My bet is on Sanders to win the Democratic nomination

My bet is on Sanders to win the Democratic nomination

By Carlton Joseph

Carlton Joseph

The recent United States Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, the first in which former  New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg participated, was one of the most contentious of the long primary season. 

Bloomberg did not qualify for previous debates because his campaign does not  accept  contributions and therefore  didn’t meet “donor thresholds.” However, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) dropped the donor requirement last month, paving the way for him to join the debate.

In Las Vegas, Bloomberg seemed unprepared for the volley of attacks he faced from all sides, especially from Senator Elizabeth Warren.  She  lashed out at  his comments about women, redlining stop and frisk allegations of sexual harassment in his workplace and his use of Nondisclosure Agreements to effectively silence the reporting of incidents of sexual harassment or workplace abuse.  She challenged him to release all of the women from those Nondisclosure Agreements.

Bernie Sanders attacked Bloomberg as part of a ruling elite that has manipulated Washington to establish policies and foster a corrupt political system bought by billionaires that benefit people like him personally.  Sanders  declared that “it’s immoral that Mike Bloomberg owns more wealth than the bottom 125 million Americans.” 

Amy Klobuchar criticized Bloomberg for having spent his way onto the debate stage.

Pete Buttigieg proclaimed that the party should nominate “someone who is actually a Democrat.” 

Joe Biden also went after Bloomberg. saying that he called the Affordable Care Act a disgrace after it was passed.    

But it was Chuck Todd who raised the first major issue, Medicare for All.  The main fear, according to Chuck, was that Democrats were worried that Sanders’ plan was going to take away private insurance and that it goes too far. However, Sanders said that his plan would not and cited a recent study by Yale University  which shows that it would save Americans more than $450 billion and prevent 68,000 deaths every year.

Spirited responses from all the combatants ensued. Buttigieg and Biden attacked Sanders over the “mammoth” cost of his “ambitious” health care plan. Biden said “he’s unwilling to say what the damn thing’s gonna cost.”  And Klobuchar said that while she wants to see universal healthcare coverage become a reality in the US, she does not support Medicare for all, calling it an “aspiration.”  Progressive Warren supports Medicare for all but declared that she was a capitalist, and that she would scale back and get whatever she could  and return for more later.

On the issue of Climate Change and the Environment,  all candidates agreed that it was important and must be addressed.  Among the  proposed solutions were the closing of coal fired power plants, deployment of solar arrays, solar panels, and wind turbines.  Candidates also called for the  repair of highways and deployment of high-speed rail systems,  banning, curtailing or temporarily halting  fracking, restoring the cuts to EPA,  an end to drilling and mining on public lands, adopting the Green New Deal and rejoining the Paris Accord Agreement.

In response to “Stop and Frisk” Bloomberg acknowledge that he implemented the policy but that it got out of control, and he had made corrections.  He insisted that he reduced crime by 50 per cent, and his focus was for the safety of the majority of New York citizens.  Biden interjected that Bloomberg was forced to make corrections when Obama sent investigators into New York.

With respect to medical and tax records, the candidates said they would release their personal information.  My position on this issue, however, is that since President Trump has not released his records and has shown that it is not legally required to do so, the democratic candidates should not release theirs.

All the candidates said they would not increase taxes on small and minority businesses. Buttigieg stated that large companies were not paying taxes and therefore impacting small business and Warren indicated that her proposal has committed seven billion to assist small and minority businesses.

With respect to immigration, candidates agreed that something must be done to protect the “Dreamers ” but just  some vague ideas on passing immigration reform legislation was discussed. Unfortunately, bipartisan deals on immigration have eluded lawmakers and presidents for three decades. During George W. Bush’s presidency, the push for bipartisan immigration reform was defeated by a conservative revolt against amnesty for unauthorized immigrants.   Clearly, this issue will only be resolved if the democrats take control of both houses of Congress.

A recent Gallup poll indicated that Americans are extremely concerned about health care (35 per cent), national security (34 per cent), gun policy (34 per cent), education (three per  cent) and the economy (30 per cent).  Trade, infrastructure and foreign affairs all rank near the bottom of the list of  matters of extreme importance.

Nielsen Fast National Data reported that almost 20 million television viewers tuned in to watch the ninth Democratic debate.  This surge suggests that television viewers might have tuned in to see how Bloomberg would fare against his rivals.   However, MSNBC’s team squandered the opportunity to educate and inform the public, because they did not require answers to these critical concerns.

As I see it, the debate juxtaposed the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party, and revealed that progressive ideas are winning the debate.  Buttigieg’s remark  that the senator wants to “burn this party down” and the billionaire wants to “buy this party out,” is hypocritical since he has many billionaires supporting his campaign. In fact I believe that he has been bought.

If the goal of the Democrats  is to beat Trump, then, Buttigieg and Klobuchar need to exit the race since their moderate ideas are well represented by Biden.  Warren should exit and throw her support for Sanders who has been relentless in his push for the progressive ideas that are now dominating the party.  In addition, he is responsible for getting young people interested in politics, and has their support.  

The next debate should feature Bloomberg, Buttigieg or Biden, and Sanders and the moderators should ask questions that will get responses on the major concerns of Americans.  The conservative, moderate and progressive ideas would then be on full display and Americans would  decide which ideas are best for them.

Since the debate, Bloomberg has adopted a number of Sanders’ ideas, including boosting the access of  Americans  to the financial system by offering a range of banking services through the US Postal Service, as well as a pilot program for free or nearly no-cost bank accounts, and a new “corporate crime” team that would be discouraged from using non-prosecution agreements, which impose fines without criminal charges.  Also, his position on Medicare has moved from calling it “fraudulent” to expanding benefits for everyone, upping cost of living adjustments and increasing benefits for the poorest beneficiaries

Today, about 44 million people in America have no health insurance, and another 38 million have inadequate health insurance.  According to a new study, the US now ranks 27th in the world for its levels of healthcare and education.

For some strange reason, every American thinks that he or she will become a millionaire; the “rags to riches” mantra has deep roots. And Americans keep voting against their own self-interest.  Bloomberg’s shift to progressive ideas will force billionaires and encourage middle class and poor people to accept them.  My bet, unless the DNC super delegates steal the election, is that Sanders will win the nomination.

(Trinidad-born Carlton Joseph  who lives in Washington DC, is a close observer of political developments in the United States.)