FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Mission Possible: Breaking Up the Big Banks and Universal Medicare

by

shutterstock_247576453

Senator Bernie Sanders is getting a lot of heat from political establishment types for proposals they view as outlandish. The top of the list is breaking up the big banks and universal Medicare. The complaint is that these proposals are so far off the political agenda, Sanders is wasting everyone’s time by raising them

It is understandable that the interest groups who profit from the current situation do not want to see it altered. But that doesn’t mean we are condemned to have incredibly wasteful financial and health care systems forever.

Starting with finance, we actually have already seen some breakups of large financial institutions in the wake of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. GE is seeking to offload its financial services division. Citigroup has also downsized by selling off some divisions. The Financial Stability Oversight Council established by Dodd-Frank currently has the authority to breakup too big to fail banks.

To continue down this direction will require political will, which presumably a President Sanders would provide. But the idea of downsizing systemically important banks and other financial institutions is already in law; we just need a stronger hand in pushing forward.

There is a similar story with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and universal Medicare. The ACA was a huge step forward in extending coverage and controlling costs, however we still have far to go before we reach universal coverage and bring our costs in line with other countries.

While it is unrealistic to think that we could switch from our current system to some sort of universal Medicare system overnight, it is not implausible that we could take large steps in that direction. For example, we could allow people over the age of 55 to buy into the Medicare system.

By continually raising the issue of universal Medicare, and pointing out the extent to which the public is getting ripped off by the health care industry, Sanders is building the sort off public pressure that is needed to allow reform to move forward. This is essential in a context where the industry groups all have their lobbyists pushing for more money, while the public has no lobbyist for lower costs and increased access. The sort of public anger aroused by Sanders is hardly a diversion, it will be essential for further progress on health care reform.

This article originally appeared in USA Today.

Dean Baker is a macroeconomist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. He previously worked as a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor at Bucknell University.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail