1. I am not a supporter of Medicare-for-all, or Canadian style, single-payer (or anything primarily based on fee-for-service payment) although they are both clearly superior to the American status quo. (I am in favor of real universal insurance, but that’s different and less limited than just single payer).
2. It’s still only 50–50 that we’ll get any reform this year, and what we will get will basically be an expansion of one of the worst-designed government programs—Medicaid—mixed with some very modest regulation of the worst behavior of the private insurance companies. And with the exemptions to the individual mandate and for small business at best we’ll get to around 95% coverage—and that’s not counting the undocumented immigrants, who are about another 3–5% of the population and who will still get care and thus still have to be paid for somehow. And the likely Kennedy/Baucus compromise plan has no sustainable insurance payment structure that I can see.
3. The data is a little murky and all sides kinda cheat with polling data (and bankruptcy data too).
But imagine for a moment that Dick Cheney & George W. Bush had 60 votes in the Senate, a disgraced opposition, and carte blanche to do what they liked because of a real national crisis (In other words a much better political situation than they faced in 2001 & 2003).
And imagine that there was a policy that their party’s supporters overwhelmingly favored. Do you think for a moment that they’d be looking for compromise even if what they were doing was egregiously and clearly wrong in both terms of public policy and fairness? For instance, cutting tax rates on dividends to less than half what poor suckers who work for a living have to pay, even though the benefits went largely to millionaires and billionaires. Or even worse eliminating estate taxes, when the benefits went only to millionaires and billionaires.
Actually we don’t have to imagine. We know what Cheney/Bush did. They passed the legislation they wanted, and damn the rest of us. And then did it with way less political clout than Obama has—Bush didn’t even win the election after all in the way most of us understand (err…by getting more votes than the other guy).
Now imagine that there’s a policy that polls show at least 35% and (depending who you believe) perhaps up to 60% of all Americans want, and that the same polls show that a vast majority of Democrats want it. And of course Obama’s political situation is way stronger than the Cheney Administration’s was.
In that situation and if they had a different political philosophy, wouldn’t the Cheney Administration just ram through single payer?
So by the numbers, in not even considering the single payer option (not even Kennedy’s plan comes close), the Democrats are proving themselves to be wussies.
CODA: I changed one letter in one word of this piece so that the humorless crowd in the comments didn’t detract from the real offensive stuff going on here–50 million un and under-insured with no political will to do anything serious about it. But if the comments don’t make sense, my original defense is in there too.
Categories: Matthew Holt