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AND AS A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 30, 2015) — In an article dated October 2, 2002 in the Hyde Park Herald, then-state Sen. Barack Obama openly campaigned for “universal” health care for the state of Illinois.
Obama represented Hyde Park while serving as a State Sen. in Illinois’ 13th senatorial district for eight years.
While the publication is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission, a column authored by Obama is prominently displayed on page 4 with his photo on the topic of health care reforms he wished to implement if, as expected with a Democrat victory, he became chairman of the Public Health and Welfare Committee. In the piece, Obama expressed his views on making children’s health insurance more widely available; the cost of prescription drugs, particularly for the elderly; introducing educational programs on health matters in public schools; and his advocacy of a proactive approach to combating the West Nile Virus, prevalent at that time in Chicago.
When Obama discussed the topic of “Uninsured children,” he said, “I have been one of the leaders in the General Assembly on universal healthcare as the chief State Senate sponsor of the Cardinal Bernardin Amendment, which would change Illinois to a single-payer system where everyone received health benefits.”
Early in his first term in the White House, Obama urged Congress to pass health care reform with a “public option,” which has been equated to “single payer.” According to Wikipedia, “With universal healthcare as one of the stated goals of the Obama administration, congressional Democrats and health policy experts like Jonathan Gruber and David Cutler argued that guaranteed issue would require both community rating and an individual mandate to ensure that adverse selection and/or “free riding” would not result in an insurance “death spiral”; they convinced Obama that this was necessary, and persuaded him to accept congressional proposals that included a mandate. This approach was taken because the president and congressional leaders had concluded that more progressive plans, such as the (single-payer) Medicare for All act, could not obtain filibuster-proof support in the Senate. By deliberately drawing on bipartisan ideas — the same basic outline was supported by former Senate majority leaders Howard Baker, Bob Dole, Tom Daschle and George J. Mitchell—the bill’s drafters hoped to increase the chances of garnering the necessary votes for passage.”
In October 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR3590 dealing with benefits for first-time veteran homebuyers from which the Senate then removed all wording, replacing it with health care legislation. Of that development, Wikipedia reports, “As the United States Constitution requires all revenue-related bills to originate in the House, the Senate took up this bill since it was first passed by the House as a revenue-related modification to the Internal Revenue Code. The bill was then used as the Senate’s vehicle for their healthcare reform proposal, completely revising the content of the bill.”
The Hyde Park Herald featured Obama as early as 1999 calling for “universal health care” through the Bernardin Amendment, which Obama cosponsored and which describes health care as “a fundamental right.” An article dated November 10, 1999 quoting Obama as prioritizing “universal health care” in an article titled “State Health Plan on the Table.”
Many believe that Obama abandoned that stance by maintaining the existing health care structure’s privately-based insurance model. The Black Agenda Report, which describes itself as “News, Information and Analysis from the Black Left,” has reported on Obama’s support of universal health care while in the Illinois Senate. “Barack Obama is quite familiar with the concepts and the specific merits of single payer. Back in the late 1990s, when he was an Illinois State Senator representing a mostly black district on the south side of Chicago, he took pains to consistently identify himself publicly with his neighbor Dr. Quentin Young. He signed on as co-sponsor of the Bernardin Amendment, named after Chicago’s late Catholic Archbishop, who championed the public policy idea that medical care was a human right, not a commodity. At that time, when it was to his political advantage, Obama didn’t mind at all being perceived as an advocate of single payer,” the website reported in January 2007, just before Obama announced his presidential candidacy.
While many Democrats in the House were unhappy with the bill, it passed on March 21, 2010 with a vote of 219-212. Obama did not sign it until March 23, 2010, which is the same day in 1933 that Adolf Hitler signed the Enabling Act effectively rendering him a dictator and the Reichstag, or German parliament, powerless.
An article in The New American dated November 8, 2013 written approximately five weeks after the problem-laden opening of the federal healthcare exchange website, healthcare.gov, claimed:
Reid knew that President Obama was blatantly lying when he repeatedly promised that under ObamaCare everyone who wanted to would be able to keep his current policy. Reid, Pelosi, Obama, and other architects of the ACA knew the sweeping law and its subsequent massive regulations (which are still being written) would cause upwards of 70 percent of individual policy holders to have their policies cancelled almost immediately. Tens of millions more would begin losing their coverage as various restrictions targeting employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) kicked in.
This would drive millions of desperate Americans to look to the federal government to save them (from the destruction caused by the fedgov’s ACA), and that would be a good thing, the Reid-Pelosi-Obama cabal reasoned. But President Obama publicly insisted that ObamaCare critics were “not telling the truth” with claims he was trying to establish government-run healthcare.
In 2009, before the passage of the bill known as “Obamacare,” Obama said in a speech given in Chicago to the annual conference of the American Medical Association (AMA):
And as we seek to contain the cost of health care, we also have to ensure that every American can get coverage they can afford. (Applause.) We must do so in part because it’s in all of our economic interests. Each time an uninsured American steps foot into an emergency room with no way to reimburse the hospital for care, the cost is handed over to every American family as a bill of about $1,000 that’s reflected in higher taxes, higher premiums, and higher health care costs. It’s a hidden tax, a hidden bill that will be cut as we insure all Americans. And as we insure every young and healthy American, it will spread out risk for insurance companies, further reducing costs for everyone.
Obama also said at the time that “naysayers” were “not telling the truth” when alleging that Obama was “trying to bring about government-run health care.”
In March 2011, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that Obamacare was “a step in the right direction,” that “direction” being the eventual abandoning of an “insurance-based health care system.”
When Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, asked Obama if he supported new taxes on businesses which might preclude him from starting a plumbing business of his own, Obama responded, “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”
Many of the links on a website detailing Obama’s Illinois state senate service are no longer functional. Several lead to a website with the heading, “Stay at the beach rentals.”
Obama wishes to see all states expand Medicaid to insure the working poor and others who cannot afford to purchase insurance. Obamacare mandates that everyone have insurance or pay a fine.
After declaring himself a candidate for president early in 2007, Obama advocated for “universal, affordable health care in America” during a campaign speech in which he promised to “cover every American.”
In 2003 Obama told an AFL-CIO audience, “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program and that’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.” Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama denied that he ever sought a total government takeover of the nation’s health care system, despite proposing legislation for just such a system while in the Illinois State Senate.