The stunning Democratic shift on single-payer

Filed in National by on September 8, 2017

Many thanks to the wild-eyed radical Senator from Vermont for dragging the Democratic Party into a winnable position.

In 2008, no leading Democratic presidential candidate backed single-payer. In 2020, all of them might.

For a bill that does not exist yet and whose details are not public, Bernie Sanders’s new single-payer health care bill sure is popular. First, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced her plans to co-sponsor it; then Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) joined in. According to reporting by my Vox colleague Jeff Stein, Cory Booker (D-NJ) has staff working with Sanders and others on formulating the bill.

Warren, Sanders, Harris, and Booker are arguably the most famous and most-admired Democratic senators in the country among the party’s base; the betting markets give a 55 percent chance that one of them will be the 2020 nominee for president.

Other contenders are getting on board with single-payer — or “Medicare for all,” where the federal government would provide health insurance for every American financed through taxes — as well. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) declared, “We should have Medicare for all,” at a rally against Republican attempts to roll back Obamacare. Meanwhile 117 House Democrats (over 60 percent of the caucus) have co-sponsored HR 676, the Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act offered every Congress by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).

This is what an emerging party consensus looks like. Over time, some issues become so widely accepted within a party as to be a de facto requirement for anyone aspiring to lead it. No Democrat would run for president, or even for House or Senate minority leader, without supporting the DREAM Act. No Republican would try for a leadership position without supporting repeal of the estate tax.

Bernie  Wilm 2

About the Author ()

Jason330 is a deep cover double agent working for the GOP. Don't tell anybody.

Comments (24)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Paul Hayes says:

    Cory Booker is a third way Democrat. He may be widely admired by the dim, unaware of his ties to the corporate community that will keep him from fulfilling his promises to the rest of us.

  2. Paul Hayes says:

    As I have said before, healthcare benefits offered by employers is a freak of history, not supported by any reasonable look at how healthcare is paid for in the US. Take away WWII and ALL healthcare policies in this country would be individually written and expensive to the point that very few would be able to afford them. That Democrats should be rallying behind single payer is a stroke of unimaginable good luck as we move forward.

  3. puck says:

    1980 Dem platform
    “The answer is to enact a comprehensive, universal national health insurance plan.”

    1984 Dem platform
    “The states must be the cornerstone of our health care policies, but a Democratic Administration will provide the leadership at the federal level to assure that health care is available to all who need help at a cost we can afford. “

  4. RE Vanella says:

    Should we be demanding money from these people to run neoliberalism political campaigns or to run a National Health Service for everyone?

  5. alby says:

    “That Democrats should be rallying behind single payer is a stroke of unimaginable good luck as we move forward.”

    Luck has nothing to do with it. It’s happening because the voters are rejecting corporate-based (Democratic Party) solutions.

    @puck: So now you’re going to pretend that candidates run on the party platform?

  6. puck says:

    I’m not pretending anything. But if you want to take a measure of party positions over time, the platform is a handy place to put the dipstick. The point is, Dems used to run on national health care as a party principle, now not so much.

  7. OK, well, let’s look at the platform of the Delaware Democratic Party and how anyone has sought to implement it. The powers-that-be know where they can shove that dipstick. The party motto might as well be ‘Dipsticks For Dipshits’.

  8. alby says:

    If you read those planks more carefully, you would see that Democrats can claim to already have enacted them. Neither one says anything about single payer.

  9. The Delaware Donald says:

    Huge mistake, California and Vermont walked away from such a knuckle head plan for all the right reasons, if Dems want to lose try more Socialist nirvana.

  10. alby says:

    Europe. Japan. Canada. USA. One of these things is not like the others, and not in a good way.

  11. Anono says:

    Just want you want. Larger government control, Bigger government. They over pay for everything, because there are corrupt politicians out there, that have their hand out.
    Doctors already have their hands tied, when they can’t order an MRI or xray, you think it is going to be better, when the government has control, I don’t think so.

    Let’s create the nanny state and the socialist society that Bernie; “I never had a real job, Sanders” Wants!

  12. alby says:

    All those other places have better health outcomes at about half the cost. Your answer is full of falsehoods.

  13. stan merriman says:

    Bernie did not start the single payer revolution. It was seriously considered with Hillary’s non-starter health policy group under Bill’s administration which I followed closely as a health care consultant.
    Hon. John Conyers of Detroit started pushing it in the early 90’s as did Sen.Paul Wellstone. So knock off this revisionist history crap already.

  14. jason330 says:

    Props to everyone who moved the rock forward. Keep your fire on the real enemy – Hillary Clinton.

  15. alby says:

    @Stan: Neither one of your examples was running for president, and it says a lot about the party that nobody made a peep after the ’90s, because they’re too scared of Republican talking points to fight them.

    BTW, all history is revisionist history. If it weren’t we’d still be celebrating “Birth of a Nation.”

  16. puck says:

    Leave Hillary alone; the real enemy is her ideological successors.

  17. alby says:

    @puck: Hillary will live on because the Republicans have no other person to rally their hatred around.

  18. And b/c she insists on blaming everyone else for her failings. While charging $2000 a pop for VIP tickets to her book tour.

  19. john kowalko says:

    If Hillary had showed the slightest sign of democratic idealism and confronted her corporate allies and sponsors by exposing their lack of concern for economic justice she may have sparked a bit of enthusiasm among progressives. If Hillary had, even once, confronted some of the flaws in Obama’s ACA and offered suggestions to improve it such as “single-payer” or “public-options” she may have ignited a fire in progressive attitudes. If Hillary had expressed even the slightest interest in staunching the flight of jobs and manufacturing to other countries (challenging her corporate masters to help solve that woeful state of affairs) she could have fanned those flames of progressives and ordinary middle-class working people into a conflagration that would have defeated this sorry excuse of a president. But Hillary chose not to speak against, preach about or condemn this Wall Street, Chamber of Commerce, Corporate America that Trump moves so comfortably in (leaving only that snail-like trail as evidence of his presence). Please stop attempting to categorize Senator Sanders as a plagiarizing and blustering voice “crying in the wilderness”. His genuine concern for the rights and fairness and dignity that middle-class Americans of all creeds, ethnicities and socio-economic status deserve is a matter of record. This champion of the people has never claimed credit as an originator of single-payer or health care reform or as the only challenger to the Wall Street cabal (that other politicians so warmly welcome). Give us all a break and keep your obvious disdain for Bernie to yourself but be careful that your anger doesn’t consume your humanity.
    Representative Kowalko

  20. stan merriman says:

    Typical Kowalko stuff; change the subject. Wellstone and Conyers were/are leaders in the party and legislators, where healthcare reform happens. Thus relevant to the discussion. Hilllary and her work group in the 90’s saw the practical reality that the majority of health insured were provided this through their employer and were in the main very happy with it and would fight like hell if they were threatened with stripping of this benefit (which then had very little employee contribution in $)….and put this good idea on the shelf until that reality changed. As for your mischaracterization of my “disdain” for Bernie and your assumptions and presumptions without evidence of Hillary’s motivations and intentions, fuck you and your left version of authoritarianism. I have long been an admirer of most of Bernie’s ideas but skeptical of his ability to get them implemented, but I neither have to answer to you about this nor justify my interest in actually getting things done as has been the track record of my Democratic Party, not those who come in temporarily and borrow our brand because he recognizes its appeal while trashing it.

  21. john kowalko says:

    Not “presumptions” without evidence of Hillary’s motivations and intentions but rather an accurate depiction of her performance or lack thereof as a candidate. Get a grip Stan. You’re the one proclaiming some sort of “revisionist history” conspiracy is taking place. I am neither asking you to “answer” to me nor do I care to hear how you would “justify” your “interest”. Quite frankly I’m not at all interested or impressed by your logic but I see you’ve expanded your vocabulary downward to the level of your (corporate/conservative) “third-way” philosophy. Good luck with that in moving a political dialogue forward.
    Representative Kowalko

  22. stan merriman says:

    Again, a typical Kowalko mischaracterization, now of my “philosophy” as a way of trying to discredit the truth of your left authoritarianism. I invite you and readers of this blog to read my own blogs at and tell me any view expressed that even closely resembles a “third way” philosophy. I also put my record of Party activism detailed in my bio at the blog up for scrutiny for anything less than a solid progressive populist agenda. You the insulter of fellow progressives, you who talk over and bluster ad nauseam over fellow legislators and activist colleagues, you who give no space for alternative views are wishing me luck in moving political dialogue forward? You can’t be serious.

  23. alby says:

    “Hilllary and her work group in the 90’s saw the practical reality that the majority of health insured were provided this through their employer and were in the main very happy with it and would fight like hell if they were threatened with stripping of this benefit (which then had very little employee contribution in $)….and put this good idea on the shelf until that reality changed.”

    All this talk of someone in the US bringing single-payer into the political discussion ignores the obvious fact that most of the industrialized nations already had been running such systems for decades before the 1990s. Americans were so busy patting themselves on the back for their exceptionalism that most of them never noticed — and most still don’t realize that our outcomes don’t match those of nations that spend half what we do. Most Republicans are as much in denial about that as they are about climate change.

  24. john kowalko says:

    Now see Stan. Isn’t self-reflection a marvelous tool? You’ve managed to forego the “F” word in your latest missive. Now you can move on to an honest assessment of your anger management needs (if you have any). Seriously Stan.
    Rep. Kowalko