Video: Feingold admits public plan an entree to single-payer

I admire Russ Feingold (D-WI), which may surprise a few people here at Hot Air, since Feingold and I would agree on almost nothing in politics.  Feingold may be a dyed-in-the-wool liberal who thinks government is the answer to almost every question, but he also has a sense of honesty that eludes many of his colleagues — on both sides of the aisle, for that matter.  The guys at Verum Serum catch him in a moment of honesty last May that certainly has eluded Kathleen Sebelius, Barack Obama, and the rest of the prevaricators in DC who insist that a public plan has nothing to do with pushing the US to a single-payer system:

I believe the goal here is to create whatever legislation we have in a way that could be developed into something like a single-payer system.

Of course that’s what the administration wants! Obama himself told audiences in 2007 that he wanted to move to single payer, but that the US needed a transition to eliminate private health insurance. Unfortunately, this obvious ploy has stalled the public option on Capitol Hill, where the Senate has stripped it from their version of the bill:

A draft proposal in the Senate to overhaul the nation’s health-care system would require most people to buy health insurance, authorize an expansion of Medicaid coverage and create consumer-owned cooperative plans instead of the government coverage that President Obama is seeking.

The document, distributed among members of the Senate Finance Committee yesterday afternoon, addressed none of the funding questions that have consumed House and Senate negotiators in recent days. But it included an array of coverage provisions that were drastically scaled back from earlier versions, as lawmakers seek to shrink the bill’s overall cost. The proposal, for instance, would reduce the pool of middle-class beneficiaries eligible for a new tax credit meant to make insurance more affordable.

The absence of a “public option” marks perhaps the most significant omission. Obama and many Democrats had sought a public option to ensure affordable, universal coverage, but as many as 10 Senate Democrats have protested the idea as unfair to private insurers. In its place, the draft circulated yesterday outlines a co-op approach modeled after rural electricity and telecom providers, subject to government oversight and funded with federal seed money.

This caused heartache for Feingold, who scolded his colleagues yesterday on the floor and insisted that the only real reform possible in health care would come from government coverage — although this time he was careful not to be too honest and say “single payer”:

Admirable.  Completely wrongheaded and economically dangerous, but admirable for his consistent obstinacy to evidence and reason.

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