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.

The Winning Ticket in 2020?


For those of us who want Trump to be ousted in 2020, this Huffington Post story is essential reading. It should help guide our strategy for victory.

Of course, Democrats should compete in all 50 states, but in current presidential politics, only five states really matter: Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

The only way we win Florida again (as Clinton and Obama did) is to hope African American and Hispanic demographics tilt the state back in our favor. For decades, conservatives and white evangelical Christians have been pouring into the South from the Northeast and Midwest, making those states redder than ever. Amendment 4, the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative that passed last year, may also help.

Georgia is also a bright spot, demographically. But, as the Stacey Abrams loss proves, we still have a way to go. 

Virginia has turned blue because Northern Virginia is solidly Democratic -- more moderate than liberal, though. And who knows how the "blackface" upheaval will affect us there.

Tennessee, where I lived from 1970 to 1979, is a lost cause, despite liberal pockets in Nashville and Memphis. Missouri is almost a lost cause, too.

But back to PA, OH, MI, and WI. Unfortunately the voters there have become older, whiter, and more Republican.

Electoral math dictates that we should ask ourselves a central question: Which Democratic candidate has the best chance to win the the Midwest? This is one of the reasons I was sad to learn that Sherrod Brown would not run. 

Bernie should be complimented for energizing the youth vote, but as this study clearly shows, the dominating demographic FOR THE NEXT 40 YEARS is older, wealthier, whiter, and more Republican voters. As to the latter, "Older voters preferred John McCain by 8 points in 2008, Mitt Romney by 12 points in 2012, and Trump by 7 points in 2016."

It's great to run up youth numbers in California, Oregon, New Jersey, et. al. But those are states already safely in the Democratic column. Because turnout rates are far higher among older Americans than young people, this has far less effect in the critical swing states which skew to the older cohort. 

Beto pushed the envelope in Texas in 2018, but, according to the Texas Observer, "Of Texans ages 18-24 who are eligible to vote, fewer than half, 48 percent, are registered to do so, which is 7 percent less than the national average of 55 percent for that age group."

This is why automatic voter registration is critical. The Observer continues: "If Texas were to begin signing voters up automatically, the state would immediately gain about 1.9 million new registered voters, the second most in the country behind California. Of those 1.9 million, about 700,000 could be expected to show up to vote.”

Automatic voter registration, early voting, restoration of Section 5 of the VRA, vote-by-mail, an end to partisan gerrymandering are all key reforms we must continue to push.

But again, which candidate or ticket can best carry PA, OH, MI, and WI? (And so glad the DNC chose Milwaukee!) My hunch is a Joe Biden - Kamala Harris offering. Biden is liberal in most areas, but more economically centrist in the ways that will attract older Democrats and so-called "Republican Lite" voters. He is also FAMILIAR and DEPENDABLE. Older people, in general, are most resistant to radical change. And remember, the Obama-Biden ticket won Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin TWICE. 

Harris is a solid, exciting and energetic campaigner who could help boost minority turnout in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Milwaukee, where Hillary underperformed.