This is part two of a three-part rebuttal of a Politico op-ed written by William M. Daley, Jonathan Cowan, and Lanae Erickson Hatalsky.
On Tuesday, William M. Daley, Jonathan Cowan, and Lanae Erickson Hatalsky published an op-ed in Politico magazine rationalizing why they believed Bernie Sanders can’t win in 2016. Quite frankly, their reasons and logic are bunk and are quite easily debunked with some research. All three contributors are top-level members of Third Way, a centrist think tank. Ultimately, it is to their benefit to write an opinion piece overly critical of senator Bernie Sanders.
In the first part, we touched on how Daley and Co. got voter anger and the $15 minimum wage argument very wrong. This installment focuses on the single payer system, Social Security, and job creation.
Bernie Sanders’s Single Payer Proposal Saves Money
The Politico piece repeats an already debunked factoid: that a single payer system will bankrupt the nation, cause a huge tax increase, and create a more bloated government. Economists have stated that a single-payer system will actually be cheaper and more efficient that our current health care system, including the ACA.
Like other single-payer systems, it can drive down the costs of healthcare by way of bargaining for better rates. Instead of paying insurance companies, which are little more than gatekeepers to healthcare access, people will get their health care directly from providers funded through their taxes. Not only that, but with a single-payer health care system, there is no health insurance premium being taken out of one’s paycheck. Instead, a moderate tax increase can actually decrease the long-term costs associated with Medicare for all. Plus, bankruptcy due to outrageous medical bills will be a thing of the past.
Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Clinton and a top economist, lays the $15 trillion myth bare.
“The savings from Medicare-for-all would more than cover the costs fo the rest of Bernie’s agenda — tuition-free education at public colleges, expanded Social Security benefits, improved infrastructure, and a fund to help cover paid family leave — and still leave us $2 trillion to cut federal deficits for the next ten years.”
Bernie Sanders’ proposal would mean everyone would have access to medical care regardless of income. This would reduce emergency room visits and thus reduce the costs the government is burdened with for low-income workers’ medical bills.
Instead of cutting Medicare, or privatizing Medicare, we must join every major nation on earth in recognizing that health care is a right.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) December 8, 2015
Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) introduced a bill similar to Bernie Sander’s proposal, and analysts discovered that it could potentially save the U.S. $600 billion per year. Paul Waldman, of the Washington Post, published a rebuttal to a Wall Street Journal piece that attacked Sander’s single-payer proposal. Waldman argued that the U.S. already spends $3 trillion per year and will likely spend up to $42 trillion in the next ten years with the current system.
Single-payer, then, could save the country trillions of dollars in health care costs. Waldman also suggested that Bernie Sander’s proposal wouldn’t add any money to the total cost of health care, but instead it would change the way our country spends money on it.
Expanding Social Security Lifts Vulnerable Seniors Out of Poverty
Daley’s argument that expanding Social Security would benefit wealthy married couples misses the mark wildly. Bernie Sanders proposes raising the contribution cap for Social Security. According to his website, a person earning $118,500 per year pays the same into Social Security as one who earns $118 billion per year.
Bernie Sanders wants to reduce that contribution gap, which would increase the amount of money that goes into the system. His proposal would increase the SSA’s solvency for the next 50 years while also allowing for a $65-per-month increase in cost-of-living adjustments. Increasing the income cap to $250,000 would also lift seniors who rely on monthly payments out of poverty.
While Republicans call for cuts to Social Security and to raise the retirement age, Bernie Sanders is against doing both. A CBS News analysis asserts that raising the retirement age will actually reduce benefits for low-income workers because they tend to die younger than their wealthier counterparts.
Creating Jobs Creates a Better Economy
Daley et. al claim that a $15 minimum wage and an expansion in Social Security benefits aren’t the answer to people seeking a better quality of life. They cite the disappearance of traditional jobs as proof that Bernie Sanders’ populist plans are unrealistic and “tethered to a different time.” Perhaps Bernie’s plan is, indeed, reminiscent of the past, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office at the height of the Great Depression. During his four terms, he managed to pull the nation up by its economic bootstraps in a very non-centrist manner.
FDR started public work programs to get the American people working. He created jobs to help rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. He helped create the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s first and largest regional planning agency that is responsible for flood control, electricity, and economic development, among other things. He got the Social Security Administration set up to provide senior citizens with an assured retirement benefit.
Like FDR, Bernie Sanders is proposing to create jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. According to his website, one out of every nine bridges is structurally compromised. Nearly one-third of our roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and more than 42 percent of urban highways experience congestion. Forty-five percent of all American households lack any access to transit. Bernie Sanders proposes to rebuild the nation’s obsolete railway network, which is responsible for transporting a large portion of goods throughout the nation.
He proposes to invest in improvements in the nation’s airports, marine seaports, decaying dams, and levees, and drastically improving the infrastructure that carries our drinking water. Sanders also proposes a significant upgrade to our nation’s electrical grid.
All of this costs money, of course, and Sanders’ Rebuild America Act will cost $1 trillion over the course of several years. However, the money paid to workers who help build, supply, and create these new programs will most assuredly go back into America’s economy in the form of spending. Americans’ buying power will be significantly increased, which will, in turn, create more demand for other types of jobs such as retail, distribution, real estate, and even luxury goods.
The next installment explaining why Bernie Sanders can win will examine the Electoral Map, Gerrymandering, and other factors pointing Sanders’s popularity among important voting groups.
[Photo: Darren McCollester/Getty]