News & Politics

Sanders-Biden Clash Over Medicare Expansion May Doom the Spending Bill

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders doesn’t do compromise — especially when it comes to remaking America.

Part of Sanders’ makeover is to have the government take over the entire $2 trillion health care system. This presents something of a problem because, currently, we have an unworkable pastiche of public and private plans that few are satisfied with.

But Sanders is insisting that the Medicare program be expanded to include coverage for dental, vision, and hearing care — a necessary step in the incremental takeover of health care.

Unfortunately for Sanders, adding those benefits would be ruinously expensive. And Joe Biden has decided, in the interest of getting something — anything — passed by Congress that Democrats can take to the voters in 2022, that the expansion of Medicare has to go.

Sanders doesn’t think so.

But cooler — and saner — heads in the Senate appear to be prevailing. Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema won’t sign off on Medicare expansion or the $3.5 trillion price tag that Sanders wants on the Build Back Better bill.

So Joe Biden has reluctantly agreed to nix Medicare expansion in order to include some other programs near and dear to the left’s hearts.

The Hill:

“That’s a reach and the reason why it’s a reach — I think it’s a good idea and it’s not that costly in relative terms especially if you allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices,” Biden said. “But here’s the thing — Mr. Manchin is opposed to that as is, I think, Sen. Sinema.”

He explained Manchin was opposed to the expansion of Medicare because he “doesn’t want to further burden Medicare … because it will run out of its ability to maintain itself in X number of years.”

It sort of got stuck in Biden’s throat, but the “X” number of years is five years — 2026 — when Medicare will go broke.

But Sanders is hoping by then that pigs will fly and Democrats and Republicans will agree on a way to save Medicare from the garbage dump. More likely, Sanders and the other socialists will get their way and the entire health care kit and kaboodle will be funded by the government anyway.

Sanders and the Democrats believe that “negotiating,” i.e., holding a gun to the head of Big Pharma, will get them to lower drug prices. Those savings would be passed on to the government, as well as certain fees from the drug companies. This extortion would supposedly bring in tens of billions of dollars in revenue.

“It is beyond comprehension that there is any member of the United States Congress who is not prepared to vote to make sure that we lower prescription drug costs,” Sanders told reporters Thursday.

“I would say that Sen. Sinema, every Republican and every person in the House do what the American people want, and they want us to lower the outrageous costs of prescription drugs,” he added.

If Sanders is serious about keeping the Medicare expansion plan in the bill, Joe Biden has a problem. Just like Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema, who could single-handedly blow up the entire reconciliation bill, so, too, could Bernie Sanders.

Would Sanders destroy the Biden presidency just to take a useless political stand? In a heartbeat, yes.