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Russ Feingold: What Liberals Want is a Single-Payer System

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

By Heather
Crooks and Liars


From Face the Nation, Russ Feingold has to remind Bob Schieffer that the "public option" is not a "liberal" position on health care reform. It's a compromise. What liberals want is single-payer.
SCHIEFFER: Let’s talk a little bit about health care. Where do you think health care reform stands in the Senate right now? I know you want the public option, the government-run insurance program, like Medicare for older people. The majority leader now seems inclined to include that in the bill that he’s going to bring to the floor. Do you think that has any chance at this point of passage? Because for a while now, people have been saying the votes are just not there in the Senate.

FEINGOLD: Well, I want to give my majority leader, Harry Reid credit for seriously considering putting this public option in there. I think it’s very important. It’s a sign of strong leadership on his part that he has the guts to do that. Because the American people are for some alternative that will create some competition for the abuses of the insurance industry. So I believe that there’s a good chance it will be in the bill that comes before us in the Senate. I think we have some chance of prevailing in the Senate on it and if we don't I think there's a chance it will come through the House. So I’m becoming increasingly optomistic that we will have a health care bill that will not frighten the American people, that they'll be able to see as reasonable -- it's not a complete government take over health care, but will provide an option for those that don’t have health care or are unhappy with their health care to do something else and I'm frankly getting excited that we may have some momentum for something very positive.

SCHIEFFER: As I understand it, the liberals want the, want the public option. The conservatives don’t. Do you think there’s a possibility that this thing may just end up in a log jam, that liberals won’t vote for this plan without the public option and the conserves won’t vote for it if it includes the public option, and so we wind up with nothing instead of something?

FEINGOLD: Well, that could happen, but the truth is, what liberals want is a single-payer system. Medicare for everybody. So the idea of a public option is really a very moderate idea. Within the current context of a continuing private system, it’s a tough one to swallow for many people who want a single-payer system. So this is a very reasonable approach that I would think people who are both conservative and liberal and in the middle would say, let’s try this; let’s see if this can control and bring under some reason of measure that the insurance companies could finally improve their act.

That is exactly what -- what this is. It is not a liberal or left-wing concept at all.

SCHIEFFER: But could you yourself vote for health care reform that did not include the public option, if it came to that?

FEINGOLD: To me, that would be a very serious gap and it would be a very strong reason not to support it. We need a public option. We need something that will cause some control over the abuses that have occurred in the insurance industry....

(Remainder.)

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