Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), considered by many to be one of the smartest members of Congress, is running for New Jersey’s open senate seat in a primary against Wall Street and hedge fund backed Democrat Corey Booker, mayor of Newark. Another progressive, New Jersey congressman Frank Pallone, has joined the race to fill the late Frank Lautenberg’s seat. Booker has a substantial lead in the polls over both Pallone and Holt, but insiders give Holt a better chance to defeat Booker. Here’s one of Holt’s refreshing campaign videos—refreshing because he presents truly progressive ideas. You can view his other videos on NSA spying, Wall Street, climate change, Social Security, and student loans on his campaign website.
Holt is a scientist, a teacher, an expert on monitoring nuclear weapons – and (I love this) a five-time Jeopardy! winner who beat IBM’s computer “Watson.” He holds a Ph.D in physics, has been an assistant director of Princeton’s Plasma Physics Laboratory and a faculty member at Swarthmore. Before he ran for Congress, he did a stint at the State Department monitoring the nuclear programs of countries like Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. As a congressman, he has led the fight on climate change, working to add tough new restrictions on greenhouse gases to cap-and-trade proposals. He voted against the war in Iraq, against unwarranted spying on Americans, and he fought to repeal the misguided PATRIOT Act. Holt, is a strong advocate for single payer health care.
When Obama came into office in 2009, single payer was the obvious and rational solution to our predatory, inefficient, and costly health insurance system, but single payer, or “Medicare for all” was unacceptable to Obama’s Wall Street backers. So, with the help of other corporate Democrats and health insurance executives, Obama kludged together the Affordable Care Act, which, among other things, was designed to knee-cap single payer. Obama and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus brought in insurance lobbyist Liz Fowler to write the mind bogglingly complex bill in secret. Their guiding principal was to do no harm to any corporate profit stream. FDR saved capitalism, but Obama saved the health insurance industry—at least for now.
The official line, that Obama had to write the bill to please Republicans, is a myth. Republicans and most Democrats work for the same donors. Obama, rather cynically, used the so-called “public option” to co-opt the progressive base that had worked tirelessly to elect him. Because his brief was to pass a bill that was acceptable to heath care CEOs and Wall Street, the public option never was a viable “option.” To that end, he delivered a highly flawed, industry friendly, insurance-based health care delivery system spawned from warmed-over Republican ideas.
Is Obamacare better than what we had? Of course it is—our health care system was so bad there was nowhere to go but up. Some of the worst industry practices, such as denying coverage to sick people, have been ended in exchange for the mandate that everyone buy insurance. The exchanges, at least in some states, will drive down the cost of premiums for the uninsured. There are new options for preventive care. But, because it is profit-driven, Obamacare remains an absurdly expensive, complicated, and inefficient way to deliver healthcare. And, as we will soon discover, it is full of loopholes beneficial for the health care industry.
We, the American people, need single payer, and, if elected to the Senate, Rush Holt, a true progressive, will advocate for it.