Why Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Are 100% Wrong on Single Payer

The right sees government as the problem. The left sees for-profit corporations as enemies of the public good. Our problems -- achieving universal healthcare, combating the effects of climate change, for example -- are too big to be solved by one sector alone. It will take a public-private partnership to achieve results.

When there is economic or social inequality, I want the federal (or state) government to help correct the imbalance. FDR knew this when he passed federal banking laws and Social Security and labor protections such as the minimum wage. Eisenhower knew this when he sent troops to Little Rock to enforce Brown v. Board.

But government should NOT intrude on private enterprise more than it has to. 

On healthcare, single payer is NOT the answer for our country. We need a multiplayer system, with choice, that achieves universal coverage and WITH the kind of protections that Obamacare pioneered (no lifetime limits, no penalty for pre-existing conditions, etc.).

Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren support BANNING PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE (It's in Bernie's bill). That will not wash with the American public. And as former Congressman Henry Waxman said, "Single payer is no policy panacea. And it would require tax increases at politically suicidal levels.”

A January 2019 poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 37% of Americans would support single payer if it eliminated private health companies, and only 37% would support single payer if it meant higher taxes.

Single payer advocates cite polls with high numbers for the idea, but those numbers plummet when people hear they will pay more taxes or incur greater wait times for many procedures.

Plus, single payer measures have lost in the bluest of states --California (27% approval) and Oregon (21% approval). In 2016, it lost by 26 points in Boulder, Colorado, another liberal bastion.

The left has adopted single payer as a litmus test. That is unfortunate. If you really look at the downsides of it, I think you will be convinced that it is both unworkable and a campaign detriment.

Right now, fully funding and improving Obamacare, plus adding a public option is the correct solution -- and a winning election message.

I don't worry about Bernie, because he will not get the 2020 nomination. But Elizabeth Warren, whom I agree with on just about EVERY OTHER ISSUE, has a real shot at being our standard bearer. Pushing single payer as her signature issue will hand Trump and the Republicans a powerful sword against her. Her chances of winning Florida or Pennsylvania or Iowa will decrease to dangerous levels. If Senator Warren does win the nomination, I hope she will modify her stance on healthcare. I hope she will say that single payer is one of many options she will consider to achieve universal access.

And why even hand the Republicans this "eliminate all private health insurers" issue at all? Senator Warren knows full well that even if she wins and we take the Senate, single payer will never pass. No Republican will vote for it -- and neither will most Democrats. Only 14 Senators signed up for Bernie's bill, and several -- including Kamala Harris and Cory Booker -- are moving away from it. They are smart. They know that it's a loser with the voters. 

Until Elizabeth Warren becomes just as smart on this issue, I truly worry that her candidacy will give us four more years of Trump.