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Bernie Sanders’ Universal Medicare Bill Costs Almost As Much As The Entire Federal Budget

On Wednesday, to a welter of online commentary, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, introduced his “Medicare for All” bill and began a major push to collect Democratic co-sponsors.

Fifteen Democratic Senators, including many expected 2020 presidential candidates, have already signed on. While the bill has no chance of passing a GOP-controlled Congress, the point is to draw a line in the sand and force Democrats to go on the record in favor of a government-run single-payer healthcare system.

When asked about how the bill would be funded, he insisted the funding will be introduced later in a separate standalone bill and refused to provide any details. That makes his current proposal less of a healthcare bill, and more like half-a-healthcare bill.

Federal revenue is projected to be about $3.654 trillion for fiscal year 2018. Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill is projected to cost $3.2 trillion annually over the next decade if enacted, as estimated by the left-leaning Urban Institute.

Universal medicare for ‘free’

In other words, the bill actually introduced and cosponsored by an increasing number of Democratic Senators would nearly double total federal spending with no way to pay for it. No spending cuts elsewhere to offset it and no tax increases to cover it: Nothing.

Just by default, that would impose a massive increase in the annual deficit equal to roughly 16 percent of the country’s GDP.

This bill resides in a fiscal fantasyland. If passed with no funding and purely on increasing debt, the likely consequence would be the catastrophic collapse of the dollar. And you can’t buy much healthcare with worthless dollars.

For all the talk about a Republican Party unprepared and unwilling to govern (particularly on healthcare policy), this shows a chunk of the Democrats are just as far out of touch with reality.

You don’t need us to tell you that nationalizing healthcare is not a sound policy prescription. But, still, it is at least theoretically possible to propose a single-payer plan that could be paid for with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases.

While that wouldn’t be a good proposal, it at least would not completely wreck the government’s financial balance sheet, as would Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill.

Pandering to a political base with no thought for fiscal consequences

Talk about Republicans passing resolutions to repeal Obamacare in the years that President Obama inhabited the White House! What Sanders has proposed is far worse: A joke, a gimmick. a publicity stunt.

Not only does it have no chance of ever being implemented, but it refuses to seriously grapple with the fiscal consequences of what he’s proposing.

Bernie Sanders is saying that everyone in America should get a pony, and nobody should have to pay for it. He’s is proving true the viral March 2016 Facebook post about ponies that Hillary Clinton just reprinted, practically verbatim, in her book What Happened: “How will you pay for the pony? Where will the pony come from? How will you get Congress to agree to the pony?”

For all the flaws of Clintonianism, both the Bill and Hillary versions, both of them pushed back against gut-driven, fact-free approaches to policy-making. Sanders, like someone else we know who currently occupies the White House, wildly panders to his base with no thought for the reality of what it means to deliver on those promises.

(Photo of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the Paul R. Knapp Learning Center in Des Moines, Iowa by Gage Skidmore, used with permission.)


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