We are nearly a full year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and new strains and mutations keep cropping up. There is the mutation that arose in the UK, the super-shedder variant that plagued Italy, the holiday strain found in Spain, the antibody evading strain found in Scotland, and the repeat infector strain that evolved at least twice, independently, in Thailand and Germany, not to mention the two Brazilian variants.
If the capitalist governments of the Western world continue insisting on prioritizing the flow of global capital and transfer of wealth from the working class to the ruling class, the COVID-19 pandemic will never end, not really.
The science is clear. Shutting down commerce and local economies while paying people to stay home is the only way to realistically curb the spread of COVID-19 and its mutations. Masks and social distancing should be used on top of those to further limit the spread when people must leave their homes, for example to purchase food, medicine, or supplies keep on living. Many countries issued recurring monthly payments or temporary basic incomes to most of their citizens.
The US notably did not and has not. This is a bipartisan failure. GOP are, as always obstructionists to what the people need and life-saving policy. Yet, despite all their platitudes, so too are the Democrats. From Senator-turned-VP Harris co-proposing 2,000 a month in May of 2020, to Speaker Pelosi killing Trump’s pre-election deal with another $1200, and Biden, Warnock, and Ossoff all promising to send 2,000 checks immediately if the Democrats win Georgia, to #BidenMath of Biden $1400 checks plus Trump’s $600 checks somehow equals the promised $2000 Biden checks and now Biden proposing bipartisanship and working with GOP who want no more than $1000 to go out, Democrats predictability govern essentially the same.
While a pandemic basic income is a necessary policy and good idea, its only one part of the larger necessary policy response. That larger policy response needs to include universal, not-for-profit healthcare. While Medicare For All is a great step, it is just that: a step. We should be pushing for PatriotCare, an American NHS.
Using 2020 Green Party and SPUSA Presidential Candidate Howie Hawkins’ community-controlled Medicare for all as an NHS model, I’ve created PatriotCare as an integral part of my congressional platform. The problem with the original model is that it was not inherently MMT-friendly. Despite Howie Hawkins’ openness to MMT, he and the greens still use outdated economic concepts and deficit politics to a large degree.
While Howie Hawkins’ policy budget uses taxes on the rich to pay for spending, mine weaponizes the deficit in favor of the working class. As the New Deal Era proves, federal spending and huge deficits, when done right, benefit the common American. Let me reiterate: Federal taxes do not fund federal spending. They exist to create demand for the US dollar, to check inflation, and to delete wealth. The last of those reasons for federal taxes was last used effectively to promote economic growth and opportunity under Republican President Eisenhower who had a 93% upper marginal tax rate.
In 2018 dollars, that 93% tax rate meant for people earning over 2 million a year individually or 4 million jointly that every dollar after the 2-millionth-dollar would be taxed at 93%. Marginal tax rates are like pockets, they are not a flat tax. Such a high tax rate was a carrot and stick approach: Either invest in the community and your businesses directly to get tax deductions and credits, or Uncle Sam will delete your wealth and do it for you.
Again, federal taxes do not pay for federal spending. That method of federal economics was outmoded during the New Deal Era.
So, now that we have covered how to pay for it, what is PatriotCare?
From my congressional platform:
“THE BEST HEALTHCARE FOR EVERY AMERICAN: PATRIOTCARE
- Phase 1: Introduce a not-for-profit universal health insurance that covers every American.
- This service will cover all medically necessary services, including drugs, therapies, mental health, specialist care, and surgeries with no out of pocket cost.
- Any American can seek medical care at any facility via any doctor and get the care they need.
- This kind of system will save 68,000+ American lives per year and save the country trillions over the next ten years compared to our current system.
- Phase 2: Transition to community controls.
- Implement community-controlled health boards that are elected to serve their own communities by steering the health system in that region.
- This is achieved through using the model of municipal governments to create healthcare accountability. Think of the health board like a school board or city council.
- Phase 3: Transition to public ownership.
- By year 5, this new community-controlled federal healthcare system will acquire or purchase all health facilities and make all health workers salaried employees, with pay based on seniority, experience, and other factors.
Implementing this would lead to better health outcomes for every American, especially working Americans for far less cost than our current system. Transitioning to universal healthcare under this model makes good business sense for the nation.”
Before the COVID-19 era began to ravage the world, the Phase 1 of this model, which is essentially Medicare For All in function, would have saved 68,000 American lives every single year. Not that it matters as much now that we understand the collection of economic science known as Modern Monetary Theory, it also saves the government money compared to the Heritage Foundation’s RomneyCare, I mean the Affordable Care Act, I mean ObamaCare.
Furthermore, in our COVID-19 ravaged world, we’ve had nearly two months of daily deaths greater than 9/11’s death toll in the US alone.
As the PatriotCare mobilization rolls out, it would create an American NHS. Given the insurance concepts of the law of large numbers and risk pooling, bringing everyone under the same, not-for-profit, universal, and accountable system would further drive down costs. Again, the cost to the federal government is not the key, it’s the lives saved and the better health outcomes PatriotCare would provide us that are key.
Because the US is far larger than the UK, those concepts actually make it so an American NHS has the potential to be far better, cheaper, and more efficient than the UK’s. America beat the Brits to become the pre-eminent democracy of the world, although our model isn’t very functional, so let’s beat the Brits at their own game and have the best healthcare in the world, for once. I believe the revolutionary spirit of America is best wielded in favor of the working class, despite and because of its, and our, complicated and messy heritage.
A highly similar version of this Policy Paper will be published on RealProgressives.org. See it and my other articles for them here.