Kamala Harris' tortured healthcare gyrations have been quite a sight to behold, and it finally looks as if some fellow Democrats may be ready to call her out on the subject. Harris has flipped and flopped all over the place over her support for single-payer healthcare, and the elimination of private insurance. Her latest, absurdist manipulation is to pretend, against all evidence, that she could implement a "Medicare for All" regime without raising taxes on the middle class -- which is literally impossible. We've shared the math before, and we'll share it again. Setting aside the system-wide disruptions and serious access problems, this policy would require gigantic tax increases on all US taxpayers:
The Mercatus Study -- like others -- shows that "Medicare for All" would require a federal tax hike of roughly 10% of GDP even after capturing state govt. savings.— Brian Riedl (@Brian_Riedl) July 30, 2018
But capturing the savings to families into a "single-payer tax" is not easy -- which is why Sanders comes up short pic.twitter.com/Etfjk22sQc
Perhaps the most efficient way to achieve that would be to combine the top three revenue generators listed: Raise the payroll tax (paid for by workers and employers) by ten percentage points for everyone, impose a brand new 20 percent national VAT/sales tax, and hike income tax rates across the board by ten percentage points. Not one of those three; all of those three.
As another leading expert put it: "To provide a sense of the magnitudes, the study notes that doubling all currently projected federal individual and corporate income taxes would be insufficient to finance even the lower bound estimate of $32.6 trillion." These are the empirical realities that Harris hopes to avoid by peddling the deeply dishonest fiction that her plan would implement this staggeringly costly program without asking the non-'rich' to pay more in taxes. Asked about this claim, Joe Biden -- clearly still smarting from the race-rooted attack Harris sprung on him at the last debate -- appropriately ridiculed her:
Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden said that it would be impossible to pay for 'Medicare for All' without raising taxes on the middle class, taking aim at Kamala Harris' claim that the plan could be paid for with a Wall Street tax. "Bernie has been honest that it's going to cost a tax on the middle class," Biden told reporters Wednesday in Detroit, referring to Bernie Sanders' acknowledgment that his Medicare for All Act would increase taxes. "You have to find $30 to $40 trillion somewhere. How are you going to do it? I find the people who say they are for Medicare for All but are not going to tax the middle class because you don't need to do that ?— come on. What is this, some fantasy world here?"
Bernie has actually been fairly up-front on this particular point, again reiterating the mathematical necessity of hiking taxes across the board in order to finance a full government takeover of healthcare:
"So is Vice President Biden correct that anybody who says Medicare for all is going to happen, but we're not gonna raise taxing on anybody or on the middle class is in a fantasy world?" Tapper pressed. "Well obviously health care is not free. We pay for it through premiums and out-of-pocket expenses and in Canada it is paid through taxes. We'll have to do that," Sanders said. Earlier this month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) estimated his Medicare for all proposal would cost up to $40 trillion over 10 years. Sanders has also said he would raise taxes, including for the middle class, to pay for Medicare for all, and that "there will be pain" in a transition to a single-payer system.
Tapper had to pull this answer our of Bernie, who seemed reluctant to effectively contradict a single-payer fellow traveler while agreeing with Biden -- with whom he's trying to pick a fight. Still, his answer is revealing. Will Biden have the wherewithal to punch at Kamala on this very point in the CNN debate later this week? Will he have the information to combat her inevitable counterpunch or dodge? I'll leave you with a detailed critique of government-run healthcare's effects on patient care and outcomes, as well as a useful explanation of why Biden's more "moderate" proposal (the so-called 'public option') is very much a single-payer trojan horse. The first CNN debate airs tonight at 8pm; round two, with Biden and Harris on stage, is tomorrow night at the same time.