News & Politics

Warren Can't Figure Out How to Pay for Medicare for All Without Middle-Class Tax Increase

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Medicare for All! Free college tuition for all! A home for all! A chicken in every pot for all!

Perhaps the Democrats didn’t notice, but there are 320 million people in the country. “For all” is going to cost everyone a whole helluva lot of money. How excited will people be if that “free” health care raises their taxes by 25 percent?

Americans are unique. We want everything the politicians are offering, we want it now, and we want it without paying for it. In short, there is a profound disconnect in America between the kind of government we’re willing to pay for and the kind of government we want. That disconnect extends to how we see ourselves: independent and self-sufficient while grasping for all the goodies that eager politicians want to send our way.

That’s where trillion-dollar deficits come from.

Now, the American experiment is going to be tested like never before. Most Democrats — including the frontrunner Elizabeth Warren — advocate a national health insurance program that would conservatively cost us $20 trillion over 10 years and perhaps as much as $30 trillion over the same period. Medicare for All is more than a health insurance program. If Democrats take control of Congress and the White House next year, there will be a sustained effort to pass it. Once it is passed, the relationship between the government and the governed would be permanently altered.

You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in constitutional law to understand the profound ramifications of a total government takeover of health care. Taxes are going to go up. You will have less money to spend on “discretionary” items — you know, the kind of stuff that makes life worth living: phones, electronic gizmos — leisure items that you won’t be able to afford anymore. Living in a high-tax, quasi-socialist state will alter the fundamental characteristics of American consumer society, meaning less economic growth, fewer new jobs, and a stifling of the American entrepreneurial spirit.

And you don’t need a Ph.D. in economics to understand that raising taxes, especially on the middle-class, will be an absolute necessity.

Democrats like Warren understand this, which is why they are hiding their plans for how to pay for Medicare for All.

The Hill:

“We’re talking about a very substantial increase in revenues,” said Linda Blumberg of the Urban Institute, which recently released a cost estimate for a Medicare for All-style plan.

“With that large of an increase in revenue needed, my guess is a mix of different revenue sources would be looked at,” she added.

Blumberg specifically mentioned income tax increases; value-added taxes, which are popular in European countries; and other taxes to recapture what households and employers had already been spending on health care under the current system.

Warren’s problem is basic politics 101: it’s hard to get elected while looking people in the eye and telling them their taxes are going up.

A plan to finance Medicare for All is unlikely to avoid raising taxes on the middle class — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the author of the proposal and a fellow presidential candidate, has said as much.

“There’s not enough money from the rich and corporations to finance that,” said Marc Goldwein, senior vice president and senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

But he noted that “doesn’t mean the middle class would have to pay more. There would be higher taxes, but no premiums and no cost sharing.”

What a middle class family pays under Medicare for All will depend on the financing details that are eventually hammered out. But Warren has said she wouldn’t sign a bill that would increase “costs” for the middle class.

Warren thinks she’s being cute by mentioning “costs” instead of taxes. It won’t work. Eventually, the clamor for her to tell us how she’s going to pay for her revolution will become too great and she’ll be forced to admit the obvious.

Just as an aside, the last presidential candidate who promised to raise everyone’s taxes was Walter Mondale in 1984.

He lost 49 states.

Trump will tear her apart, of course. Aside from wanting to tax everything — including the air we breathe — Warren’s as yet unannounced plan will mean that even the poorest worker is going to pony up something to realize her socialist dream.

Medicare for All may work in European countries where citizens are used to living with less and paying more for the privilege. But this is still America, and if she’s serious about it, she will lose. And she knows it.