US Politics of Single-Payer Healthcare and Abortion

As regular readers know, I’ve written multiple posts over the years about why I think the US needs a single-payer healthcare system. The most recent was less than two months ago: ‘The Benefits of a Single-Payer Healthcare System‘. As the only OECD country without such a system, the US is an outlier. In my opinion, there is a direct causal link between this and three other facts.

The first is that the US has the highest maternal and neo-natal death rate in the OECD. Even some third-world countries do better than the US.

The second is that the lifespan of the average USian is reducing.

The third is that the US pays more for healthcare than any other OECD country, despite millions of people either not having health insurance, or having inadequate health insurance.


Why Doesn’t the US have a Single-Payer Healthcare System?

The main reason is, of course, ideological. There is a much greater fear of socialism in the US than most Western democracies. Although most people love programmes like Medicare and Medicaid, they don’t link that in their minds with socialism. The reasoning seems to be: Medicare = Good, Socialism = Bad, therefore Medicare ≠ Socialism.

Cartoon: Medicare IS socialism

Until recent years, US health insurance and drug companies have been able to keep up a level of fear and misinformation amongst USians. They’ve literally spent billions doing this. The result was a rejection of single-payer healthcare by the majority.

I wrote in the lead up to the 2016 elections that I thought this was changing thanks to Bernie Sanders. It was my opinion that the US was now on the way to getting a single-payer healthcare system, and whoever was president when it happened, they would have Sanders to thank for laying the groundwork.

It seems that moment is now closer than ever.


Bernie Sanders Town Hall

As you may know, CNN has been giving all candidates the opportunity to do a Town Hall with a senior journalist/anchor on prime time TV. These have proven a ratings success, with the Kamala Harris town hall giving them their best ratings ever in some demographics.

It seems Fox News has taken notice.

They did a candidate town hall with Sanders today (Monday, US time) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. One of the hosts was Bret Baier, who in my opinion is a good journalist. He’s not in the mould of Fox News‘ Trump-acolytes Hannity, Pirro, Ingraham, Carlson, Watters, etc. etc. He is though, as you would expect, a libertarian-leaning conservative. As such, he opposes single-payer healthcare on principle.

One of the problems if all you watch is Fox News (or MSNBC on the left for that matter, though they’re nowhere near as bad) is that you get into an information silo. Even someone like Baier has the impression that single-payer healthcare is still just a far-left extremist policy that no one else thinks would work.

He got a surprise when he tried to show Sanders that single-payer healthcare is not what USians want.


The result was pretty clear. These voters at least are ready for a change, even though they already have good private healthcare.


2020 Election

With the announcement of Pete Buttigieg over the weekend, there are now eighteen candidates for the Democratic party nomination. I personally hope Sanders doesn’t win the nomination; I don’t think he’d be a good president. (Buttigieg, though, is currently on my short list of favourites.) However, I do hope that the next president makes use of him at a senior level.

Despite his extremely low favourability rating, it’s still more likely than not that Trump will win reelection in 2020. Republicans don’t care about his racism, sexism, nativism, xenophobia, ignorance, criminality, and all ’round lack of ability to do the job. He doesn’t even understand why meeting alone with Putin, or having Russian intelligence experts “help” with FBI investigations is a bad thing. Republicans will still vote for him though. I don’t think Republicans care about principles any more. Power is more important.


Abortion and Healthcare

For Trump’s evangelical base, those principles include forcing their opinions in relation to abortion on to the rest of the population. They do not accept that women should be able to make decisions regarding their own bodies in conjunction with a medical professional. The anti-choice/forced-birth movement think that making their opinion the law for all is a perfectly reasonable position to take.

This is despite the fact that statistics show that most people think that Roe vs. Wade should remain, including 53% or Republicans. The only demographic that has a majority favouring overturning Roe vs. Wade is conservative Republicans (57%).

Statistics: Pew, demographics of Roe v Wade support

Further, they insist that their position is the safest one for women. They use anecdotes of the botching of terminations and late-term abortions to scare people into compliance.

However, the international evidence is that making abortion illegal doesn’t reduce the number of abortions. All it does is vastly increase the number of women who suffer because of them. Botched terminations are routine when abortions go underground. Many women are made sterile due to infection. And if that infection isn’t treated, the result is a horrible and painful death.


Cartoon: Coat-hanger abortions

Anti-Choice Attempts to Force Birth

Ever since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act in 2011 (Obamacare), red states have been trying to roll back it’s provisions in relation to abortion at the state level. Now with Trump’s election, they’ve been going even further with the introduction of restrictive abortion laws. Their hope is they will get Roe vs Wade overturned.

What happens is the new state laws are tested in court by pro-choice groups. The judges all reject the new laws as unconstitutional (so far). The states then protest and elevate the argument to a higher court, and so on. The obvious game plan is to find a law or laws that will receive the approval of the now extremely conservative Supreme Court. There is already evidence that Justice Kavanaugh is on the side of anti-abortion extremists. That means there’s a chance the anti-choice/forced birth movement can now get a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court that will overturn the Roe vs. Wade decision.

Cartoon: Hypocrisy of Anti-Abortion Campaigners



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26 Responses to “US Politics of Single-Payer Healthcare and Abortion”

  1. Randall Schenck says:

    I must add a couple of things to your good posting. On the medical care for all I would maintain the prime reason we do not have it in America is the same reason we lack many other things. The wide open lobby system in this country runs nearly everything. Whether you are talking gun control, financial and banking, medical, it makes no difference. Money and lobby own this political system and that is primary to everything you see. In other words – money. Getting into the minds of the little people is a waste of time because in this system, they don’t really count.

    I would also argue that comparing Fox with MSNBC is not especially correct. Fox is a sometimes news and mostly commentary that slants most everything to Trump. Many of the people working for Trump come from Fox. Fox is the Trump channel. MSNBC is a liberal platform and mostly commentary but you learn a lot of news on the side. They do not pretend to be anything else. They also do not do what CNN does which is to bring on republican pundits and others to provide that “other side” view. That is a waste of time so they just don’t do it. It distracts from the conversation and provides very little. One of the things that brings down CNN rating is their need or desire to provide opinion from all sides on all topics. It mostly pisses people off and wastes lot of time. We know the Trump or republican line or lie on the subject and we don’t need to have it repeated on CNN ten times a day.

    I will also maintain or argue that the reason we have this social split on most of those issues like freedom of choice is because our Congress has become almost a useless branch of government over the last 50 years and also owned by big money. This leaves an opening to the courts to decide all of these issues because the Congress does not. I get a lot of argument on this but believe it is true. There is no reason why our gun laws should be the exclusive right of the court but it is.

    • I agree about the lobbying problem. Michael Moore (of ‘Farenheit 911’ fame, which showed the money from the gun lobby in government) also did a movie some time ago about the health system. He showed just how much money federal politicians were getting from the health industry on both sides. It was shocking.

      BTW, I did say that MSNBC wasn’t as bad as Fox, and I agree there is good stuff on there. Believe it or not, there is actually genuine news on Fox too, though less of it than on MSNBC.

  2. Lee Knuth says:

    Totally agree with Mr. Schenck. Money has proven to be the biggest obstacle in changing our healthcare system. Until we get true campaign financing reform lobbyists will still rule Washington. It’s unbelievable that women haven’t realized that everything the GOP proposes in regard to women’s healthcare is not for their benefit.

  3. Mark R. says:

    Despite his extremely low favourability rating, it’s still more likely than not that Trump will win reelection in 2020.

    Coming from you, this seems to be a strange assumption. “More likely than not…”? Maybe people don’t understand what a fluke the 2016 election was… 3 states, 80,000 votes. And those three states flipped spectacularly in 2018. For me, the 2018 mid-terms were the real litmus test. Trump is still using xenophobia, the wall and other fear tactics that he used to rally his base before the midterms. It didn’t work in 2018, why will it work in 2020? He hasn’t expanded his base, his base has shrunk (as well as the Republican party in general). People’s tax returns are revealing that the tax bill was a scam, 2020 will be even worse. The “good economy” isn’t good for the vast majority of Americans…it’s pretty much the same as under Obama. What are the accomplishments that he can point to for a successful 2020 run? In the meantime, investigations mount, and Mueller has yet to be heard.

    I wouldn’t feel comfortable predicting what will happen in 2020 right now. Especially since we have no idea who Trump’s opponent will be.

    • I think you’re absolutely right about how Trump won, and the rest of what you say is true too.

      Imo, there are “buts” thought.

      One reason is that first-term incumbency traditionally gives a 5-6% advantage. Also, a combination of gerrymandering and the way the electoral college works means the Dems have to win by a lot just to compete on equal terms. Nate Silver, whose accuracy as a political results predictor is one of the best, agrees with me. So do a lot of others, though not everyone of course, and that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Most predicted Hillary would win in 2016.

      I think the Dems are really good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory too.

      I agree though that it’s too soon to make predictions, and it will make a big difference who Trump’s opponent is.

      I worry that the horror of Trump will make the Dems over-confident of victory. Republicans will vote for whoever their nominee is, especially if the Democratic nominee scares them. That’s the whole point of the socialism attack the GOP is already running.

      More of the independents naturally lean Republican than lean Democrat. That’s been changing, but a strong economy is making them waiver back to leaning Republican.

      You’re right about Trump’s base of course. And you’re right about 2018. A new president usually does badly in his first mid-terms though. It happened to Obama as well.

      The point of my last post was that Republicans don’t seem to care about what an a$$ho£e Trump is. They vote for him anyway. Dems can’t make the mistake of thinking that Trump’s character will make Republicans vote Democratic, because mostly it won’t. They need to give people a reason to vote for them rather than just against Trump.

  4. Randall Schenck says:

    I forgot to mention one additional thing regarding the MSNBC idea. Look no further than last night on Rachael Maddow’s show where you could watch one gay Rhode scholar interview another gay Rhode scholar, Pete Buttigieg who happens to be a candidate in the democratic party. Have a look at that and ask yourself if it could happen any place else.

    • Two of CNN’s three prime time shows are presented by gay journalists. Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon. The third is Chris Cuomo. All three have gay men and women on as regular commentators/experts in various fields.

      I’m not trying to diss MSNBC. As I said above and in the post, they’re not as bad as Fox. There’s no denying they present a leftist slant though, which is fine as long as it’s not the only place you’re getting your news. The problem with many Fox viewers is that Fox is all they watch, and it’s the same with most people they know. Fox constantly criticizes “main-stream media” and even warns their viewers against it as presenting an anti-conservative view.

      Linda Calhoun sent me this article not long ago because she thought I’d be interested. (She was right.) I think you would be too. I agree with its conclusions.

  5. nicky says:

    In reply to Mark.
    I think Heather is right, the chances of Mr Trump being re-elected are greater than not. I have argued this earlier on on other post, but I hope Heather will allow me to repeat.
    – Ms Trump is an incumbent, which always is a great advantage. Especially if the economy is doing more or less OK, which it still is.
    – Mid-terms mean very little, eg Mr Obama lost heavily in the 2010 mid-terms, yet he handsomely won his re-election.
    – The Democrats have -as yet- no candidate that all can get behind enthusiastically.
    – If such a candidate is found, there is no reason to believe the Russian troll farms will not mount a massive smear campaign as they did against Ms Clinton.
    – Very little progress has been made, AFAIK, to prevent voter disenfranchisement.
    – The counting fraud in several swing states, leading to Ms Clinton’s ‘defeat’ in the EC, has never been investigated, let alone tackled. What makes you believe counting fraud will not be repeated?
    Voting Mr Trump out is an uphill battle.

    • Sorry Nicky – I replied before I saw your reply. You’ve added some stuff I didn’t, all of which I agree with. One in particular is probably the most important of all. That is, because of Trump little has been done to stop Russian interference.

  6. Randall Schenck says:

    I will simply guess on this. Too far off to have any reasonable idea. However, I think he will not be re-elected. Right now there are about 20 running against him and any one of them would be a great improvement. The stupid people got taken once but may not get taken again. All they have to do is get the vote out and he will lose.

  7. Mark R. says:

    In reply to Nicky-
    – Yes, a sitting President will always have an advantage if the economy is OK. Whether or not it will be OK in 2020 is unpredictable. A good economy + Trump doesn’t mean much if you look at the polls. The majority of Americans weren’t moved by his tax-cut-scam, and are just starting to feel the negative effects (or at least not feeling anything positive). Wages are still stagnant.
    -The 2016 midterms were a lot different than 2010’s. I’ll just get into the number of people who voted…but don’t forget that Obamacare’s release was a disaster, and the economy was still sluggish in 2010 after the great recession in 2008.
    2010- R- 44.8 million, D- 39 million
    2018- R 47.4 million, D- 51.7 million.
    Democrats are energized, and will be so in 2020 as well (probably more so). Trump’s base is also energized, but as I said, he can’t grow it, he can only nurture it.
    -Of course Democrats don’t have a candidate yet. But it’s sure exciting watching them emerge. One thing is for sure, whoever does emerge will have the backing that Hillary never got. This time, there won’t be a “protest vote” and people aren’t going to stay home. Trump is hated and feared far too much.
    -the Russian troll farms don’t have the red meat of Hillary who has been dragged through the mud for decades. Trolling Hillary is a lot easier than trolling the candidates running right now. I’m not worried about troll farms this time around.
    -The voter disenfranchisement that happened in 2018 will be the same in 2020. (There have been some improvements in gerrymandered states that are now run by Democratic governors and Secretaries of State…Ohio is one, and Pennsylvania iirc.) This hurt people like Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Andrew Gillum in Florida, but overall, it wasn’t enough to stop the shear number of Democratic voters in other states.
    -Yes, the voter fraud shit is daunting and an unknown. That’s why Democrats need to show up. I think this message is understood. If we can get out a near “Presidential year turnout” in a mid-term, there’s no reason why that won’t carry over in 2020.
    It’s also interesting to note that Trump hasn’t raised as much money as W. Bush or Obama at this time in each of their reelection bids.
    In no way do I think it will be easy. But I don’t see any evidence that Democrats have lost one iota of energy, outrage, or will.

    • The issue of turning out the vote in 2020 that you mention is going to be really important. Also, while Republicans will vote for Trump, his appallingness (new word!) will definitely energize voters as you say, and that will help. They have to turn out in the right place though because the Electoral College is stacked against the Dems. Obviously, it doesn’t matter if everyone in California votes for the Democrats – the extra millions of votes won’t get any them any extra Electoral College votes. Voters in small red states will still count for a lot more.

      Anyway, I hope there comes a time very soon when I can say I’m not worried that Trump will win the next election.

  8. Randall Schenck says:

    Note this one. Trump has competition as someone, can’t remember the name is running against him. Just announced. If you look at history, this competition usually causes the guy to lose to the opposition party in the general election. It happened to Carter, it happened to Ford and others. Also note, the Mueller report comes out Thursday and if redacted a lot, Mueller will be called in to testify. The house committees are going after his taxes, they are going after the bank, they are going after many things right now. I hate to make predictions about who will win or lose more than a year and a half away when you don’t even know if the guy will last until then. Two days ago you probably thought that building in France would be there another thousand years.

    • I don’t want to sound like I’m disagreeing with you Randall because I’m not. Everything you say is correct. The problem I see is that Republicans keep on voting for whoever their candidate is, even when it’s someone as abominable as Trump. The thing about shooting someone on 5th Avenue was true. The Mueller Report is out now, and he basically suggests criminal charges after Trump leaves office. That will not stop Republicans voting for him. It won’t stop more than 30% of the population saying that the report is all lies. it won’t stop another 15% saying that even if it’s true, they don’t care because it’s better than a Democrat in office.

  9. nicky says:

    That Intelligencer article on Fox News was scary -and tragic, and add to that the Russian trolls on social media (just read the comments sections on “The Hill” or “Politico”), and therefore I’m much less confident than Mark and Randall.
    These stories about FoxNews Addiction strongly reminds us of stories of family members lost to religious sects -or drug addiction. The idea that ‘Trumpism” (whatever that is) is a kind of religious cult is not exactly undermined by those anecdotes.

  10. nicky says:

    “..evidence is that making abortion illegal doesn’t reduce the number of abortions. All it does is increase the number of women who suffer because of them, including making them sterile due to infection.”
    I would like to take issue there, Heather. It is not just sterility: we are talking about death. Death by air embolism (the Soap Douche), peritonitis and septicemia (the Hook/Coathanger/Knitting pin) was a major cause of death among women resorting to back alley abortions.,

  11. nicky says:

    In reply to Lee Knuth. Most women voting Republican are well into their menopause, so keeping RvsW is probably not high on their list.

  12. Randall Schenck says:

    Not to change the subject but I guess I will. Hope that Heather is going to do a review on the completion of the Mueller report and it’s release (redacted) today. I think that from watching what I have today, this is just the beginning and it will now pass to the Congress for their action. Lots to come.

    • Just to let you know I am writing a post about this, and will probably write at least one more after that. However, first I had the flu (the vaccine for the southern hemisphere winter wasn’t available last time I saw my GP) and now I’ve got a throat infection and I feel like crap. So though I’m finally up to writing more again, I feel like crap, and I’m not getting much done each day.

  13. Randall Schenck says:

    Very sorry to hear about that. Get better quickly and return your best self.

  14. nicky says:

    “There is already evidence that Justice Kavanaugh is on the side of anti-abortion extremists.”
    I’m not even 100% sure of that. He was siding with the 4 ‘progressive’ Judges (RBG, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan) and Judge Roberts in denying the SC to hear the cases of Louisiana and Kansas that disputed their lower courts decisions that forbade them to defund Planned Parenthood. So it became a 3 (Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch) to 6 decision and the case was rejected without hearing (you need 4 out of 9 for a hearing)
    Maybe I’m too cynical -and optimistic-, but I estimate Judge Kavanaugh to be an alcoholic who does not care much either way about RvsW now that he’s got ‘tenure’. Beers for Brett!

    • Sorry Nicky – I screwed up. I meant Gorsuch, not Kavanaugh. I tend to get their names mixed up. I’ll fix the post when I have time. There’s evidence about Kavanaugh too, but it’s not conclusive yet.

  15. nicky says:

    Note, I think that Mr Garland would have been an infinitely better Judge than Kavanaugh or Gorsuch, probably even better than any of the present Judges to become Chief Justice.
    There are at least 2 thought experiments there’
    1 – When (if) Mr Trump gets voted out, would the new president re-propose Mr Garland? Pro: it would put Mr McConnell in his place. And it would be justice. Counter: he’s not so young anymore and his (Positive) influence would not last many decades. He would as a ‘centrist’ not really make up for the most probable early loss, a staunch ‘progressive ‘, Judge RBG.
    2 – Is Judge Kavanaugh going to be much more moderate and centrist than his nominators expected? If he’s aiming for Chief Justice (and I bet he is) that is just the tactics to follow.

    • I doubt Garland gets re-nominated, though I agree he would be infinitely better than either or Trump’s picks. Obama was trying to pick a justice that the Republicans would vote for. Garland was sufficiently centrist, even a tad conservative in some ways, but was a reliable anti-gun law loosening vote, which was naturally important to Obama. It will depend who makes it as the Democratic candidate, but I expect a more left-leaning pick by most of the crop.

  16. nicky says:

    Yes, I think you are right. The thing with Mr Garland is that he was such an impeccable choice, who would indeed have gotten broad bipartisan approval. The very reason Mr McConnell blocked his hearing.
    But yes, most would probably pick a more left-leaning one (If, and that is far from given, Mr Trump is voted out)

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