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MY FANTASY INTERVIEW WITH BERNIE
INTERVIEWER: Senator Sanders. You're an admitted socialist. That term
has unending negative connotations. Why on earth did you choose to burden
yourself with that epithet?
First of all, because it's true. I don't change my
spots to get votes. What you see is what you get. But it's also time for
Americans to start thinking instead of reacting emotionally. Unemployment
insurance is socialism, sick pay is socialism. Ask anyone who is afraid of
socialism if they want to give that up. All developed countries have some
degree of socialism. The only real question is, how much is good and how much is
How much do you think is good?
FANTASY BERNIE: More than we have now. Every country in the developed
world except ours makes healthcare available to all its citizens. The current
system isn't just unfair to the poor, it's killing our economy.
How is lack of a single-payer healthcare system ruining
FANTASY BERNIE: Because the cost to
American companies of providing health
insurance to its employees is so crippling they've stopped hiring
full-time workers in order to avoid it. We now have more people working
part-time because they can't find full-time work than any time in history. So
employers have less well-trained, less committed, less satisfied workers. It's
bad for the companies; it's bad for the employees and it's bad for the economy.
Do you fault Obama care?
FANTASY BERNIE: No, healthcare costs in America have been rising
faster than GDP for fifty years. That's a fact. Obama care is our country's
first attempt, and it has helped many who had no healthcare before. But it has
done nothing to make healthcare more affordable overall. And it has had
unintended consequences, like making companies reluctant to hire full-time
INTERVIEWER: I would think it's the same anywhere in the world.
FANTASY BERNIE: It isn't. This country still has the most expensive
healthcare in the developed world by a factor of at least two. That's because
our government is not allowed to negotiate with healthcare providers to rein in
expenses, the way the rest of the civilized world does. The big drug companies
are the largest contributors to both political parties and they control the
important Committees that make the rules and pass legislation. There are 1,367
healthcare industry lobbyists in Washington; that's 13 for every senator or 3
for every person in Congress. That industry spends nearly 50% more than the
insurance industry, which is the second biggest spender, and almost twice what
oil & gas companies spend.
FANTASY BERNIE: The pharmaceutical industry has spent on average $250
million per year for the last five years on political contributions. This
amounts to over $467,000 per year, per senator and congressperson. No wonder
healthcare costs are through the roof.
But at least we have the best healthcare in the world.
No we don't. That's a myth perpetuated by corporate
medical interests. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, healthcare
spending in 2013 rose to 17.4% of GDP, the highest share among all OECD
countries and more than 7½ percentage points above the OECD average of 9.3%.
Yet, life expectancy in the United States is 1 ½ year less than the OECD
average of 80.2 years.
Hmmm … The math doesn't add up. You said healthcare
costs are twice as much the average cost of the OECD. The numbers you gave make
that ratio somewhat less than that.
FANTASY BERNIE: The percent of GDP numbers don't include the fact that
America has higher per capita GDP than all those countries except two. When you
add higher GDP and higher percentage, you'll see the numbers are correct.
So, will you cure that by tossing out The Affordable Care
FANTASY BERNIE: No, we're not electing an emperor, I couldn't and
wouldn't do that. The ACA will remain in place while we put together a better,
single-payer European style healthcare system. It will be better for everyone
except a few CEOs and the Congressmen they own.
But I tell you one thing I will do the first day I'm in office. Since
2000, The Secretary Of Health And Human Services has
had the power to legalize re-importation of drugs from Canada. I'll
appoint a Secretary who will do that on day one. Watch how fast drug costs come
INTERVIEWER: That may be tough to
get his appointment approved Congress.
FANTASY BERNIE: It's the President's choice. It
doesn't require approval.
Interesting, I didn't know that.
FANTASY BERNIE: Most people don't.
PART TWO TO FOLLOW SOON
* My Fantasy interview with Bernie is not
produced by or authorized by the Bernie Sanders for President campaign and does
not purport to represent his views. Rather it is the writer's interpretation of
Bernie's stated policies and their effects.