In 2017 Jimmy Kimmel used his considerable influence to blast the GOP’s attempt to strip the Affordable Care Act. It was a months-long effort, beginning with an emotional monologue about the near-death of his newborn son, and culminating in a series of furious, personal critiques of GOP senators before the Senate finally dropped its ACA-destroying bill in September 2017. Early on, he described in an interview with that bill’s co-sponsor, Bill Cassidy, what he viewed as the “Jimmy Kimmel test,” a litmus test that Cassidy had coined previously, to Kimmel’s chagrin:
Since I am Jimmy Kimmel, I would like to make a suggestion as to what the Jimmy Kimmel test should be. I’ll keep it simple. The Jimmy Kimmel test, I think, should be: No family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can’t afford it.
That was in 2017. Now it is 2020, in the middle of a deeply consequential presidential primary and at the outset of a deadly viral outbreak. So naturally Kimmel is ceding his hosting duties later this week to failed candidate Pete Buttigieg, a rat king of corporate lobbyists in the shape of a human boy-mayor.
Pete Buttigieg is taking his charm to late-night TV.
The former Democratic presidential candidate will host "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Thursday, he announced on Monday's "Today Show."
"We're lining up a great slate of guests," Buttigieg said. "Patrick Stewart is coming on, so we are very excited about that."
He added that he hopes he'll have some help penning the monologue that night.
"Hopefully some funnier minds than mine will be doing some writing for that. I think it is going to be fun," Buttigieg said. "The thing about running a presidential campaign is you will have been focused on one thing and one thing only. It is nice to be able to zoom out and come back at life."
There are many things one could say about Buttigieg, and smarter people have said them. What I will say is this: he does not pass the Jimmy Kimmel test. He does not pass it at all.
He may have at one point—
Buh? When/where have you ever heard me oppose Medicare for All?— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) February 17, 2018
—but the healthcare platform he ran on was logistically impossible, included potentially devastating individual mandates, and would cost more than Medicare For All while covering fewer people. When pressed on this apparent reversal, Buttigieg said he never believed in ending private insurance, e.g. the type of insurance that routinely kills people because they don’t have enough money. Buttigieg spent much of his campaign disingenuously attacking Medicare For All, which he consistently framed in duplicitous rhetoric. Here’s Ryan Cooper in The Week:
Buttigieg has attacked Medicare with tendentious libertarian ideology about choice. "You’re not free if you don’t have health care," he said in a recent stump speech, "but you should have the freedom to choose whether you want it." By this view, non-universal Medicare increases choice and is hence better — but elides the fact that it would foreclose the choice of a complete system which covers everyone from cradle to grave, without exception. As usual, libertarian choice rhetoric obscures more than it reveals.
More recently, as you may recall, Buttigieg declared victory in Iowa before votes were counted, then suffered embarrassing losses in subsequent contests and dropped out. He has now endorsed Joe Biden, whose healthcare plan will leave out millions of people. Here’s Matt Bruenig in Jacobin:
The most remarkable thing about Biden’s plan is that it does not even aim to provide universal insurance coverage. The more moderate wing of the Democratic Party has mostly been putting out plans that purport to achieve universal coverage (e.g., through auto-enrollment mechanisms) without national health insurance. But Biden is literally doubling down on “preserving Obamacare” by preserving a class of uninsured people.
His campaign claims that the plan will leave around 3 percent of Americans uninsured. These sorts of estimates should be taken with a grain of salt as it is very uncertain how people will respond to the reforms. For instance, the CBO initially estimated that 22 million Americans would sign up for insurance on the Obamacare exchanges, but only half that many actually did.
Even if you suppose that Biden’s estimate is right and the uninsurance rate does go to 3 percent, that still implies an enormous amount of unnecessary death caused by a lack of insurance. One commonly used estimate (for example, by CAP) states that one unnecessary death occurs annually for every 830 uninsured people. This means that during the first ten years of Bidencare, over 125,000 unnecessary deaths would occur from uninsurance.
If Buttigieg fails the Jimmy Kimmel test, then Biden sets it aflame and pisses on the ashes with his insurance industry pals. So why let Buttigieg host Jimmy Kimmel Live? He’s not funny. He’s not charismatic. He’s a liar. He’s a corporate stooge. If he gets what he want, thousands and thousands will die for lack of medical care. It doesn’t have to be that way. But that’s the way he wants.
I can think of one obvious reason to give him Kimmel’s chair and Kimmel’s staff and Kimmel’s audience, and it is that ABC wants his side to win, because they are on it too. As my friend Jack Allison said, there is no other way to look at this but as an hourlong free advertisement for the Biden campaign. An advertisement, in other words, for needless suffering and death.
Some decisions are difficult, like whether to wear my one grey shirt or my other grey shirt. Other decisions are very easy, like whether to reject the candidates who reject your stated values. Shame on those who know the right thing and do the wrong one anyway.
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