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I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that the views being presented right now on health care at Daily Kos are, at least at this time, doing more harm than good in the fight for reform. First among my concerns is the total failure by the editors to promote any kind of national health care system, which could but does not necessarily have to be Medicare for All. Given public opinion polling showing that a majority of the public probably would favor Medicare for All given the choice, the current monotone focus on the public option is simply a red herring that does more to hurt the fight for real reform than to help it. Secondly, even this focus is not what it claims to be. As Kip Sullivan has said, it's a "bait and switch."

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It seems to me that many people who consider themselves left wing are unaware of the polling data on Medicare for All. On the one the hand we have the Democratic establishment crowd, who typically assume that, because Democratic leaders largely oppose Medicare for All, public opinion must be against it as well. (About four of one hundred favor it in the Senate.) On the other hand we have the Medicare for All activist crowd, who sometimes believe support is higher than it really is. (For example, a two thirds majority hasn't been recorded in any poll this year.)

To examine the true situation, I did the following exercise.

I took all the polls I could find from this year on single payer or Medicare for All, along with a roughly equal number of polls on the "public option," and plotted them on this graph:

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It seems to me that many people who consider themselves left wing are unaware of the polling data on Medicare for All. On the one the hand we have the Democratic establishment crowd, who typically assume that, because Democratic leaders largely oppose Medicare for All, public opinion must be against it as well. (About four of one hundred favor it in the Senate.) On the other hand we have the Medicare for All activist crowd, who sometimes believe support is higher than it really is. (For example, a two thirds majority hasn't been recorded in any poll this year.)

To explain the true situation, I did the following exercise.

I took all the polls I could find from this year on single payer or Medicare for All, along with a roughly equal number of polls on the "public option," and plotted them on this graph:

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This is a follow up post to the one I posted on ZBlogs yesterday (you'll need to click the link twice). In that post, I noted three lies spread by the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute:

  1. The US doesn't spend a higher than expected proportion of its GDP per capita on health care
  1. US life expectancy is #1 in the world if you adjust for violent deaths
  1. Medicare's administrative overhead is higher, or at least not much lower, than private insurance overhead

The second example especially has, as far as I can tell, slipped mostly under the radar of progressives even though the study it's based on is literally just a fraud concocted by American Enterprise Institute "researchers" who tried to pass off a completely hypothetical calculation as indicating something about violent deaths in the real world.

This is the exact same statistic that Betsy McCaughey cited on the Daily Show. But when she did, almost nobody apparently knew that the study was definitively refuted as long as two years ago.

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In his classic book Taking the Risk Out of Democracy, Alex Carey argued that corporate propaganda shapes public political opinion on two different levels: grassroots propaganda aimed at the masses, and "treetops" propaganda aimed at elites and intellectuals. In contrast to grassroots propaganda like, for example, the recent Chamber of Commerce national advocacy campaign,1 "'Treetops' propaganda is not directed at the person on the street," Carey wrote. "It is directed at influencing a select group of influential people: policymakers in parliament and the civil service, newspaper editors and reporters, economics commentators on TV and radio." In the words of one former director of a British neoliberal think tank, it helps to use "intellectual artillery to soften up the enemy’s entrenched strong points," so that eventually the "ground troops can advance."2

The full version of this post is available on ZBlogs.

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Will we let Ted Kennedy's seat fall into the hands of a person who does not represent the people of Massachusetts on health care?

Mike Capuano is the only supporter of Medicare for All in the running to take Ted Kennedy's seat.

Massachusetts is the most liberal state in the entire country. This is a state where seven out of ten House representatives have endorsed not just Medicare for All, but HR 676, which is expanded and improved Medicare for All. This is a state where the official position of the state's Democratic Party on health care is first and foremost support for a single payer system.

So here's the question. Are we going to help elect a person who will fight for the people of Massachusetts on health care or are we going to allow the seat to fall into the hands of someone who won't? Are we going to secure a victory in what might be the most favorable race in a long time to elect a new Medicare for All supporter into the Senate, or are we going to get kicked to the curb by corporate power?

It's time to make a choice!

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It recently came to my attention that Mike Capuano is apparently the only supporter of Medicare for All in the running for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat via the special election in 2010. For at least three reasons, it would be outrageous if the new junior senator from Massachusetts didn't support single payer health care.

1. The people of Massachusetts clearly support Medicare for All, as this is the most liberal state in the country and polls nationally put overall support at 47-59%.

2. Seven out of ten Massachusetts representatives have endorsed HR 676, which is not only Medicare for All but expanded and improved Medicare for All. One of those seven is Mike Capuano.

3. The official position of the Massachusetts Democratic Party is support for a single payer system.

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Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 05:34 PM PDT

PNHP Founder Calls Howard Dean a Liar

by khin

A few months ago one of the founders of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), the main group of doctors advocating Medicare for All in the United States, called Howard Dean a liar for saying that for the average American should think of the public option as a Medicare opt-in.

"He’s a liar," Himmelstein says.

"He knows that the public option plan is not single payer and he says it is to try and confuse people," Himmelstein said. "He goes on Democracy Now and other shows and says that people can buy into Medicare when he knows that what is in the plan is not that."

"Medicare doesn’t have to compete," Himmelstein said. "That’s why it’s so efficient."

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Last weekend I wrote two diaries about how John Kerry was not representing his constituents in the most liberal state in the Union, Massachusetts, on health care due to his refusal to clearly come out for Medicare for All.

The basic argument is that given that a likely majority (~47-59%) of the public nationally favors Medicare for All, and given that the Massachusetts Democratic Party's official position is single payer health care, and given that Massachusetts Democrats were displeased enough with Kerry to try to primary him via Medicare for All supporter Ed O'Reilly in 2008, that Kerry is by any reasonable definition a sellout on health care.

Why write a third diary? Two reasons. First, some of the responders to my last posts raised some points that I think need to be cleared up. Most obviously, the question is: what exactly is Kerry's position on Medicare for All? The answer seems to be that he would favor it if we were starting "from scratch," whatever that is supposed to mean. This is exactly what Obama says, so it's not credible to claim Kerry is a Medicare for All supporter.

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I just found this great article called America's Teacher on ZNet. It's definitely worth a look! Michael Moore and Naomi Klein discuss Moore's new film as well as topics like the Wall Street crisis, the role of unions in the workplace, and the health care system.

As someone interested in health care I found the following exchange worth emphasizing:

Naomi Klein: Wasn't part of it also, though, that the left, or progressives, or whatever you want to call them, have been in something of a state of disarray with regard to the Obama administration--that most people favor universal healthcare, but they couldn't rally behind it because it wasn't on the table?

Michael Moore: Yes. And that's why Obama keeps turning around and looking for the millions behind him, supporting him, and there's nobody even standing there, because he chose to take a half measure instead of the full measure that needed to happen. Had he taken the full measure--true single-payer, universal healthcare--I think he'd have millions out there backing him up.

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Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 01:58 AM PDT

Saying Thanks to the Courageous Few

by khin

This will be a brief diary. I'd just like to say thanks to Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Tom Udall (NM), and Sherrod Brown (OH) for coming out in favor of Medicare for All despite being in states that are only slightly liberal or neutral. Together with Bernie Sanders (VT), they are apparently the only US senators who currently support single payer health care. If anyone knows of any others I would be interested to hear!

THE COURAGEOUS FEW

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Yesterday I wrote a diary saying that John Kerry was a sellout on health care because he represents America's most liberal state and yet refuses to cosponsor the Bernie Sanders single payer bill. Given national polling data showing a majority likely supporting Medicare for All, and given that Massachusetts residents apparently don't care much for Kerry's position on health care, and given that some even tried to primary him via Medicare for All supporter Ed O'Reilly in 2008 and lost partly due to being outspent by an enormous amount, I said that Kerry was a sellout.

I don't regret it one iota.

What really bodes ill for the health reform movement is how many people fanatically defend Kerry despite all the evidence. Imagine for a moment how the right would react if in Utah, America's most conservative state, Orrin Hatch refused to be clear about whether he opposed the public option. Would they say:

"Sure, we trust you, wonderful Senator Hatch."

Or would they say:

"Get the freak out you freakin' sellout!"

I have a feeling it would be closer to the last one. And this is why they are winning the national debate and we are losing.

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