During the American Revolution, the cry was often heard, “The British are coming! The British are coming!” Today, we should be just as vigilant in declaring, “The Socialists are coming! The Socialists are coming!” We can’t afford to let that happen.
The New York Election Results
Recently, ten-term Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley was beaten by socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14th congressional district primary election. Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and a former organizer for Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
Like Sanders, she is a vocal advocate of “Medicare for All”, the socialized medicine legislation introduced by the Vermont senator. This would be a government takeover of all America’s healthcare. Also known as single-payer healthcare, this plan has become a main feature of the Democratic Party platform.
Can America afford “Medicare for All”?
Sally Pipes, writing in Forbes, says a reality check is in order. Sanders tried to implement such a plan in his state of Vermont in 2014. Then-governor Peter Shumlin pushed a single-payer system in the state legislature until he learned the plan would cost $4.3 billion annually. That equaled 88% of the entire state budget. To fund this would require a 12.5 percent state payroll tax and a sliding-scale individual tax of up to 9.5 percent of income. Shumlin pulled the legislation, admitting it “might hurt our economy.”
Last month, in North Carolina, Democratic state representative Verla Insko promoted her own single-payer bill – until she faced reality. An analysis by the state legislature’s Fiscal Research Division estimated the cost of single-payer at $70 billion, $42 billion of which would have to come from the state. That would have been almost double the state budget. This estimate was actually conservative. The Civitas Institute, a free-market think tank in North Carolina, has estimated the first year cost of implementing single-payer at $101 billion!
California had a similar experience last year. California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Democrat, pulled the plug on the single-payer legislation passed by the state Senate after deeming it “woefully incomplete.” The bill was estimated to cost $400 billion each year with no means to pay for it.
Even Senator Sanders admits “there will be pain” if the nation adopts his Medicare for All plan. The plan he touted on his 2016 presidential campaign would have cost $1.4 Trillion per year – even by his own estimates. He called for a new 2.2 percent income tax, a 6.2 percent tax on employers, and higher income taxes on the wealthy. The Urban Institute, a liberal think-tank, estimated Sanders’ plan would cost $32 Trillion over 10 years.
This is a good time to quote former Prime Minister of Great Britain Margaret Thatcher who once said, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
Pipes points out that America is already struggling to afford our current Medicare system for the elderly and disabled only. In 2017, the federal government spent more than $700 billion on Medicare – a 65 percent increase over just 10 years. Annual costs per capita are expected to increase 4.6 percent per year over the next decade. The latest Medicare Trustees report released in June states the part A Trust Fund, which covers payment for hospital care, will be depleted in 2026.
Pipes says, “in other words, America is struggling to pay for “Medicare for Some” – much less “Medicare for All.” As single-payer candidates like Ocasio-Cortez will soon discover, no amount of enthusiasm for single-payer can overcome basic math.”
Even some leading Democrats have their concerns about socialist candidates like Ocasio-Cortez. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was quick to reject media descriptions of Ocasio-Cortez as “the new face of the Democratic Party.” Pelosi said, “They made a choice in one district. It is not to be viewed as something that stands for anything else.”
Former Democratic Senator and Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman writes in The Wall Street Journal to encourage Democrats to vote for Joe Crowley in November since his name will still be on the ballot. He is the endorsed candidate of the Working Families Party.
Lieberman says about Ocasio-Cortez, “Her dreams of new federal spending would bankrupt the country or require very large tax increases, including on the working class. Her approach foresees government ownership of many private companies, which would decimate the economy and put millions out of work. . . She has received the most attention for calling to “Abolish ICE,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This makes no sense unless you no longer want any rules on immigration or customs to be enforced.”
Recent surveys suggest 40 percent of Americans, mostly young people, favor socialism over capitalism. For those who naively support socialism, and haven’t learned the lessons of history, they need look no farther than Venezuela today where rampant inflation, food shortages, and rioting in the streets demonstrate the outcomes of a socialist economy. This should be solid evidence that America cannot afford socialism.