Krystal Ball: Reality debunks Biden's 'Medicare for all' smear

Opinion by: Krystal Ball

Reality has delivered a devastating factcheck to one of Biden's key talking points against Medicare for all. Allow me to explain. You'll recall that in the last debate, Biden attempted to critique Medicare for all from the left claiming that it would be bad for union members.

Alright. Now put aside the hilarity of Biden calling Bernie "the President", the obnoxious neo-McCarthyism and the pathetic fact that Biden actually stole this talking point from John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges Warren's surge brings new scrutiny to signature wealth tax 'We lost a giant': 2020 Democrats mourn the death of Elijah Cummings MORE. The nub of what he is attempting to articulate here is that Medicare 4 All is bad for union members because they have negotiated good health care already, so they may be in a worse position if 1) Medicare 4 All is inferior to their current coverage and 2) They are unable to renegotiate their contracts to up their wages or other benefits to make up for the fact that their employer is no longer paying their healthcare.

Frankly, it's a stupid argument on its face. I had trouble writing it out in any kind of a coherent way because how could workers possibly be worse off if you are going from one good health care plan to another good health care plan with a chance to renegotiate for higher wages, which by the way, is written into the damn bill. But you know, facts can be so complicated. So much less fun then stumbling through a Fox News-style "you're a socialist!" smear. If only, there was some dramatic real-world event that could settle this debate once and for all. Hmmm... we’ll try this one on for size.

As you likely know, about 50,000 GM autoworkers are on strike right now fighting for job security, an end to the two-tier system that was instituted after the auto bailout, and also a share of the profits that they have worked hard to create. Remember, workers gave up a lot in the bailout and now that they have built GM back to profitability, it seems only right that those workers should be compensated for the sacrifices they made. So I'll give you one guess what tactic GM employed to put pressure on the workers. They stopped paying their healthcare. Now the UAW is having to pick up the tab for these worker's Cobra so that they don't go completely out of coverage. Needless to say, if we had Medicare 4 All, no one would have to worry about being able to get their kid insulin because they exercised their right to strike.

A note to anyone who wants to use union members as a wedge to oppose Medicare for All: UAW has one of the best plans in the country, but management can still use it to hold workers hostage. Medicare for all puts power back in our hands.

That's right. Maintaining an employer model of healthcare means handing bosses another weapon they can use against their workers. One more way they can drain union strike funds. One more way that the power dynamic is asymmetric. If you are going to truly stand with union workers it means putting power in their hands, not making them reliant on the goodwill of their employer for what should be a human right.

And if you are going to truly stand with workers, it also means embracing solidarity, not attempting through lame talking points to pit union workers against non-union workers. In fact, Biden learn a lot in solidarity from these striking GM workers. Many of them are striking not so much for themselves but for the principle that their younger brothers and sisters should get the same contract deal that they get. No two-tier system that privileges some over the others. That is solidarity. It's the key to worker power, it's the central value of the labor movement, and it's something that Joe BidenJoe BidenCNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview Yang cautions Democrats: Impeachment might not be 'successful' Ocasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment MORE apparently struggles to understand. I hope the strike is resolved quickly with workers getting the contract they deserve. And I hope Joe Biden stops trying to divide workers with this now wholly debunked talking point.