The government takeover is here. It’s just not a one step process.
Six days into the full implementation of Obamacare the New Republic’s Noam Scheiber has some good news for progressives like Michael Moore who are dispirited by the Obamacare train-wreck. Obamacare still has one saving grace which is encapsulated in the piece’s headline: Obamacare “Paves the Way for Single Payer.”
In the heat of the political back-and-forth with Republicans bent on the program’s destruction, this whole Obamacare adventure can feel a little hopeless. But when you look at the big picture, the underlying political logic is clearly toward more generous, more comprehensive coverage over time. Once the previously uninsured start getting insurance, the natural upshot of cataloguing the law’s shortcomings isn’t to give them less insurance, as my colleague Alec MacGillis pointed out last fall. It’s to give them more. Republicans are in some sense playing into the trap Obamacare laid for them. And a few of them seem a bit concerned about it.
It wasn’t long ago when anyone describing Obamacare as a “trap” leading inexorably toward single payer would have been ridiculed as, well, a liar. Politifact certainly didn’t see any kind of trap being set when they made the claim that Obamacare was a “government takeover” their lie of the year in 2010. The conventional wisdom was set in stone even before that. Obamacare was definitely not about bringing America toward a Canadian or British style health system.
Just two months ago Politico published a piece titled “Obamacare tradeoffs: Now they tell us” in which they tried to appear surprised by what had happened since the rollout began. Even in the midst of admitting Obamacare is not what we were all promised, Politico’s John Harris still lays part of the blame on Republicans who blew their credibility by sounding “alarms about so many threats, including dubious assertions about death panels and the slippery slope to a Canadian-style single-payer health care system.” Again that’ from six weeks ago when this was still a dubious assertion.
Today the New Republic says Obamacare is a “trap” leading us to single payer and no one even blinks. Is John Harris at Politico shocked by this? Is Politifact stunned by the idea? Not only is there a trap in place, the New Republic now admits the public option, contrary to what the President said about it at the time, is the next step toward single payer:
How long before some opportunistic pol proposes that everyone on Obamacare who’s 55-and-up can enroll in Medicare? Not very long, I’d guess. In wonk terms, progressives are likely to get their beloved public option one way or another, and probably not too far in the future.
All of this was blindingly obvious to anyone who was paying attention. In April 2009, before the push for health reform had even geared up, Rep. Schakowsky was caught shooting her mouth off about the real purpose of the public option. Here’s the clip in case you missed it:
According to the NY Times this clip circulated on Capitol Hill widely in the days after it was posted. The following week Sen. Schumer announced a revised reform plan which was more moderate. Rep. Schakowsky went on Fox News to retract her statement. And that was, with a few exceptions, the last time the media said anything about the possibility that the ACA was a trojan horse for something much grander. When the President denied it the media backed him up.
But here we are in 2014 and now it can be told. Yes, Obamacare does pave the way for single payer. Yes, that was probably the plan all along. Yes, the public option was always the next step and yes it will be back sooner rather than later for that very reason.
It’s too late for the media to do it’s job covering the bill, but now that progressives, from Harry Reid down to Noam Sheiber, are opening up about the left’s real goals, it would be nice if the media finally caught up with reality.