You are herecontent / Single Payer Summer: We Demand National Single-Payer Or At Least the Right for States to Do It

Single Payer Summer: We Demand National Single-Payer Or At Least the Right for States to Do It

By David Swanson

The U.S. House of Representatives has committed to bringing single-payer healthcare to a vote following summer recess. Stranger things have happened, greater obstacles have been overcome, than what would be involved in winning that vote, winning in the Senate, and compelling the president to sign the bill. We have a moral responsibility to put everything we have into trying; and even a near-victory will advance the cause.

But it is important to recognize exactly how that promise of a floor vote on single-payer came to be, what else is at stake, and what we are up against. Being properly informed, I think, will not diminish by one iota the ferocity of our campaign for justice, but it will alter our strategy by adding a secondary demand to it. For those either too mentally feeble, or -- much more commonly -- who imagine their fellow citizens to be too mentally feeble, to keep two tiny things in their heads at once, I don't know what to say other than: please throw away your television.

When Antonio Gramsci referred to the pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will, I think he meant to renounce the idea that one can best campaign for justice if filled up with false beliefs that victory will be easy. I think one can best campaign for justice if one knows exactly what one is up against but doesn't give a damn how grim that picture appears.

So, here's the truth. Congress is not voting on single-payer healthcare purely because we forced it to, or because the bill is (prior to our shaking the country up this summer) even remotely likely to pass. Our advocacy for single-payer has had an impact. We're a big reason why some congress members are fighting for a public option. Whether or not you consider any of the current versions of public option worth the paper they're written on, the fact is they'd be weaker without the public demand for single-payer, and were that demand stronger so would the public option be. Our work has also led to passage in the House Education and Labor Committee of an amendment that would make it easier for states to create single-payer systems. And our advocacy led to the promise of a floor vote on single payer in the fall.

But the floor vote was negotiated as an alternative to a vote in the Energy and Commerce Committee. We lost the opportunity to have a vote there. And the Democratic Party leadership, which largely takes its orders from the White House on this, was not so much afraid that single-payer would win on the merits, as that it would pass because Republicans voted for it purely out of spite. The Democratic "leaders" badly wanted to get a bill out of that committee before August, a bill that would at least vaguely resemble the bills passed by two other House committees. Rather than risk failing in that goal, they preferred to allow a floor vote later that would not interfere with the bill they want to pass, and which itself -- at least in their minds -- would be extremely unlikely to succeed.

Allowing such a vote would have another positive side-effect from the point of view of those in charge: it would overwhelmingly distract attention from the state single-payer language passed by the Education and Labor Committee. From their point of view, national single-payer will not pass on the floor this year, not with them whipping hard against it and the Republicans opposing it. But if the language on allowing states to do state-level single-payer is left in the bill that they whip for and pass, it's unlikely to cost them any Blue Dog votes, and it's likely to result in a number of states fairly quickly taking actions that accelerate public awareness of the shortcomings of the federal reforms.

From the point of view of people who really want to get our population better healthcare and who have not been purchased by insurance, drug, and hospital companies, lobbying for Yes votes on single-payer AND lobbying to leave the states language in the non-single-payer bill (or at least allow a vote on it) seems to make a lot of sense. We're saying that we want single-payer nationally, but that if they won't give it to us right away, we at least want states to be left free to lead the way. Canada arrived at its system after a province led the way, and the first state likely to create single-payer, California, is about the same size as Canada. If Canada's system does so much good, why would we deny the same to California?

For those lobbying directly for a public option, it also makes perfect sense to demand freedom for states to do better faster. If the goal is providing more people with better healthcare, if the goal is not to avoid making the federal government look second best, if the goal is not to achieve a perverse hyper-simplicity of "messaging," then including the state single-payer language in August demands is the way to go.

Does mentioning allowing states to do single-payer subtract from demanding that the nation do it? I can't see how.

Does avoiding the topic risk tossing aside our best chance at advancing the cause? Absolutely.

Here's the message we should have: We demand national single-payer or at least the right for states to do it.



Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

I think we really need to go after the big organizations such as MoveOn, and websites such as Huffington Post and Daily Kos, to persuade them that Single-Payer is worth fighting for. We've got to get the Public-Option advocates on our side somehow. This could be a one-time opportunity.

~ nader paul kucinich gravel ~

Future of a Nation that can not trust the Government & Propaganda Media?

How many times has the Government & Propaganda Media lied to you?
Chronic lying as career path or intellectual prostitution for paycheck?
Gravel Kucinich Paul Nader McKinney Ventura Sheehan Kaptur.
Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.
Poodles, Puppets, Sham debates, Scam elections.
9/11 liars, AIPAC liars, Federal Reserve liars.
Speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil?
Greed & corruption or conscience?
Leaks from Whistleblowers.

"Single Payer Gets A Vote (Updated)
July 31, 2009
Anthony Weiner is about to be the new hero of the progressive crowd after getting a promise from Nancy Pelosi to debate — and vote — on a single-payer plan to solve health care reform.

Weiner got that promise after he agreed to withdraw an amendment to essentially create Medicare for the whole nation in the Energy and Commerce Committee health care markup session this evening.

The Brooklyn-Queens Rep. looked a little surprised when Chairman Henry Waxman said Pelosi would allow that vote, and made Waxman repeat the deal to be sure it was clear and on the record.

It’s an especially big deal for advocates of a single health care system — who see it as cheaper and simpler than the complicated measure being drawn up — because they have been complaining that they have not even been able to get an airing of their position.

And having the vote of the floor of the House will force members to declare a position, and bring much more attention to the idea.

Update: Weiner, who high-fived Tammy Baldwin after getting the deal, crows in a quick press release:

“It’s a Better Plan and now it’s on Center Stage,” says Weiner

Washington, DC - Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chairman of the Energy & Commerce Committee announced today that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pledged to give Single-Payer an up or down vote when healthcare reform is considered before year’s end.

Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Co-Chair of the Middle Class Caucus and member of the Energy & Commerce Committee who led the effort with Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA); Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY); Rep. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL); Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL); and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), released the following statement:

“Single-payer is a better plan and now it is on center stage. Americans have a clear choice. Their Member of Congress will have a simpler, less expensive and smarter bill to choose. I am thrilled that the Speaker is giving us that choice.”

- Michael McAuliff "

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.


Support This Site


Get free books and gear when you become a supporter.



Speaking Truth to Empire


Families United


Ray McGovern


Julie Varughese


Financial supporters of this site can choose to be listed here.



Ca-Dress Long Prom Dresses Canada
Ca Dress Long Prom Dresses on

Buy Books

Get Gear

The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.