By Dan Calabrese
I’m not sure why Washington always wants to talk about the cost of everything “over 10 years.” Let’s talk in terms of one year.
The entire federal budget is just about $4 trillion a year. Is that too high? Yeah. Way too high. But that’s where we are. The proposed “Medicare for All” bill that’s been sponsored by the likes of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris is projected to cost $32.6 trillion “over 10 years,” so let’s just spread the average across the decade evenly and call it $3.26 trillion a year.
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That’s 80 percent of the entire current federal budget. How much money is that? It’s so much that one estimate shows you could double all existing corporate and individual income taxes and it wouldn’t be enough to cover it. Among other things, “Medicare for All” would eliminate employer-sponsored health insurance. It would also eliminate the current element of the Medicare model that requires a premium to be paid by beneficiaries. Everything would be paid for by taxes, and your care would be “free”. That probably sound pretty good until you realize a couple of things:
- You are neither the payer nor the care provider, so when it comes time to decide if you’re going to get care – and how much – you have no say in the matter. You’re not a party to the transaction. You’re just a helpless would-be beneficiary hoping someone will take care of you and someone else will pay the bill. It’s out of your hands entirely.
- Nothing’s free. Your taxes are going to be doubled and then some. So will your employer’s. Good luck keeping your job.
- One of the ways Bernie plans to reduce the cost of health care delivery is to reduce reimbursements to physicians. They’re already just barely breaking even on Medicare patients. If everyone is on Medicare and reimbursement levels are even less, guess what’s going to happen. A lot of doctors are going to find other things to do with their lives. And you’ll have a shortage of providers. That’s what always happens with socialism.
Now, having said all this, this is the sort of proposal that even in the leftist Democratic Party used to only get the support of a handful on the fringe. Most recognized that while they love big government, it would be insane to take it this far. Others might have secretly loved the idea, but they didn’t think it was politically viable to admit it publicly.
No more. In addition to the aforementioned senators – all of whom are considered viable presidential candidates – the House of Representatives has 197 Democrats. How many do you suppose might have signed on as co-sponsored to socialize all American medicine? Five? Ten?
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You’re too low. Way too low:
Republicans are running ads slamming Democrats on single-payer health care, and President Trump framed the issue this week in a USA Today op-ed that said “Democrats would gut Medicare with their planned government takeover of American health care.” Democrats claim this is unfair because not every candidate has endorsed single payer, but if they now want to repudiate it they should say so.
Mr. Trump is referring to the Bernie Sanders bill known as Medicare for All, which has been endorsed by 16 Senators, including almost all of the left’s leading 2020 presidential contenders (Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren).
A companion House bill has attracted more than 120 co-sponsors, which is nearly two-thirds of the current Democratic caucus. Other devotees include the Democratic nominees for Governor in California (Gavin Newsom) and Florida (Andrew Gillum) and dozens of other candidates around the country. Did Democrats think they could endorse this to please their progressive base but then have no one notice?
You might see this as evidence that the Democratic Party has “moved left.” I don’t think so.
I think the Democratic Party has always been as far left as it thinks the voting public will let it be. Are they in favor of the complete nationalization of all industry? If it will poll well enough, sure. The only restraint on the Democrats’ leftism is electoral reality. If the claim not to be full-fledged socialists, it’s only because they think you’ll reject them if they admit that they actually are.
Why do you think they passed ObamaCare and not “Medicare for All” in 2010? Because that’s as far as they thought they could go without getting wiped out at the next election? As it turned out, ObamaCare was enough to wipe them out.
But they also learned something else from ObamaCare: You can pass a gigantic big-government measure that the public hates, and the Republicans can run against it and win. And once in office, the Republicans will not be able to figure out how to get rid of it, or they’ll just simply lack the nerve.
Is big government really unpopular? The Democrats seem increasingly convinced that they can shove just about any expansion of the state down the throats of the public, and no matter what the short-term electoral consequences may be, no part of the edifice they construct will ever be torn down because Republicans are too afraid.
And I think they’re right.
So maybe this is their chance. You’d think the sensible 2020 strategy would be to run a sensible, centrist-sounding candidate against the unpopular incumbent Donald Trump. The public would figure, “Let’s go back to having a normal president who doesn’t sound too crazy,” and the sensible-sounding Democrat would win.
Instead, every major Democrat contender is making no bones about their desire to give us socialized medicine, which gives Trump the opportunity to say, “Hey, stick with me. These are the real crazy people.”
But if the Democrats’ gambit works, watch the mail for your “Medicare for All” card, whether you want it or not. And don’t bother vowing to elect Republicans to repeal it. No piece of the edifice can ever be torn down. Big government is forever.
Dan writes Christian spiritual warfare novels and does all kinds of other weird things too. Follow all his activity by liking him on Facebook!
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