Pre-Debate Contest: Guess which one of Sanders’ past or present policy positions or legislation he supported that Clinton will misrepresent most outlandishly tonight [Updated!]

UPDATE: To see the winning Clinton claim, read my my comment to Robert Waldmann’s post above. 


Last week when Chelsea Clinton made he now-infamous statements about Sanders’ single-payer healthcare insurance plan—specifically, the one he proposed as a bill in 2013, but presumably a blueprint for the one he plans to propose—I wondered how Sanders had managed to enlist her in the service of his own campaign.  Most memorable was the part about the horror that would be life without private healthcare insurance and the stripping of healthcare insurance frommillions and millions and millions of people by providing universal, comprehensive, and nearly identical insurance to all American citizens and legal residents.

To refresh your memory, she said (among other things):

Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the [Children’s Health Insurance Program], dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance.  I worry if we give Republicans Democratic permission to do that, we’ll go back to an era — before we had the Affordable Care Act — that would strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance.

But in my opinion, that wasn’t even the oddest part of her trip down the rabbit hole.  This was:

Sen. Sanders wants to devolve the authority to set up state health insurance programs to individual state governors. Now maybe if I lived in a place like New Hampshire, with your governor, I would feel okay about that. But if I lived in a state that had a Republican governor, particularly a Republican governor who already turned down Medicaid expansion matching funds, I don’t think I would be comfortable, right? Because I don’t want to live in a country that has an unequal health care system again.

Sooo, I said when I read that, Chelsea Clinton wants to move to France.  Or Canada.  Or Scandinavia, or Germany, or Thailand.  Or one of the many other Western-style democracies that has an equal health care system.  Which is what she will have to do under this country’s current system if she feels that strongly about not wanting to live in a country that has an unequal health care system.

Sanders’ 2013 proposal no more gives the states the option to join or decline to join the program than does Obamacare—the program Chelsea and her mother champion and want to preserve rather than move to a single-payer-healthcare-for-all system—give states the option of participating in the state-based marketplaces that have minimum coverage requirements and mandate acceptance of patients irrespective of preexisting medical conditions.  The Medicaid-expansion option that states have under the ACA has no analogy in Sanders’ 2013 single-payer proposal.  Chelsea was parroting her mother on this bald misstatement.

And having no healthcare insurance is not the same as having healthcare insurance.  Unless of course the medical care you need is not covered by the insurance you have, because the deductibles and co-pays under your employer-provided insurance or under the policy you bought through a state marketplace under Obamacare for a premium low enough that your employer or you could afford it, means (unlike more comprehensive plans that others have but you do not) that you must pay those medical bills yourself.

Apparently, Chelsea Clinton doesn’t get out much these days.

But then, neither, it appears, does her mother, who has claimed repeatedly, including in comments in defense of her daughter’s odd statements about Sanders’ single-payer concept, that the only expenses—the only money people pay—that actually matters to them is money paid to the government.

No other expenses count as money—as loss of income or as other expenditure that actually effects your and your family’s financial bottom line and therefore standard of living.  Money paid to UnitedHealthcare or Anthem Blue Cross in premiums, and to hospitals, physicians and medical labs in co-pays and deductibles, don’t count.  That’s not money paid to the government, see.  So it’s wayyy better to pay more for less-comprehensive coverage to private insurance companies, and still be financially insecure about medical expenses, than to pay less money in healthcare costs to the government and be financially secure about medical expenses.  Because, y’know … the government.

Which—I wish Sanders would point out—is exactly what Clinton saysAgain and again. Just like the Republicans do.

Hillary Clinton should get out more, too.

Okay, Clinton of course doesn’t want you to realize that that’s what she’s saying.  She wants you to think she’s saying that the large price tag for Sanders’ plan is in addition to private insurance premiums and deductables and co-pays.  But her own daughter says that Sanders wants to end private insurance.  Clinton should check with her daughter. Best to get the story straight.

What Chelsea Clinton did, in other words, is highlight the two reasons that her mother’s campaign is flailing: that the candidate sees even issues as important to people’s lives as the costs and breadth of healthcare coverage as something to mislead about as a campaign tactic, and that at bottom she, like Republicans, believe that the only thing that matters as personal or family expenditures is the amount paid to the government.  And according to a New York Times report today, Bill and Hillary Clinton both believe that the mistake Clinton and her campaign made is that they didn’t begin these tactics months before they did.  (Shucks!  The public loves to be played like toys about really important things. Why didn’t our consultants figure that out earlier?  What are we paying them for?!)

So, buckle your seatbelts, folks.  What will the biggest sleight of hand, the most outlandish assertion or inference about Sanders’ policy proposals, be?

We’ve already had the Denmark-isn’t-a-capitalist-country-and-it-would-be-a-grave-mistake-and-unAmerican-to-emulate-them thing in the first debate, which sort of backfired when in the days following that debate the news media was filled with articles about Denmark’s vibrant capitalist economy, large number of small businesses, and high level of innovation.

We’ve had the no-industry-except-the-gun-industry-has-immunity-from-strict-liability-for-criminal-use-by-a-customer misrepresentation about the gun-manufacturer and gun-retailer legal immunity statute that Sanders voted for in 2005.  Actually, no other industry is strictly liable, in any state under state law, under such circumstances, a fact that got little media attention but enough, apparently, to cause Clinton to stop making the claim.

And there was, of course, the he-told-ME-to-stop-shouting-even-though-I-wasn’t-shouting-because-I’m-a-woman dust-up.  She didn’t accuse him of supporting legislation that would arrest women for disturbing the peace when they speak, but she came close to it.

In addition, of course, to the Sanders-is-coming-for-your-healthcare-insurance-and-is-out-to-lower-your-standard-of-living stuff.  Denmark! Somalia-level healthcare coverage!  Bankrupting the country because the $10 trillion (or whatever) currently spent annually on healthcare in this country WILL EVAPORATE upon enactment of Sanders’ single-payer plan, and so won’t be available to pay instead for the single-payer plan.

How about Denmark-level healthcare coverage?  For less than what is spent annually in this country for our current Swiss-cheese sandwich.  Which is what Sanders is proposing.

My bet is that one of tonight’s treasures will again be on the gun-industry immunity law, along the lines of a message to the media last week by Clinton Campaign chief John Podesta.  Podesta conflated manufacturing with sales.  Specifically, the level of control that the fast-food industry has over the content of the food it serves, and the level of control that gun retailers have over their customers’ later use of the purchased gun.

But there’s still time for you to enter this contest.  Okay, not much time; I should have posted this earlier.  But for all you very quick thinkers, that should not be problem.

The prize is an interview with the Clinton Campaign for a job as a campaign consultant.  The job will pay well, I’m sure.