fresh voices from the front lines of change








Robert Borosage

Warren Won’t Back Down On Medicare For All

When Elizabeth Warren was criticized for not detailing how she would pay for Medicare for All, most pundits assumed she would duck and cover. M4A is Bernie Sanders’s signature legislation, but the establishment dismisses him as a movement candidate. Warren, on the other hand, is seen as a “serious, in the weeds” policy wonk who wants to win. Warren has since issued a detailed plan on what Medicare for All would cover, and how she would pay for it without raising taxes on working people. She summarized the compelling human benefits of making health care a right, not a privilege rationed by cost. She outlined the massive savings that would result from eliminating the insurance company profits and exorbitant administrative fees of the current system. Half of the remaining cost could be covered by requiring large companies to pay to the government a little less of what they pay now to cover employees’ health care. The remainder would come largely from taxes on corporations and the wealthy, notably a 3 percent surcharge on fortunes over $1 billion. Workers could pocket the savings on co-pays and premiums, in what would effectively amount, she noted, to the largest middle-class tax cut in history. The political establishment was aghast. The Washington Post unleashed a blizzard of articles decrying Warren’s audacity, picking apart her assumptions, her math, and her political judgement. Despite the carping, one thing is clear: Warren has joined Sanders in forceful support of Medicare for All. As with the Green New Deal, two of the three leading candidates in the Democratic presidential primaries will argue the case. The others will have to put up, or shut up — Warren’s gauntlet will force discussion of the spiraling costs, and human toll of the current system. The debate over Medicare for All illustrates the fundamental choice that Democrats will make in the coming primaries. Are they satisfied with a candidate who promises restoration, or do they want a champion of fundamental change?

WATCH: Impeachment Inquiry Intensifies On Third Day

Nine witnesses will testify at five hearings between Tuesday and Thursday. Vox: "House Democrats have set up a packed schedule for their second full week of impeachment inquiry hearings, with nine witnesses set to testify between Tuesday and Thursday. Things kick off on Tuesday morning at 9 am Eastern, with testimony from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (a National Security Council staffer) and Jennifer Williams (a State Department official detailed to the vice president’s office). We’ve embedded a live stream above, and you can also watch it on C-SPAN or other news networks. Later, on Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 pm Eastern, the committee will hear testimony from Kurt Volker (the former US special representative for Ukraine) and Tim Morrison (a National Security Council staffer). The hearing beginning Wednesday morning at 9 am Eastern will likely be especially explosive. It will be devoted entirely to Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union. And Sondland is viewed by Democrats as the least credible witness so far — much of his testimony has conflicted with other aides’ recollections and documents, and he’s already “updated” his testimony once. So expect him to face serious pressure over whether he’s telling the full story. That afternoon, Wednesday at 2:30 pm Eastern, two lower-profile witnesses — Laura Cooper (a Defense Department official) and David Hale (the under secretary of state for political affairs) will appear. The week’s testimony will close out on Thursday at 9 am Eastern, with testimony from Fiona Hill (the former top NSC staffer handling Russia and Europe), as well as David Holmes (a Kyiv-based State Department official who stepped forward only recently to report new information about the scandal.) All of these witnesses have already given closed-door depositions in the impeachment inquiry, so most of what they have to say is already known. The hearings are primarily to have them repeat their accounts of what they saw transpire in public. And, for Ambassador Sondland in particular, they provide one more opportunity for him to try and remember some of the many things he failed to recall in his first go-round."

Barr Signals Contempt For Congressional Oversight

Barr comments signal GOP embraces new level of authoritarianism. Truthout: "Barr gave a speech to the Federalist Society that makes clear his pet constitutional theory is only a part of the problem. This is not just about presidential power. It is about a deep loathing for his political opposition on such a visceral level that it’s frightening to think about such a man having so much power and being answerable only to the inept bully in the White House. It was frankly authoritarian. Barr seeks to make the conservative movement see Trump’s alleged victimization as a reflection of their own. They must see themselves as easy prey, hunted by the ruthless leftist “resistance,” which seems to include all members of the legislative branch, 'disloyal' federal employees and any member of the judiciary who may have ruled against Trump’s policies. The speech was frightening both in its arrogance and its lack of self-awareness. Right now, Barr is in the midst of an investigation into the 'origins' of the Russia investigation during the 2016 campaign. He has strongly suggested he believes it was improper to investigate a Republican presidential campaign, and the fact that the DOJ and the intelligence community, which undertook that investigation, are themselves part of the executive branch he now venerates as a repository of unlimited power doesn’t seem to have occurred to him."

House Will Vote To Avert Shutdown

House to vote on short-term funding bill to avert shutdown ahead of looming deadline. CNN: "The House of Representatives is expected to vote on Tuesday to approve a short-term funding bill in an effort to avert a government shutdown before funds expire later in the week. The push to keep the government funded comes as the House is in the midst of contentious and high-profile public impeachment inquiry hearings as part of an investigation into President Donald Trump by House Democrats that has led to an escalation of partisan tensions on Capitol Hill. The stop-gap legislation, known as a continuing resolution, that the House is set to vote on will extend funding through December 20, setting up another spending deadline on the eve of the winter holidays. The current deadline for funding is Thursday, November 21. The expectation is that if the House and Senate both pass a funding bill, the President will sign it. 'With a government shutdown deadline just days away, this continuing resolution is necessary to keep government open as we work towards completing the appropriations process,' House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat, said in a statement. Lawmakers have not yet been able to reach bipartisan agreement on the twelve regular annual appropriations bills needed to fund the government, but the passage of another stop-gap measure will allow for more time to negotiate."

Trump Wants Asylum Seekers To Pay

Proposed asylum fees would have immigrants paying for red tape. Truthout: "The Trump administration wants to make people fleeing persecution in their home countries pay for something they’ve long gotten for free: the right to apply for asylum in the United States. As an immigration attorney and a law professor who has represented people seeking asylum for over a decade, I believe this change, which could go into effect as soon as mid-December following a monthlong comment period, would be not just cruel but also unusual. At present, only Iran, Australia and Fiji charge fees to would-be asylum-seekers. Making immigrants escaping harm and persecution shoulder the cost of processing their paperwork is in line with other trends in U.S. immigration law over the last several decades. Fees for everything from green cards to naturalization are not only common but increasingly costly and mandatory. 'You must submit the correct fees or we will reject your form,' U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Homeland Security agency that oversees these applications, warns on its website. It relies primarily on revenue from these fees to cover its entire budget. The proposed rule would make applying for asylum, which has always been free, cost US$50. While that might not seem like much, asylum seekers do not initially have work authorization, and many, if not most, have fled their home countries with just the clothes on their backs."

CA Young Dems Endorse Sanders

With 67% of the vote, California Young Democrats endorse Bernie Sanders for President. Common Dreams: "On Saturday night, members of the California Young Democrats—one of the largest caucuses within the California Democratic Party (CDP) representing members in local chapters across the state—voted to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2020 presidential primary. Sanders won 67 percent of the votes—more than twice what any other candidate received—in the nation's most populous state that will hold its Super Tuesday primary on March 3, 2020. Of the 126 votes cast during an evening CYD meeting at the California Democratic Convention held in the city of Long Beach, Sanders received 84 votes (67%) while Sen. Elizabeth Warren received 29 votes (23%), the second-largest number in the crowded field. Sen. Kamala Harris came in third place among caucus members (aged 13 to 35) in the state she represents in the U.S. Senate. The landslide meant that Sanders was able to take the endorsement in just one round of voting. Notably, former Vice President Joe Biden received zero votes while South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg received only one."

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