(A person of weak convictions sometimes is called a scientist.)
Here is why I no longer support the idea of single-payer healthcare for the United States in the near future, and instead look forward to a system of regulations and oversight.
Congressmen Kucinich and Conyers got an amendment into one of the House bills to let states individually set up single-payer healthcare systems. They got this passed with the help of Republicans, who saw an opportunity to divide Democrats; they have succeeded, but only a little bit. More importantly, Nancy Pelosi had no real choice but to leave this amendment out of the bill that was passed last Saturday, because a single-payer system in any state would break President Obama’s promise that if you like your current insurance you can keep it. For her trouble, Congressman Kucinich mocked everything she had done, thus doing exactly what Republicans sought of him; John Conyers, of course, did no such thing. In any case, removal of the amendment was the right thing to do.
That leaves us with the question of why we should respect President Obama’s promise. Here I appeal simply to the empirical observation that presidential candidate Obama found himself again and again asserting slowly, with emphasis, that if you wanted to keep your current insurance you could. I don’t care how simple and nice the Canadian Medicare system looks when I’m in Canada, if, when I am in the United States, I see Barack Obama again and again assuring Americans that they can keep their current insurance. I cannot just replace Americans with Canadians, who are a people more inclined to sitting around a table and discussing their communal interest than we are. It simply is an empirical fact that Barack Obama finds himself reassuring people that they can keep their insurance, and I infer he isn’t doing this because he likes to listen to himself say the words.
Therefore it is wrong to do more than present a symbolic amendment and lament its having to be removed, and to thank the Speaker for explaining clearly to the public why she removed it.
(And may the gods in Olympus protect us from people of headstrong convictions.)