Quote of the Day:

Therein lies the true lesson for the American people. Elizabeth Warren may not ask the middle class to fund Medicare for All—at least not until she’s safely in office—but one can rest assured that, should she succeed in enacting her scheme, all American families will pay.

–Chris Jacobs in the Wall Street Journal

According to Chris Jacobs, author of “The Case Against Single Payer,” Senator Warren turns JFK’s famous “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country,” on its head with her new Medicare for All figures.

Warren is proposing the most massive government program in history and yet “she refuses to ask the middle class to pay a dime for her costly proposal.” Everything is free for everybody, except “the rich.” Jacobs explains how this reverses the JFK dictum :

Ms. Warren envisions a $20 trillion expansion of government—the largest in American history—paid for by a fraction of the population. She foresees unlimited “free” health care for millions of families, without so much as a $100 copayment, premium, assessment, tax or other fee.

This isn’t how Americans have traditionally understood entitlements. Democrats once promoted major government programs as “earned” benefits. Social Security and Medicare both feature broad-based payroll taxes as a primary funding source. People qualify for benefits in part based on their contribution history.

Sure, the earned entitlement always had an element of fiction. Social Security and Medicare pay benefits based on current cash flows, with their respective trust funds containing little more than promises to pay future benefits. Urban Institute estimates show that even wealthy seniors will receive more in Social Security and Medicare benefits than they paid in taxes. But Ms. Warren’s plan would dispense with the pretense of social insurance, instead creating a crass form of political plunder that uses federal largess to buy votes.

My emphasis.

Jacobs points out that Warren is following President Obama, who claimed that “the rich” would pay for his social programs. President Obama made a “firm pledge” not to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000.

Jacobs observes that the firm pledge lasted only two weeks until President Obama raised tobacco taxes to pay for children’s health programs. Moreover, the cost of ObamaCare subsidies also fell on ordinary Americans, not just “the rich.”

No, Senator Warren won’t ask the middle class to pay for Medicare for All, but Ron Brownstein has an excellent article in The Atlantic explaining how inevitable it is that the middle class will end up doing just that. Brownstein writes:

“The gap between what she says it will cost and what it will really cost is in the trillions of dollars, and the middle class will be on the hook to fill that gap,” says Jim Kessler, the executive vice president for policy at Third Way, a centrist Democratic group that has been critical of single-payer proposals. “My guess is that with accurate numbers, she’s somewhere between $5 trillion and $10 trillion short. [Her plan taps] the rich and corporations as much as possible. Who’s left? The middle class.”…

Larry Levitt, the executive vice president for health policy at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, agrees that patients’ use would rise under a single-payer plan, which leaves the proposals dependent on a bet that government can substantially reduce payments across the medical system.

“The only way to make that math add up is to pay doctors and hospitals and drug companies a lot less, as Warren has proposed,” he told me. “The fundamental question here is: Can you lower health-care prices enough to offset the increased costs from universal coverage and very comprehensive benefits?”…

“You can do this mathematically. The question is: Can you do it in real life with real people?” says Nichols, who served as the senior health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget in Bill Clinton’s administration. “When you talk about 110 percent of Medicare for hospitals and the same as Medicare for physicians, there are a lot of practices that would have to close up shop, lay people off.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, who is vying with Warren for the progressive vote in the Democratic primary, also supports Medicare for All but says that the middle class will have to pay through higher taxes.

Paul Mirengoff of Power Line argues that this is actually an advantage for Sanders. It is simply more believable and thus Sanders looks forthright and candid.

Finder’s fee: Hot Air