Reno Gazette Journal December 9, 2018
Last week, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont along with Congresswoman elect Ocasio-Cortez released their legislative agenda for the upcoming Congress in the first 100 days. The plan includes a plethora of socialist proposals with no consideration to the price tag. Let’s examine the costs and the consequences associated with some of the components in the agenda.
Medicare for all: Cost: $2.6 trillion. Americans spent $3.3 trillion on medical expenditures in 2016 according to data from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Currently, 20% of that is coming out of Medicare. Medicare for all will increase the federal budget by another $2.6 trillion dollars. Consequences: I outlined why “Socialized Medicine Does Not Work” in my column back in September 2017. Medicare for all will result in costs that will far exceed the total federal budget, doctors will stop accepting Medicare patients, it will result in a two-tier system and it will bankrupt the country. It will introduce inefficiencies into the system and result in significant degradation of quality that comes with such a massive organization. Look at what happened with Veterans Affairs: patients dying while on waiting list, falsified records, unmet Service Level Agreements (SLAs), just to name a few. VA has 300,000 clients, just imagine what happens when you expand that to over 300 million clients.
Tuition free college: Cost: $559 billion/year. Currently, the US spends $559 billion in post-secondary education per year based on 2015-16 data from the Department of Education. Consequences: Costs will skyrocket as universities will be happy to increase pay for just about everyone and pass it on in the form of tuition increases to the students knowing that Uncle Sam will eventually foot the bill. This will also disrupt the marketplace as free tuition will inevitably mean that many will opt to go for entertainment majors with no future. Underwater basket weaving may finally become an official major, thanks to Bernie.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Cost: $100 billion/year. Highly conservative estimates are at $8251 per illegal immigrant. Sanders’ proposal grants amnesty to 11 million illegals at a total cost of $100 billion a year. Consequences: More amnesty, no enforcement means more illegal immigrants in the future. I can live with an immigration deal that grants amnesty to illegals but it has to come with iron-clad border enforcement.
Just the three components analyzed above will cost America an additional $3.3 trillion a year. Add the costs of all other components in the agenda and the federal budget will triple. All of us, rich and poor will be paying triple the taxes and the rich will need to be taxed at over 100%.
One final point: A year ago, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was working at The Coffee Shop. Last August, The Coffee Shop announced that it is closing its doors, with 150 employees losing their jobs. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez lamented the closure of the shop at the same time the owner cited increases in minimum wage as one of the reasons for the closure. This shows a significant cognitive disconnect between the policy Ms. Ocasio Cortez and Senator Sanders espouse and the ramifications of implementing such policies. I don’t question their intentions, they are both good people and I think their agenda is well-intentioned. It’s just that good intentions don’t always make good policy.