Search Results : bernie sanders

Minnesota DFL Gov. Candidate Otto Proposes Two Years of Free Tuition, $15 Minimum Wage

Speaker G. Mark Mickelson is stumping for a tobacco tax increase and other funding to subsidize South Dakota vo-tech tuition back down from its current regional high to the regional average.

But if Speaker Mickelson gets his tobacco tax, he might still have trouble competing with Minnesota, if our neighbors elect DFL candidate Rebecca Otto governor. Otto is advocating a $229-million plan to make the first two years of vo-tech and college free for every student in Minnesota:

You will get 2 years free college or vocational education at a Minnesota State college or university. The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is comprised of 30 state colleges and 7 state universities with 54 campuses in 47 communities throughout Minnesota. Attendance for a two-year associate degree, the first two years of a four-year degree program, or a vocational program, at any Minnesota State institution will be tuition- and fee-free to all first-time college students (within 4 years of high school graduation) or to adults outsourced or automated out of a job. When you graduate you will have zero tuition or fee debt from the first two years [Rebecca Otto campaign, “The 15-5-2 Plan,” campaign website, retrieved 2017.11.03].

Note that this plan isn’t a targeted scholarship like South Dakota’s “Build Dakota Scholarship” giving free vo-tech to students going into fields with worker shortages. This plan is for every student who can maintain a 2.5 GPA (that’s all?), do 25 hours of community service during the scholarship period, participate in a mentoring program, and then live and work in Minnesota for four years after college.

Otto says her plan reflects the good sense shown by nine other developed nations:

A 2015 OECD report lists the countries with free college tuition as of 2013-14: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden and Turkey. In 2014, Germany eliminated tuition at its colleges and universities. Even Americans can now attend college for free in Germany. The OECD report says this decision “reflects these countries’ deeply rooted social values, such as equality of opportunity and social equity,” the values on which America was also founded [Otto, retrieved 2017.11.03].

Boy, we could all take up smoking and still not raise enough Mickelson tax money to compete with Otto’s tuition offer.

For those not going to college, Otto offers a separate economic incentive to move to Minnesota: raising the minimum wage a buck a year to $15 by 2023. Small businesses and non-Twin-Cities towns would get until 2025 to reach that Bernie Sanders benchmark.

At the rate we’ve been increasing our minimum wage since our Democratically initiated hike to $8.50 in 2015, by 2025, South Dakota’s minimum wage would be about $9.73.



Trump Making Health Insurance Free for More Americans?!

Wait a minute—could Donald Trump be turning into Bernie Sanders and giving people “free” health care? Maybe!

As I reported when Il Duce nixed funding for the cost-sharing reductions, the Affordable Care Act’s premium tax subsidies will kick in to make up the difference and shield many lower-income policyholders from taking a hit from Trump’s higher premiums. The Kaiser Family Foundation finds that, in 1,540 counties, Trump’s move just made basic health insurance free:

The study found that in 1,540 counties a hypothetical 40-year-old making $25,000 a year can get a basic “bronze” plan under the ACA next year for zero monthly premium.

It’s partly as a result of administration actions that raised the underlying cost of insurance, leading to higher federal spending for premium subsidies.

The final number of counties with available free plans is certain to be higher because the Kaiser study only examined the 39 states using the federal HealthCare.gov website for sign-ups. In those states, nearly 60 percent of counties will have free bronze plans.

“Because of the way that premiums are set this year, people have to shop around to make sure they are getting a plan that makes sense for them,” said Gary Claxton, a co-author of the report. “Telling people that the choice is to pay a penalty (for being uninsured) or take a free plan, is a pretty attractive proposition” [Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, “‘Obamacare’ Curveball: Free Insurance in 1,500-Plus Counties,” AP, 2017.10.31].

Kaiser Family Foundation offers a handy clickable maps showing the counties where the bronze plan will cost less than the available premium tax credit and the percent post-subsidy cost change in various plans for various age groups by county. South Dakota doesn’t have any of the new Trump-freebie counties, but low-income folks can get a better deal on bronze plans, some paying as little as $12 a month.

According to KFF, pretty much every county in West River is seeing after-tax-credit costs for silver plans for 40-year-olds making $35K decrease 8%. In northeastern South Dakota, those net costs are staying the same or going down as much as 8%. Southeast South Dakota is a mixed bag, with Kaiser estimating 6% net cost increases in Lake and Moody counties but 4% decreases in Minnehaha and Lincoln.

So, heck, Trump didn’t mean it, and he probably doesn’t even know he’s doing it, but if we stay consistent from the blackface post, then we say intent and ignorance don’t matter. Good job, Donald! Keep it up! (And check in with Bernie Sanders for more good ideas for health coverage!)



Scary Trump Loses to Biden, Sanders… and the Devil!

If we had a parliamentary system and could call a snap election instead of waiting for 2020 or impeachment, who’d win the race for President? Anyone but Trump, finds Public Policy Polling:

Trump is already in a very bad position when it comes to hypothetical match ups for reelection in 2020. He trails Joe Biden by 18 at 56/38, Bernie Sanders by 15 at 53/38, Cory Booker by 11 at 49/38, Elizabeth Warren by 10 at 50/40, Kirsten Gillibrand by 10 at 48/38, Kamala Harris by 6 at 45/39, and Frederica Wilson by 3 at 42/39. While the support level for the possible Democrats fluctuates likely based on name recognition Trump polls consistently in the 38-40% range no matter who he’s pitted against. It’s also interesting that the hierarchy of Democratic performance goes white men->black man->white women->women of color [“Support for Impeachment at Record High,” Public Policy Polling, 2017.10.31].

What treats?

Biden/Sanders 2020? I’m ready for that train, but I’ll take pretty much any other ticket permutation of any palette or private parts that starts with D and doesn’t end with rump.

PPP does find Trump winning on one metric: respondents in their Hallowe’en poll say that, head-to-head, Trump beats ghosts, vampires, mummies, witches, zombies, and werewolves for scariness. The only figment of our imagination beating Trump for terror? The Devil himself.



Bjorkman Not Endorsing Sanders’s Medicare for All, Instead Chanting “Bipartisanship”

I thought I heard Bernie Sanders in Democratic U.S. House candidate Tim Bjorkman’s speeches. Last week in Watertown, just as the Vermont Senator was offering his Medicare for All bill, Bjorkman took a step back from Sanders:

“We’ve got universal health care provided. It’s just in a very inefficient and ineffective way. It’s very expensive with very poor outcomes,” Bjorkman said. “Our system is so out of whack that it costs an atrocious amount of money while still leaving millions of people with tiny access to healthcare.”

To that end, Bjorkman indicated he intends to push for universal health care, but he’s not going to just sign up for any proposal. That was evident at the meeting when Bjorkman expressed skepticism at Sen. Bernie Sanders’, I-Vt., vision of Medicare-for-all formally proposed earlier Wednesday, and supported by several potential 2020 Democratic presidential nominees.

Particularly, Bjorkman doesn’t want to commit to that proposal without knowing what the financial impact is.

“I’ve seen no numbers at all. I think that’s very important,” Bjorkman said. “I’m not prepared to take that leap from what little we know of it.”

Bjorkman said any healthcare reform should be achieved on a bipartisan basis [Dan Crisler, “Bjorkman Discusses Issues During Stop in Watertown,” Watertown Public Opinion, 2017.09.14].

I understand that our Democrat candidates are trying to sound like moderate men of the people among a right-skewed, Trump-loving electorate. But we also need some statesmen to point out that when we offer plans with bipartisan support, the radicals in charge of the Republican Party, Congress, and the White House torpedo it. Democratic candidates should definitely praise the men and women of good faith on the other side of the aisle and look for opportunities for everyone to work together, but they should also swing big wood at the partisan screwballs on the other side who are standing in the way of such practical cooperation.

Even if we want bipartisanship, we need to replace a good chunk of Republican partisans with honest Democrats who want to solve problems, not create more problems for regular Americans.



Judge Barnett Protects Jackley’s Explanation of Drug Price Cap

Former Attorney General, now Sixth Circuit Court Judge Mark Barnett today backed current Attorney General Marty Jackley by rejecting the pharmaceutical industry’s effort to force Jackley to write a new, more thorough explanation of the drug-price-cap initiative currently circulating in South Dakota.

As I explained Sunday, the South Dakota Biotechnology Association and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) sued Jackley on August 31, claiming that he left key information out of his legally required explanation of the ballot measure. A.G. Jackley provides no details of Judge Barnett’s decision; he just says, I followed the law, and Mark agrees:

“I have worked to provide a fair, clear, and simple summary of the proposed measure in order to assist our voters. The role of the Attorney General when writing the voter explanation is to be fair and neutral and not to advocate for or against a ballot measure. The Court has reaffirmed the fairness of this process,” said Jackley [Attorney General’s office, press release, 2017.09.12].

Initiative supporter Rick Weiland blows big neener-neeners at Big Pharma:

“The people of South Dakota won,” said Rick Weiland, a key supporter of the South Dakota Drug Price Relief Act. “The drug industry tried to protect their price-gouging practices by denying South Dakota voters their constitutional right to decide whether our measure should be on the ballot but they failed.”

…“The Attorney General’s explanation makes it clear our measure would require South Dakota’s state agencies to pay no more for prescription drugs than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays for the same drugs – which is generally about 24 percent less than what the drug companies charge their commercial customers,” said Weiland. “The Attorney General’s explanation was clear, concise and accurate.”

“The drug companies wanted to insert language in the explanation that was irrelevant to the essence of the measure and would have muddied the waters,” Weiland said. “We’ve seen this before, delay the campaign and tie us up in expensive lawsuits. Bottom-line: they want to keep our measure to lower the cost of prescription drugs off the ballot. We’re extremely gratified that Judge Barnett denied their challenge and supported the Attorney General’s explanation” [TakeItBack.org, press release, 2017.09.12].

PhRMA sued in Ohio last year to keep a similar measure off that state’s general election ballot; that suit failed, and Ohioans get to vote this fall on the drug price cap, which Bernie Sanders thinks is a good idea.



Free College!… for 285 New Vo-Tech Students

Like Bernie Sanders, South Dakota Republicans believe in free college!

Well, free if you’re going to vo-tech in fields where their business friends say they’re short of workers. The state just announced its third round of “Build Dakota Scholarship” recipients, 285 lucky high school graduates who get to go to Southeast, Lake Area, Mitchell, or Western Dakota Tech on the house—the house being T. Denny Sanford and the Governor’s Future Fund (the latter, a.k.a., taxpayers!). “Lucky” is apt, since less than 28% of the 1,028 applicants won this full-ride scholarship for their technical studies.

85% of recipients come from South Dakota. Here’s a breakdown of the awards by state and institute:

State LATI MTI STI WDT Total
SD 85 59 52 47 243
MN 9 4 12 25
NE 6 2 1 9
IA 2 2
ND 1 1 2
WY 2 2
GA 1 1
ID 1 1
Total Result 95 69 70 51 285

The first batch of Build Dakota Scholarship winners should have finished their two-year programs last spring and should be leaping into our workforce. Let’s keep an eye out for a report from the vo-techs and the Governor on job placement for those recipients so we can measure the effectiveness of this Sanders-esque socialism.



Bjorkman Critiques Congressional Campaign Finance Dues System

Democratic candidate for U.S. House Tim Bjorkman continues to speak like a budding Bernie Sanders. The judge-turned-campaigner says corporate money controls Congress, and he’s calling on every Congressional candidate to reject the party dues system:

Today, both parties’ leaders levy dues based on the congressman’s committee choice: the more lucrative the committee for fundraising, the higher the dues.

Yes, astoundingly, our representatives are expected to pay to do the work we elected them to do.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., likens the practice to extortion: “They told us right off the bat as soon as we [got] here, ‘These committees all have prices and don’t pick an expensive one if you can’t make the payments’” [Tim Bjorkman, op-ed, that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.08.30].

Showing his bipartisan/nonpartisan inclination, Bjorkman cites the book published by Republican Congressman Ken Buck from Colorado last spring detailing the selling of committee seats. Rep. Buck is a Tea Party favorite. Buck denies climate change, but he also denied birtherism. But his position on either of those fringe issues does not indict his or Bjorkman’s assessment of the corruption of Congress by party leaders addicted to corporate money.

Bjorkman says the dues system gets just as nasty as Donald Trump’s personal threats against lawmakers who don’t bow down before him:

If you don’t pay your dues, you’ve got a big problem. The leadership can get nasty. Democratic leaders have maintained a wall of shame listing those who owe dues; they have also sent collection letters and even made phone calls to “delinquent” House members.

It gets worse. Leadership promises to route dues back into key races the incumbents are at risk of losing, but if the congressman opposes the party’s leadership on a key issue – say, the recent health care bill – the party may not just withhold campaign money in the next election; they may use the war chest to fund a primary challenger [Bjorkman, 2017.08.30].

Let’s see if Bjorkman’s critique of big money in politics earns him the same disdain from national Democratic leaders that Rick Weiland got in his Senate bid in 2014.



Bjorkman Fought Insurers to Protect Sick Clients, Advocates Public Option

At his Congressional campaign launch in Canistota on July 13, Democrat Tim Bjorkman made clear he wants the United States to follow the rest of the civilized world and implement some form of universal health care. Visiting Langford and Britton Friday, Bjorkman spoke of the experiences he had fighting private insurance companies that have shaped his support for more public health coverage:

Tim Bjorkman in jeans and short-sleeve shirt
Tim Bjorkman

As an attorney, he fought insurance companies and their decisions to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions. He specifically recalled two cases he took to a jury trial and won. In one of those cases, however, his client fighting for coverage died before he received the news that his case was won.

In another case, he took an insurance company to court because a family received a hefty bill after their insurance company approved care at the hospital. In that case, he said, the insurance company tried to differentiate between approved care and covered care. This case was eventually won on appeal.

“We need to have everyone covered,” Bjorkman said. “Getting affordable health care for everyone is the most American thing to do” [Elisa Sand, “House Candidate Bjorkman Sees a Need to Get Health Care for All,” Aberdeen American News, 2017.08.26].

Bjorkman tells Sand his priority is “fighting the corporate power” (again, Bjorkman is talking like Bernie Sanders), in this case by allowing low-income Americans to buy into Medicare. That public option would help millions of Americans escape the predations of private insurers whom Bjorkman fought as a lawyer.



Defeated on ObamaCare, Rounds Fights Imaginary Devil of “Government-Run Health Care”

Senator Mike Rounds
Mike projects his failure through his tears…

Senator Marion Michael Rounds, like all Trump enablers, had a really bad week. Senator Rounds caps off his really bad week by writing a really bad column. “Government-Run Health Care Does Not Work,” moans Senator Rounds, after seven months in which he and his Republican majority haven’t really worked.

If you read no other response to Senator Rounds’s sniveling horsehockey, read this:

No Democrat I know of is advocating “government-run health care.” No one is saying we should nationalize every hospital, make every doctor a government employee, and submit everyone’s diagnosis and treatment to a vote of Congress.

I’m saying, and Bernie Sanders is saying, and a lot of smart people are saying, we should handle everyone’s health care the way we do with Medicare. Grandma and Grandpa pick their hospitals and doctors and treatments; we just pay for their health care, far more efficiently than private insurance does, with taxpayer dollars. Medicare for Everyone: government-paid health care. 

*     *     *

Now, if that’s not enough, let’s do the line-by-line.

Comprehensive health care reform is necessary to relieve American families from our current failing health care system [Senator M. Michael Rounds, weekly column, 2017.07.28].

We made the current health care system a whole lot better with the Affordable Care Act, which was basically a Republican reform adopted by Obama and Democrats in 2010 as a compromise measure. The Affordable Care Act individual insurance marketplace is not collapsing. You, Senator Rounds, even worked with Tom Daschle and President Obama to make the ACA work better before you decided your political aspirations depended on kicking and screaming about ObamaCare.

Following recent votes in the Senate, it’s clear that reforming our health care system is no easy task [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

You and your party sure thought health care reform was easy during seven years of shouting, “Repeal ObamaCare!” Only “following recent votes” does the difficulty of the task become clear to you? Unlike you and your Dear Leader, Barack Obama and the Democratic Party knew that health care could be so complicated, and when they took over in 2009, they spent over a year crafting a workable plan that is helping Americans today.

However, I remain committed to working with my colleagues toward a solution.  We believe affordable health care is best achieved through a competitive, market-based system that allows for innovation, competition and optionality [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

“Competitive, market-based system” is at the core of every plan your party has put to a vote this year, and every one of those plans failed to win enough Republican votes to pass. “Competitive, market-based system” was also at the core of the part of the health care system prior to the ACA (and Medicaid, and Medicare) that failed to deliver coverage and care for poor, old, and sick Americans. Your “competitive, market-based system” does not work in health care.

In the quest to address Obamacare’s failures, some have been advocating for a single-payer, government-run health care system in which health care is provided for every single citizen for free and financed by taxes [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

Wrong—see above: government-paid, not government-run. Also, single-payer does not make care free. We all pay, through our taxes, just like we all pay now through insurance. We just pay a lot less.

Care is rationed, and citizens cede their health care decisions to a central government bureaucracy [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

Oops! Senator Rounds, you’re talking about our current multi-payer system in which private insurers and employers ration care and choose our doctors and treatments.

Additionally, the cost makes it unsustainable for future generations. Either taxes – which are already too high – will continue to skyrocket in order to pay for universal care, our debt will spiral even further out of control, or both [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

Wrong—single-payer is cheaper than private insurance, so single-payer is more sustainable than the current system.

Our ability to make decisions for ourselves and our families will suffer. Bureaucrats don’t like taking advice [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

Do Grandma and Grandpa’s ability to make decisions suffer under Medicare? And how much advice do the profit-driven agents at your family insurance agency like to take from patients?

And we have many examples to substantiate this: In the U.S., California and Vermont recently tried to implement universal health care at the state level; both were abandoned as quickly as they were enacted due to its cost [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

Sure, the California plan got snarled in a debate about the $400-billion price tag. But let’s clarify the figures:

However, a report by professors at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, commissioned in part by National Nurses United, estimated that after taking in the savings of single-payer, such as lower administrative costs and prices of pharmaceuticals, the actual cost of the plan would end up at around $331 billion. And, because 70 percent of the state’s current health care spending is covered by public programs like Medicare and Medi-Cal, California would only need to come up with $106 billion in new revenue, which researchers proposed could be done through two new taxes (a 2.3 percent gross receipts and sales tax), with exemptions for small businesses and tax credits to offset costs for low-income families. In exchange, nearly all of Californians’ medical expenses would be covered, doing away with premiums, copays, and deductibles [Clio Chang, “What Killed Single-Payer in California?New Republic, 2017.06.30].

That exchange—taxes go up but premiums, copays, and deductibles go bye-bye—turns out to be a good deal:

But let’s say they’re right and the cost is closer to $400 billion overall, and that $100 billion in new revenues is needed (the high end of their $50b-$100b scale). That would pencil out to a monthly cost to each Californian of $208. ($100 billion / 40 million = $2500, which is the annual sum; divide that by 12 and you’re at $208.)

The average monthly premium for a Californian, as of 2016, was just under $600. For a household, it’s just above $1600.

In other words, even assuming the fiscally conservative analysis of the Senate Appropriations Committee and spreading the cost evenly across every Californian, single-payer would cost a third of what it currently costs Californians – just for health insurance alone. And unlike the present system, this would mean Californians don’t have to pay anything else beyond that $208/mo. No copays. No co-insurance. No out of pocket costs (at least within the Golden State). The ultimate savings would therefore be even greater. Californians could wind up paying just a quarter of what they pay now, if not less [“Single-Payer Would Cost a Third of Current Health Care Costs Per Family,” Health California, 2017.05.26].

Single-payer would have saved money in Vermont, too:

…even [Governor Peter] Shumlin’s projections indicated that the plan would reduce Vermont’s overall health spending and lower costs for the 90% of Vermont families with household incomes under $150,000. Despite differing projections, all three studies showed that single payer was economically feasible [John E. McDonough, “The Demise Of Vermont’s Single-Payer Plan,” New England Journal of Medicine, 2015.04.23].

Now back to Senator Rounds:

In Canada, long wait times in their single-payer system are the norm.According to a Fraser Institute report, British Columbia residents have to wait up to six months just to get an MRI. Ontario’s own Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care states that residents may have to wait up to 11 months for hip replacement surgery [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

Sure, Canada’s wait times exceed the international average, but…

  1. Canada doesn’t have to throw out single-payer to fix that problem; they could just use more electronic medical records.
  2. The U.S. is also below the international average: 43% of Canadians say they were able to get same-day or next-day appointments last time they were sick; the U.S. figure was 51%; the average in the 11 nations studied by the Commonwealth Fund was 57%.
  3. The countries that beat us were Germany, France, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Netherlands, all of which have some form of national health insurance system.
  4. Canadians report more timely access to mental health care than the international average.
  5. A far larger percentage of Americans skip health care due to cost than do Canadians.

Droves of Canadians seek care here in the U.S., at an additional cost to their already-high taxes to pay for government-run health care [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

“Droves” is a fuzzy term. Maybe 45,000 Canadians sought health care in another country in 2015; so did 250,000 Americans:

Overall, then, that’s about 0.13 percent of Canadians and 0.08 percent of Americans who flee their countries for health care. Those are pretty similar numbers. The only real difference is the reason for leaving. Canadians mostly cite wait times for elective surgery. Americans mostly cite the high cost of medical treatment [Kevin Drum, “Americans Flee America for Overseas Health Care Just Like Canadians,” Mother Jones, 2017.02.08].

And overall, Canadians are living longer, losing fewer moms and babies, staying slimmer, and expressing more satisfaction with their health care system than we Americans are.

Thus destroyed on the Canadian comparison, Senator Rounds flees to Europe:

Across Europe, where universal health care is prevalent, the cost to governments for this care is exploding, contributing to rising national debts. But instead of increasing taxes, which oftentimes are already over 50 percent of one’s income, governments are slowing down care to curb the cost, and innovation is stymied [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

Yet most of Europe manages to spend half as much per capita on health care as we do and still provide more health care resources and produce better health outcomes. Evidently slowing down care isn’t killing Europeans or Canadians faster than we Americans kill ourselves.

Here in the U.S., the federal government has proved inept at running any large, nationwide program effectively, especially when it comes to health care [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

Sweeping generalization. The federal government runs all sorts of large, nationwide programs effectively—Medicare, military, moonshots….

Look no further than Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Indian Health Service (IHS) for proof [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

VA care still scores better on patient satisfaction than the health care industry as a whole. IHS would run a whole lot better if Rounds and colleagues would just give it funding instead of campaign slogans.

While there are good employees in South Dakota at both agencies, nationwide these programs have been plagued with decades of long wait times, bureaucratic mismanagement, corruption and – most importantly – providing inadequate quality of care to Americans. In some cases, patients have even died waiting for care. Meanwhile, administrative costs have skyrocketed, wasting countless taxpayer dollars on paperwork instead of focusing on patient care [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

Comparing VA care to non-VA care is complicated, but older studies found the VA meeting or beating the private sector on cost.

As for IHS care, sure, it’s a mess. But again, that’s because Congress somehow expects IHS to treat remote rural populations with more health problems on less money:

The IHS is chronically underfunded. It receives a set amount of money each year to take care of 2.2 million native people — no matter how much care they may need. On the reservation, IHS facilities often don’t have services that people elsewhere expect, such as emergency departments or MRI machines. And those limited facilities can be hours away by car. In town, reaching care is easier, but clinics also don’t have enough funding to meet all of the health needs of the community. And people can’t get the free medication they are entitled to through the IHS anywhere but an IHS facility.

…In 2013, Indian Health Service spending for patient health services was $2,849 a person, compared with $7,717 for health care spending nationally, according to a report from the National Congress of American Indians. That despite the fact that Native Americans typically have more serious health problems than the general public, including higher rates of diabetes, liver disease and unintentional injuries [Misha Friedman, “For Native Americans Health Care Is a Long, Hard Road Away,” NPR, 2016.04.13].

A set amount of money each year—that’s exactly what Senator Rounds wanted to do to Medicaid. Senator Rounds would have ignored the care the poor actually need, just as he ignores the care American Indians under IHS actually need.

I wholeheartedly believe that everyone should have access to quality health care if they want it. No one should be priced out of health insurance for themselves or their families [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

Yet that’s exactly the effect that the three plans you, Senator Rounds, voted for last week would have had on millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions.

But forcing all Americans onto a costly, ineffective system that will reduce the quality of care and making them surrender all control of their health care decisions to the federal government is not the answer [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

The Republican plans you voted for, Senator Rounds, would have forced millions to pay more for insurance policies that cover less than their current plans. And no one under the ACA, the Canada Health Act, the UK National Health Service, or Australian Medicare has “surrender[ed] all control of their health care decisions to the federal government.” You’re not criticizing a real policy alternative here, Senator Rounds. You’re crying “Dragon!” to distract us from what you’re trying to burn down.

America is home to the best health care providers in the world, due to a free market system that allows for innovation and competition. Replacing Obamacare with a competitive, free-market system that actually controls costs, allows for innovation and focuses on the patient will allow us to continue our proud tradition of being the world’s health leader [Rounds, 2017.07.28].

Again, our best health care providers in the world somehow aren’t providing the best health care outcomes in the world. And even the conservative National Review recognizes that your talk about the “free market” is a sham: the Republican plans still kept all sorts of government intervention in health care. We didn’t have a real free market in health care before the ACA, and nothing Republicans offered would recreate a free market in health care. Moving to single-payer is the truly conservative policy option that would free up more resources for free market innovation in other sectors of the economy.

Nothing in your three votes directly provided for more innovation, cost control, or focus on patients. Your votes just would have made health insurance unaffordable for millions of Americans.

*     *     *

That’s every word of Senator Rounds’s column on “government-run health care,” and darn near every word is wrong.

Unable to win on the facts, unable to persuade a majority in the Senate away from Barack Obama’s so-far successful Affordable Care Act, Senator Mike Rounds resorts to fiction to win an argument no one is making. We don’t want government-run health care. We just want a more efficient way to pay the bills. Toward that end, Senator Rounds has offered nothing of substance. Nothing.



Twitter Analysis: Sutton Promotes Campaign, Bjorkman Adds Policy Points

As a minor diversion, let’s compare this week’s Twitter content from South Dakota’s two declared statewide Democratic candidates, Senator Billie Sutton and Tim Bjorkman.

Billie Sutton is running for governor. He’s been on Twitter since May 2011, sending out notes about Legislative action and other news. Since announcing his bid for governor on May 31, Team Sutton has devoted his Tweets exclusively to his campaign. His only tweet over the last seven days was a July 24 promotion of a July 21 pro-Sutton letter to the editor from a Vermillion supporter:

@billiehsutton, Twitter screen cap, retrieved 2017.07.29
@billiehsutton, Twitter screen cap, retrieved 2017.07.29

Tim Bjorkman joined Twitter in January 2011, but the earliest Bjorkman Tweet currently available is a July 12 invitation to his campaign kick-off in Canistota. Tweeting six times this week, Bjorkman posted two media reports of his Rapid City town hall (which means he’s held as many public meetings in Rapid City in two weeks of campaigning as Rep. Kristi Noem has held in seven months of this session of Congress) and four comments or articles related to the health care debate:

Notice that Democrat Bjorkman highlights the comments of prominent Republicans to support his criticism of Congress, the GOP health care bill, and the President. His Twitter feed includes no references yet to Pelosi, Ellison, or other prominent Democrats, even though at his campaign launch he talked an awful lot like a South Dakota Bernie Sanders.

Using Twitter to promote one’s campaign makes sense. But this week, Bjorkman outdid Sutton in volume and variety of posts by commenting directly on policy issues and sharing Senator McCain’s Tuesday floor speech to suggest his political values.