But How Will You Pay for It? The Missing the Point Edition

Ever since Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Warren released her healthcare financing plan which, in part, was an attempt to quell the persistent question of ‘how will you pay for it?’, there has been discussion on the left-ish end of Twitter over Warren’s proposed payment method, the core of which is a per-employee tax on employers with more than fifty employees.

I think the lefties have it right (so to speak): this is an inferior mechanism compared to a payroll tax and is more regressive. It’s also not workable over the long term. While Warren is attempting to do a good thing here–make sure that the savings in healthcare goes to workers and not shareholders and owners of companies–the mechanism isn’t a good one.

All that said, this is a tempest in a teapot. It doesn’t matter. Does anyone really think what will kill Medicare for All is the funding mechanism? There are far more fundamental obstacles. Conservatives, which is to say Fox News, will claim that Democrats want to socialize your bodily fluids and that you’ll have to wait for years to get a doctor’s appointment. Many Democrats will embrace Republican talking points as well: many professional Democrats just don’t want Medicare for All. Former, corrupted Obama officials will attempt to appear reasonable and argue against it.

It’s fine to argue about the payment mechanism, but, if we ever reach that point, we’ve already won. To the extent the opposition will shout about ‘how will you pay for it?’, they will be arguing on a much more fundamental level than head taxes and indirect employee taxes. It’s going to be far more primitive and primal than that, and we had better be prepared for it.

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2 Responses to But How Will You Pay for It? The Missing the Point Edition

  1. David J. Littleboy says:

    Point of order: if you even mention “paying for Medicare for All”, you should point out, several times over and in all caps, that Medicare for All would be radically cheaper than the current system. (And could be even cheaper than that if we allowed it to negotiate drug prices.)

    It is extremely important that this gets said at every possible opportunity.

    We have the world’s most expensive medical system, and it’s performance is pretty bad (maternal and infant mortality rates are the highest of the industrialized countries, the opioid epidemic (I blame our doctors: they’re the one’s who prescribed the opioids), excessive use of antidepressants and ADHD drugs).

  2. adameran says:

    Mr. Littleboy has a point. The question “How will we pay for something half as expensive as what we’re already paying?” is as absurd as it gets.

    Then the question really gets silly when compared to the $16 – $29 trillion the Fed essentially gave the financial sector to cure its frauds. The Federal government frickin’ *makes* the money! It never runs out. It also cannot be provisioned by tax revenues. Ask yourself where people would get the dollars to pay taxes if the government didn’t spend them out into the economy first.

    The cliche is “tax & spend,” but clearly the logical sequence is “spend first, then tax,” otherwise people would not have dollars with which they could pay taxes. That means the Federal government is fiscally unconstrained (contra the “Paygo” of Nancy Pelosi)…and we can have nice things!

    Incidentally, what do we call the dollars left in the economy, not retrieved in taxes? Answer #1: the savings of the citizens. Answer #2: National ‘Debt’ … both answers describe exactly the same thing, just as your bank account is your asset, but the bank’s liability (debt).

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