Democratic gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa challenged Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, his top rival for the Golden State’s highest political post, on Monday to a one-on-one debate over how feasible a state-sponsored single-payer healthcare system might be.
“Enough with the slogans — it’s time to show real leadership and have a serious in-depth discussion,” Villaraigosa told the media, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The former Los Angeles mayor’s challenge arrived just days after he penned an op-ed article on his take on the issue in the Daily News. Villaraigosa explained that he opposes SB 562, the “Healthy California Act” which calls for a state-run, single-payer healthcare system, arguing that it lacks a funding plan, and that it “is based on the dubious premise that President Donald Trump would agree with” it.
“SB562 isn’t a sound health care policy. It is essentially a political press release,” Villaraigosa wrote. Instead, he said, the state should focus on protecting Obamacare and its state Medicaid component, Medi-Cal.
Villaraigosa and another Democratic gubernatorial candidate, State Treasurer John Chiang, are both skeptical of single-payer health care, while Newsom and former state schools superintendent Delaine Eastin, another Democrat in the crowded race, have come out strongly in support of the proposal.
Republican candidates Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) and San Diego businessman John Cox are opposed to it.
As for Newsom, he was not enthusiastic about a debate.
“It’s laughable that a guy who, at the the last 8 debates and countless forums, has trashed single payer and ridiculed its supporters NOW claims he wants to have a conversation about health care policy,” Newsom campaign spokesman Nathan Click reportedly told the Los Angeles Times in a text.
The Times noted that “Newsom has accused Villaraigosa and Chiang of being “defeatist Democrats,” criticizing them for saying they support the concept of universal healthcare but adding that they lack the political courage and foresight to make it a reality. He said San Francisco enacted a universal health care program while he was mayor, proving that it would be done.”
Another issue that has dogged the leading Democratic candidates is how they intend to build more houses in California than ever before, as the state’s residents suffer from skyrocketing housing costs and crunched space.
Economic experts, in interviews with the Times, summed up Newsom and Villaraigosa’s rhetoric on the matter are “empty promises.”