Flashback: Barney Frank Told the Truth About Single-Payer but Didn't Volunteer It

Barney Frank says he always tells the truth but doesn’t always “volunteer the whole truth.” That was certainly the case when it came to the truth about the public option and its relationship to single-payer.

Barney Frank gave the Huffington Post an interview last month in which he criticized President Obama for lying to people about his health reform plan. “Frankly, he should never have said as much as he did, that if you like
your current health care plan, you can keep it. That wasn’t true. And
you shouldn’t lie to people. And they just lied to people,” Frank told the Huffington Post.

As for himself, Frank told HuffPost, “My political motto, very simple. I have always told the truth, and
nothing but the truth. But I don’t volunteer the whole truth in every
situation.” Frank seemed to be living up to that motto in 2009 when health reform was being shaped. Back then a political split developed on the left between those who wanted single-payer and those who wanted a more modest reform which was more likely to actually pass. Frank took the latter view and, when confronted by a group of single-payer advocates with a camera, he told the truth.

Interviewer: Don’t you think we should scratch everything and start anew with single-payer?

Frank: No.

Interviewer: Why not? Why shouldn’t we start with single-payer…new?

Frank: Because we don’t have the votes for it. I wish we did. I think if we get a good public option that could lead to single-payer and that’s the best way to reach single-payer. Saying you’ll do nothing until you get single-payer is a sure way never to get it.

But as Frank suggests to Huffington Post, he never volunteered this information when talking about the bill in more public forums. And so the divide between what Democrats like Frank knew was happening with the public option and what they said in public continued. To this day, the legacy media seems only vaguely aware of what was really happening. It remains the single most poorly reported (almost unreported) aspect of health reform.


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