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Trump, Biden and a Possible October Single-Payer Surprise

Will Trump pull the single-payer card?

National Nurses United (NNU), along with a broader coalition of pro-Medicare for All organizations, rallied outside of the national headquarters of PhRMA in support of Medicare for All.

National Nurses United (NNU), along with a broader coalition of pro-Medicare for All organizations, rallied outside of the national headquarters of PhRMA in support of Medicare for All. (Photo: NNU/Flickr/cc) 

The race for President in 2020 is looking a lot like the race in 2016.

Donald Trump is facing another corporate Democrat, Joe Biden, who does not support single-payer Medicare for All.

The race is tight in the swing states where it counts. 

And into the stretch run, Trump is once again looking to position himself as a populist. (Last month, the New York Times ran an article with the header – “Trump Says He’ll Look Into a Pardon for Edward Snowden, The remarks seemed to be a shift for President Trump, who repeatedly called Mr. Snowden a ‘traitor’ and ‘spy who should be executed’ in the years before his election.”)

Will Trump pull the single-payer card?

"If Biden continues to run publicly opposing that which the majority of all Americans and nearly ninety percent of our party supports, how easy would it be for Trump to come in at the last minute with his October Surprise and promote Medicare for All."
Isaac Lieberman, a nurse in Los Angeles
”The President has long had what the Washington Post in 2017 called “Trump’s forbidden love –  single-payer health care.”

The Post pointed out that in 2000, Trump advocated for it as both a potential Reform Party presidential candidate and in his book – The America We Deserve.

“We must have universal health care. Just imagine the improved quality of life for our society as a whole,” Trump wrote. “The Canadian-style, single-payer system in which all payments for medical care are made to a single agency (as opposed to the large number of HMOs and insurance companies with their diverse rules, claim forms and deductibles) … helps Canadians live longer and healthier than Americans.”

And just before the 2016 campaign, Trump appeared on David Letterman’s show and held up Scotland’s socialized system as the ideal.

“A friend of mine was in Scotland recently,” Trump told Letterman. “He got very, very sick. They took him by ambulance and he was there for four days. He was really in trouble, and they released him and he said, ‘Where do I pay?’ And they said – ‘There’s no charge,’ Not only that, he said it was like great doctors, great care. I mean, we could have a great system in this country.”

With Biden opposed to single-payer, what is keeping Trump from pulling an October surprise?  

What is keeping Trump from, along with pardoning Snowden, signaling to voters in the swing states in the Midwest that he supports a system where every citizen is given a Medicare card at birth – cradle to grave coverage?

Nothing.

Isaac Lieberman is a nurse in Los Angeles, a single-payer Bernie Sanders supporter, and a California Democratic Party activist.

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“As a recent Democratic National Committee delegate to the convention this past week for Bernie Sanders, I did my utmost through the entire week to communicate the danger to the DNC and to as many Biden delegates as I could that single-payer Medicare for All is probably the single most popular issue in the country,” Lieberman told the Single Payer Action Podcast with Russell Mokhiber. “Eighty-eight percent of Democrats support it. Over seventy percent of the American public supports it. Even a majority of Republicans support it.” 

“And it sounds as though the Biden campaign and the DNC is enormously confident because of the polls leading into the convention, that Biden is going to beat Trump easily.”

“But I was reminding people that if Biden continues to run publicly opposing that which the majority of all Americans and nearly ninety percent of our party supports, how easy would it be for Trump to come in at the last minute with his October Surprise and promote Medicare for All.”

“He could easily pull whatever small percentage he needs to shave off in the swing states to snag another four years for his neo-fascist gangster policies in the White House.”

“I fear for our country in many ways if Trump continues in office,” Lieberman said. “Unfortunately, I’m also convinced that many of the top leadership of the Democratic National Committee, although they attack Trump in any way they can think of, would much prefer another four years of Trump than having a true FDR style progressive in the White House like Bernie Sanders, or even Elizabeth Warren.”

Why would even the DNC platform committee reject single-payer? 

“It’s plain that the leadership of Democratic Party would rather have four more years of Trump than Bernie,” Lieberman said. “But with the only two options being Trump and Biden, I can’t for the life of me figure out why they voted down Medicare for All.”

“Although, as I’m thinking about it now, when I went to the California Democratic Party conventions back before the pandemic, you went into this large hall and there’s probably a three-story tall stage with the chair of the party and the rest of the elites elevated above everyone else.”

“And flanking this huge stage are lighted billboards for advertising. And most of the time I am in that convention hall, I noticed the ads flashing on those billboards are coming from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and other insurance companies like Cigna – all those companies that stand to lose their grip on power and billions when we establish single-payer.”

“So perhaps enough of the delegates who made it to the platform committee are beholden to the endless flow of money coming from those industries. They know which side their personal bread is buttered on. And that’s the side they will stand on.”

Lieberman said he agreed with Ralph Nader that whoever wins the Presidential election, the single-payer movement needs to mobilize around front line Covid-19 workers to energize the movement.

“These Covid-19 workers cannot be stared down or flimflammed,” Nader wrote in June. “They have the decisive karma that veterans’ groups often have with Congress. They have seen more fatalities among their protectees in three months then the U.S. soldiers lost in the Korean and Vietnam wars – apart from the massive greater casualties on the native peoples. They have experienced the staggering pressures of their hands-on service from ambulances to intubations and the solitary deaths of their patients. While members of Congress huddle at home, they are shamed by the low-paid valiant toil of exposed grocery, public transit, and sanitation workers who don’t have the luxury of laboring remotely.”

“This new unstoppable non-partisan assemblage of Americans will have plenty of backup,” Nader wrote. “Funding by well-to-do people will be forthcoming.”

“Nader hit the nail on the head,” Lieberman said. “I love the way Ralph Nader pointed out that the first responders, sanitation workers and grocery store workers and everybody who is out there who is forced to survive on the front lines risking their lives during the pandemic – it’s a beautiful comparison of the veterans of wars who come back from war and speak out against it. They carry moral authority.”

Russell Mokhiber

Russell Mokhiber

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter.  He is also founder of singlepayeraction.org, and editor of the website Morgan County USA.

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