Kate McKinnon’s brilliant impersonation of Elizabeth Warren opened SNL this week, and it’s getting a lot of attention.
McKinnon has Warren’s mannerisms down cold. Saturday she also nailed the Senator’s Medicare for All numbers in a way that anticipated a more sober analysis in this morning’s Wall Street Journal.
In a rare congruence, SNL and the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal agree that Warren’s numbers fantasy.
You can watch the skit here. I especially loved the undecided Kamala Harris delegate. Here is McKinnon’s take on the Medicare for All numbers:
“We’re talking trillions,” she answered. “When the numbers are this big they’re just pretend.”
The Wall Street Journal said pretty much the same thing in an editorial headlined “Warren Has a (Fantasy) Plan.” While not quite as funny as McKinnon, the editorial included this line:
[Warren] continues to claim that [her plan] will cost “not one penny in middle-class tax increases.” She walks on water too.
Warren has admitted that her plan would cost “slightly” less than $52 trillion. She subtracts what the government now pays for Medicare and Medicaid and children’s medical expenses and health care for federal employees. And presto:
That leaves $30 trillion to finance, but Senator Warren waves her wand and says the bill will really be $20.5 trillion. She makes the rest vanish by positing magical savings from things like “comprehensive payment reform.” One of her ideas is the hardy perennial known as “bundled payments,” which have failed to reduce costs as promised by Obama Care.
She says hospitals would be reimbursed at an average of 110% of current Medicare rates, which is supposed to address the criticism that Medicare currently under-compensates patient care. But hospitals now rely on private insurance payments to stay in business, and 110% of what Medicare now pays will hardly be enough to compensate for the loss of that private money.
Amusingly, she also proposes savings from “restoring health care competition.” Because everyone will have good insurance, she says, “providers will have to compete on better care and reduced wait times in order to attract more patients.” But if government is controlling all prices and reimbursements, what incentive is there to compete at all?
There’s a reason every government-run health system in the world rations care. Ms. Warren won’t admit this explicitly about her brave new health world, but she comes close. If U.S. health-care spending exceeds GDP growth, she says, “I will use available policy tools, which include global budgets, population-based budgets, and automatic rate reductions, to bring it back into line.”
I did not know until I read the Wall Street Journal editorial that the man who developed much of Warren’s plan is none other than Donald Berwick, an admirer of the British single payer system. Sally Pipes once wrote that Berwick “openly celebrates rationing.”
Berwick is associated with his advocacy for the ObamaCare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board—aka the “death panel.” It was repealed by Congress last year.
As for Warren’s claim that she would not raise taxes on the middle class:
She says per-employee health costs for every employer would remain about the same, but payroll costs of this sort are essentially middle-class taxes on employees. Fixing per-employee business costs at some future date would also be an incentive for companies to reduce their coverage now to reduce future costs. So employees would get worse coverage than they have now. If this “employer contribution” raises less money than projected, her fall-back is to whack “big companies with extremely high executive compensation and stock buyback rates.”
It also looks like Ms. Warren might run out of rich people to tax:
She also doubles down on her plans to soak the rich, assuming there are any left after her other tax proposals. She wants a new annual tax on unrealized capital gains of the wealthiest 1% of households (raising $2 trillion over 10 years), which would mean you owe a tax even if you haven’t sold the asset. She graciously says taxpayers could offset the gains with losses in bad years, but that would lead to extreme revenue fluctuations from year to year.
Look at SNL and then read the Wall Street Journal.
Different styles but same general conclusion on Senator Warren’s pretend numbers.