Early Monday, Joe Biden announced his intention to nominate California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, D-Calif, as U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services. Like Biden, Becerra stands as a career politician, having served continuously in elected office since the age of 32.
But unlike Biden, Becerra does not attempt to disguise his support for socialized medicine. He has supported a single-payer system for decades and continues to do so. The nomination provides further evidence that Biden’s policies belie his “moderate” label.
Supported Socialized Medicine in Congress
Becerra served so long in Congress that he not only participated in the debates regarding Obamacare but the 1993-94 debates surrounding Hillarycare. A clip from a 1994 hearing shows Becerra giving full-throated support for single-payer health care:
I do, as I said before, join my colleagues who support the single-payer plan. I do so because I believe that health care is a right, not a privilege — and I believe it is a responsibility, not an option. I also believe that our health care system must be prudent and cost-effective, and quite honestly, I’ve seen nothing that does a better job of addressing that concern than the single-payer system.
Becerra’s discussion of cost-effectiveness represents a loaded reference because single-payer systems like those in Great Britain deny access to treatments that bureaucrats deem too expensive. While Becerra talked in gauzy terms about a “prudent” health-care system, the effects of the policies he supports become clear when one examines the lengthy waiting lists for care in Britain’s National Health Service.
Co-Sponsored Single-Payer Bills
A decade after those comments, from 2005 through 2012, Becerra co-sponsored single-payer legislation introduced by then-Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. The versions Becerra co-sponsored contained fewer details than the current single-payer legislation offered by Sens. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.
Whereas the Conyers bill contained only 30 pages and delegated more details of implementation to federal bureaucrats, the single-payer bill Jayapal introduced in this Congress has exactly four times as many pages, 120 in total (my book has a good summary of the Jayapal legislation).
Despite the lack of details in the single-payer legislation he co-sponsored, we know where Becerra stands on some important issues. For instance, the Conyers bill included no explicit provision regarding abortion funding in the single-payer system. But Becerra’s long history of support for the abortion industry means he will strongly fight for taxpayer funding of abortion — just like Biden, who last year flip-flopped on his long-standing opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion to appease his party’s left-wing.
More importantly, we know Becerra supports more government control over health care. Politico reported in 2009 that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, called Becerra out in a leadership meeting after Becerra “suggested to the Congressional Progressive Caucus that party leaders gave up too easily on the favored ‘robust’” government-run plan as part of the House’s health care bill. When you’re to the left of Pelosi on an issue, that’s saying something.
Biden: Surrounded by Socialists
Becerra’s nomination means Biden has now surrounded himself with supporters of single-payer health care. His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif, infamously said in early 2019 about the private health insurance system: “Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.”
With his primary advisors supporting a single-payer system, Biden will face increasing pressure to kowtow to the radical left. And if the 78-year-old suffers any health scares while in office, his closest advisors will have nothing standing in their way from a full-on embrace of socialism. Senate Republicans considering Becerra’s nomination — to say nothing of voters in Georgia contemplating that state’s two Senate runoffs on Jan. 5 — should vote accordingly.