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SPDS (Single-Payer Denial Syndrome) EXPOSED!

September 9, 2009

The steady stream of mendacity, ad hominem attacks and Obamafuscation continues (shocker) in the comments. It’s sad to say but I never thought it would come to this level of desperagement and disrespect -from both sides frankly. I’m appalled at what I read, and in a way appalled at what comes out of this keyboard. But we all have to call it like we see it.

Timmy C. in particular makes a bunch of truth-claims and counter-accusations to my previous post that are so poorly reasoned and/or misleading I truly despair of ever finding any sort of common ground about the most basic things. I mean, why waste time arguing about bullshit? Single-payer is a perfectly reasonable, coherent choice in the healthcare debate. Let’s talk about that. Let’s skip the part about how Obama has nothing to do with wanting single-payer. I understand that’s not literally in any bill under consideration. Just try to look a few moves into the game and see where that leads. Look at the motivations. That’s what alarms me most.

I know that the public option surruptitiously leading to single-payer sounds like a corny movie plot. But that is what is being attempted, and I would expect those committed to the truth would at least want an open debate about what’s really going on, not some bullshit debate.

The truth is this: Prof. Hacker has very much influenced the thinking of our President on healthcare, and a fundamentally dishonest attempt to foist single-payer on the American people is underway. Don’t believe me or a hacked up video? I can’t say I don’t blame you. But conservatives are not the only people discussing this: in certain progressive circles this is being discussed quite openly, as in this August 18th post at Tapped, the blog for The American Prospect “The History of the Public Option”:

The public option was part of a carefully thought out and deliberately funded effort to put all the pieces in place for health reform before the 2008 election — a brilliant experiment, but one that at this particular moment, looks like it might turn out badly. (Which is not the same as saying it was a mistake.)

One key player was Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America’s Future. Hickey took UC Berkley health care expert Jacob Hacker’s idea for “a new public insurance pool modeled after Medicare” and went around to the community of single-payer advocates, making the case that this limited “public option” was the best they could hope for. Ideally, it would someday magically turn into single-payer. And then Hickey went to all the presidential candidates, acknowledging that politically, they couldn’t support single-payer, but that the “public option” would attract a real progressive constituency.

It’s obvious as the day is long that Barack Obama has distanced himself form single-payer for one reason, and one reason only: it’s not politically viable in this country.

TAPPED continues:

Following Edwards’ lead, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton picked up on the public option compromise. So what we have is Jacob Hacker’s policy idea, but largely Hickey and Health Care for America Now’s political strategy. It was a real high-wire act — to convince the single-payer advocates, who were the only engaged health care constituency on the left, that they could live with the public option as a kind of stealth single-payer, thus transferring their energy and enthusiasm to this alternative. It had a very positive political effect: It got all the candidates except Kucinich onto basically the same health reform structure, unlike in 1992, when every Democrat had his or her own gimmick. And the public option/insurance exchange structure was ambitious.

But the downside is that the political process turns out to be as resistant to stealth single-payer as it is to plain-old single-payer.

I guess the American people aren’t as easily fooled as they thought. But I know at least one who’s been fooled!

The November 2007 speech by the above mentioned Roger Hickey is even more revealing, and I think astounding in it’s frankness:

The good news is that people are ready for big change. But the hard reality, from the point of view of all of us who understand the efficiency and simplicity of a single-payer system, is that our pollsters unanimously tell us that large numbers of Americans are not willing to give up the good private insurance they now have in order to be put into one big health plan run by the government.

Pollster Celinda Lake looked at public backing for a single-payer plan – and then compared it with an approach that offers a choice between highly regulated private insurance and a public plan like Medicare. This alternative, called “guaranteed choice” wins 64 percent support to 22 percent for single-payer. And even the hard core progressive part of the population, which Celinda calls the “health justice” constituency, favors “guaranteed choice” over single-payer.

The idea is to call it something more palatable, while retaining the same goals: destroying private insurance over time and creating a single-payer system. How post-modern! Hickey continues:

“I know that if we let private insurance companies offer policies as part of an expanded system of health care for all, we are going to have to regulate them so much that we force them to change their business model – insuring everyone who applies for coverage and not cherry-picking to insure just the young and the healthy – and preventing them from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. And I know full-well that even in the best of circumstances these companies will never be able to match the low overhead and cost controls that a public system like Medicare has historically achieved.”

Eventually, the private companies won’t be able to compete and will be forced out of business.

As for the claim that Hacker has basically nothing to do with Obama, that’s pretty much devastated by this portion of the speech:

The model for the simple “guaranteed choice” plan that we’ve been testing with the pollsters is the “Health Care for America” plan written by political scientist Jacob Hacker at Yale. For more than a year, Richard and Diane and I have been working with Hacker to refine his ideas – and to use them to engage the Presidential candidates.

Hacker’s “Health Care for America” would guarantee health care for everyone. He would require employers to provide health insurance for their workers (with a good benefit package) or pay into a public fund to cover their employees. Individuals and families would be able to choose between several private insurance plans – all with a regulated set of benefits and costs — or a public plan, similar to Medicare, that would compete with the private insurance companies. An analysis of the Hacker plan by the Lewin Group found that at least half the population would eventually choose the public plan, due to its better efficiency and better benefits.

Starting in January, we began to take Jacob Hacker to see the presidential candidates. We started with John Edwards and his advisers — who quickly understood the value of Hacker’s public plan, and when he announced his health proposal on Meet The Press, he was very clear that his public plan could become the dominant part of his new health care program, if enough people choose it.

Edwards got a lot of credit for being the first top-tier candidate with a comprehensive proposal. But, in a virtuous competition, Barak Obama soon matched him with a remarkably similar plan, developed (with our advice) in a process guided by Mark Alexander, who will speak on the next panel. Obama was even more explicit that, while his plan is also full of choice, people would be automatically signed up with his public plan, unless they specified one of his private insurance options. And then on September 17, we sighed a sigh of relief when we heard Hillary Clinton roll out her health care package.

Perhaps still cautious from her experience in the early 1990s, Hillary had started this campaign for the White House talking vaguely about insuring all kids in her first term and trying for universal health care only in her second term. Thanks to our prodding, and the competition of her democratic opponents, she is now talking about a major push for health care for all in her first term, with a plan with all the key elements outlined by Edwards and Obama – and Jacob Hacker.

Hacker was clearly involved with Obama in his campaign, both in terms of policy and political strategy: a political strategy that at it’s heart is fundamentally dishonest. To say “he’s not a current advisor” is just weasel words. Of course he has influenced Obama. Or is Hickey lying?

Do proposals on the table now conform exactly with Hacker’s policies as advised by Campaign for America’s Future? I’m sure there’s going to be some discrepancies, but that doesn’t particularly help me to trust the President’s intentions. Based on the evidince above, any reasonable person has cause to believe that  the motive to introduce the public option is as a way to single payer. I don’t know why that’s so contentious except as a matter of politics.

We already had a post showing how Barney Frank – no small player – believes the public option is the way to single-payer. Here’s another one from Hot Air showing how Rep. Keith Ellison believes the exact same thing. (I love how Ed points out how Ellison says, “This is competition,”  and in the very next breath that it will lead to a single-payer system.) Here’s a video of a Health Care for America organizer, uh, instructing folks how to shout down people like me with real questions.

The point is not wether these people want single-payer to come into being. The point is that this is what they will believe will eventually happen if these reforms take place. If I am mistaken, these people are mistaken too. That’s a logical, reasonable position that does not stretch anyone’s words or intentions, and I am tired of Timmy trying to cover up for that fact. It’s a waste of time, when there’s real stuff to talk about.

We’ll see what actually comes to pass, but it’s being reported that the President will double-down on the public option in his speech tomorrow. I have no qualms about asserting that he views the public option as a way to a single-payer health care system. None at all. Or, for that matter, that the President’s plan will lead to massive public funding for abortions on a scale never seen in this country, as Factcheck.org confirms. What I do have a problem with is the sputtering ad-hominem attacks (thankfully, not Timmy’s specialty)  and the half-truths and mendacious reasoning required to turn this radical restructuring into a moderate proposal.

Oh yeah, and no changing the definition of words so you can win the argument. The  dictionary is the authority on that one.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 17, 2009 2:44 am

    Still no rebuttals on this one. Interesting.

  2. September 17, 2009 3:17 am

    It seems to me that the proof is further that the mainline Dems in congress are refusing to even look at a health care bill that doesn’t include the public option. Why their obsession with this one component?

    And why not simply write individual, simple, short, coherent bills on the issues that everybody agrees need improvement– like portability and pre-existing conditions — instead of these massive, unwieldy omnibus bills that is sure to be filled with unforseeable consequences? The overreach in D.C. is one of the most troubling aspects of this whole debate, and the Administration seems to be a driving force in that overreach.

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