health care

Elizabeth Warren Doesn't Want to Say How She'd Pay for Her Health Care Plan

Probably because it would involve raising middle-class taxes.

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Elizabeth Warren famously has a plan for everything—everything, that is, except financing the single-payer health care system she says she supports. It's a telling omission that reveals what happens when Warren's wonky tendencies come into conflict with her campaign mantras. 

Since launching her presidential campaign, the Massachusetts Democrat has rolled out Warren-branded plans for everything from universal childcare to green energy to "economic patriotism." But on health care, so far, the senator has been content to endorse Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All plan, which would eliminate most private health insurance and set up a government-run health insurance system, without putting forth one of her own.

The Sanders plan would, according to Sanders himself as well as multiple independent estimates, require new government spending totaling somewhere between $30 and $40 trillion a year. While Sanders has outlined ways to offset some of that cost, he hasn't put forth a plan to fully finance the additional spending. He has, however, made clear that it would require higher taxes on the middle class. 

But despite endorsing Sanders' plan, Warren has repeatedly declined to say that middle-class taxes would have to go up. She dodged the question in earlier debates this year. And at the debate last night, she once again all but refused to answer the question directly. 

Instead, she offered a vague promise that "middle-class families are going to pay less" while insisting that "those at the very top—the richest individuals and the biggest corporations—are going to pay more."

When a debate moderator pressed her specifically on the question of taxes, she still declined to offer a direct response. Families have to deal with "total cost," she said, reiterating her support for Medicare for All. "Costs are going to go up for wealthier individuals, and costs are going to go up for giant corporations. But for hard-working families across this country, costs are going to go down, and that's how it should work under Medicare for All in our health care system." The specific question—Would taxes rise for middle-class families?—remained unanswered. 

In part, this is a sign that Warren, though running what is nominally a bold progressive campaign, has adopted the conventional Democratic playbook when it comes to tax hikes. As Russell Berman writes at The Atlantic, in recent years the party's presidential candidates have tended to adhere to the rule that it's OK to propose raising taxes on the rich—but not on the broadly defined middle class. 

But it's also a result of the way that Warren has framed her campaign as a kind of populist uprising, one that pits the middle class against the upper crust. Warren's entire presidential bid, and much of her career as a public figure, is predicated on the notion that her plans will come at no cost to ordinary families and that the costs of her plans will be born solely by the richest of the rich. 

This is the story that Warren tells every day. It is the foundation of her presidential bid, and she is apparently unable or unwilling to deviate from it, even when the facts indicate otherwise.  

There is little question that Medicare for All would require higher taxes on the middle class. But to admit that would muddle her easy populist narrative, so she goes out of her way to avoid making that admission. As is so often the case for Warren, the simple story is more important than the plain truth.

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  1. One of my libertopia fantasies is that every single bill has to include its own dedicated revenue source. It could easily be just another 1% on income taxes, but it has to be distinct.

    If any legislation’s budget has collected its yearly finance target early, it stops collecting immediately.

    If any revenue source comes up short, the legislation’s spending comes to an immediate halt.

  2. Asking how to pay for something is now a “right wing” concept. As Tulsi Gabbard found out.

    1. As Tulsi Gabbard found out.

      And didn’t AOC call Pelosi a right-wing racist for pretty much the exact same thing?

        1. Check and mate.

          1. Paul already did that on his last trip to Amsterdam (I assume they take checks).

            1. It was Prague.

          1. Oh, I’m sure he’s seen such things before. I certainly have.

            Gutierrez worries that algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege because “emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi” give the impression that math “was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans.”

            The hilarious and sad thing about this is that if this person actually knew anything about the history of math and mathematical philosophy she would know that Islamic mathematical traditions are even more fixated on Pythagoras than Western mathematical traditions.

            I’ll never forget a session I attended at the International Medieval Congress (this was going on 20 years ago now) that was on the history of mathematical philosophy where one of the panelists was a Palestinian professor who had been invited for diversity’s sake. Other people talked their spiel and he just sat there with a furrowed brow until it was his turn, at which point he, in a slightly exasperated tone, went off about how he didn’t understand how any discussion of the history of mathematical philosophy could fail to be grounded in Pythagoras, who essentially invented math.

            One of the other professors explained, in a tone dripping with condescension, that We in the West don’t really believe that Pythagoras existed, and went on to ignore everything else he had said.

            She also worries that evaluations of math skills can perpetuate discrimination against minorities, especially if they do worse than their white counterparts.

            Racist much?

    2. If you put numbers above people, watch out, Warren is coming for your scalp.

  3. “which would eliminate most private health insurance and set up a government-run health insurance system”

    Those are called coercive monopolies – just what you expect form the king of coercive monopolies – the state. Which is what Reason supports on the grounds it is a limited coercive monopoly.

    1. I wonder what trolls like you get out of this. DNC pay you? Trust fund baby bored out of your skull? Does my answering ding up a point for you in some contest with other trust fund trolls?

      What a very sad weird life.

    2. Which is what Reason supports on the grounds it is a limited coercive monopoly.

      Wha . . . ?

    3. I don’t know why I’m frequently the one who defending Reason, but here I do again…

      You think Reason supports the coercive monopoly of a government-run healthcare system? WTF bro? Are you actually reading something else and confusing it with Reason? Please provide single citation where Reason endorsed a single-payer system.

  4. “There is little question that Medicare for All would require higher taxes on the middle class.”

    I do not disagree with this assessment. If, and that is an impossible if in my opinion, they were able to dictate that all employer provided insurance plans be scrapped and those employers have to pay the same amount to the government that they were paying to insurance companies, then maybe they could pull it off without raising the taxes on the middle class. Nothing of that sort is feasible, IMHO.

    1. I think there is little question that it would require higher taxes on everyone who pays taxes.

      1. Yes, but theoretically, the tax increase could match the cost savings of eliminating insurance companies and employer plan managers. Also theoretically, government paychecks could imbue wise benevolence upon its recipients.

        1. Yes, but theoretically, the tax increase could match the cost savings of eliminating insurance companies and employer plan managers.

          Especially since the cost-curve on insurance went pretty well vertical after ObamaCare was passed.

          1. Why was that?

            1. Greedy insurance companies.

    2. Government inefficiency far outweighs the inefficiency caused by insurance companies, and on top of that, it destroys the price feedback system, thus getting more and more fantastical every year. Only takes a few years before no one knows how much any medical procedure, equipment, or medicine actually costs,and we’re back to the Soviet-style measuring by weight. Pharma phactories will churn out two dozen humonguous pills a day which won’t even fit in shipping containers.

      1. Personally my most immediate concern is what they’re going to do to Kaiser.

        As a pretty-much-exactly-middle-income person (which makes me a little on the poor side in CA), I like Kaiser a lot. I like the way the incentives are set up in that you’re pretty much buying into a kind of club where you pay them a monthly fee and they take of your healthcare. Which means that if they fuck up on the preventive side, they’re going to take the hit on the catastrophic side.

        Further, to take a personal example, my daughter spent some time in the ICU at Kaiser a couple of years back with a condition that potentially could have required brain surgery. Kaiser was hesitant to take that step because they would be responsible for both the costs and the consequences.

        I have little doubt that in a decentralized network with third party payers some brain surgeon with a Mercedes payment due would have cut into her skull without a second thought.

        Single Payer will kill the Kaiser model immediately, and only provide more incentives for over-priced unnecessary care (unless you’re just going to go full NHS, which AFAIK no one is proposing).

        1. Single payer might as well be NHS. It’s the difference between communism and fascism: Communism owns the means of productions, Fascism merely controls them. No practical difference.

          1. No practical difference.

            I’m not sure that’s true. In both cases you have a single payer that has the power to extract as much money as it needs to pay for the system, but in one it’s private, for-profit providers seeking rents while in the other its a bureaucratic agency extracting money without providing services.

            Both I think would be disasters, but the former sounds to me like a more expensive disaster than the latter.

            1. Assume that the fascist regime wants to demonize profits, and it starts to look similar enough for most people to not really care about the minor differences. In either system your ‘profit’ is siphoned back off into the government apparatus that controls your industry, so are they really ‘profits’ at all? It’s just a slightly different perpetual motion machine.

            2. Both destroy the price system, so both will end up divorced from reality.

              1. Indeed, but an NHS-style system will result in budget shortfalls that will lead to denial of care. The fascist-style system has the real potential at least to wind up sinking into ever-increasing debt as more and more providers offer more and more services, billing them to “The System.”

                The latter would be better for actual health care, but I suspect it would be an order of magnitude more expensive.

                1. Fair point I suppose, after all it’s comparing bad to worse lol.

                2. An NHS-style system at least doesn’t outlaw private insurance; the M4A proposals do.

    3. “…If, and that is an impossible if in my opinion, they were able to dictate that all employer provided insurance plans be scrapped and those employers have to pay the same amount to the government that they were paying to insurance companies,…”

      Billy, here, is proposing that THE GOVERNMENT will spend money more efficiently than do insurance companies.
      I’m hoping this is sarc, or perhaps a comment driven by long years in gov’t schools.

    4. If, and that is an impossible if in my opinion, they were able to dictate that all employer provided insurance plans be scrapped and those employers have to pay the same amount to the government that they were paying to insurance companies, then maybe they could pull it off without raising the taxes on the middle class. Nothing of that sort is feasible, IMHO

      The problem with US health care spending isn’t a lack of money; the US could cover every American at European levels out of the existing Medicare/Medicaid budgets, without touching any private plans at all.

      The US government is the cause of excessive healthcare spending in the US. If you transfer more money to the government for healthcare, you make things worse, not better. If you force the privately insured in the US to go on government plans, you destroy the only part of the US healthcare system that actually still works and that effectively subsidizes all the rest.

    5. I don’t get the appeal of this system in the first place. Most everyone acknowledges that healthcare costs are skyrocketing, and that’s mostly due to costs being hidden. Even the current system of mostly private insurance serves to hide the costs.

      Making healthcare paid for by government won’t make it cheaper for anyone. It will make it more expensive for everyone. Unless all healthcare workers are strictly volunteers and all supplies, facilities, and medicines are entirely donated, how else will these things be paid for except by taking money from everyone?

      To say only the “rich” and “giant corporations” will pay more is a joke. First, how do you define those terms? Is a 500 person company a giant one? What if a 100 person company has more profit than a 200 person company? Will the larger but less successful one still pay more? When said corporations raise prices to make up for the increased expense, will any “non-rich” customers be given an automatic discounts to offset the increased prices?

      Why do dimwits who can’t figure anything out and who reason like they are still young children keep getting elected?

  5. She doesn’t want to be caught on camera saying taxes will go up for middle-class people. That’s because she’s a smart politician. Not sure how long she can fudge considering the media really want to get that soundbyte.

    Trump raised our taxes and didn’t have to admit to it, so…

    1. Trump raised our taxes and didn’t have to admit to it, so…

      Vote Libertarian?

      1. I would vote for a libertarian candidate over a Republican if it were possible for one to win and there were no Democrat in the race.

        1. That’s progress of a sort, I suppose.

        2. Win.
          Is elected win?

          So Tony you want to vote for the most likely win.

          Hint: don’t go with the Cincinnati Bengals.

          1. Our system is structured such that only Republicans and Democrats win. I don’t like it, but it is what it is.

            I also don’t like the Electoral College, but every time I say that I get lectured at by Trumpists about “the rules of the game.”

    2. Are you talking about federal income tax? Because I see far more taxpayers for whom the new tax code gives them a smaller bill.

      For example, the standard deduction is higher and the old 15% bracket became 12%.

  6. Sanders cost estimate is 30 Trillion over a 10 year period, not per year. So roughly doubling government spending, not multiplying it by 10.

    1. I caught that, as well. Apparently, numbers don’t mean much to the author.

  7. Um… $30 Trillion per year? Typo?

  8. Sigh….Fauxahontas. This woman is just as dangerous as the last Ivory Tower pinhead we had as a POTUS: Woodrow Wilson.

    We are still dealing with the negative aftermath of his legacy…and it is a century later.

    1. You don’t count Obama as an Ivory Tower pinhead?

      1. Obama was just a pinhead; he never really made it in the ivory tower.

        1. He held arguably the most prestigious role for any student in the ivory tower of the university system, and it wasn’t because of affirmative action. He chose not to become a lifelong academic but ended up the most powerful man in the world. So what are you criticizing again?

          1. Your proof it wasn’t because of affirmative action or the spirit of affirmative action. From my understanding his tenure as editor of the Harvard law review wasn’t one noted for exceptionality.

          2. I simply pointed out that it is factually incorrect to call Obama an “Ivory Tower pinhead”, since he did not work in the Ivory Tower, something you apparently agree with.

  9. “ require new government spending totaling somewhere between $30 and $40 trillion a year. “
    I think that’s over 10 yrs. No?

  10. The reason that Warren dodges the question is because of idiotic coverage like this, which reduces the question to, “Will our taxes go up?” and not, “Will I save so much from no longer having to pay insurance premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, and will I earn more because my employers no longer need to pay for their share, and will my payroll taxes be adjusted, so that at the end of the day I don’t care that my taxes are nominally going up?”

    She’s in a spot, no doubt. She knows that promising tax hikes, without the nuanced discussion of how much we over-pay for health insurance, is a political liability. But it’s stories like this that explain why.

    1. “…without the nuanced discussion of how much we over-pay for health insurance,…”

      See how lefty imbeciles assume the readers ares stupid enough to buy that happy horseshit?
      Tell us, in detail and with cites (not to lefty rage whining about profits) where we are ‘overpaying’.
      Or fuck off and die.

    2. In fact, single payer not only would make middle class taxes go up, it will make total middle class healthcare costs overall go up. That’s what a “nuanced discussion” would reveal. And that’s why Warren and other Democrats avoid such discussion and instead keep lying through their teeth.

    3. Let’s be clear here: the reason Americans over-pay for healthcare is because of government interference in healthcare. That’s the only reason. And the more the government interferes, the worse it gets.

      1. Medicare and Medicaid already underpay, which forces the rat of us to pay more.

    4. “The reason that Warren dodges the question is because of idiotic coverage like this, which reduces the question to, “Will our taxes go up?” and not, “Will I save so much from no longer having to pay insurance premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, and will I earn more because my employers no longer need to pay for their share, and will my payroll taxes be adjusted, so that at the end of the day I don’t care that my taxes are nominally going up?””

      “Nominally”.

      Shouldn’t ANOTHER question to be asked include “How long will I have to wait for care?” (Canada had to permit private insurance because their Supreme Court ruled the long waits for virtually all medical treatments violated human rights).

      Or “How much control will I have over my care?” Give the government control and, yes, they will intentionally make things more scarce for cost. It’s why things like cancer survival rates here are so much higher than anywhere else.

      Like being able to get MRI’s when you need to? Those days will end.

      And given that you cannot FORCE doctors to accept the government program…how many people will have a big problem finding a doctor. Don’t know why anybody expects paperwork to be REDUCED by the government running everything.

      Again, what you’re advocating is for the VA but for the entire country. Fuck yourself with that bullshit.

      1. The VA is so fucked that courts have ordered them to start paying for private ER visits and the last rounds of funding, while nominally allowing you to see a civilian doctor, makes it so difficult that many private doctors aren’t even sure how to get reimbursed. Additionally, the restrict access to NP and PAs still.

  11. “Probably because it would involve raising middle-class taxes.”

    Peter, when a lefty hag is telling blatant lies, there is no need for circumlocution.
    You can simply say ‘She continues to lie regarding the inevitable and huge tax increases on the middle class’.

    1. She is lying about implementing single payer healthcare in the first place; what she actually would implement would be whatever her bureaucracy and well-connected Democratic donors tell her to implement, and she is ignorant enough to believe that that’s in the interest of Americans.

  12. You don’t seriously believe that any of these candidates give a sh*t about their campaign promises. They believe the American people are stupid sheep, that they are entitled to lie to Americans in order to get elected, and then once in power, that they should do whatever they deem is right, even if it is the opposite of what they promised. Obama and Clinton demonstrated that and pretty much said as much.

    I think what upsets these people so much about Trump is that Trump is actually trying to deliver on what he promised and what he was elected to do.

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