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Bernie Caves and Explains Why

Bernie Sanders’ appearance on The Ed Show, was a sad one for me to see, because he tried to explain his joining the Democrats in voting for cloture on the Senate’s health care reform bill in two ways. First, of course, he waxes enthusiastic about the tremendous good that the measly $10 billion (about 0.1 of one percent of total expenditures under the bill) he secured for funding community health centers would do for the uninsured, clearly implying that it would have a substantial effect on the 45,000 annual fatalities we now see. But second, then he moves right to the false Democratic Party talking points we’ve been seeing from so many Party functionaries this week, and even much earlier in relation to supporting the stronger, but still pathetic House bill.

Bernie claims that the alternative to voting for the Senate’s bill, is to defeat health care reform and wait for five or ten years for another chance at reform while 45,000 annual deaths occur due to lack of insurance. And he also claims that even though he agrees with people who think this bill is a terrible one, that we can go back "the day after" we pass it and fight to improve it. I hesitate to say that Bernie is being dishonest, because I have never known him to be dishonest before. But, I’m afraid I’m in the usual position of those observing politicians of either questioning their honesty, or their intelligence.

Are we really to think that Bernie doesn’t know that community health centers can’t make a major difference in the fatalities, bankruptcies, and foreclosures due to lack of health insurance? Does he really think that these can reduce the expected fatalities, bankruptcies, and foreclosures by even 10%? If he did, why hasn’t he brought forth a health care reform proposal to find 10 times the number of community health care centers for $10 billion annually, since, very clearly, if he believes this, such a program would completely solve these three problems at a cost of only $10 Billion annually, and only $100 Billion over 10 years, without any need for mandates and subsidies for bailing out insurance companies?

Are we also to think that he believes that if he had refused to vote for cloture, the Administration would have walked away from health care reform because it could not get 60 votes, and not taken it up again until well into its next term, or perhaps never? Can the Administration afford to do that, or given the likely press narrative of “Obama fail” isn’t that an unacceptable result, leaving them no choice but to take it up again immediately? Why wouldn’t the Administration and Harry Reid, in that case turn toward reconciliation to pass a bill? And why wouldn’t Bernie Sanders have had a much better chance of helping to get a better bill than the current one under reconciliation? I guess the answers to these questions are just mysteries that we will never get Bernie to enlighten us about.

In addition, are we really to believe Bernie when he says that when the bill passes, the very day after ‘we” can go back and try to make it a better bill? Don’t we all know that if Obama gets a bill labeled health care reform, he will say that it is a great victory and that we now need to move on to other things and wait and see about further reform until we’ve given this “reform” a chance to work? In other words, didn’t Bernie really know that if he gave Obama and Reid, a health care reform bill, their need for further health care reform legislation, and desire to push for it would be gone either for years, or at least until the polls showed that the public thought that what they passed was going to be a miserable failure?

In short, it’s very difficult for me to accept that Bernie is so lacking in intelligence that he doesn’t understand any of the above. So, regretfully, and sadly, I have to conclude that he, like the Senators who officially belong to the Democratic Party, is knowingly giving us a cock and bull story to prevent us from drawing the conclusion that he purely and simply caved to the pressure from his colleagues, Harry Reid, and the President.

Is this Senate so bereft of character, that not a single Senator will stand up for the American people against the corporate juggernaut? Is their not a single Senator who will tell us the truth and nothing but the truth? And are we such a broken people that we won’t rise up and cast out every incumbent in either Party who casts their lot with the corporatists? Are we so far gone that we cannot even slow this march toward plutocracy?

(Also posted at the Alllifeisproblemsolving and where there may be more comments)

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Joseph M. Firestone, Ph.D. is Managing Director, CEO of the Knowledge Management Consortium International (KMCI), and Director and co-Instructor of KMCI’s CKIM Certificate program, as well as Director of KMCI’s synchronous, real-time Distance Learning Program. He is also CKO of Executive Information Systems, Inc. a Knowledge and Information Management Consultancy.

Joe is author or co-author of more than 150 articles, white papers, and reports, as well as the following book-length publications: Knowledge Management and Risk Management; A Business Fable, UK: Ark Group, 2008, Risk Intelligence Metrics: An Adaptive Metrics Center Industry Report, Wilmington, DE: KMCI Online Press, 2006, “Has Knowledge management been Done,” Special Issue of The Learning Organization: An International Journal, 12, no. 2, April, 2005, Enterprise Information Portals and Knowledge Management, Burlington, MA: KMCI Press/Butterworth-Heinemann, 2003; Key Issues in The New Knowledge Management, Burlington, MA: KMCI Press/Butterworth-Heinemann, 2003, and Excerpt # 1 from The Open Enterprise, Wilmington, DE: KMCI Online Press, 2003.

Joe is also developer of the web sites,,, and the blog “All Life is Problem Solving” at, and He has taught Political Science at the Graduate and Undergraduate Levels, and has a BA from Cornell University in Government, and MA and Ph.D. degrees in Comparative Politics and International Relations from Michigan State University.