One video is worth a thousand words (or, as in this column, about 730). The video in question, put together by a group called Verum Serum, shows public statements by three advocates of single-payer (government monopoly) health insurance explaining that a health care bill with a "government option" would move America toward a single-payer government health care system. You may not have heard of the first two, Rep. Jan Schakowsky and professor Jacob Hacker. But you have heard of the third, President Barack Obama.
Schakowsky is a left-wing Democrat from the north side of Chicago and adjacent suburbs and, as chief deputy whip, part of the House Democratic leadership. The video shows her speaking to an enthusiastic group last April. She cites an insurance company spokesman as saying, "A public option will put the private insurance industry out of business and lead to single-payer." The audience cheers. "My single-payer friends," she goes on, "he was right." Later she adds, "This is not a principled fight. This is a fight about strategy for getting there, and I believe we will."
Schakowsky sounds self-assured but angry, perhaps because her husband, Robert Creamer, served five months in prison a few years ago for bank fraud and failure to pay withholding taxes. Hacker, Yale's Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science, sounds friendly and cheerful in appearances recorded in January 2007 and July 2008. With a government option plan, he says in 2007, "You can at least make the claim that there's a competitive system between the public and the private sector," but he predicts that the government option "would eliminate the small group insurance."
Speaking of the government option in 2008, he says, "Someone told me this was a Trojan horse for single-payer. Well, it's not a Trojan horse, right? It's just right there. I'm telling you. We're going to get there, over time, slowly, but we'll move away from reliance on employer-based health insurance as we should, but we'll do it in a way that we're not going to frighten people into thinking they're going to lose their private insurance. We're going to give them a choice of public and private insurance when they're in the pool, and we're going to let them keep their private employer-based insurance if their employer continues to provide it."