, commonsense platform, and ability to raise money).

Buttigieg and Biden are currently the two most likely candidates to make the final cut.  If they attempt to emulate Bloomberg’s campaign strategies, their chance of winning the nomination and then beating Trump will improve.  Stay tuned.

The Bloomberg Factor

November 10, 2019

Michael Bloomberg’s organization made application to take part in the Alabama Democrat primary.  This filing and any others that Bloomberg will subsequently authorize could position Bloomberg to become a full fledged candidate for the Democrat Presidential nomination. Will this new entry make a difference?

The current Democrat field of 17 Presidential candidates is quite large with a cluster around centrist values and two candidates pushing the bounds of progressive values.  Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren currently occupy about 30-40% of poll results. More importantly, Sanders and Warren also represent the most liberal or progressive wing of the party,  Are these very progressive views salable to a majority of voters?

Of the remaining 60-70%, Joe Biden has about 25% of the polling data and is squarely a centrist.  The remaining 14 candidates register in single digits.  

So, what would the entry of Michael Bloomberg mean?

If one reads the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, or any other large city newspaper, Michael Bloomberg should be no stranger. Bloomberg is a self made billionaire and successful three term mayor of New York City.  Pragmatic on most issues, progressive in a practical manner on others.  Bloomberg would be fully capable of performing the Presidential duties on day one. But most Americans do not read newspapers and Michael Bloomberg may be a stranger. What obstacles lie ahead of potential Bloomberg candidacy?

For many Americans, Bloomberg will need to introduce himself and outline why he should become the Democrat standard bearer and receive their vote. (Need for national name recognition)

Candidate Bloomberg is 77 years old and would enter a field with Sanders, 78, Biden 76, and Warren 70.  President Trump weighs in at 73.  Hmmm. Age is usually associated with experience and maturity but also comes with concerns about mental quickness, stamina, and health.  At 77 and President Trump at 73, Bloomberg needs to make the case that his experience is more relevant and far better for voters than the current President’s.  (Is Bloomberg still alert and healthy?)

The President’s job, if properly performed, is a tough executive assignment with an extremely broad span of responsibilities both domestically and foreign.  Arguably Vice President Biden should be prepared having been in the White House for 8 years already.  Sanders and Warren are both Senators and lack executive experience.  Bloomberg is a self made $50 billionaire who lead New York City for 3 terms.  Bloomberg will need to convince Democrat primary voters that his executive experience is relevant and important.  (Can Bloomberg convince voters that his personal business and mayoral experience are relevant for the Democrat nomination?)

Bloomberg’s signal of possibly running for President comes with less than three months before the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. And Super Tuesday (March 15, 2020) is about 5 months away.  News reports suggest that Bloomberg will intentionally skip the first four primaries and instead put his efforts on Super Tuesday. (Will Bloomberg try to win the nomination by primary votes or play for a deadlocked convention and being selected at the Convention?)

Money and “position papers” drive each candidate’s campaign.  With Bloomberg’s late entry what will he offer.  Money should be no issue but what policies will Bloomberg emphasize?  Bloomberg has been critical of Sanders and Warren, who he feels are promising goals they will be unable to deliver.  Never the less, Bloomberg will need some set of issue to run on other than I can do better than Trump.  (What Bloomberg select issues the average American can relate to?)

Finally news reports have suggested Bloomberg believe Joe Biden does not have enough popular support and financial backing from wealthy donors.  In such a situation the extreme progressive positions of Sanders and Warren might carry the day.  This worries Bloomberg because he believes Trump can beat such a left wing candidacy. Another factor to consider, as the other 17 candidates sooner or later drop their campaigns, would they support Biden, Sanders, or Warren, or would they back Bloomberg?   (Will Bloomberg ultimately back Biden if he does not run or can not win?)

What’s Happening With Pete?

October 21, 2019

Barack Obama had no right to expect he could land the Democrat Presidential nomination back in 2008.  Who was Obama, and what is there about a “community organizer” and first term US Senator that makes one worthy of the Presidential nomination?  Who knows, but it happened.  

President Obama certainly had a lot to learn when he not only received the nomination, but also when he beat Republican John McCain to become President.  

Historians are still measuring the Obama years before assigning Obama some ranking from our best President ever to our worst President of all times.  It is safe to say that wherever President Obama’s years land, the Obama years were more successful than George W Bush even though both Presidents were at their hearts “good persons”. 

Comparing President Obama and President Trump will unlikely test historians.  Up to this point, President Obama showed more character and executive skills than we have seen from President Trump.  President Obama did not get every one of his foreign policy decision right but  preliminary comparisons with President Trump are favorable.  And domestic policies favor President Obama even more.  Fast forward to 2019 and one might responsibly conclude that most Democrat candidates should have good chance running against President Trump. 

Democrat Presidential candidate leaders, Joe Biden (age 76), Elizabeth Warren (age 70) and Bernie Sanders (age 78) collectively score about 70% of the preferences expressed in polls.  South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg has about 6% popularity.  Does this suggest that when the dust settles, the Democrat nominee will be someone 70 years or older?

Some say age should not be a factor but too often what they actually mean is former Vice President Biden, Senators Sanders or Warren are not too old to become the Democrat standard bearer.  I wonder whether at age 37, Mayor Pete is not too young but just right to snatch the nomination?

Why would anyone speculate about Buttigieg when there are seasoned pros to pick from?  Age, personal energy, and perceived electability might become factors.  Like goldilocks, however, “not too old, not too progressive, not same old, same old” might just be the most attractive in the end.  

There are still too many Democrats in the field in order to make a clear call on where the crowd will go when (and if) Biden or Sanders or Warren cannot make the sale for themselves as the nominee.  But in 2008 candidate Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses against most expectations.  Will Mayor Pete do the same?

Medicare For All

July 31, 2019

Democrats are playing with fire.  With Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren playing the “Medicare For All” music with great vigor, the other candidates are worried about how to position themselves.  Are they against healthcare, or just Medicare For All?  And why?

Healthcare is symbolic of a class of social issues which income inequality has aggravated and hurts most Americans.  The US healthcare delivery system is reasonably good for the top 2% earning Americans.  For everyone else, healthcare is problematic.  The notion that health care is an enterprise just like buying an automobile or dishwasher, in other words a service appropriate for free enterprise, is simply ridiculous.

US healthcare costs twice as much as two dozen other modern countries, does not cover all Americans, and delivers (on average) mediocre outcomes.  What’s wrong with this picture?  So why isn’t Sanders and Warren on the right track?

When Democrats (or anyone else) campaigns on “Medicare For All”, these candidates, however, do so at their own risk.  Why should anyone believe that “Medicare For All” would reduce healthcare costs, make healthcare affordable and available to all Americans, and not break the bank in the process WHEN most Americans do not realize their healthcare is not the best in the world?

President Trump’s campaign staff can hardly contain their glee at the prospects of campaigning against “Medicare For All”.  From the opening soft ball, “you mean I have to give up my current health insurance like Blue Cross for something I know nothing about” to the fast ball, “you want me to wait endlessly to see a doctor like they do in Great Britain”, Trump will have a field day taking about his “beautiful healthcare” even without a shred of detail.

The issue should be healthcare which is affordable and available, for all Americans, at world class standards of cost and outcomes.  Candidates should share the facts about Germany, France, Japan, Canada, etc in terms of spending per capita and ask why that could not be possible in the US?

There are dozens of US medical institutions (for example, the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, or most of the university affiliated teaching hospitals) where the best healthcare in the world can be found… if you can afford it.  Why not speak of an aspirational goal of world class healthcare for all?  Why not challenge Americans to elect someone who is committed to improving current healthcare delivery and its exorbitant cost with the goal of matching “the world’s best” in 20 years?

Experts in healthcare delivery systems know this problem is complex. Preventing disease is much cheaper than curing a disease once someone is sick.  Economically challenged Americans are most likely to forgo preventative health check ups or follow post doctor visit follow up plans.  And for sure, research on new cutting edge medicines and medical procedures do not come free.  But what other country in the world has some inherent advantage that the US, with its resources, could not match or surpass?

If there is one issue that could unite the average Democrat and Republican, world class healthcare would be my pick.  Why not talk about healthcare instead of Medicare For All?

Joe or Bernie?

April 24, 2019

With former Vice President Joe Biden about to join 19 other Democrat hopefuls for the 2020 Presidential nomination, one must be struck with how running for president has changed. 

Biden will be the 20th (and probably not the last) Democrat to announce their candidacy.  In the olden days, Presidential candidates were determined in hotel smoke filled back rooms where the party bosses picked their choice for President.  The national convention was for pomp and affirmation of the bosses’ pick.  Then came the primaries and the bosses’ power faded.  Fast forward to 2019 and it seems anyone with a twitter account is qualified, and the money necessary to launch a campaign, seems to grow on trees.

So, what impact will Joe Biden make?

The current field of Democrat hopefuls could be grouped into

  • “boys and girls”,
  • “left and centrist”, and
  • “single issue and broad spectrum” candidates. 

Joe fits the “boys”, “centrist”, and “broad spectrum” labels.  Seems like a winner?

Biden, however, carries a few milestones too.  Biden will be 77 if elected so age, health, and out of step with younger Americans are electability risks.  Biden has also had a history of “gaffs” which require a timeout in order to explain what he really meant, and then more time consuming energy to restart the campaign.  And there is the lingering feeling that Biden is not the sharpest knife in the drawer hounding him.  But Joe is just being Joe.

Bernie Sanders has launched a strong campaign for the second time and is doing well with popularity and fund raising.  Sander supporters are passionate about Bernie and still feel robbed when Hillary Clinton won the nomination in 2016.  Sanders, however, will be red meat for Trump. “He’s a socialist, if not a communist” will be Trump’s tweets.  While Sanders’ campaign pledges have fairly broad appeal (Medicare for All translated into affordable healthcare), most Americans have employer provided healthcare insurance and are insulated from the actual cost of healthcare.  But who wants to live like Cubans or Venezuelans as Trump will posit life under Sanders.

So why not nominate one of the other 18?  Never say never, it is over a year until the nominating convention.  At this point in time, on a subjective basis only, the rest of the field looks a push over for President Trump.  The Democrats lack name recognition, executive experience, and stand for policies which require more than 30 seconds to explain.  Simply looking at Biden or Sanders, one knows what they stand for.

Should either Sanders or Biden get the Democrat nomination, dejected Democrats will say, “another white male”.  Hmmm.  This suggest strongly that both will seek a female Vice President nominee, probably Amy Klobuchar or Kamalar Harris.  If Harris would agree, a Biden-Harris ticket might provide the most formidable and best winning combination against Trump-Pence.  

Shameful And Irresponsible

July 29, 2014

This week we may see Congress step up and hit a single. To be clear, the bi-partisan VA fix bill is not a home run but in a Congress where rhetoric trumps commonsense or logic, the VA compromise bill has elements that make total sense, and at least count as a base hit..

What could have been so hard in finding this path forward?

The winning words, by Senator Bernie Sanders, were “I don’t care about the VA, I care about our veterans”.

Ever since President George W Bush sent American soldiers in Iraq (and thereby extended the stay in Afghanistan), the fundamental responsibilities a government has to its soldiers has been disregarded. Equipment inadequacies, shortages, and multiple/extended tours are incompatible with wars of choice.

Topping the list, however, was the decision to hold pat with the VA staffing, funding, and facilities even though Iraq and Afghanistan were sending home thousands of new patients. Both the Bush and the Obama Administrations have stood silently by as one VA horror story after another has come to light.

Congress has done no better and arguably worse. Where was oversight? Wasting time on Benghazi while Veterans waited for an appointments. Hmmm.

Fixes to the VA shortage problem has been well known. The problem was how to fund the large spending increase necessary.

Shamefully, the GOP blocked all solutions unless offsetting cuts could be identified. Irresponsibly, Democrats did not embrace the notion that government spending can be cut through retirement of unneeded programs or retooling existing spending programs and extracting greater efficiency at lower expenditure levels.

A government that spends about $3 trillion each year must have ample opportunities to cut spending and then reinvest this money in new initiatives.

Regrettably, our Congress members have been more concerned about their supporters (read defense contractors, farm owners, and those receiving social safety net benefits). Veterans just weren’t high enough on the food chain to count.

It is unlikely the VA emergency fix will initiate a fundamental change in Congressional attitudes.  We must, instead, be satisfied with the good news that, at least for a while, Veterans will receive attention they deserve.

Democratic Split Over Medicare

November 21, 2012

The News media has begun to pick up on back room fighting among rank and file Democrats.  Dems are fighting over whether entitlements should be up for modification to avoid the “fiscal cliff”.  Senator Bernie Sanders is leading one group which oppose any changes to entitlements.  Ironically this gives solace to GOP types trying to make the case that the top 2% should not pay more in taxes.  Bernie clearly thinks they should but his “don’t touch my favorite government spending” makes him a little exposed to hypocrisy charges.

Sanders is actually a long time universal care person.  His opposition to any Medicare or Medicaid cuts, while politically troubling and mathematically foolish, are at the end of the day consistent with his fundamental belief. On Sanders’ web page, one will read:

With more than 47 million Americans without health insurance coverage, it is clear that we need major changes in our country’s health care system.  The United States must join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to every man, woman and child in a cost-effective way.

President Obama probably believes universal health care is the best alternative too.   He may also believe the US will ultimately land there.  The President, however, has concluded now is the time for incremental changes (if there is to be any change at all), and not a complete game changer.  The President must realize that such common sense changes as eliminating “pre-existing conditions”, keeping children on parents health care policies until age 26, and providing full women’s health care coverage are considered by many “a complete game changer” already.

The issue facing Democrats is to ensure a fair and balanced deficit plan is passed.  From the math,  a seventh grader can see that without changes to Medicare and Medicaid funding, expenditures, or both, there is no way to close the deficit.

Bernie is leading a good fight but he might think through whether some incremental improvements might not offer some relief while others think of how to explain to all Americans that they paying twice as much for adequate. but in comparison to other countries, mediocre health care.