It seems mandatory in the primaries that when a candidate gains ground in the polls, his or her campaign comes under the spotlight to be heavily scrutinized. The top-tier hopefuls lay off those polling in single digits as they have bigger fish to fry. This is why everyone applauds Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) for his apparent leadership on the gun issue rather than hammering him on the brass tacks and his record. Were Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) polling alongside former Vice President Joe Biden, the media would pounce on Ryan’s assertion that the Taliban attacked the US on Sept. 11. Electoral tactics are all about the polling data, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is learning the hard way in her effort to kick Biden from his throne.
Going to Warren
Warren’s campaign, at least during the primary preseason, has been described as wonkish, with the candidate releasing proposal after proposal on a whole host of issues, from health care to consumer finance. Perhaps we have been so devoid of legitimate political discourse in recent years that we tend to believe just announcing a policy, no matter how trivial, carries the weight of the Warren Commission Report. But the senator has been as evasive as a middle schooler being asked about his missing homework, and her opponents are starting to notice.
This has been most evident on her Medicare for All proposal. Warren wants to spend a few trillion dollars to offer universal health care coverage to all Americans. When pressed on how she would pay for it and if the middle class would see its taxes go up, the senator repeatedly says that health care costs would come down.
Biden commented that at least Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has been candid about raising taxes on the middle class. Sanders conceded that middle-class taxes would increase but overall health care costs would decrease. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has also weighed in, telling CNN that if you believe in your plan and you are proud of it then “you should defend it in straightforward terms”:
“And I think it’s puzzling that when everybody knows the answer to that question, of whether her plan and Sen. Sanders’ plan will raise middle-class taxes, is ‘yes,’ why you wouldn’t just say so and then explain why you think that’s the better way forward.”
Even when former comedian Stephen Colbert directly asked Warren if she is “going to be raising the middle-class taxes?” the senator responded: “But here’s the thing.”
Wouldn’t a simple yes or no suffice? Not in the world of politics.
Whether or not the senator plans to raise everybody’s taxes is a moot point; she has no other alternative. Considering how expensive Medicare for All would be, her administration would need to hike taxes on the entire country – rich or poor, black or white, Native or non-Native.
Medicare for Some
During this 2020 election cycle, many numbers have been thrown around regarding how much it would cost to guarantee every American “free” health care. From a trillion or two to tens of trillions, it is unclear as to who is right. Knowing how inefficient and immense the government is, Sen. Sanders’ $30 trillion is probably closest to the correct figure out there.
But how would the federal government pay for the program? It can barely afford Medicare for Some, let alone an additional 300 million people.
All the candidates have targeted one class of Americans to pay for big-government extravagance: the wealthy. The Democrats have come up with all sorts of clever new levies and tax hikes on the rich to pay for not only universal health care but also “free” childcare, “free” prescription drugs, “free” tuition, and anything the exclusive members of the Something for Nothing Society want. Even if these penalties were effective at extracting every ounce of blood from a group that already pays for most of the government’s tab, it likely will not be enough.
For instance, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) estimated that the Sanders plan would raise approximately $11 trillion in revenue, but would be short roughly $17 trillion. Other analyses highlight similar shortfalls. The group did not outright reject the idea, but it did offer this piece of fiscally responsible advice:
“Supporters of Medicare for All should work to identify new revenue, premiums, and/or spending cuts to finance new federal costs or else scale back their proposal if they are unable to identify sufficient funding.”
Ain’t that the truth!
Next Time on Fibber McGee
There are two ingredients for next year’s election recipe that might not mix well: a hatred for President Donald Trump and an appetite for free stuff. The combination cancels out rationality and reason, causing the candidates to evade and pander like it is nobody’s business because most voters are blinded by hate and entitlement. It is unclear if the candidates really believe what they espouse every day on the campaign trail or are just being mendacious. When putting their exorbitant proposals under Sherlock Holmes’ magnifying glass, you hope they are trying out for the part of Fibber McGee.
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