Friday, February 5, 2016

I don't like Bernie because his "Medicare For All" plan is terrible for America's health and economy

My college-age child introduced me to a website called I Like Bernie, But... which is particularly appealing to young voters. The website offers short answers to concerns pro-Bernie voters might still be harboring about his policies and his ability to win. With few exceptions, these answers are just plain wrong. You can see my rebuttals at a website I set up as a counterweight (I Don't Like Bernie, Because...). I've republished those same articles here, at my own blog, addressing Bernie's socialism, his tax plans, and his Second Amendment stance. Today I'm tackling everything that's wrong with Bernie's plan to socialize American medicine.

The I Like Bernie site imagines a worried Progressive voter exclaiming "I heard he wants to get rid of Obamacare!" Not to worry , says I Like Bernie. In fact, Bernie wants to make Obamacare even better by putting our entire medical system into government hands:

This promise -- that everyone will get high-quality, free medical care, thereby saving American families thousands of dollars a year, while keeping them healthier -- is false. There is no way Bernie can do this. The numbers don't add up, and both the Obamacare experience in America and the socialized medicine experience in Europe show that the free market, not government, is the only way to bring costs down, making quality medical care available to everyone. If you have the patience, this post will walk you through the analysis, using what I hope is clear, simple language, making learning about the economics of medical care a relatively painless process. (Or, as the doctor with the big needle aimed at your arm always says, "This won't hurt a bit.")

I. What Bernie promises

Bernie's campaign, in its ongoing effort to pretend that Bernie is not a socialist (he is, and that's a bad thing), has titled his plan "Medicare for all." When he talks about his plan, though, Bernie skips that cute Medicare euphemism and goes for the kill: "The only long-term solution to America's health care crisis is a single-payer national health care program."

The "single payer" to whom Bernie refers is the government. That's a euphemism too. The government isn't really paying for anything at all, because the government doesn't have money of its own. It never earns money, it takes money. Thus, all of the money in its bank account is actually taken from every American who pays taxes.

So what Bernie really means when he talks about single-payer nationalized medicine is that he wants "taxpayer-funded" health care. He envisions using taxpayers to fund his grandiose plan of setting up a system in which the government takes those taxpayer funds and, after siphoning off vast funds for administrative salaries, waste, and graft, takes what's left to pay for doctors, nurses, physician's assistants, hospitals (everything from janitors to floor clerks to surgeons), and pharmaceuticals. It will impose these prices from the top down, bullying doctors and nurses who spent years, or even decades, perfecting their skills; hospitals that have invested millions in infrastructure to provide patient care; and pharmaceutical companies that routinely invest millions in research that usually comes up dry, in the hopes of hitting it big with the odd medicine here and there.

Here's the truth: Even if you love Bernie's plan, it can't work. The numbers won't add up, just as they haven't been adding up in Europe or in America (with Obamacare). In the rest of this post, I'll explain why.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Why it's no compliment to Bernie that the NRA hates him

The website I Like Bernie, But... seeks to address concerns that voters might have about Bernie Sanders, and to assure them that his plans work, that he's electable, and that his vision his sound.  Previous posts on this blog have addressed the I Like Bernie take on his socialism (yes, he's a socialist, not a Democrat) and his tax and spend plans (which are great if you want to kill the economy).  This post takes on the I Like Bernie discussion about Bernie and guns.

The question asked is "Isn't he too weak on gun control?"  No, the I Like Bernie team hastens to assure readers, he's not.  The Brady Campaign loves him and the NRA hates him:

The concern about Bernie and gun control arises because of his votes on various gun control initiatives that he's voted on during his years in the Senate:

  • Voted YES on allowing firearms in checked baggage on Amtrak trains. (Apr 2009)
  • Voted YES on prohibiting foreign & UN aid that restricts US gun ownership. (Sep 2007)
  • Voted YES on prohibiting product misuse lawsuits on gun manufacturers. (Oct 2005)
  • Voted YES on prohibiting suing gunmakers & sellers for gun misuse. (Apr 2003)
  • Voted NO on decreasing gun waiting period from 3 days to 1. (Jun 1999)

As you can see, barring his "no" vote on decreasing waiting periods, that's a pretty gun supportive record, which is definitely off-putting to Progressives.  Seeing which way the political wind has been blowing on his side of the bench, though, by 2013, Sanders was starting to join the Progressive caucus on gun issues:
In 2013, he voted for an expansive ban on assault weapons and came out in favor of universal background checks.
It votes such as the 2013 one, and his a 1994 vote on automatic weapons that leave Second Amendment proponents dubious about Bernie's trustworthiness on gun rights.
It seems Sanders, for his part, ran afoul of the organization in 1994, when he voted for a bill that would have banned 19 varieties of semiautomatic assault weapons. According to Richard Feldman, a former NRA lobbyist, voting in favor of banning any kind of firearm is, in the eyes of the NRA, unredeemable. “Unless you vote the other way later on,” he adds.
Ultimately, despite I Like Bernie's assurances that Bernie will ban guns, the reality is that he seems to shoot from the hip (pun intended) on that one:
On Sunday, Sanders sought the middle ground in an interview on CNN. “We need a sensible debate about gun control,” he said. “Folks who do not like guns are fine, but we have millions of gun owners in this country who are law-abiding citizens.”
“The truth is, Bernie hasn’t enunciated a coherent position on gun rights,” says the former NRA lobbyist Feldman. “With him, it’s reading tea leaves.”
Since you're here, reading this post, I assume that you're a voter leaning towards Bernie, but genuinely curious for more information about his positions -- curious enough to read material that says he doesn't have what it takes to keep America strong and free.  I also assume, though, that you think the Second Amendment is an antiquated idea and that we should get rid of guns entirely, leaving them only in police hands (the same police, I might add, that the Black Lives Matter movement accuses of engaging in the mass slaughter of blacks).

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

"I heard he wants to raise taxes" -- you heard right, and it's going to hurt

The new website I Like Bernie, But... tries to calm people's fears about Bernie Sander's socialist extremism.  It states questions reflecting concerns that people might have about Bernie, and then provides pithy little answers refuting those fears.

In a previous post, I addressed the myriad falsehoods, omissions, and misconceptions in the website's assurance that Bernie isn't a dangerous socialist, he's a good socialist. This post addresses the misleading answer to a concern that "I heard he [Bernie] wants to raise taxes."

Here's what I Like Bernie, But.... has to say about Bernie and taxes:

That's simply false. Here's the truth:

To fund his proposed 18 trillion dollars in new spending, Bernie is going to tax everybody and tax them hard.  This is not a Republican viewpoint.  This comes from Vox, a internet media outlet known for its strong Progressive orientation.

Writing at Vox, Dylan Matthews took a look at the Tax Code if Bernie is allowed to go forward with his plans to socialize medicine; make college free for everyone, although he's already conceded that college graduates aren't getting jobs as matters stand now; revamp America's infrastructure, something Obama promised but failed to do; have the government create jobs for young people, a ridiculous scheme that Milton Friedman destroys with a single question about spoons; expanding Social Security, a program that is already going broke and suck vast amounts of money out of the federal budget; and a whole bunch of other, smaller programs.

The first thing you need to understand, before we even get to the numbers, is that if you imposed a 100% tax rate on every single "rich" person in America (from the super rich to the pretty darn comfortable), you might be able to fund Bernie's plans for a month or so.  Even if you followed  that up by confiscating the assets from these same "rich" people, you still wouldn't be able to pay for even a fraction of Bernie's plans.

Don't believe me?  Check out this video made when the Occupy Protesters started demanding that the 1% pay for everything:

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Isn't Bernie a socialist? Why, yes he is

The website I Like Bernie, But... takes it upon itself to answer concerned readers who ask "Isn't Bernie a socialist?" It assures these people that Bernie isn't a socialist socialist. Instead, he's a democratic socialist, which the website promises is something entirely different:

The above conclusions are just wrong, and they're so very wrong that they need to be corrected and explained in a lot of paragraphs.  Here goes:

To begin with, you need to understand what it really means to be a socialist.  Only then can you understand that putting the word "democratic" in front of "socialist" doesn't change anything.

So what is a "socialist" system?  Think of the realm of available politics as a line moving from left to right.  On the far left side are totalitarian regimes, which means government has all the control and the people have none.  At the far right side is anarchy, which means there is no government at all, although the resulting chaos usually means that people have no control either.  (Ironically, anarchy usually ends when a strong man takes over and creates a totalitarian regime.)

All political systems fall somewhere along that line.  The further to the Left they are, the more likely it is that power is centralized, and the further to the Right they are, the more likely it is that there is minimal centralized power, leaving more power with individuals.

Socialism, by definition, is a system that vests power in the government.  The government owns all of the means of production, as well as all of the things produced.  All people work under government control and all goods and services are handed out pursuant to government mandate.