Ellison takes point by @BloggersRUs

Ellison takes point

by Tom Sullivan

Stand for something. Something more than building the caucus. Something beyond feeding a "corrupt cabal of consultants and nonprofits." Something beyond catering to bankers.

Stand for striking, underpaid teachers like those in West Virginia, for instance, whose health insurance costs have spiked as their salaries have slumped and insurance industry profits soar.

So long as Republicans control Washington, it may not amount to much, but with the resignation of Michigan's Rep. John Conyers, Rep. Keith Ellison has taken point on House Democrats' effort to pass a single-payer health plan. A similar bill from independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is known as Medicare for All in the Senate.

The Intercept reports:

On Wednesday, Rep. Keith Ellison, deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, stepped up and asked his colleagues for unanimous consent to replace Conyers as the lead sponsor of the legislation. They granted him permission.

Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat, told The Intercept he had spoken ahead of time to Conyers, who gave him his blessing. The Conyers bill, though, is largely a shell, and Ellison said he wants to flesh it out for when it’s re-introduced next time. “We’re constantly going to try to improve the bill, to find way to make it more effective, make it work better,” he said.

“We’re going to listen to the people. We want to drive a lot of discussion. We want to get the 120 who are on the bill to really listen and have folks give them input,” Ellison said. “We want to talk to experts, but we also want to talk to people. So we’re going to improve it based on that. We’re not going to try to impose ideology, we’re going to be pragmatic.”

Alone among industrialized countries, America's patchwork system of private insurance is costly, as Ellison stated in a floor speech yesterday:
Lauren Gambino writes in the Guardian:
Public polling shows a growing share of Americans support a universal, or single-payer, system of healthcare. Once a liberal pipe-dream, many prominent Democrats have since embraced the approach and liberal voters have rallied around the cause.

Ellison thinks it is only a matter of time before a single-payer healthcare system is adopted by the Democratic party. He pointed to the number of candidates running in 2018 on a platform embracing universal healthcare.

In Texas on Tuesday night, Beto O’Rourke, a supporter of a single-payer system, won the Democratic primary there to challenge Ted Cruz for his Senate seat in November. And two other Democratic candidates and supporters of universal healthcare advanced in a crowded primary to a May runoff election.

With Republicans in control of Washington, the Democrats' House and Senate bills are aspirational exercises. But they make a statement that Democrats stand more for people than finance, that what we can do together is more meaningful than private gain. Paul Ryan and Republicans offer the You're On Your Ownership Society instead. Thin gruel.

When they're not so busy opposing, sometimes Democrats representing voters in Washington actually propose something that meets their needs. Ellison is not likely to let colleagues forget that. In an election year or any year standing for something even in the face of failure demonstrates character, something sorely lacking inside the Beltway.

The text of the House bill is here.

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