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?
FANTASY BERNIE: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 too much?
INTERVIEWER: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.
INTERVIEWER:How is lack of a single-payer healthcare system ruining the economy?
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.
INTERVIEWER: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 workers.
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.
INTERVIEWER:But at least we have the best healthcare in the world.
FANTASY BERNIE: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.
INTERVIEWER: 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.
INTERVIEWER:So, will you cure that by tossing out The Affordable Care Act?
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 down.
INTERVIEWER:That may be tough to get his appointment approved Congress.
FANTASY BERNIE: It's the President's choice. It doesn't require approval.
INTERVIEWER:Interesting, I didn't know that.
FANTASY BERNIE: Most people don't.
@@description@@Part One of an interview I imagine with Bernie@@
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.
Copyright ©2008 by Jack Adamo. All rights reserved.