Ocasio Cortez Is Only Half Right About Her $40 Trillion Spending Plans


Of course Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is making stuff up about her spending plans and how to pay for them. She’s a politician on the stump and the phantasm applies to her as much as it does to Ted Cruz when he’s pandering for votes. The particular flavour might be different – Cortez thinks that printing more money will do it, Cruz that lowering taxes will – but they’re just variations on the Magic Money Tree.

However, a little deeper here and Ocasio-Cortez is only half right with her claims about what she’s going to spend on those dreams:

New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defended an ambitious slate of policy proposals Sunday, casting the various planks of her Democratic Socialist agenda as long-term investments that would pay dividends for future generations of Americans.

“What we need to realize is that these investments are better and they are good for our future,” Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Well, obviously, yes. It’s now rather infra-dig for a politician to do anything other than insist they’re investing. Huey Long was perhaps the last to tell the truth, that he was going to take the cash off the people who didn’t vote for him to give to those who did. Has the elegance and simplicity of clarity at least.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper cited a conglomeration of think tanks — some of which he noted to be left-leaning — and said that the price tag for her platform could be as high as $40 trillion.

Tapper acknowledged that Ocasio-Cortez had also included a call to increase taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, which could gross about $2 trillion.

“So where is the other $38 trillion going to come from?” Tapper asked, adding that some of his own statistics came from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Well, yes, except it’s not quite that bad. $32 trillion comes from the Medicare for all thing and supposedly that’ll be covered by not having to pay health care insurance. Not that I think it will work but there’s not a $38 trillion gap there. There is a problem even with that, which is that the $32 trillion gaily assumes that all payments to doctors (and nurses etc) are going to be cut by 20 – 40%. Which would be a good trick if it could be done but administrations have been trying that for decades now and not succeeded so far.

However, she’s very definitely wrong here:

“Medicare for all would save the American people a very large amount of money,” she said. “What we see as well is that these systems are not just pie in the sky. Many of them are accomplished by every modern, civilized democracy in the Western world,” she said. “The United Kingdom has a form of single-payer health care — Canada, France, Germany. What we need to realize that these investments are better and they are good for our future.”

Yes, the UK does have single payer and it’s dreadful. It’s one of the worst rich world health care systems for “mortality amenable to health care” meaning it kills lots of people with s**t treatment. This is not a recommendation for a health care system. Neither Germany nor France has a single payer system.

Germany is crossed with a patchwork of private sector insurers – many, many, more than the US has. France has out of pocket expenses – deductibles if you like – for 15% of just about everything except cancer treatment. And it’s not single payer either.

This is one of the gross misunderstandings of the American progressives about the rest of the world. They really don’t understand, at all, how other places do run their health care systems. As I’ve remarked before:

OK, let’s also take it as read that the Finnish system works. And it does too, it’s a pretty good system, as are those in Sweden and Denmark to my certain knowledge. But the bit that concerns me is that nowhere in the piece is a very important qualifier mentioned. So too it’s not mentioned in the bulging letters page this weekend.

Those three Nordic systems are not national systems at all, although they are all single payer. It is the municipality which collects the money, the tax, to pay for health care. And it’s the municipality which then spends that money too.

Note the very careful indeed wording there. Universal government guided health care–for those systems are not single payer. Holland, Germany and Switzerland all have mandatory insurance systems from private sector insurance companies. Germany has some 130 of them for example.

There are national health care systems. There are local ones. There are single payer and multiple. Medicaid for all would be a national universal system. Something which really only exists in the UK’s NHS. And as above, that’s a s**t system which kills people.

Not even I think that American health care is just copacetic but I’m really quite certain that it’s possible to do better than that.