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Here's Why Ocasio-Cortez's Math on Pentagon, Medicare Costs Is So Embarrassingly Wrong

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The last time we saw gaffe-prone U.S. Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gaffing in a serious way, it had to do with identifying the three branches of government. This wouldn’t have been so disturbing were she not going to be entering one of them.

Well, all right. Surely she’s going to learn from these gaffes and check with someone on her staff (or Google, at the very least) before she says something that doesn’t sound true, right?

Ah, but then we wouldn’t have anything to write about.

“$21 TRILLION of Pentagon financial transactions ‘could not be traced, documented, or explained.’ $21T in Pentagon accounting errors,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted over the weekend.

“Medicare for All costs ~$32T. That means 66 percent of Medicare for All could have been funded already by the Pentagon. And that’s before our premiums.”

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To support her contention, she appended an article from The Nation that supposedly backed up her claims:

The original text of The Nation’s story should probably tip you off to why this is so erroneous: “In all, at least a mind-boggling $21 trillion of Pentagon financial transactions between 1998 and 2015 could not be traced, documented, or explained,” it read. (Emphasis ours.)

Manhattan Institute senior fellow Brian Riedl laid out just how misguided and/or dishonest this really was.

That number probably should have caused some alarms in the mind of Ocasio-Cortez, who will soon take part in the deliberative body from which the budget emanates.

“For one thing, the entire budget of the Pentagon from 1789 to now has been a grand total of $18 trillion, a full $3 trillion fewer than the ‘accounting errors’ cited by Ocasio-Cortez,” Tiana Lowe wrote in the Washington Examiner. “It’s impossible for a department’s waste in 17 years to exceed the budget of its entire existence.”

Even if this were true in some sort of fantasy land, it’s worth noting that the $32 trillion for Medicare for All is a conservative estimate from George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.

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As Lowe notes, they “found that the plan would add $32.6 trillion to the federal budget in ten years, assuming the plan is implemented by 2022. So even this mythical $21 trillion ‘saved’ over the course of nearly two decades could only fund about one-third of ‘Medicare for all’ in the same amount of time, assuming that the following decade of ‘Medicare for all’ would cost as much as the first decade. Which, by the way, is an unrealistic assumption, because healthcare spending will nearly double in the next decade according to the best projections.”

Do you think that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is overexposed?

It also assumes a significant cost reduction from practitioners, who would receive a reimbursement rate 40 percent lower than what they receive today. It also would assume certain efficiencies of scale. But it’s being run by the government — the same august institution that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez assumes lost $21 trillion through Pentagon transactions.

If our favorite socialist believes that, she also should believe that the government is woefully unprepared to run a Medicare for All program. As for me, I think that if one of the highest-profile incoming elected officials in the new Congress believes that, the government is woefully unprepared to run a Medicare for All program.

Either way, we should be in agreement for once.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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