If you have "no place to go," come here!

You're welcome, Jane!

["First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you ...." --lambert]


[HAMSHER:] Advancing single payer was one of the most important issues to our members in our recent survey [why, I wonder?*]. We’re really excited to be working with PNHP to help make that happen.

Better late than never. And PNHP is a superb organization**.

Like I said, Jane -- if I may call you Jane -- "I am their leader; I must follow them." Haw.

So, now that single payer is on the way to being the safe bet for playas, it's on to the next issue for the blog that everybody hates and nobody reads, whatever that might be...

NOTE * Could it be that dedicated, persistent, and knowledgeable single payer advocates won the threads, despite censorship and suppression from the top? Nah. Hippies suck.

NOTE ** So I'm sure they'll be able to straighten out any analytical issues that Hamsher et al. might have.

NOTE For anybody who came in late, Corrente -- thanks especially to DCBlogger -- posted on single payer at least once a day from mid-2008 until HCR was passed in what, early 2010? We did live blogs with many single payer advocates, and Correntians fanned out to comment threads all across the blogosphere. Of course, our role was small by comparison to PNHP's -- and small in comparison to Hamsher and the rest of access bloggers, who consistently marginalized single payer stories and advocates in favor of the public option Magic Sparkle Zombie Pony, which still pollutes the discourse -- but it was real, and it did affect the discourse. That's what blogging is supposed to do.

UPDATE Oh, and for the irony-challenged, yes, the headline is ironic. The right empowers and enables the marginal players, and so they drag the Overton Window constantly right. The non-right doesn't. No thanks are expected. C'est la vie!

No votes yet


cwaltz's picture
Submitted by cwaltz on

Now there needs to be some number crunchers out there pushing the fact that Medicare would be sustainable if X amount of funds from private sector were placed into the system. What kind of buy in/ transition would/should be made to make this work?

Your biggest problems are that the current Medicare system would be adding to the all important "deficit" as it stands right now and that any changes to our convoluted health care system would affect an already wobbly GDP. It's projected to be about 17% by next year.

Jeff W's picture
Submitted by Jeff W on

Well, first off, there's the headline: "Vermont's Road to Single Payer."

Then Jane chimes in with "Advancing single payer was one of the most important issues…We’re really excited to be working with PNHP to help make that happen."

Meanwhile, PNHP says the Vermont bill is mislabeled "single payer:"

…it is important to note that the bill passed by the Vermont House falls well short of the single-payer reform needed to resolve the health care crisis in that state and the nation. Indeed, as the bill moved through the House the term “single payer” was entirely removed, and restrictions on the role of private insurers were loosened.

Private insurance companies, for-profit hospitals, and co-payments are still in the mix. So what does that mean?

We can talk about Vermont being the "Saskatchewan" of the US but if the Vermont plan is not, to use PNHP's phrase, "a true single payer" and, as PNHP says, it "negate[s] many of the administrative savings that could be attained by a true single-payer program"—but is called "single payer," at least popularly—it seems like the whole thing could tend to discredit true single payer systems in the US.

I guess I'm trying to figure out, in part, how this [not true] | "single payer" system fits in the discourse.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

don't they? That's the general idea: the practicing side of medicine remains private. It's the payment end that's government-run.

As for the other things, it's because Vermont has expressed no interest in challenging the law of the land, which is Obamacare and ERISA. They can't do pure single-payer in that framework because they're forced to set up the health insurance exchange, for example.

As I've said before: if it were up to me, I would force a confrontation with the federal government over pure single-payer. Actually, I would force a confrontation over socialized medicine, which I prefer. I would put the system in place and dare the federal government to shut it down. I would make them send federal marshals to bar the doors of my state's hospitals if they're so intent on denying people health care.

Because of course if they did that- and I think Obama would be perfectly happy to do that- it wrecks the Democratic Party beyond fixing. No one would vote for a Democrat for dog catcher in the wake of such a fiasco. So either the Democratic Party is completely destroyed, or we get real universal health care. Either outcome is favorable. Heads I win, tails you lose.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

Yes, it's to pressure for the waiver at the federal level, but for a state initiative. State and local issues offer the best chances to affect policy right now. Also the best avenues for building on-the-ground coalitions.

cwaltz's picture
Submitted by cwaltz on

The red states will never have or get the resolve to pass a single payer system, not when it means increasing taxes.

Kathryn's picture
Submitted by Kathryn on

Red states largely adhere to the Christianist/Protestant-Work-Ethic that says I have mine because I worked for it, and you are too lazy to do the same, so screw you. Behind the "no new taxes" slogan is the "don't give away MY money to someone who won't work for it" thought pattern. Which goes along with, well, yer basic rapture scenario.

Right up to the day the federal govt "imposes" it; then it becomes just another thing they've earned, so keep yer hands off that too.

And what kills me is the poverty in these states and the most desperate need for this exact thing.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

If single payer bankrupts VT we'll see. If it provides high quality care and controls costs we'll see that too. I know reality always has to struggle against conservative talking points, but I think VT will give a lot of folks in red states a reason to say, "why not us too?"

And not to get all savvy & stuff, but D's in those states could use it to relentlessly hammer R's there. It could be a very similar dynamic to NY26, which is a tremendously red-leaning district.

Submitted by lambert on

.... that will most probably be because it's such a small state (hence market). It would be interesting if somebody could dig up a study comparing Saskatchewan to VT.

As far as the national Ds taking credit for single payer in VT, I would regard them seeking to take credit for legislation they in fact did everything they could to oppose as a sign of a successful policy. Hilariously corrupt, of course, in every way including morally and in terms of the historical record, but then that's only what we would expect from them. Now call me a purist!

And since the savvy shat the bed so badly both on public option and Obama, it's really not clear to me what the savvy are held up as exemplary. In fact, I think it's completely bass-ackwards. My sig says it all....

Submitted by jawbone on

remain Serious People. As long as they don't make waves and accept and promulgate the MOTU's chosen messages.

All those follks who warned against the invasion of Iraq? Who said there was little likelihood there were WMDs in Iraq? Not considere Serious People then or when their analyses proved correct.

Those who trumpeted the Great War for Democracy in Iraq? Still, for the most part Serious People. It' hard to think of BushBoy as being a Serious Person, but as long as he doesn't say much his image is gettin rehabiitated. Cheney? A dangerous Serious Person. Obama? A cool Serious Person. Still. Despite his many actions to cement Bush/Cheney policies in place, to distort and ignore the Constitution, to mess over so many of his voters.

The MCM tells us so. Sometimes by just not mentioned the uncool, unserious aspects of the Serious Persons' resumes.

Submitted by gob on

Most of the active, effective advocates for left-wing policies I know are Christians, they are just not loud about it. Most of the useful, energetic people doing volunteer work in my community are Christians, who happen not to be loud about it. The one person I know who at significant personal cost in time and money helps people who are considered beyond help is a hard-core fundamentalist Christian, not the theocratic type, however. I'm not suggesting Christianity makes these people better than others, but it certainly doesn't make them worse.

Why alienate them?

I am not a Christian.

cwaltz's picture
Submitted by cwaltz on

the loud mouth authoritarian Christians is Dobsonian Christians. Feel free to adopt it if you like. I don't think anyone could confuse James Dobson or his followers as being the tolerant, compassionate and forgiving souls that many of the Christians on the left are.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

Give yourself a pat on the back for continuing to beat the single payer drum even when it was very much out of favor. (A small pat on the back. And don't let it go to your head.) But I think between VT and NY26 single payer has suddenly become all the rage.

Submitted by lambert on

See the NOTE all the way at the end, where I hope the pat was indeed appropriately sized.

* * *

As I said, if the wind is blowing such that playas like Hamsher are in favor of single payer when they were once deeply opposed, our work at the bleeding edge is done, so the interesting question then becomes.... What next? Unfortunately, the savvy have nothing useful to say about that, since what really needs to be done is almost by definition outside their frame of reference.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Some of my blogs of appeal with our compatriots including you, lambert, during my FDL/seminal career exploring the unwillingness of the talk to the hand Hamsher army of public optioners to work with us single payers within the site community. As you can see by the last title I had gotten pretty pissed off before leaving in frustration and exasperation. Appreciated having correntewire and sacramento for democracy as welcoming sites.

Sept. 4, 2009
Can Public Option Progressives Reunite Behind Single Payer Liberals?

Sept. 8, 2009
Why Won’t FDL Officially Use Its Activism to Help Single Payers, Now, and Support HR Bill 676?

Nov. 22, 2009
Public Option Progressives Made the Momentous Assumption that Universal Health Care as a Civil Right Could Not Happen in this Generation. Is There Now Ego Investment in Its Not?

Submitted by lambert on

Hat tip, Hipparchia, for the post. Some of the problem might have been sheer ignorance of the technical issues on Hamsher's part; I mean, read the post: "... months and months...." PNHP will take care of that, however. Dr. Margaret Flowers is a lot smarter and more committed and more moral than an academic entrepreneur like Jacob Hacker.

Now, we can have the pleasure of waiting for the Digby post.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

building the bridge for the enemy camp and so caught up in her perfectionism of it she lost the big picture -- she had allied with the enemy, except Guinness had the reality epiphany in time, not so Jane.

And then there was all that seductive media courting ... as she allowed the single payer disenfranchisement to happen to make room for her own public optioning ego. (Good thing I am not bitter. But really, talk about being on the wrong side of history ... and now presuming to assume a leadership role for single payer and revise her own history and what the hey, it seems to be working. but, ick.)

Submitted by lambert on

... that dynamic is encouraging. Rather like rats jumping onto a sailing ship, you see? And it's the ship that matters, not the rats.

beowulf's picture
Submitted by beowulf on

The one flaw in the single payer plans is they usually pay for it with a payroll tax on top of current 15.3% FICA-- Bill Hsiao's plan for Vermont called for an 11% payroll tax (I think VT legislator tweaked that to use other funding sources). For a federal plan, Uncle Sam can bring that number down to roughly 8% because Congress can eliminate employer deduction for private insurance premiums-- but it'd still mean a $600 billion hike in payroll taxes.

The way to reforming healthcare runs through the Federal Reserve. CBO projects $5 trillion in net interest paid on public debt this decade (average interest rate at 5.0%). If Congress capped interest rate at 0.375% (to use World War II short term interest cap, no need to issue long term debt, but even that was capped at 2.5%), it'd save more than $4.5 trillion dollars-- call it $450 billion a year-- without raising taxes. If those savings are allocated to Medicare for All trust fund, then its a just a $150 billion hole-- could be filled by uncapping Social Security FICA ($200 billion) or by a financial transaction tax ($150 billion) or by expanding new unearned income Medicare tax from 3.8% to 15.3% ($100 billion) while adding a $70 billion carbon tax. Congress could do all of the above and use the surplus revenue to cut Social Security tax rate. :o)

ralphbon's picture
Submitted by ralphbon on

I'm not seeing a reciprocal link to the petition on the PNHP web site. Just curious about the actual degree to which FDL is working with PNHP. IIRC, JH made reference to such connections, without being specific, around the time of the Tasini Fiasco.

Submitted by lambert on

If FDL continues to flog the public option too, then it's all kabuki, and for all I know, PNHP paid for the button or is paying a percentage on click-throughs, OL's business model (No reason for PNHP not to do so, perfectly valid).

My guess is that Hamsher really is a weathervane, and that Hochul (see Klein quote here) really was a game-changer.

The next thing to watch will be for "progressives" to stop talking about defending Medicare, and start talking about expanding it.

lizpolaris's picture
Submitted by lizpolaris on

I'm very suspicious of this miraculous change in policy position. It seems disingenuous to assert that JH didn't know the difference between the details of single-payer vs. public option. It's correct to say that she helped kill single-payer when there was an opportunity to advocate for it.

To me, this switch seems like promoting whatever seems popular at the moment in an effort to appeal to liberals who have deserted her. Sorry, I have no confidence in Jane's advocacy anymore. She's spouting our talking points for a while? Yah, a lot of Democrats do that sometimes to get votes. In this case, she's getting memberships. Call me a cynic.

Submitted by lambert on

... while putting who says it in context. If perceived self-interest motivates the position change, then well and good. What was needed, of course, was initial advocacy not driven by that...

cwaltz's picture
Submitted by cwaltz on

I heard problems with censorship on health care and recently someone said they censored them due to their position on the boycott of HuffPost. I find censorship distasteful and prefer if the arguement made is a rational one that it be allowed to remain and be disputed. I'm taking a sit back approach with FDL for that reason.