It Depends On What the Meaning of “Have Not” Is

Barack Obama, at today’s townhall discussion of health care in Portsmouth, New Hampshire:

QUESTION: Mr. President, you’ve been quoted over the years when you were a senator, and perhaps even before then, that you were essentially a supporter of a universal plan.
I’m beginning to see that you’re changing that. Do you honestly believe that? Because that is my concern. I’m on Medicare, but I still worry that if we go to a public option, period, that the private companies, the insurance companies, rather than competing, because who can compete with the government? The answer is nobody.
So my question is, do you still as a — yourself now support a universal plan or are you open to the private industry still being maintained?
OBAMA: Well, I think it’s an excellent question. So I appreciate the chance to respond. First of all, I want to make a distinction between a universal plan versus a single-payer plan, because those are two different things. A single-payer plan would be a plan like Medicare for all, or the kind of plan that they have in Canada, where basically government is the only person — is the only entity that pays for all health care.
Everybody has a government paid-for plan, even though depending on which country, the doctors are still private or the hospitals might still be private. In some countries, the doctors work for the government and the hospitals are owned by the government.
But the point is, is that government pays for everything, like, Medicare for all. That is a single-payer plan. I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter, because, frankly, we historically have had a employer-based system in this country, with private insurers, and for us to transition to a system like that, I believe, would be too disruptive.

Maybe he just misspoke. Or maybe he doesn’t realize that just about everyone has seen this video:

Or maybe he meant “I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter lately.”

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