On Single Payer, Democrats Can’t be Trusted

Here’s a simple rule for single payer advocates – don’t trust the Democrats.

Even those that say they support single payer, when push comes to shove, they won’t.

They’ll put the needs of the Democratic Party ahead of the needs of the American people.

Take the case of Robert Kuttner.

Kuttner is a Democratic Party liberal.

He says he supports single payer.

He agrees that the Obama health care bill was a bad bill.

Written by the health and pharmaceutical industries.

To protect their profits.

And yet, when push came to shove, Kuttner folded.

And stood with Obama.

It happened on the Bill Moyers Show in December 2009 with Matt Taibbi.

When pressed by Moyers whether progressives should support or oppose Obama’s bill, Taibbi said he would oppose it because it doesn’t control costs or address the bloated bureaucracy and because “it’s a big giveaway” to the insurance industry.

Kuttner on the other hand said he would hold his nose and vote for it because if the bill went down, it would make it easier for the Republicans to take control of the Congress in 2010.

Kuttner appeared at Public Citizen last week to promote his new book A Presidency in Peril: The Inside Story of Obama’s Promise, Wall Street’s Power, and the Struggle to Control our Economic Future.

We asked him about his decision to abandon the single payer movement – which stood strongly against the health insurance industry and Obama’s bill.

“Moyers asked – if you were in the Congress, would you vote for it or against it,” Kuttner recalled. “Taibbi said against it. I said for it. Moyers looked stunned, just as you looked stunned. And he asked why. And I said – at this point in time, it would be better for the Democrats to win than to lose. But I agree with you that it would have been still better to go for single payer.”

“One of the things that is wrong with the Democratic Party is that they are too much in the pockets of the insurance industry and the banking industry. And it’s up to all of us to change that.”

Kuttner response raises an interesting question.

Do we continue to stand with the corporate parties – as Kuttner would have us do – and try to make them better?

Or do we say goodbye and start from scratch?

Here’s my vote:

Start from scratch.

Onward to single payer.

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