One sign of progressive strength is when progressive candidates win
elections. But another sign is when conservative candidates begin
adopting progressive programs for fear of losing office. And across the
country, many GOP gubernatorial candidates have begun embracing progressive causes as a way to court the voters:
The Blues have joined the health care for all bandwagon in Minnesota. The state's Blue Cross Blue Shield is endorsing a bill based on the Massachusetts
model of achieving health care for all through compelling the purchase
of insurance, highlighting both a key strength and a key weakness of
the model. The mandatory nature of the law builds bridges to new
interested parties: insurance firms well positioned to benefit from a
law requiring that the public purchase their product.
At the same time that a new study out of Massachusetts
reveals that tobacco companies are steadily increasing nicotine levels
in cigarettes, the fight to limit the health impacts of tobacco is
gaining new steam. Ballot measures will be considered in eight states this fall regarding tobacco. And in Virginia, where tobacco is king, Governor Tim Kaine is considering a ban on smoking in state buildings.
In a system where profits, not patient health, is the top priority of
many health care providers, states are beginning to develop "pay for
performance" incentives and promoting other innovations to hold
providers more broadly accountable.
A number of state leaders have been promoting what seems like a free
lunch. Hand over control of government services to private industry and
those companies promise better service at a lower price. Like most
promises of a free lunch, privatization has mostly ended up being a
deceptive boondoggle, a point the non-partisan news sourceStateline.org emphasized this past week:
There are few more potent tools for impacting the outcomes of elections
than changing what appears on the ballot. And there are no more direct
paths from public outcry to passed legislation than through ballot
issues. For years, the rightwing has been advancing policy goals,
shaping message, and marshalling voters through ballot issues (we've
already highlighted many of their current-year endeavors in this very
newsletter). Progressives increasingly are fighting back using ballot
issues -- which shouldn't be surprising, since initiatives and
referedenda were originally a progressive reform.
For years, the delivery company FedEx has claimed that its ground
drivers are not employees but independent contractors-- meaning the
company didn't have to pay for workers compensation, unemployment
insurance or extend a range of other worker protections.
Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted
to create a health care plan to provide health care coverage for the
85,000 uninsured residents of that city. While there are additional
votes needed to finalize the bill, with a unanimous vote and the
endorsement of the mayor, the proposed ordinance is expected to become
law with no problem.