• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    William on He’s not demented. He’s just n…
    riverdaughter on He’s not demented. He’s just n…
    William on He’s not demented. He’s just n…
    riverdaughter on About Remdesivir
    riverdaughter on About Remdesivir
    riverdaughter on About Remdesivir
    MsMass on About Remdesivir
    riverdaughter on About Remdesivir
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on About Remdesivir
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on About Remdesivir
    riverdaughter on About Remdesivir
    riverdaughter on About Remdesivir
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on About Remdesivir
    HerStoryRepeating on About Remdesivir
    riverdaughter on Oh, I get it now
  • Categories

  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • Open Thread
      Feel free to use the comments to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.
  • Top Posts

Why is single payer not being served at President Obama’s table?


Why is single payer not at the President’s table?

76% of Americans want single payer health care. President Obama, judged by his actions, is staunchly against giving this 76% what they want. He did not invite one advocate of single payer to his advisory panel. The majority of the U.S.’s elected representatives are also staunchly against representing the taxation wishes of the majority of their constituents. When elected representatives refuse to allocate tax dollars based on the wishes of the majority of their constituents, then the elected representatives are practicing a type of taxation without representation. Why are the POTUS, the Democrats, and the Republicans so strongly in favor of taxation without representation on the issue of health care? What would it take to make single payer healthcare a reality in the U.S.?

Rather than repeat or add to the mass of research that suggests U.S. citizens are systematically denied the fruits of their constitution and their nation by the corrupt relationship that exists between the Presidency, the Senate, Congress, and numerous powerful blocks of lobbyists, I will take a different tack. (This is not to say that the corruption is not a significant part of the problem or even the most significant part of the problem, however, it is merely to point towards another piece of the “why not single payer” healthcare puzzle.)

I suggest that one reason the majority of America’s elected representatives refuse to represent the wishes of their constituents on the issue of healthcare is because the U.S. does not have a left wing, it only has a right wing and a center. The Republicans are the right. The Democrats are the center. The left lacks a serious representative party.

Quibblers will rightfully point out that the left end of the center is America’s left, but that misses the point, which is to say that single payer healthcare was a policy of the European and Canadian left. It only became adopted by the center because single payer healthcare was so rational, moral, and desirable to the electorate, that going against the policy, or not going for the policy, caused the center and the right to lose electoral support to the left, and in some cases, so much that the left formed the government. The first province that got single payer healthcare in Canada did so by electing a socialist government.

President Obama did not invite one advocate of single payer healthcare to his advisory group, even though 76% of U.S. citizens want it, because neither he, nor the anti-single payer Democrats, are afraid of citizen backlash. They are not afraid of citizen backlash because, without a perceived viable party on the left, citizens do not have an effective way to punish them at the ballot box. The point to take here is that the only thing that either party respects about the citizens is the ability of the citizens to hurt them at the ballot box.

Given the history of the U.S., it’s unlikely that a viable left will materialize anytime soon, so does this mean getting single payer is dead?

Not necessarily, but it will be difficult and take hard work. Because 76% of Americans favor single payer, its wide base of support, necessarily including Republicans, makes it a potential wedge issue, which means that anti-single payer candidates can be targeted at the ballot box. This seems possible, when one considers it’s high level of support, despite the flood of anti-single payer propaganda and the willful attempts at distortion using  a “public option.” The power of single payer as a wedge issue is further enhanced by President Obama’s confidence-based betrayal of the progressive movement, which should turn them towards the Nader/Green left or independent status and make Democrats more susceptible to the wishes of their constituents.

Nothwithstanding, single payer healthcare can only become a wedge issue, if single payer supporters act as single payer advocates by letting the Republican and Democrat candidates in their area know that being anti-single payer makes them a non-starter. Many people writing two letters or making two phone calls can trump bagfulls of lobbyist donations.  Doing so is a potential good step in the direction of “A Republic, if you can keep it” and The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” After all, and as noted in “The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen“, sometimes the enemy is inside the gates.

There is no shortage of stories about politicians receiving policy revelation when their political futures are in jeopardy. Barack Obama(h/t to John at LR), for example, converted from single payer to anti-single payer when faced with losing access to the funding from the healthcare lobby. If citizens who support single payer can find a meaningful way to punish their elected representatives at the ballot box for not supporting single payer, then it might be possible to create a circumstance where President Obama will roll out the video from 2003 and read from his teleprompter, “I’ve always supported single payer healthcare.”

This is an open thread.  Have a great Friday night!

Digg!! Share!!! Tweet!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

66 Responses

  1. Could this have something to do with it?

  2. myiq,

    TY. I added it to the post.


  3. Oh, darn, I do need preview! If this disrupts follow on comments, hope someone can get in and edit it…..

  4. Hey, Mr. President, it may not be on the table, but Medicare for All is in the House!

    • Yea.

    • Here’s to the House vote!

      • I,

        That’s the spirit. 🙂


        • I’m trying to be positive. 😉

          I never think much about the old orange Satan site, but a good friend who still posts there dropped by my office today and told me about a post he wrote there last night calling for a Million Man March for single payer, or dozens of marches all across the country, or whatever. He got 300 favorable comments, a first for him. There must be a way to get people mobilized–I don’t know why it seems like such an impossible task. I honestly believe that this is an issue that people are ready to take to the streets to fight for. I even know some Republicans that I’m sure I could convince to join in.

  5. Even though Obama made that speech before the AFLCIO in 2003 in which he claimed to favor a Single-Payer system, I don’t think for a minute he ever meant it. One only had to look at his actual record as a state senator to know where he really stood. That same year, he and his fellow state senators started to work on the “Health Care Justice Act.” Obama did play a key role in the bill’s passage, in that he eviscerated it to satisfy insurance lobbyists. Here’s an account by Scott Helman.

    The bill originally called for a “Bipartisan Health Care Reform Commission” to implement a program reaching all 12.4 million Illinois residents. The legislation would have made it official state policy to ensure that all residents could access “quality healthcare at costs that are reasonable.” Insurers feared that language would result in a government takeover of healthcare, even though the bill did not explicitly say that.

    By the time the legislation passed the Senate, in May 2004, Obama had written three successful amendments, at least one of which made key changes favorable to insurers.

    Most significant, universal healthcare became merely a policy goal instead of state policy – the proposed commission, renamed the Adequate Health Care Task Force, was charged only with studying how to expand healthcare access. In the same amendment, Obama also sought to give insurers a voice in how the task force developed its plan.

    Lobbyists praised Obama for taking the insurance industry’s concerns into consideration.

    “Barack is a very reasonable person who clearly recognized the various roles involved in the healthcare system,” said Phil Lackman, a lobbyist for insurance agents and brokers. Obama “understood our concern that we didn’t want a predetermined outcome.”

    In one attempt at a deal, Obama approached the Campaign for Better Health Care with insurers’ concerns, asking if the group would consider a less stringent mandate than requiring the state to come up with a universal healthcare plan. The coalition decided not to bend, said Jim Duffett, the group’s executive director.

    “The concept of the Health Care Justice Act was to bring the sides – the different perspectives and stakeholders – to the table,” Duffett said. “In this situation, Obama was being a conduit from the insurance industry to us.”

    Obama later watered down the bill after hearing from insurers and after a legal precedent surfaced during the debate indicating that it would be unconstitutional for one legislative assembly to pass a law requiring a future legislative assembly to craft a healthcare plan.

    During debate on the bill on May 19, 2004, Obama portrayed himself as a conciliatory figure. He acknowledged that he had “worked diligently with the insurance industry,” as well as Republicans, to limit the legislation’s reach and noted that the bill had undergone a “complete restructuring” after industry representatives “legitimately” raised fears that it would result in a single-payer system.


    And what became of the final bill that passed? A 27-person task force and no action whatsoever.

    As to why anyone actually believed that Obama was a stealth single-payer advocate during the primaries is beyond me. I guess that Hopium springs eternal.

    • Oops–I messed up. Here’s the link.

    • I,

      Yes, he certainly did not advocate for single-payer in his presidential run.

      Should the elected be forced to vote for single-payer by a fear of losing seat (which is their equivalent of losing face), however, do you have any doubt that he’d claim he’d always been for it?


      • Well, yeah, sure–if a bill passed, he’d have to sign it and say he was for it all along. And I totally agree with you that we need a viable party on the left. That’s what made the election of 2000 tragic on so many levels. Not only did we get Bush, but Nader’s perceived role as a “spoiler” gave Democrats a handy cudgel with which to attack at all attempts to move the Overton window to the left through third-party activism.

        But after watching the Democrats in action since 2006, I’m fed up with hearing about the perfect being the enemy of the good and all that other blather. I recently thought about getting a bumper sticker that reads: “Don’t blame me. I voted for Nader.” just to piss people off. I guess it’s probably fortunate that I live in NYC and don’t own a car.

        • I,

          It would work just as well on a button.



        • I call it don’t let the perfect be the enemy of a craptastic health care deform.

          • LOL. I like your version better.

          • I like to think Obama’s voting “present” again.

            But the Open Secrets.org numbers are astounding.

            Speaks volumes about why they supported him and wanted to sideline Hillary.

  6. Here’s my new hero arguing beautifully for Medicare for All:

    He got the floor vote. It’s put up or shut up time.

    What’s so effing pathetic is the hopey changey crowd is hardly noticing this. They are so focused on getting their Obama-Care. Honestly, it’s as though they care more about his short-term political success than their own lives.

  7. I know this is OT, but it made me think of our most recent election. Maria Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco Aquino, past President of the Philippines and a world-renowned advocate of democracy, peace, and women’s empowerment, passed away today. She was the first female president of the Philippines and of an Asian country.

    Someday we may be able to say the similar things about our first Ameican woman president…

  8. OMG, after forty-fricken-years we finally get a floor vote for Medicare for All and Jane Hamsher’s trying to get people in individual states to rally Obama-Care with a robust pub. opt.. What the heck kind of activism is that???

    • Actually, I should clarify that. It’s unclear what she’s pushing for. Just says we’ve passed another hurdle. Now we need you. Blah, blah, blah. No mention of the SP floor vote at all. What’s up?!?

  9. Joe Biden’s song:

    • “Play golf all day with heads of state, if they brought beer wouldn’t that be great?”

    • America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.
      The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children

      that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick

      and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment—this was the time—when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

  10. Excellent post. We don’t have a left based political party and that’s really at the root of many of these problems. Some years ago Nader was asked since he’s liberal why isn’t he in the Democratic party. He just started laughing. And on top of the Dem party noting being liberal, the 2008 primary showed us now low life and corrupt they are on top if that.

    I’m also glad to hear there will be a floor vote on single-payer. Now we’ll have a nice list of which members are human beings and which ones are empty, soulless, husks of corrupt, feted fecal matter. Did I go over the top with that last bit, I can never tell.

  11. Leonard Cohen First We Take Manhattan:

    (embedded is turned off on this one)

    • And for anyone else up, one of Leonard’s best: Hallelujah

      (also not embeddable)

      • I love that song! And of course, the master’s version is masterful. But I also had the good fortune to see John Cale several years ago performing the song. His version is also well worth a listen.

        • DT & I,

          Thank you so much for this song. For ten years I thought my middle brother wrote this song, he covered it so magnificently. It brings tears of bitter and sweet.


  12. OT
    I just got home from work. For all the young people who think they do not need medical coverage.
    Two teenagers went thru a guard rail down 40 feet on to the bus lane of the 10 freeway, got hit by a bus, pushed on to the tracks and got hit by a train. They were lucky enough to live. Boy with broken leg and girl with minor injuries. Thank God they will be ok. You never think things can happen in life but they do.



  13. When will Weyner’s amendment be voted on? What exactly is the amendment? It was not clear—is it just a vote to end medicare or is it a vote to either amend medicare or extend it to all Americans?

  14. Why are the POTUS, the Democrats, and the Republicans so strongly in favor of taxation without representation on the issue of health care? What would it take to make single payer healthcare a reality in the U.S.?

    AMEN! This video explains why 76% of Americans want a Public Option, HR 676 Single Payer would cover everyone.

    • Healthcare Strike ’09
      No Leaders, No Organizers, No Hidden Agendas, Nothing to Sign… Just Refuse to Work.

      That is why we must do it again today for national, universal health care.

      Congress is not with us on this. They think it’s ok to go on vacation with this issue pending. Our advocate in the White House is not taking the firm stand that we need.

      The overwhelming majority of Americans voted for this when they voted for Obama. To not do this would be tantamount to overturning what we voted for.

      If the people in Iran are willing to defy their government over what they believe to be a fraudulent election, then we too should be willing to challenge our government – the intransigent Senate and Blue Dog Democrats.

      If the Senators are unwilling to forego their vacation, and the Blue Dogs unwilling to give up their bone, then we should once again be unwilling to work until we have a health care bill that establishes our right to health care.

      On September 3rd and 4th, two days before our Labor Day Weekend, Americans across this country should refuse to work, unless a universal health care bill is in place.

      Twitter hashtag: #USstrike

      Hemmm…US Strike…hemmm…

  15. Where Is My National Health Insurance Card? http://www.whereismyhealthcard.com/ campaign for national health insurance, initiated by Physicians for a National Health Program. Support HR 676 Single Payer!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: