Let me take this opportunity to give you an update as to what's been happening in recent weeks.
As you all know, the disastrous Republican "health care" proposals have, for the moment at least, been defeated. They were defeated because millions of Americans stood up and fought back. They made phone calls and sent emails, letting members of Congress know how they felt. They got their friends involved in the struggle by utilizing social media. They attended town hall meetings. They went to rallies, including some that I attended in Michigan, Maine, Nevada, Arizona, West Virginia, Ohio, Utah, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
And in poll after poll, an overwhelming majority of the American people were absolutely clear about their opposition to these destructive plans:
No. We will not be throwing 32 million, 23 million, 22 million or 16 million Americans off of health insurance in order to give tax breaks to the rich and large corporations, and to further the right wing extremist ideology of the Koch brothers.
No. We will not be cutting Medicaid by $800 billion, raising premiums for older workers, defunding Planned Parenthood and making it almost impossible for people with pre-existing conditions to get affordable insurance.
Needless to say, while we have won at least a temporary victory by defeating horrific Republican proposals, that is not good enough. We need to go on the offensive, not simply remain in a defensive posture.
The status quo is not satisfactory. Too many Americans continue to have no health insurance. Too many are paying premiums, deductibles and co-payments that are much too high. Too many cannot afford the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs they need. Too many cannot gain access to high quality primary health care or dental care, even when they have insurance. Our goal is not complicated, and it is not radical. It is to have the United States join every other industrialized country on earth in guaranteeing health care for all. Health care must not be considered as a privilege or a commodity. It is a human right to which every man, woman and child is entitled.
Our goal is to create a rational, cost-effective health care system. Today in the United States, we are spending almost $10,000 a year per person on health care. This is absurd and unsustainable. We must not continue a system which is, by far, the most expensive, wasteful and bureaucratic in the world.
Our goal is to put health care dollars into disease prevention and the provision of health care, not insurance company profits, not outrageous salaries for health industry CEOs, not advertising, not billing, not lobbying or campaign contributions.
Our goal is to move this country to a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.
Let me be clear. This will be an enormously difficult and prolonged struggle, and one which will require the efforts of tens of millions of Americans in every state in this country. It will, in fact, require a political revolution in which the American people participate in the political process in a way that we have not seen in the recent history of our democracy.
In order to pass a Medicare-for-all, single payer system we will be taking on the most powerful special interests in the country: Wall Street, the insurance companies, the drug companies, the corporate media, the Republican Party and the establishment wing of the Democratic Party. In opposition to our efforts there will be a never-ending barrage of TV ads, editorials, political attacks and lies.
If we are going to be successful in this struggle, we have got to be smart -- very smart. Not only do we need strong legislation (which I will be offering shortly and an outline of which I will be sending to you), but we need an unprecedented organizing and educational campaign.
How do we counter the lies and distortions against Medicare-for-all that is sure to come? How do we make certain that all of us -- men and women, gay and straight, black, white, Latino, Asian-American, Native American -- are in this struggle together? How do we bring young and healthy people to stand alongside the elderly, the sick and the poor?