GOP Feels the Bern

Apparently over the weekend certain Powers That Be decided that Bernie Sanders needed to be taken down. Sanders has benefited from being mostly ignored by the GOP, which has focused its guns on Hillary Clinton. But in the past couple of days several rightie spokesmouths have spread disinformation on Bernie, and soon the MSM will follow suit (see Steve M).

The Wall Street Journal ran a screaming headline saying Price Tag of Bernie Sanders’s Proposals: $18 Trillion: Democratic presidential candidate’s agenda would greatly expand government. The wingnut war cry “Tax and Spend!” is ringing in my ears already.

The ever-sensible Paul Waldman debunks this by pointing out that he’s proposing things we are already paying for. Sanders wants to change how we are paying for them.  “We shouldn’t treat his proposals as though they’re going to cost us $18 trillion on top of what we’re already paying,” Waldman says. Further,

And there’s another problem with that scary $18 trillion figure, which is what the Journal says is the 10-year cost of Sanders’ ideas: fully $15 trillion of it comes not from an analysis of anything Sanders has proposed, but from the fact that Sanders has said he’d like to see a single-payer health insurance system, and there’s a single-payer plan in Congress that has been estimated to cost $15 trillion. Sanders hasn’t actually released any health care plan, so we have no idea what his might cost.

But this takes me to a long-standing gripe of mine. Whenever anyone talks about government subsidized health care, people get hysterical because they see their taxes going through the roof. What they don’t consider is that just about any taxpayer-supported national health care system would result in more money staying in their pockets, even if they are paying more in taxes. That’s because they wouldn’t be shelling out their own money to pay for medical care and health insurance. And a national not-for-profit system could save us all a ton of money through economies of scale.

The system we have now is wasteful, bloated and inefficient. We’re spending tons more money than people in other countries and getting less care for it.

See also “U.S. Healthcare Ranked Dead Last Compared to 10 Other Countries.”

Young folks complain about paying for Medicare, but they don’t consider that without Medicare they’d be stuck paying off their parents’ medical debts, which often will run into six figures.

And then there’s college. We’re choking off our future as a nation, IMO, by allowing a college education to be so prohibitively expensive. Sanders wants to make it free, which I support, but even making it reasonable will do. Let’s at least go back to the time in which people could put themselves through college with a part-time job. Which was as recently as 1979, according to this article, which is worth reading. (I would have guessed more like 1969, but I haven’t crunched numbers.)

People who don’t have children to put through college, or who aren’t interested in college, might balk at helping others pay for it. But it’s good for the country in the long run to encourage people to get as much education as they are capable of learning. A nation of under-educated yahoos will not remain economically competitive forever.

Back to health care. Waldman:

So let’s say that Bernie Sanders became president and passed a single-payer health care system of some sort. And let’s say that it did indeed cost $15 trillion over 10 years. Would that be $15 trillion in new money we’d be spending? No, it would be money that we’re already spending on health care, but now it would go through government. If I told you I could cut your health insurance premiums by $1,000 and increase your taxes by $1,000, you wouldn’t have lost $1,000. You’d be in the same place you are now.

By the logic of the scary $18 trillion number, you could take a candidate who has proposed nothing on health care, and say, “So-and-so proposes spending $42 trillion on health care!” It would be accurate, but not particularly informative.

And, again, with economies of scale, and reducing the profit-taking, we really ought to be able to get more medical bang for the buck than we have been these past many years. The ACA helped, but it was just a tweak compared to what’s really needed.

There’s something else to keep in mind: every single-payer system in the world, and there are many of them of varying flavors, is cheaper than the American health care system. Every single one. So whatever you might say about Sanders’ advocacy for a single-payer system, you can’t say it represents some kind of profligate, free-spending idea that would cost us all terrible amounts of money.

Put another way, most of the time when people talk about health care reform they are just talking about moving the bills around. You can pay for it through taxes, or through insurance, or out of your own pocket, but you’re still paying for it. The cost doesn’t go away unless you tackle the systemic reasons why there’s so much cost. The ACA partly does that; no Republican proposal ever does.

Meanwhile, Jeb! is promising more voodoo economics. Krugman:

The Jeb! tax plan confirms, if anyone had doubts, that the takeover of the Republican Party by charlatans and cranks is complete. This is what the supposedly thoughtful, wonkish candidate of the establishment can come up with? And notice that the ludicrous claim that most of the revenue effects of huge tax cuts would be offset by higher growth comes from economists who, like Jeb!, are very much establishment figures – but who evidently find that the partisan requirement that they support voodoo outweighs any fear of damage to their professional reputations.

See also the view from nowhere in the Washington Post: Jeb Bush’s new tax plan could cost $3.4 trillion over next decade.

22 thoughts on “GOP Feels the Bern

  1. Even “The Donald” (Mr. Details and Specifics) has a far more intelligent tax plan than Mr. Excitement!!!– raise taxes on those hedge fund managers.

  2. Surgery tomorrow!

    Talk to you, when I talk to you.
    Stay well, and fight the good fight without my word-turds over the next few weeks!

  3. Best of luck, cundgulag.

    My barometer of right wing consciousness posted part of a Fox Business rant by the CEO of Home Depot, aimed at Bernie Sanders. I know this is hard for most of you to believe, but, it was packed with anti-Obama lies and it tied Bernie to all the “failed economic policies” that prevented our recovery from that little hiccup called the “great recession.”

    I think that there may be something to that “Parallel Universe” theory.

    Also, it means Bernie has entered Fox RADAR. That means that the flying monkeys are not far behind.

  4. A nation of under-educated yahoos will not remain economically competitive forever.

    But they’re easier for the Fox News and WalMarts of the world to manipulate in the short term, which is all they care about.

  5. Mend quickly,Gulag. And hurry back!

    It’s hard to understand this whole political nonsense. The media beats up on Sanders while Trump is spewing pure garbage and nobody seems to point it out. Yesterday I saw a video where Trump says..He’s going to make the country so good that you won’t believe it. I don’t see much difference between Billy Mays making a sales pitch for Oxiclean than than of Trump promising to make our country great again. Except maybe for the fact that Oxiclean might really provide a result that you could find hard to believe.

  6. …and despite being a former carnival barker, there was something about Billy Mays that was likeable.

    WARNING: Unbridled metaphors in the hands of incompetent, free associating commenters can be very likely to lead to wasted time and confusion. On the other hand, they might be mildly entertaining. But, don’t count on it.

    “Making the country so good that you won’t believe it,” or making it great again seems to mean something a little different to everyone. For some it’s just the raw projection of power. But, in the light of the current refugee crisis, mainly focused in the EU, and thinking back to the thousands of very young refugees that knocked on our backdoor a little while ago, greatness seems to be something altogether softer, but no less difficult. There are certain obligations that accompany the claim to be “civilized.” Sometimes the obligations come at a bad time, you’ve just removed your last TV dinner from the microwave and someone shows up unannounced. You can choose your response, but, in responding you display and create your essence. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be a few blue words and some bad feelings, but what matters is what happens when those transient reactions are quelled and you come back to who you really are. You share your meal or you don’t, and once you act, you can’t take it back.

    Being truly great requires some sacrifice, doing things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Some of my conservative friends seem to believe that if we we just keep trimming away at the welfare state, spend less, and stick to our own, we’ll fall back into greatness as one would fall into a comfy old Barcolounger.

    I think greatness requires investment in the future, which in turn requires faith in what you have built and a belief in what you can build. It also requires an open hand and a willingness to do the right thing despite a strike to the bottom line. To a lot of people this is counterintuitive or as they would put it, “just plain stupid.” It’s “show and tell time,” and we’ll find out who we really are.

  7. I’ve noticed some of the cable bobble-heads have been pushing this meme lately that Bernie is just like Trump, outside the mainstream insurgent candidate? Nothing could be farther from the truth, IMO Bernie is the mainstream old school liberal democrat it is Hill has wondered into centrist right of center land? It’s curious that the bobble-heads on all the major cables are pushing this meme, almost like they are working together? Good Luck G U N D!

  8. On the topic of the 2016 race, the pundits (and Nate) are saying The Donald did poorly. We’ll have to see what the polling tells us. Personally, I’d like to see him front runner for as long as possible because he shows the world the Republican Party exactly as it is.

    Best post-debate summary I’ve seen (from Gawker, of all places!):

    Question for our Gentle Host: Maha, what woman would YOU like to see on the $10 bill?

  9. Huckabee wants his Secret Service code name to be “Babycakes”. What’s that all about? Is it sexual innuendo or something to do with his fondness for donuts?

  10. I would like to see Eleanor Roosevelt on the $20. bill, in time for August 26, 2020, the 100th Anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment.

  11. I found it interesting that Fiorina picked Secretariat. So who was Secretariat? He was a triple crown winner and from what I’ve read considered to be one of the best. However, he was male, not female so I can’t figure that out. Maybe she just likes horses.

  12. Wow, I am as fond of horses as the next guy, and occasionally my eyes tear up when I think about Secretariat, but, that’s not exactly a good example of Carly’s ability to think on her feet.

    Thanks, Swami, I had some philatelic interests when was a sprout, but, I didn’t know about the stamp with Elizabeth Stanton. As homegirl wrote, Eleanor Roosevelt would probably be the most likely choice.

    But, there is something appealing about recognizing a citizen activist over someone more comfortable in the halls of power. This is not to take anything away from Eleanor Roosevelt, but, it speaks to the fact that the contributions of women to history, science and thought have largely been ignored or appropriated by men who had power over them.

    There has been a lot of chatter on the right with respect to some of the luminaries of the civil rights movement. The obvious objectives are to identify with the victimhood of truly oppressed people and to wash off the smell of bigotry. The time is right for this gambit, or as right as it will ever be. The right is doing poorly among the young demographic and they want to see if their public relations/propaganda will work on people too young to actually remember the civil rights era, and too worried about the future to google much about the past. For those of us who do remember, it has an element of the “Big LIe.” It is a lie so huge and absurd that it seems improbable that anyone would attempt to pass it off as truth. It also has the virtue of washing away the “sins” of the American right, so the base will embrace it. In short, it’s a “tour de force” and just crazy enough to work.

    I miss cundgulag already. At least they have those warm fuzzy heated blankets to set us at ease before the big event.

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