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Coronavirus crisis volunteer Rhiannon Navin greets local residents arriving to a food distribution center at the WestCop community center on March 18, 2020 in New Rochelle, New York

Coronavirus crisis volunteer Rhiannon Navin greets local residents arriving to a food distribution center at the WestCop community center on March 18, 2020 in New Rochelle, New York. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

Top Sanders Aide David Sirota Explains Why Billionaire Class Will Support "Coronavirus Care for All" But Never "Medicare for All"

"The affluent political class supports Coronavirus Care For All because they fear getting COVID from poor people, but that same affluent political class opposes Medicare for All because they can't get cancer from poor people."

Andrea Germanos

David Sirota, senior advisor and speechwriter for Sen. Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign, gave a scathing account Monday of what he believes is driving foes of Medicare for All to embrace universal coverage for the treatment of COVID-19, dubbed "Coronavirus Care for All" by the progressive writer.

The highly contagious nature of the coronavirus is leading the affluent political class to look after their own interests, wrote Sirota. The wealthy are thus in this case backing a healthcare system in which "workers are only permitted to get the absolute minimum amount of free healthcare that may prevent them from infecting billionaires." Sirota made the argument Monday evening in a publicly available Facebook post, in which he noted that President Donald Trump and Sanders rival former Vice President Joe Biden are supporters of such a system.

Billionaires and lobbyists, wrote Sirota, can count on "gold-plated private health insurance," and aren't at risk when a low-wage worker is suffering from a serious—and expensive—but non-contagious health issue such as cancer.

Private heath insurance affords no such buffer when it comes to COVID-19.

A "billionaire Manhattanite and that Washington lobbyist may have great health insurance," wrote Sirota, but "they and their families are indeed personally jeopardized by that grocery worker being unable to afford COVID testing and treatment, because that grocery worker can spread the disease to the food supply and the larger community."

Sirota put the motivation for the narrowly focused government-backed coverage in harsh terms:

A more simple way of saying this is: the affluent political class supports Coronavirus Care For All because they fear getting COVID from poor people, but that same affluent political class opposes Medicare for All because they cant get cancer from poor people and so they don't care that poor folk cant afford chemo—and they certainly don't want to pay higher taxes to fix that.

In feudal terms: the peasantry is only allowed to be given the minimal amount of free healthcare that makes sure the gentry don't get infected—nothing more.

This anti-Medicare for All but pro-COVID-19 care for all mentality puts a spotlight on a harsh truth, wrote Sirota: "the rich and powerful will only act out of fear, never out of a sense of moral solidarity—and only in narrow ways that serve their own interests."

Read Sirota's full post here and below:

Donald Trump, Joe Biden and the corporate-funded group Third Way have all been critics of Medicare for All, but suddenly all of them now say they support Coronavirus Care for All. Some have asked why they would support free universal COVID treatment but not, say, free universal cancer treatment?

The answer is that in a political system owned by billionaires, workers are only permitted to get the absolute minimum amount of free health care that may prevent them from infecting billionaires.

Think about the difference between COVID and deadly diseases like cancer that are mass killers, but that are not contagious or socially spread. A billionaire Manhattanite or a well-heeled Washington lobbyist have gold-plated private health insurance, and they and their families are not personally jeopardized by a low-income grocery worker getting cancer and being unable to afford chemotherapy.

Billionaires and lobbyists, in other words, are not jeopardized by our current corporate-run health care system—and so a democracy controlled by that affluent class blocks Medicare for All, even during a lethal pandemic.

By contrast, COVID is an infectious disease that spreads through populations—and the spread is self-reinforcing. The more people who are infected, the more likely it is to further spread.

When it comes to that kind of disease, we are biologically all in it together—whether we want to admit it or not. And so while that billionaire Manhattanite and that Washington lobbyist may have great health insurance, they and their families are indeed personally jeopardized by that grocery worker being unable to afford COVID testing and treatment, because that grocery worker can spread the disease to the food supply and the larger community.

Put another way, billionaires and lobbyists are in fact directly jeopardized by a lack of free COVID testing and treatment for all—and so a democracy controlled by that affluent class suddenly supports Coronavirus Care for All.

A more simple way of saying this is: the affluent political class supports Coronavirus Care For All because they fear getting COVID from poor people, but that same affluent political class opposes Medicare for All because they cant get cancer from poor people and so they don't care that poor folk cant afford chemo—and they certainly don't want to pay higher taxes to fix that.

In feudal terms: the peasantry is only allowed to be given the minimal amount of free health care that makes sure the gentry don't get infected—nothing more.

Now sure, it would be nice to live in a country where the affluent class actually cared about the working class. That's not America.

Here, the simultaneous vilification of Medicare for All and embrace of Coronavirus Care for All reminds us that as a political force, the rich and powerful will only act out of fear, never out of a sense of moral solidarity—and only in narrow ways that serve their own interests.


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