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Thanks obf. Congrats on your second vaccine. I’m due for #2 on April 5.

Bernie’s interview on NPR

With the passage this week of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, the United States is now on track to spend some $6 trillion in total on measures related to ending the pandemic.

Among the plans most vocal supporters is Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who, as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, helped shepherd the plan through Congress. Sanders says this latest round of appropriations will do no less than rebuild the economy, safely fill classrooms again and help restore faith in the government.

“In my view, this particular piece of legislation is the most consequential piece of legislation for working families passed in many, many decades,” Sanders says in an interview with NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

But the relief package has not been without its critics. Republicans universally opposed the plan, with some calling the price tag far too high, and others saying it’s filled with measures that have little or nothing to do at all with combating COVID-19. Sanders says bipartisanship would have been nice, but that ultimately Americans will care more about the direct payments they’ll soon receive as a result of the bill than the lack of GOP votes.

Sanders spoke with NPR about the plan’s benefits for working families, the effort to reopen the nation’s schools and why he says he’s “outraged” by one particular development far removed from the coronavirus pandemic: the plan by Major League Baseball to eliminate 40 minor league teams, including his beloved Vermont Lake Monsters.

Below are excerpts of the conversation, edited in parts for clarity and length.

Interview Highlights

The relief package the president signed this week, $1.9 trillion, the White House says direct payments might start getting into bank accounts this weekend. Is it different from the plan you would have tried to pass?

Yeah, it is in a number of respects, but having said that, in my view this particular piece of legislation is the most consequential piece of legislation for working families passed in many, many decades. And it understands that the working class of this country today is facing more desperation than any time since the Great Depression. It also understands that we don’t rebuild our economy, we don’t get our kids back into school unless we crush this pandemic. So if you look at this piece of legislation, which is 628 pages, it is really transformative in terms of addressing the needs of working families in our country.

Is there something you would like to point out to us that’s in there that maybe wouldn’t have been included under other circumstances?

You know, at the end of the day, with half of our people living paycheck to paycheck, when millions of people are working for starvation wages, people facing eviction, some of us believed that getting a direct payment out to working families — family of four gets $5,600 — that was important.

The other thing, again, that I focused on, is we have more than doubled funding for community health centers, which means that we are going to have working families, lower-income people all over this country be able to walk into a community health center in a way they haven’t been able in the past, to get not only primary care, but dental care and mental health counseling, which today, as you know, is in a crisis situation.

You, of course, have run for office with a lot of union support. And let me put it this bluntly — have teachers unions been concerned with their own safety from COVID, which is understandable, more than the welfare of many of their students, who need the schools to be open and supporting their families.

Absolutely. Well, I mean, what we need to do is to make sure that we protect teachers, we protect students and that we open schools as quickly as possible in a way that is safe. … And it’s not an easy thing. For example, you have kids getting on school buses. Well, we want to make sure that, you know, kids are adequately spaced apart. We want to make sure in fact we have enough teachers to be available — might be teaching a fewer number of kids per classroom. So there’s a lot to be dealt with, but the bottom line here, there is no debate, we ought to open the schools as quickly and as safely as we possibly can.

The American Rescue Plan didn’t get any Republican votes. Does that portend anything for you with so many issues coming up in the Congress where some bipartisan amity might be a good idea on looming issues like immigration as we see another spike in the number of children congregating at the southern border.

Well, I think everybody wants bipartisanship. But what is most important is that at a time when this country is facing unprecedented health crises, economic crises, educational crises, mental health crises, we’ve got to move and if the choice is doing it without Republican support and moving aggressively or spending, you know, month after month after month debating and discussing and not doing anything, to me the choice is pretty clear: We do it. And when the American people get those $1,400 checks, they’re not going to be sitting around saying, “Oh, my goodness, this is not good, we didn’t have any Republican support.” I think they’re going to be understanding that finally, that the United States Congress, the president, are beginning to respond to their needs.

I have to ask you this lastly, Senator, you were opposed to the plans of Major League Baseball to eliminate 40 minor league teams, including the Vermont Lake Monsters. You’ve called it greedy. I’m not sure any baseball owners would feel maligned to be called greedy. What about their argument, though, that the minor leagues are just an inefficient way to discover and develop talent these days?

You know, Scott, you’re touching on a sore spot for me, because it’s something I feel really strongly about. Look, I am not a baseball expert, so I don’t know how you develop talent. But this is what I do know, is you go to a minor league game and kids get their hotdogs, and the ballplayers are often very nice and they’ll sign autographs and kids, you get good seats for a couple of bucks. Minor league baseball is enormously important to dozens and dozens and dozens of communities all over this country. It is a beautiful thing. Baseball is not just, you know, paying $50 million for some great athlete, you know, who plays for the New York Yankees. And I am really outraged that at a profitable institution like Major League Baseball, these guys want to eliminate baseball in so many communities around this country. It really is awful to my mind.


Unfortunately MLB looks at from the bottom line aspect, god forbid that families can go to thier local affiliate get affordable seats and concessions and not have to take out a 2nd mortgage to do it. I’ve went to couple Timber rattlers (Brewers) games and found it to be a great affordable experience for families overall. Its a totally different experience than an MLB game.


Mr. Benny and I attended a Brooklyn Cyclones game at Coney Island a few years ago and had a blast. Loved the atmosphere of watching the Cyclone Roller Coaster in the background and the beach. Felt very All-American because of the diversity of the crowds. Easy to reach too by MTA as we were staying in Flatbush at the time.


I’ve not seen dental care in a community health clinic that is offered for adults. Or at least, ours doesn’t offer them. If this bill has success in offering dental care in CCHC’s, then it could pave the way of dental care for all. I’m all for kids getting care (my folks only took me to the dentist once because they couldn’t afford it) but it’s folks in the 30+ range that need the service so badly. My employer does have dental care but doesn’t cover emergencies very well or crowns, so I use flex spending (which also has its drawbacks because I’ve seen bills get kicked back) for those types of procedures.

Spring texas
Spring texas

Wow, didn’t notice that about the dental care, that could be IMPORTANT.


Amid a deadly pandemic that has further exposed the absurdity and immorality of tying health insurance to employment, Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Debbie Dingell are planning to introduce the Medicare for All Act of 2021 this coming Wednesday—exactly one year after the first coronavirus cases were confirmed in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

The bill’s official introduction, set for March 17, “is an attempt to link the cause of universal care with the devastation wrought by the pandemic,” Politico reported.

“Mark your calendars!” tweeted Jayapal (D-Wash.), a longtime single-payer advocate who was the lead House sponsor of the Medicare for All Act of 2019, which experts at the time characterized as the gold standard for universal healthcare legislation. The bill proposed a two-year transition to a Medicare for All system that would provide comprehensive healthcare to everyone in the U.S. for free at the point of service.

Since the coronavirus crisis began last year, millions of people across the U.S. have been thrown off their employer-provided health insurance—the nation’s most common form of coverage—due to pandemic-induced mass layoffs that have persisted in recent weeks. Last week, an additional 1.2 million people in the U.S. filed for unemployment insurance.

“This past year makes it incredibly clear why we must pass Medicare for All,” said Nina Turner, a Democratic congressional candidate in Ohio’s 11th District.


It will never pass with the Senate locked at 50-50. But I guess one has to keep trying.


“giving up is not an option.”

(Bernie Sanders, circa forever)


Direct payments ranging from $1,400 for individuals to $5,600 for families of four began landing in U.S. bank accounts late Friday, just over 24 hours after President Joe Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that also includes an extension of emergency unemployment programs, a major expansion of the child tax credit, and billions of dollars for vaccine distribution.

“Mine is already listed as pending in my credit union’s account. Wow. This is the kind of speed and efficiency we should always expect from our government,” Robert Cruickshank, campaign director at advocacy group Demand Progress, tweeted Friday night—and he was far from alone.

“Stimulus cash is already out the door,” wrote NBC News reporter Sahil Kapur, who tweeted out screenshots of bank postings he received from unnamed Americans. “Getting more of these than I can handle now—suffice it to say a lot of people are seeing money tonight.”


unbelievable! just great.


So wonderful that billionaire polluter, the richest person in WV, is also its governor

The federal government is seeking to collect nearly $3.2 million in fines from coal companies owned by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice after the firms violated the terms of a major water pollution settlement, according to documents filed Thursday in federal court.

U.S. Department of Justice attorneys said in their filing that Southern Coal Corp. and two related companies failed to renew required water pollution permits, leading to unauthorized discharges at three mining sites in Tennessee and one in Alabama. Those permits are required so regulators can limit the runoff of everything from mud to toxic metals from coal operations.

The companies’ actions triggered fines under the terms of a 2016 settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency. As part of the deal, the governor’s companies had agreed to resolve more than 23,000 water pollution violations by paying a $900,000 fine, spending millions of dollars on new pollution controls, and covering automatic penalty amounts — known as “stipulated penalties” — for any future violations.

The DOJ’s new court filing indicated Justice’s companies have so far paid nearly $2.9 million in stipulated penalties, but the firms have repeatedly failed to honor the other terms of the settlement, either delivering late or not at all on site improvements and fines, continuing what federal attorneys called a “long history” of environmental violations.

Justice, a billionaire listed by Forbes as the richest person in the state, owns a vast empire of businesses, including coal mines, resort hotels and agricultural interests, many of them regulated by the state agencies that report to him. While Justice’s adult children have day-to-day control over the family’s business operations, the governor has continued to guide the empire.

Last year, an investigation by ProPublica found that, over the last three decades, the governor’s companies have accumulated more than $140 million in judgments and settlements in cases brought by vendors and other businesses and government entities over unpaid bills. (The governor and his representatives say that his companies always eventually pay their bills.) Many of the cases involve Justice’s mining companies.


I just learned this and it is Very Good.

COBRA recipients will be given 6 months FREE coverage.

Yes, this is a government deal made between the Private Insurance companies and the Biden Administration.

And Yes, it postpones dealing with the unbearable profit taking of insurance companies. The tradeoff may very well have been keeping M4A out of the Relief Bill. That seems logical to me.

The good part, is that for workers who lost their jobs and cannot afford the sky high rates of Covid coverage, this is a temporary respite. a very good thing.

If these workers are not employed by the end of the 6 month period, their troubles begin again.


At least for 6 months its affordable, a taste of M4A for lower income people


Except the insurance companies control what services you can have. Under MfA, everyone gets served, no matter what.



And, let me remind you, that in NYC everyone gets served, no matter what.

Still, what Sarah Silverman said applies to US. Not just the PMC.


I would love for everyone to have Medicare coverage.
Medicare coverage definitely needs to be enhanced.
If you want good coverage with Medicare, you will have
to pay for Part B, Part D (pharma) and a Medigap plan.
Grossly, private insurance has to get their share.

I have a chronic health condition for which I see an
Integrative Medicine specialist. Medicare will not pay
for my office visits.

Got my 2nd dose of Pfizer vaccine today.
Feeling good so far.


Good luck to you.

Did you get to choose which vaccine you got?


I did not get to choose.

Both doses were at a mass vaccination event (drive-thru) in the parking lot
of the local arena. It was well managed. Took less than an hour.


your arm is fine???? Mine couldn’t move for days and the red and swelling were intense.


Yes and a camel under the nose of the tent.


I had to look that expression up. 👍


It is the explanation of WHY Biden won’t cancel much, if any, student debt. He will “tweak” around the edges of interest rates and loan duration but resist canceling any principle on the debt. That is exactly what Obama did.

The thing that is good here is that the insurance companies agreed to step back a bit. How much and how long the step back is, matters, of course, but just the granting of concessions is a BFD.


Congrats my fellow futureist!!! I got extreme fatigue the next day and left work early and went to bed ,felt fine the next day so good luck Orl!!!!


And if I’m not mistaken, you had symptomatic Covid so it fits with the pattern.




Sing it Sister Sarah—Whining about what’s NOT in the Covid Bill rather than understanding the gems it contains.

We don’t need Bernie or AOC to tell us which way the wind blows.

If we pay attention and understand what we ARE seeing, we will do a lot better




Fucking racist.


Just a reminder about NYC fundraising matching funds rule: The only donations that count towards getting public matching funds are from residents of the City. In borough races, you have to be a resident of Queens, for example, to qualify for matching funds in Queens.

Donations of $10 from a NYC resident means $80 if a candidate qualifies. Not to mention that a person giving $10 is more likely to vote than a rich donor who, like the billionaire in this contest, Ray McQuire, has never bothered to vote in NY.

If you don’t have a lot of money your donation means something to you and you probably will vote.

OTOH the wealthy often donate lavishly to both sides and don’t bother to vote.

(If you click on the box and read the whole entry about what an amazing feat this was, you won’t be wasting your time.)


Most individual contributions in NYC Mayoral history.

Hit the threshold the fastest in NYC history.

So far


To put this in perspective:

Yang has more individual donations (in a campaign with 3+ months to go) than any NYC Mayoral candidate in history.

He has raised $15,600 in small donations so far totaling $2.1 million. In his entire run de Blasio got $1.2 million from small donors.

87% of Yang’s contributions came from small individual contributions.



100% agree.

Any (D) who says otherwise is lying.


Apologies if this is a dupe.


Good for Bernie speaking for the Palestinians. We need to let go of Israel altogether.

Please remember that I am Jewish and reasonably connected to my religion and history. My people approving of the actions in Gaza have lost all humanity in their behavior . I cannot bear it.



The guys in the photo on the right are Christopher from The Sopranos and his associate. Absolutely Perfect.


California counties sidestep direct Blue Shield oversight in new vaccine deal

California counties that have refused to sign on to the state’s new COVID-19 vaccine program run by Blue Shield of California are expected to instead reach a separate agreement with the state to end a stalemate that threatened to slow delivery of shots.
Blue Shield President Paul Markovich said Friday that counties were concerned about signing the vaccine distribution contract with a private company, which had been a requirement for all vaccine providers that wanted to continue receiving doses in California under the new program. A spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health confirmed the change.

“They’re much more comfortable with an agreement with the state, which is fine by us as long as there’s agreement that they will participate in the performance management system that allows us to deliver on the performance in our contract,” Markovich said in a call with reporters Friday. “It should be just fine.”

The memorandum of understanding sent to counties, which was obtained by The Times, indicates that compliance with the contract is required for “continued eligibility for allocation of COVID-19 vaccine.” The state’s terms include that a county can’t redistribute its doses to other providers and that the county “will reasonably cooperate” with Blue Shield when it is acting on behalf of the state.

It’s uncertain how many counties that refused Blue Shield’s contract will sign with the state, with at least one county saying it will not sign either agreement.

Counties have been locked in a weeks-long stalemate with the state and Blue Shield over California’s decision to hand over vaccine delivery decisions to the private insurance company. Los Angeles County officials were the latest to ask for the ability to opt out of the Blue Shield contract, highlighting concerns with the outsourced oversight of distribution.

Wise. Makes me wonder if they are going to be the first state to offer a public option.