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MT Governor Brian Schweitzer Sells Canadian Health Care At Obama Town Hall

mass's picture

Now I know Governor Schweitzer is the Governor of a very liberal state, Montanans are practically the French, no? And, yet, he manages to very effectively dispel myths of "socialized" medicine, and argues for single payer, in a way that may even appeal to those Hyde Park Blue Dogs.

Via The Billings Gazette:

BELGRADE - As Gov. Brian Schweitzer warmed up the crowd Friday for President Barack Obama, he paid a lengthy compliment to a health care system that leading Democrats, including the president, have declared "off the table" as a reform here: the Canadian single-payer system.

"Did you know that, just 300 miles north of here, did you know they offered universal health care 62 years ago?" he said, referring to Canada's system of providing government-funded health insurance for all citizens.

Schweitzer, a Democrat, said he sometimes mentions the Canadian system when he hears people say that universal health coverage is a radical, new idea being rushed through the political process.

Quoting a Canadian journalist, Schweitzer said it was said that "there's more likelihood of a person in Canada being struck by lightning than there is a likelihood of a Canadian going to the United States for their health care."

Most of the crowd of 1,300 in the Gallatin Field Airport hangar roared its approval.


Via Great Falls Tribune:

Schweitzer told the crowd that Canadians recently selected former Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas — the "father" of Canada's single-payer health care system — as the greatest Canadian.

"He had a single proposition ... that we will cover every single person in Saskatchewan and elsewhere," Schweitzer said to another round of cheers.

The introduction had Obama spending the first few minutes of his presentation clarifying his opposition to Canadian health care:

"I'm not in favor of a Canadian system, I'm not in favor of a British system, I'm not in favor of a French system," he said. "What we've said is let's find a uniquely American system."

Obama said the majority of people in America get health insurance through their employers, and "we want to build on that."

"For us to completely change that, it would be too disruptive," he said. "Max (Baucus) and I agree, that's not the right way to go."

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jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

I seem to recall them storming all of Baucus' 'listening sessions' and demanding that he support single-payer.

I wonder if Schweitzer would be willing to try to push a single-payer bill through his state legislature if the reform flops. It could help position him for a run at the presidency in 2016- or earlier, if Obama flames out.

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

You don't have to be a fire breathing liberal to support improved Medicare for All, and there certainly is a method for selling it to traditionally conservative voters.

Submitted by lambert on

... "deccent," say I.

Making Baucus's behavior all the more reprehensible and disgusting.

Seems to me for Schweitzer to break discipline like this is a big, big deal.

Jeff W's picture
Submitted by Jeff W on

who finds the entire Obama spiel—from "let's find a uniquely American system" to "a majority get health insurance through their employers" to "too disruptive"—mindlessly moronic? It's not even an argument; it's a string of ludicrous bromides.

Every time President Obama mentions our employer-based health insurance system (or, worse, our "'tradition' of employer-based health care." actually a consequence of evading World War II wage controls), I flash back to that "listening session" sponsored by Sen. Max Baucus, in Missoula, Montana, 26 May 2009:

Discussing why a single-payer system of health insurance wasn't viable, [Sen. Max Baucus' chief of staff, Jon] Selib made reference to the more than 150 million Americans who are covered by some sort of employer-provided health care.

"A lot of people like that," Selib said.

When the time came for questions, [Steve] McArthur [a self-employed management consultant] stood up and asked a simple question. Looking across a standing-room-only crowd of about 275, he asked how many were happy with their employer-based health insurance.

Fewer than 10 people raised their hands.

"The [argument] is bogus," McArthur said. "It's not working for 95 percent of us."

Seems like Gov. Schweitzer's been listening to Montanans.

[Edit: Oops, didn't see jumpjet's comment before I posted. Great minds and all that.]

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

Clearly, the employer based system doesn't work, so what the hell are we building on? I'll give him uniquely American. No other industrialized nation on the planet links basic health care to employment. I was just thinking about this when I wrote this post. How on earth does he get himself to say something so obviously false?

Submitted by jawbone on

for All single payer, and then makes the Leap of Illogic* to try to explain how keeping the major cause of low health care outcomes, high bankruptcies, high numbers of uninsured is --ta dah!-- the SOLUTION. Yeah, can't "disrupt" the Big Insurance Parasites' feeding patterns> Solution? Mandate that they have more hosts upon which to feed. They'd been weakening the current number a bit too much, so mandate they get more. More financial life blood from the people to the parasites' coffers.

Makes me want to scream. But I'm one of those "little single payer supporters" and a "bleeding liberal heart." (Obama does have a way with words, doesn't he? I get it, Mr. President: You're just not that into us.)

*Leap of Illogic--The crazy thing is he expects members of the reality-based community to follow him to the Land of Illogic. And some have! Alas.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

I love the juxtaposition of the paragraphs. You'd know, I'd call it tone deafness, but that imply some kind of noble naivete on the administration's part. Single-payer is here and now, and they'll be damned if it gets a hearing.

I heard the absolutely worthless Kent Conrad (why isn't he a Republican?) talking about how there isn't any will in Congress to even get a "public option" through. It's a sad day in America when the truly bat-shit insane and the true extremists are legitimized and given a voice in this process, instead of shut-out and ridiculed roundly, while those with actual workable plans and ideas are labeled extremists and shut-out of the process.

Somehow, bringing loaded firearms to town halls (however illegitimate they may be) and totally irrational fear, anger, and logic to the debate is "democracy in action" and "good," but you got the guys and gals with the actual facts and rational/non-emotional outlooks looking for a good debate (and not a shouting match) and they don't even exist. These idiots know that if you give the hateful, irrational right-wing mobs an inch they'll take an entire mile, right?

Submitted by jawbone on

packing heat across the street or in the same "public area" at one of these events. Disruptor or militia member?

Chilling effect? Well, I wouldn't bring my children to one of these events in a carry state I'd probably think twice about going.

But, according to the police, it was legal for these folks to have guns at a political rally.

PHOENIX (Aug. 17) - About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside the convention center where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday — the latest incident in which protesters have openly displayed firearms near the president.

Pay attention to the police chief's attitude toward the guy with the semi-automatic rifle...and the other people there.

Phoenix police said the gun-toters at Monday's event, including the man carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder, didn't need permits. No crimes were committed, and no one was arrested.

The man with the rifle declined to be identified but told The Arizona Republic that he was carrying the assault weapon because he could. "In Arizona, I still have some freedoms," he said.

Phoenix police Detective J. Oliver, who monitored the man at the downtown protest, said police also wanted to make sure no one decided to harm him [the man with the rifle].
"Just by his presence and people seeing the rifle and people knowing the president was in town, it sparked a lot of emotions," Oliver said. "We were keeping peace on both ends."

Well, I suppose enough unarmed people could overcome someone with a semi-automatic rifle, eh?

Can you imagine the reaction if some lefties had done this during Pres. Bush's administration? Showing up with a rifle at a presidential event? That person would have had to be protected. I can just hear the screams of "Assassin! Traitor! Terrorist!" from the pro-Bushies.

Can you imagine the MCM* reaction to a openly armed lefty at a BushCo event? The cable shouters would work that one for years.

Fred Solop, a Northern Arizona University political scientist, said the incidents in New Hampshire and Arizona could signal the beginning of a disturbing trend.
"When you start to bring guns to political rallies, it does layer on another level of concern and significance," Solop said. "It actually becomes quite scary for many people. It creates a chilling effect in the ability of our society to carry on honest communication."

He said he's never heard of someone bringing an assault weapon near a presidential event. "The larger the gun, the more menacing the situation," he said.

The article ends with a comment that the NRA did not return calls requesting their comment....

*MCM--Mainstream Corporate Media

Submitted by lambert on

I have to be out for most of the day, so can somebody check FDL, and especially HCAN-staffer Jason Rosenbaum's daily Health Care News post? And if this is not there, please ask him politely to add it. Couldn't hurt to throw in comments over at the usual suspects, as well.

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

masslib @ 1 (hide text)

There are at least two articles on Brian Schweitzer’s endorsement of Canadian health care. Could you fit at least on of them in your round up?

They are both linked to in my post here:

Jason Rosenbaum August 18th, 2009 at 9:23 am

Thanks for these. No guarantees, but very good reads.