Nader: Obama’s Flip-Flop on Single Payer

In 2003, Barack Obama said he was for single payer.

What would it take to get single payer enacted?

“First, we have to take back the White House, the Senate and the House,” Obama said at the time.

Fast forward six years.

The Democrats have taken the White House.

The Senate and the House.

And now what’s Obama’s position?

In a speech this week in Chicago before the American Medical Association, Obama made clear he was now opposed to single payer.

And his lieutenants suggested that Obama would support legislation to make sure that single payer does not become a reality in America.

There’s only one explanation for Obama’s flip-flop on single payer.

The health insurance and drug corporations have a hammerlock on Washington.

And Obama is going along to get along.

What’s the net result?

Sixty Americans are dying every day due to lack of health insurance. (Institute of Medicine report.)

Instead of getting behind single payer, Obama and the Democrats are engaged in the what Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief at the highly regarded New England Journal of Medicine calls “the futility of piecemeal tinkering.”

Earlier this week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the most liberal of the Democrats’ tinkering plans would cost $1 trillion over ten years and still leave 37 million Americans uninsured.

Single payer on the other hand would cost less than we are overpaying now — and cover everyone.

Zero uninsured.

As Dr. Angell puts it — single payer is not only the best option.

It’s the only option that will both control costs and cover everyone.

Replace 1,300 insurance industry payers with one payer.

Save $400 billion a year in bloated corporate administrative and executive compensation costs.

Free choice of doctor and hospital.

Use that money to insure everyone.

No bills, no co-pays, no deductibles.

No exclusions for pre-existing conditions — because under single payer, you are insured from the day you are born.

No bankruptcies due to medical bills.

No deaths due to lack of health insurance.

Cheaper. Simpler. More affordable.

Everybody in. Nobody out.

According to recent polls, the majority of Americans, the majority of doctors, the majority of nurses, even the majority of health economists want single payer.

That’s why almost every health care town hall event I hear about is dominated by citizens speaking out for single payer.

Last month, we asked that you help fund a new non-profit organization – Single Payer Action – to focus this citizen energy, break through the corporate logjam in Washington and make single payer a reality.

You came through with flying colors — and blew past our initial fundraising goal.

The foundation was set for action.

Out of the blocks, Single Payer Action led a stand up protest before Senator Max Baucus’ Senate Finance Committee.

Thirteen doctors, nurses, lawyers and other single payer advocates were summarily arrested and charged with “disruption of Congress.”

(Baucus later told single payer advocates that he regretted not inviting them to testify before his committee.)

The arrests of the Baucus 13, their upcoming trial, and other similar single payer actions around the country have galvanized a nationwide movement.

Single Payer Action now wants to supercharge the grassroots movement for single payer.

Confront members of Congress back home all around the country.

And lay the groundwork for a national citizen’s organization that will refuse to compromise with corporate power — inside the beltway and out.

Many progressives are now confused.

They took Obama at his word.

They thought once Obama was elected President, he would do the right thing.

My colleague, Theresa Amato, is not confused.

She saw clearly through the Democratic Party’s duplicity and shenanigans — and has written a new book, titled Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two Party Tyranny (New Press, June 2009)

The book documents how the corporate two-party system thwarts citizen activism and blocks challenging candidates in the electoral system and beyond.

Phil Donahue said this about Grand Illusion: “Theresa Amato takes the biggest swing — not a jab, but a roundhouse punch — at America’s corrupt electoral system.”

Single Payer Action needs to raise $50,000 over the next month to fund its actions around the country this summer.

So, please donate now — $10, $25, $50, $100, $500 — or whatever you can afford.

If you donate $100 or more now, Single Payer Action will send you a copy, hot off the press, of Amato’s hard cover, 379-page masterpiece — Grand Illusion.

(Okay, since it also includes chapters about my campaign against the corporate Republicans and Democrats — and since I wrote the foreword — I’ll autograph it.)

So, don’t delay.

Donate now.

Let’s break through the corporate barriers and make single payer a reality.

Together, we can make the difference.

Onward to a life-saving, cost-saving single payer.

Ralph Nader

PS – Remember, if you donate $100 or more to Single Payer Action now, I’ll autograph and have sent to you a copy of Grand Illusion by Theresa Amato. Please don’t delay. Donate now. This offer ends July 17, 2009.

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