|To: FUBHO who wrote (163)||4/5/2019 7:21:20 AM|
|Here's one - Richard Pinedo: helped Russian conspirators launder money, buy ads on Facebook and pay for supplies to hold rallies on divisive social issues.|
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|From: Brumar89||4/7/2019 2:18:38 PM|
|Conservatives' takeover of Supreme Court stalled by John Roberts-Brett Kavanaugh bromance|
Richard Wolf, USA TODAYPublished 6:00 a.m. ET April 7, 2019 | Updated 10:51 a.m. ET April 7, 2019
WASHINGTON – The conservative takeover of the Supreme Court that was anticipated following President Donald Trump's two selections has been stalled by a budding bromance between the senior and junior justices.
Chief Justice John Roberts and the court's newest member, Brett Kavanaugh, have voted in tandem on nearly every case that's come before them since Kavanaugh joined the court in October. They've been more likely to side with the court's liberal justices than its other conservatives.
The two justices, both alumni of the same District of Columbia-based federal appeals court, have split publicly only once in 25 official decisions. Their partnership has extended, though less reliably, to orders the court has issued on abortion funding, immigration and the death penalty in the six months since Kavanaugh's bitter Senate confirmation battle ended in a 50-48 vote.
Roberts and Kavanaugh have obvious reasons for their reluctance to join the court's three other conservatives in ideological harmony. The chief justice has voiced concern about the court being viewed as just another political branch of government. Kavanaugh, a former top White House official under President George W. Bush who was accused of a 1980s sexual assault during his confirmation, may just be laying low.
Chief Justice John Roberts administered the constitutional oath to Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the Justices' Conference Room of the Supreme Court in October, with Kavanaugh's wife and daughters looking on. (Photo: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)
"Justice Kavanaugh seems to share some of the chief justice’s institutional concerns, but I think he also cares about his own perception as an even-handed judge,” said Amir Ali, a civil rights lawyer who won a 6-3 decision in February when Roberts and Kavanaugh joined the four liberal justices to uphold a criminal defendant's appeal rights.
The chief's wingman Similarities between the two men are striking, despite their decade apart in age. Roberts, 64, is earnest and soft-spoken, but pointed in his questions to both sides during oral arguments. Kavanaugh, 54, is more demonstrative, but he tempers that with an inquisitive, open-minded manner.
Whatever their reasons, the chief justice and the newest justice together have provided ballast for a court in transition. Following Kavanaugh's replacement of retired Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, Roberts has become the court's swing vote, and Kavanaugh often appears to be his wingman.
Examples include the court's action last October giving those challenging a citizenship question in the 2020 census access to additional information about the plan; its refusal in December to consider Republican-led states' efforts to defund Planned Parenthood; and its ruling in February that Texas cannot execute a prisoner who claims to have an intellectual disability.
In all three of those actions, Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch dissented; Associate Justice Samuel Alito made known his opposition in two of them. Roberts and Kavanaugh appear to have voted with the court's liberals, though the breakdown was not made public.
Their differences have been rare but noteworthy. In addition to one public vote in a criminal procedure case, Roberts sided with the liberals in temporarily blocking Louisiana abortion restrictions, while Kavanaugh would have let them go into effect.
And while they refused to hear a New Jersey county's effort to include churches in a historic preservation program and a Washington state high school coach's plea to conduct prayers on the football field, Kavanaugh warned of the need to protect religious liberty.
Kavanaugh v. Gorsuch
Supreme Court Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, here listening to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address in February, have disagreed in a half dozen cases already this term. (Photo: MANDEL NGAN, AFP/Getty Images)
Kavanaugh, perhaps in seeking a low profile, has voted with the majority in almost every case so far. Unless he is the author, that usually means just signing on to the opinion. But he often writes separately to explain his vote – a habit he picked up at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
“Kavanaugh always had more of a moderate streak, even on the D.C. Circuit," said Josh Blackman, a South Texas College of Law associate professor who follows the Supreme Court closely. "He feels the need to explain himself, that he’s not that right-wing."
The Roberts-Kavanaugh bromance stands in stark contrast to the differences evident to date between Trump's two nominees. While Kavanaugh seems eager to be a team player – he touted the court's "team of nine" during his confirmation hearing – Gorsuch dissents often.
The two newest and youngest justices served together as Supreme Court law clerks a quarter century ago, but they have been on opposite sides six times already this term in cases dealing with workers' rights, consumers' rights, American Indian rights and more.
Their differences were on display last month, when Kavanaugh wrote the court's 6-3 ruling that said Navy contractors must warn about asbestos exposure even if they didn't add the asbestos to their products. Gorsuch penned a pointed dissent.
"Maritime law has always recognized a special solicitude for the welfare of those sailors who undertake to venture upon hazardous and unpredictable sea voyages," Kavanaugh said in summarizing his opinion from the bench.
Gorsuch's dissent reasoned that "a home chef who buys a butcher’s knife may expect to read warnings about the dangers of knives but not about the dangers of undercooked meat."
The two were on opposite sides again when Kavanaugh and Roberts agreed with the court's liberals that a criminal defendant was mistreated when his lawyer failed to appeal a conviction, even though the defendant had waived his right to appeal. Gorsuch signed on to Thomas's dissent, which went so far as to question whether the Constitution requires taxpayer-funded lawyers for those who cannot afford one.
"You couldn’t imagine a bigger shakeup for the criminal justice system," said Ali, whose client won the case.
“Justice Kavanaugh has not taken the bench aiming to rewrite every area of law," Ali said. "Justice Gorsuch’s philosophy, however, has led him to advocate some momentous change.”
Left-right splits the exception
It's still relatively early in the court's term, with more than half the cases to be decided, so trend lines among the justices may not hold through June.
The biggest cases – on the census citizenship question, partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, the constitutionality of a mammoth Latin cross honoring deceased veterans, and others – likely will tell more about the Roberts-Kavanaugh alliance and the Gorsuch-Kavanaugh division.
Next term, beginning in October, might include major cases on abortion and immigration, gay rights and gun control, and the court's third debate over Obamacare. And for justices in their 50s and 60s with lifetime appointments, there will be many years or even decades in which to evolve or stand firm.
What's clear after Kavanaugh's first six months is that traditional left-right splits are more the exception than the rule.
The court has divided 5-4 along ideological lines just twice in merits cases, on detaining noncitizens with criminal records and executing prisoners with rare medical conditions. The same lineup also allowed the administration's partial ban on transgender troops to take effect while challenges continue and denied a Muslim prisoner's request to have his imam in the execution chamber.
For now, Kavanaugh and Roberts "are just treading carefully," said Lisa Blatt, who has argued more cases before the Supreme Court than any other woman and was a character witness for Kavanaugh during the confirmation process.
When the subject turns to abortion, guns, race or religion, Blatt said: "Then call me back up. That’s where they throw down a marker."
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|From: Brumar89||5/22/2019 9:17:10 AM|
|Reaction to Justin Amash reminds us why we need a new party|
by David Leach • May 22, 2019
I know this may come as a shock to regular readers and listeners of the Strident Conservative, but yesterday’s article defending Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) against the onslaught of attacks from Trump and a swarm of his sycophants didn’t go over too well with worshippers of God’s chosen man in the White House.
In the Age of Trump, if you’re someone who has the unmitigated gall to refuse bowing at the altar of Trump and you dare to point out that he really isn’t the deity he and his cult believes him to be, you can count on hearing about it. And if you’re a Republican in Congress refusing to bow, then Katy bar the door because the “T” in Trump stands for trouble … and it’s a-comin’.
According to Trumpservatives and their buddies in the faux-conservative media, Amash was wrong to conclude Trump engaged in impeachable activities. And while that’s open to debate, the accusations leveled against a man who carries a 90% Liberty Score® (A)at Conservative Review ranged from pathetic (He’s a RINO with interests in China) to flat-out hateful (He’s a closet Muslim who hates Israel).
This has become standard operating procedure in the Age of Trump where fealty to Trump and the GOP has replaced facts, but it serves as another reminder of how decrepit the Democrat/Republican duopoly has become and how desperately we need to build a new party to take down the establishment.
Despite the odds being overwhelmingly against us, conditions could be ripe for a serious third-party challenger to make some noise in 2020.
According to a recent POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, exactly half of all registered voters not only support the idea of a third party, they say one “is needed,” including 45 percent of Republicans, 45 percent of Democrats, and 63 percent of Independents. Additionally, 35 percent of the 1993 registered voters participating in the poll said they would likely vote for someone other than the Democrat or Republican in 2020.
One interesting demographic in the survey showed 26 percent of voters who APPROVE of Trump’s job performance were somewhat or very likely to consider a third-party candidate over Trump and his yet-to-be-determined Democrat opponent.
The lie of the Democrat/Republican duopoly is that voting for a third-party candidate is a wasted vote. In reality, when we surrender our liberty by voting for someone in violation of our conscience, we are guilty of rejecting our God-given right of self-determination and freedom.
I’ve shared this in the past, but it bears repeating considering Amash’s possible 2020 run. Noah Webster once said:
“If the citizens neglect their Duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made; not for the public good so much for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the Laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizen will be violated or disregarded.”
Placing unprincipled men in office? THAT would be a wasted vote!
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|From: Brumar89||6/25/2019 9:26:07 PM|
|Mona Charen: Elizabeth Warren's terrible plans|
By Mona Charen
SEN. ELIZABETH Warren is being lauded as the serious candidate in the race. Her motto, “I have a plan for that,” is accepted as proof that she is thoughtful and conscientious. That’s too generous.
One should expect a grown-up to evaluate costs and benefits, to understand tradeoffs, and to pay for what they propose. By that standard, Warren’s big plans fail spectacularly. What Warren has done is engage in magic-wand politics. Wouldn’t it be great if college were free and everyone got subsidized child care? (No.) Wouldn’t life be grand if everyone’s rent were reduced by 10%? If wishes were horses...
Others have noted that her assumptions about how much revenue can be raised through a wealth tax are wildly optimistic. Ten European countries experimented with wealth taxes. Seven abandoned them after discovering that they don’t work. And there are constitutional impediments in the U.S. Further, as my friend Josh Taifer, a California physician and day trader, points out, the level of government intrusion necessary to police a wealth tax would be unlike anything we’ve seen. Our incomes and dividends are reported to the IRS. But a yearly 2% wealth tax would be a levy on everything. It would encourage the rich to put their assets into less traceable forms like gold, jewels, and art. Would IRS agents be rapping at their doors, demanding to see the contents of the home safe or, on a tip from a neighbor, hire a backhoe to dig up gold bars buried in the backyard? And what about fluctuations in value? How much is that Andy Warhol painting worth? Can we really know until we go to sell it? There’s no Kelley Blue Book for paintings.
Warren breezes past these and other objections with indignant slogans about billionaire “freeloaders.” That’s an odd term. In 2016, the top 1% of earners took home 19.7% of national income. They also paid 37.3% of all taxes, which was more than the bottom 90% combined. If you want to raise (income) taxes on the rich, go ahead, but you will never extract enough to fund the spending Warren fondly imagines. The only way to achieve a Scandinavian-style welfare state is to do what the Scandinavians do — tax the heck out of the middle class.
Elizabeth Warren’s approach is 1960s Great Society stuff. She would build public housing, throw money at the opioid epidemic, break up big tech companies, break up agribusiness firms, introduce a new corporate profits tax, and on and on. Implicit in every plan is the notion that the government is competent to spend money and run things for everyone’s benefit. That worked so well the last time. As another friend, Sarah Longwell, observed recently, “Confidence in government is at its lowest ebb in years and yet so many Democrats and Republicans want to give it more responsibility.”
One of Warren’s proposals concerns maternal mortality and specifically the higher rates of death in childbirth among African Americans. Warren is sure she knows exactly why. “It comes down to one thing — prejudice.” She says doctors and nurses don’t listen to black women the way they do to white women.
I’m skeptical. In the first place, even if doctors are more dismissive of black women than others (and that is never acceptable), rarely will it be a matter of life and death. Second, obstetricians/gynecologists are about 62% female nationwide and more likely to be African American in major cities than elsewhere.
When Warren learned that black women are more than three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women — Hispanics have the lowest rate — she went straight to racism. But here are some other possibilities: Whereas infection was once the leading cause of death in childbirth, it is now more often underlying health issues like hypertension and diabetes that lead to heart problems. Black women are less likely than whites to have prenatal care. They are also more likely to be obese (82% versus 63.5%). Obesity puts pregnant women at higher risk of a range of bad outcomes including heart attacks and strokes. According to the Office of Minority Health at HHS, African Americans are 20% less likely to engage in physical activity than whites. We know that being unmarried contributes to higher infant mortality. Could it also play a role in maternal mortality?
Warren proposes to fine hospitals if they don’t bring down the number of maternal deaths among black women. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, the hospitals may have no control over the things that are causing the disparity. Yet hospitals that serve large numbers of black women will lose funding — and who suffers then?
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|From: Brumar89||7/30/2019 2:13:50 PM|
|Reflections on walking the lonely conservative road in the Age of Trump|
by David Leach • July 30, 2019
One year ago tomorrow, I wrote an article entitled Walking the Lonely Conservative Road in the Age of Trump. In it, I shared how my mission to be a leading voice in the call for a return to conservative values has faced overwhelming opposition from not only the Far-Left, but also from Republicans and so-called conservatives.
Recently, I had reason to reflect on that article, and I was amazed at how little things have changed in the past year; in fact, in many ways, things are worse.
Republicans are still cowards and liars willing to sell their political souls to Democrats and Donald Trump — but I repeat myself — for political gain. This is one of the contributing factorsbehind the Blue Tsunami that occurred in last year’s mid-terms.
Not all that surprising when you think about it. After all, the fecklessness of the Republican Party has been a well-established fact under the Gutless On Principlesleadership of Mitch McConnell and many like him for some time now.
As sad as that is, it’s not the worst part.
In the Age of Trump, the conservative movement that gave rise to groups dedicated to fighting big-government tyranny and oppression has been consumed by Trumpservatism. One-by-one, groups like the House Freedom Caucus, the Senate Conservatives Fund, and the Convention of States Project have sacrificed their conservative principles on the altar of Trump.
This past year has also witnessed a complete capitulation to Trumpism by the faux conservative media, such as when former conservatives Mark Levin and Glenn Beck joined forces to create the pro-Trump echo chamber and home of faux conservativesnow known as BlazeTV.
And, of course, what would the explosion of Trumpism and the death of conservatism be without the eternal worship and adoration being heaped on “ God’s Man” by the Fellowship if the Pharisees?
The latest incarnation of the death of conservatism over the past year was recently revealed as Nationalist Conservativism. This big-government, pro-socialist, anti-liberty ideology is being touted as a patriotic America First alternative to the Far-Left, but there’s nothing patriotic or conservative about it.
In the Age of Trump, the death of true conservatism and the rise of Nationalism is no longer in doubt. The only question remaining is how will we respond?
One year ago, I promised to remain on the path of my principals, and I’m just as committed to doing so today. It’s still a lonely journey, but I would still rather walk the right road alone than walk the wrong road with the crowd.
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|From: Brumar89||10/28/2019 7:12:20 PM|
|Against the Anti-Market ConsensusRight and left are converging on a misreading of capitalismOCT, 2019BY NOAH ROTHMAN|
“To me, capitalism is irredeemable,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared amid the lavish surroundings of the 2019 South by Southwest conference. The present state of affairs in America is “garbage,” she added, because “if you don’t have a job, you are left to die.”
These are not the ravings of a beret-clad beatnik waxing nostalgic about the unappreciated virtues of Stalinism from the basement of a West Village dive bar. This is a member of Congress denouncing the free market from the stage of a fashion-forward conference sponsored by America’s wealthiest corporations and attended by its most successful influencers.
Ocasio-Cortez has become the standard-bearer of an ascendant wave of populist progressives who take a dim view of the marketplace. Statements like these illustrate why. Following her successful efforts to force Amazon to scrap its plan to headquarter East Coast operations with tens of thousands of jobs near her district, Ocasio-Cortez told us how she thinks the world works. “We do not have to settle for scraps,” she insisted. “It’s not just about any job,” she contended. What we need are “jobs that contribute to communities.”
She, and you, might be surprised to learn how many allies she has on the populist right. “Market capitalism is not a religion,” Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson declared in a viral riff in January 2019. “Any economic system that weakens and destroys families isn’t worth having.” Once a fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, Carlson now finds more to love in progressive prescriptions for government-managed growth than in the untrammeled marketplace. Carlson now makes common cause with Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren even as he derides Senator Mitt Romney as a “mercenary” owing to the years Romney spent in venture capital.
These two popular figures may seem like polar political opposites, but they have settled on a consensus view that markets are undesirable or even dangerous. They are the leading indicators of an important intellectual and ideological tendency. Consider the views of Harvard Law School professor Adrian Vermeule, a self-described reactionary. “Liberal society celebrates toleration, diversity, and free inquiry, but in practice it features a spreading social, cultural, and ideological conformism,” Vermuele writes. For him, capitalism and socialism are virtually indistinguishable “variants of liberalism, differing over means rather than ends.” A manifesto recently authored by the writers at First Things exemplifies this intellectual-populist attack on the market, denouncing as it does a “dead consensus” typified by “the soulless society of individual affluence.”
In this, First Things is joining with American labor organizations. The AFL-CIO, having long forgotten the exertions its leaders made in the mid-20th century to extirpate Marxists from its ranks, now tweets images of guillotines straight out of Pravda to protest objectionable labor practices, and it posts “anti-capitalist” educational videos that supposedly capture the all-consuming “conflict between workers and the owners of society.”
These strange bedfellows share an implicit belief that the free market is responsible for incredible suffering, systematic oppression, and unscrupulous profiteering that are literally putting the existence of the human species at risk. For conservatives especially, the market is held to be the cause of crises such as substance abuse and suicide, and it is seen as contributing to the onrush of a decadent cultural liberalism that has accelerated the displacement and alienation of the American working class and its moral collapse.
Capitalism and markets have proved to be alluring targets, as they have been in the past—one-stop-shopping buzzwords that can be held responsible for society’s ills. In the 18th century, they were the cause of dark satanic mills that destroyed the blissful communitarianism of the village commons. In the 19th century, they were the destroyers of American regional differentiation through the ruthless introduction of national transport, from boats to trains and then automobiles. In the 20th century, they created the profiteering that egged countries into ruinous massive wars that left the world a ruin but made many unassailably rich.
The new generation of anti-marketeers appears wedded to a notion that there is something out there that must be better than what we have, that the global commercial culture can be and should be replaced. There must be other and fairer methods for structuring commerce that we would prefer if the powers that be would allow it.
This is ideologically blinkered ignorance, and we shouldn’t be afraid to call it so. Human civilization has attempted every form of social organization ever conceived. Free-market capitalism enjoys its present status because history has demonstrated it is objectively superior to its competitors. Capitalism’s critics have either forgotten the lessons of history or never learned them in the first place.
Privation and want entered a period of radical decline after the market revolutions of the late 20th century. Climate change—a source of existential dread for many younger Americans—is ameliorated by market forces as much or more than it is exacerbated by them. Organizing a society around competitive impulses does not inevitably lead to atomization and social isolation. In fact, progressive alternatives to competition that are predicated on government intervention in economic life are likely to strain communitarian bonds. Families, churches, civic associations, activist organizations, schools, community centers—the sources of human fulfilment and belonging that exist independent of economic life—are crowded out of the public square by the ever-expanding state.
Capitalism’s record deserves to be defended, and it’s a good story to tell. The critics of the marketplace have valid concerns about the effect that commerce has on the environment, social equality, community bonds, and public and spiritual health. But not only are the alternatives to markets undesirable, these concerns are in many ways already being addressed by market forces.
The public is in desperate need of an education on the positive effects the marketplace has had on societal evolution and why it serves as the foundation upon which modern civilization has flourished. It underwent such an education—in the negative—50 years ago.
‘I am today ordering a freeze on all prices and wages throughout the United States,” said President Richard Nixon during a nationally televised address in the summer of 1971. Circumstances were urgent. Inflation was rising steadily, and so was unemployment. Labor unions and the sprawling corporate entities that catered to them were both driving up wages and prices. Most critically, the dollar was facing mounting pressure as foreign nations began to demand to see their dollar holdings redeemed for gold. Nixon’s response was to abandon his dedication to markets for 90 days, after which a series of commissions would artificially set wages and prices until after the 1972 elections. The press loved it, as did the stock market. Nixon was reelected in a landslide.
But the price-control experiment failed on its own terms. Unemployment did not decline. Inflation was not “whipped.” Nixon’s answer to the failure of price and wage controls was more price and wage controls, and, in June 1973, he re-imposed a freeze. The political dysfunction that resulted from this policy was staggering. “Ranchers stopped shipping their cattle to the market, farmers drowned their chickens, and consumers emptied the shelves of supermarkets,” wrote Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw in The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy. Though much of the system was dismantled by 1974—well beyond the original 90-day time frame—some controls persisted, among them tiered and arbitrary levels on the cost of petroleum products and natural gas. Those would not be entirely abolished until January 1981, during Ronald Reagan’s first week in office.
The downsides associated with governmental interference in the market are well-known because that interference was once far more common than it is today and so its inadvertently damaging effects were relatively easy to measure. In the 1960s and ’70s, proto-socialist economic structures were viewed, from the center right to the far left, as the best way to achieve rapid industrial development. Regulatory capitalism, publicly owned enterprises, and Keynesian economic prescriptions were regarded as not just the preferred but the only comprehensive way to guarantee growth without disrupting the social fabric.
And they failed to deliver.
In the 1980s and 1990s, this old order was swept away in favor of a renewed commitment to competition. It was a paradigmatic shift that ushered in revolutionary changes. The democratic political revolutions that accompanied this philosophical transformation were sometimes bloody, sometimes traumatic, and always tumultuous. Some of these revolutions succeeded in overcoming tyranny, others did not. But everywhere—from Bolivia to Beijing—the market emerged triumphant. Indeed, the market revolution has done what mixed public-private economies never could: all but eliminate extreme poverty.
In 1981, 42 percent of the world lived in extreme poverty, defined as living on about $1.90 per day. As the developing world shed its commitment to protectionism, wages began to rise and political instability declined. The marketplace created a commodity out of what used to be the Third World, redubbed the “emerging market,” leading to previously unseen rates of investment that have survived all manner of economic shocks and corrections. Deaths associated with global conflict and warfare have decreased to proportionate rates almost unseen in human history. It is no coincidence that this condition followed the re-creation of the global economy after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the first time such a thing had existed since the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
This confluence of events has delivered previously unknown levels of economic security. Between 1981 and 2008, more than 700 million people escaped crippling poverty even as the global population increased by 48 percent. In measures of both quality of life and life-expectancy rates, the world has experienced an across-the-board increase, but the positive trends are especially pronounced in the developing world. It is no coincidence that this revolution in human well-being coincided with the implementation of market-oriented reforms in countries such as China and India.
Beginning in 1978, Deng Xiaoping began the process of introducing competition into the moribund Maoist Chinese economy. The People’s Republic abandoned central planning, broke down collective farms, procured foreign-trade deals, reduced tariffs, and sold off state-owned industry. In 1981, the World Bank estimated that 88 percent of Chinese people lived in extreme poverty. By 2015, only 0.7 percent of the country was mired in that condition.
India’s “License Raj,” the Byzantine economic structure designed to preserve social cohesion by making enterprise and innovation an impractical proposition, seemed an intractable feature of the economic life of the subcontinent until the last decade of the 20th century. Nehruvian socialism and the self-sufficiency preached by Mahatma Gandhi were akin to a secular state religion. Its dissolution liberated the Indian economy. Monopolies and restrictive trade practices were curtailed or abolished. Industrial licensing was radically reformed. Prices were freed from controls while personal income-tax rates were held in check. Since 1990, 170 million Indians have emerged from extreme poverty. Today, fewer than 3 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people endure the kind of economic hardships that were once so common.
Economic downturns associated with the business cycle can slow this trend, but so, too, can corruption and authoritarianism. “The biggest poverty-reduction measure of all is liberalizing markets to let poor people get richer,” read a 2013 editorial in the Economist. “That means freeing trade between countries (Africa is still cruelly punished by tariffs) and within them (China’s real great leap forward occurred because it allowed private business to grow). Both India and Africa are crowded with monopolies and restrictive practices.” The competitive marketplace does not encourage intractable structural inequalities. The interests, concerns, and governments that support bad practices most certainly do.
To some, this nearly miraculous reduction in global poverty as a result of capitalist enterprise is nothing to celebrate. It is considered the benign symptom of a latent disease, the onset of which is just around the corner. They call this disease “late capitalism.”
“Late capitalism” is to blame for everything from the consumption patterns of the hugely wealthy to interclass conflict. Vice News has identified it by citing lengthening work weeks and the commodification of blood donations. Academicians, polemicists, and prognosticators see “late capitalism” in our perceptions of sex, interpersonal relations, and entertainment. For Truthout’s Kelly Hayes, late capitalism is the “global consolidation of resources” that will one day result in “mass suffering followed by mass extinction.”
We can see in this assault a perverse desire among those who are benefiting from it—a hunger to see the most effective anti-poverty program in history destroy itself. In the past 40 years, America’s “late capitalist” economy tripled in real terms. Real wages have grown steadily, albeit slowly, thanks to low rates of inflation. The invisible beneficiaries of the modern global marketplace vastly outnumber those who are detached from it, but individual tales of woe focus the mind and the heart more than bloodless metrics and antiseptic statistics do.
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, is an environmentalist now.
In 2010, he received the German Environmental Award for his “admirable passion for a global ecological Perestroika.” The unrepentant Communist even wrote an environmentalist manifesto in which he claims to have undergone a great awakening at the end of the Cold War. “It became clear that growth was occurring only at massive cost to the environment,” Gorbachev wrote. In this way, he has recast the implosion of the Soviet state, an outcome he resisted, as an act of altruistic self-sacrifice for the sake of the planet.
Restyling himself a prophet of the green movement has had some instrumental utility for Gorbachev and his fellow travelers. The Communist movement he once led and the environmentalist one he seeks to commandeer share a common faith in economic central planning. These two divergent movements occasionally converge upon the conceit that the market economy is the source of the threat posed by climate change. Therefore, they reason, curbing markets is the only way to avoid catastrophe.
“I think what we have laid out here is a very clear moral problem,” Representative Ocasio-Cortez said in April 2019. “If we fail to act or if we delay in acting, we will have blood on our hands.” That is why she advocates the Green New Deal, which fetishizes the public sector. The proposal claims that “incentivizing the private sector” to mitigate the threat posed by ecological damage and climate change “doesn’t work.” Ocasio-Cortez and her supporters are wrong. It’s the marketplace that is addressing environmental concerns in ways that are far more comprehensive and require fewer moral compromises than the anti-capitalist proposals they champion.
In 2017, U.S. per capita carbon emissions declined for a third consecutive year, by 2.7 percent, to reach a 67-year low. They rose slightly in 2018 owing to increased economic activity, but the overall decline in emissions over a little more than a decade in America is staggering—a 28 percent decrease since 2005 despite economic growth that took overall GDP from $13 trillion to $20 trillion. Carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation sector have decreased even as Americans drive more and fly less.
Federal fuel-efficiency mandates for planes, cars, and buses have put downward pressure on emissions but so, too, have advancements in aerodynamics, weight reduction, and transmissions that accommodate consumer preference and competition. All-electric vehicle technology has all but crowded out hybrid cars from the market, despite the billions in federal subsidies dedicated to hybrids. Hydraulic fracturing technology, not federal mandates, has made cleaner-burning natural gas (a “bridge fuel” to a more sustainable future) a cost-effective alternative to dirtier fossil fuels. And because natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide than traditional fossil fuels do, 2017 found power-plant emissions falling to their lowest point since 1985. Americans are using less electricity even as the population grows and the economy expands due to increased efficiency. That’s thanks to a variety of pressures, ranging from market forces to voluntary governmental incentives for private producers such as ENERGY STAR, a program the Green New Dealers dismiss as a half measure.
By contrast, the mixed and command economies of the 20th century (and those few that persist today) invariably place a premium on social stability, not the environment. As a result, countries hostile to markets have been responsible for some of the worst environmental disasters in living memory. Russia has some of the worst air pollution on earth. Even today, more than a generation since the collapse of the Soviet Union, only 15 percent of Russian city dwellers breathe clean air. Soviet agriculture policies carelessly eroded topsoil. Pesticides and unsafe fertilizers were deployed with reckless abandon. Coal-burning power-generation facilities darkened the skies. The Aral Sea is all but gone—diverted into oblivion by Stalinist irrigation projects. That displaced more people and disrupted more environments than any previously studied environmental disaster (more even than the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl).
On the worst days, the air in China is unbreathable, the water defiled, and the soil made toxic by unsafe levels of heavy metals. Unsustainable development, resource consumption, and the dumping and venting of pollutants all occur despite the government’s environmental regulations. Public officials look the other way while the workers, activists, and farmers who dare protest these conditions are arrested, jailed, and beaten.
Unscrupulous private enterprise, under-regulated industries, and simple accidents do yield catastrophic environmental disasters in market-oriented economies. But the systemic sort of environmental degradation that climate activists attribute to 21st-century industry is more often the product of a planned economy’s pursuit of rapid growth at the expense of everything else.
The demand for improved environmental policing by the state and the support of a greener economy is directly proportional to the market’s ability to support the demand for these programs. “We find no evidence that environmental quality deteriorates steadily with economic growth”; that was the conclusion of Gene Grossman and Alan Krueger’s influential 1994 study on economic activity and environmentalism. “Rather, for most indicators, economic growth brings an initial phase of deterioration followed by a subsequent phase of improvement.” In plainer terms: You get the environment you can afford.
Wealthier and freer societies have better environmental track records, in part, because those societies have more diverse power centers with varying priorities. Developing nations with mixed or controlled economies do not, now or ever, sacrifice growth to preserve their local ecologies. The notion that transforming wealthy economies into centrally planned ones will yield better environmental conditions is an article of faith divorced from the historical record.
A popular refrain among capitalism’s critics is that “market fundamentalists” envision almost no role for the public sector in society. That may be so among a few radical Randian theorists, but it isn’t the case for almost any serious thinker on the subject. The public sector has an important role in ensuring that the economic playing field encourages competition. But like any strong medicine, too much of it is a poison.
While the properly regulated marketplace is essential for an economy to function, the core mission of a regulatory enterprise must be to encourage and preserve competitiveness. The results of excessive regulation are often worse than the problems that regulation seeks to remedy. In the real world, regulators and their institutions are prone to “capture” by the very firms on which they exercise oversight. Special interests and lobbying groups, which are closer to the day-to-day operations of individual economic sectors than their regulators, can hijack the process and arrange it so that regulatory mechanisms entrench their advantages over their competitors. Regulatory structures can discourage competition and thereby keep prices from declining. That doesn’t provide many benefits for consumers, but you can see how firms that were “regulated” in this way wouldn’t mind an artificial ballast on the prices of their products.
Often, the power these agencies acquire for themselves becomes an end in itself. That power allows regulatory agencies to circumvent the legislative process and effect social and political change without being directly accountable to voters. That is, in part, why the “disinterested regulator”—a necessary figure in any understanding that favors government involvement in the private economy—is a theory, not a job description. That kind of power attracts very interested parties indeed, and it creates incentives to misuse the regulatory process. Ultimately, even the government’s power to break up trusts—which is necessary and valuable when used judiciously—is undermined by the increasingly globalized economy, in which competition is almost impossible to suffocate through monopolistic mechanisms.
Above all, government should use its great powers sparingly. When it uses its regulatory power and its ability to provide incentives, terrible things can happen in the pursuit of the good. In the 1990s, the well-meaning desire to increase the number of stakeholders in the American social compact resulted in a government-wide effort to encourage homeownership through increased access to affordable loans. The federal government encouraged banks to provide mortgages to borrowers who could not otherwise afford them, so lending institutions therefore saw little risk and the opportunity to make a substantial profit. Some of these loans were transferred to semi-governmental entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Others were sold off to larger investment banks to be bundled into “mortgage-backed securities,” which were in turn sold off to investors after they had been approved as safe investments by government-backed credit-ratings agencies. These securities intermingled bad mortgages with other investment opportunities. They, in turn, were purchased by large institutions and pension funds. Eventually, these mortgages became so widely disseminated that they contaminated vast swaths of the investment landscape.
Debt piled up, outpacing equity. And when the prices of housing began to decline as the market cooled, so, too, did the value of mortgage-backed securities. This hurt the financial institutions, pension funds, and investors that held them. And thus, a cascading chain of failures became a panic that took the whole economy with it. Only a series of bailouts helped staunch the bleeding, but those bailouts sparked a wave of populist unrest that in many ways has not yet subsided. The financial meltdown was not a “market failure.” It was not the result of market fundamentalism. It was caused by economic tinkering made possible by the federal government.
As the urgent crisis of material want arising from the 2008 financial meltdown dissipated, the conservative mind turned its focus from the demands of the body to the desires of the soul. Conservative critiques of the market arise from a philosophical outlook that’s distinct from their progressive counterparts, but they have apparently arrived at the same conclusions. They argue that market forces are creating a borderless world in which domestic wages decline to compete with the global supply of labor, which is well below a reasonable standard for daily life in the United States. They say the market creates incentives to replace skilled workers with machines, tearing apart communities and sowing social discord in the process. They insist that a society that privileges commercial activity above all else causes cohesive communities to disintegrate.
Markets create winners and losers, as every system of economic organization does. People who are displaced or underserved by the competitive environment deserve sympathy. They are the living, breathing counterpoint to the notion that a market system is uniquely superior to its alternatives. But there is no society in which all evils are extirpated and every social malady remedied. There will always be trade-offs. Every society of appreciable size is economically stratified—even (perhaps especially) those societies that are officially classless. The task before anyone who believes we should live in a society that is as just as it is possible for a society to be is not to mourn the existence of those strata but to ensure that they are permeable.
The question before us is, as ever, what course of action delivers the best outcomes for the most people. Centuries of experimentation have provided us with the answer: competition and markets. Conservative thought, which has always been comfortable with contradictions, has begun to fall prey to the unrealistic romanticism that traditionally typifies the idealistic left. Attempts to impose economic equality on a society do not end up maximizing individual advantage but universalizing hardship.
Markets are a force of nature; they can be harnessed, guided, and managed, but they cannot be suppressed. Those who have turned against the good of markets in pursuit of the idyllic perfection of a homogenized economic and political culture present a direct threat to the unprecedented peace and prosperity that followed the Cold War. Both the right and the left have diagnosed today’s greatest threats to social cohesion correctly, and some of those threats are rooted in the workings of the incalculably complex market economy. Efforts ranging from Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal to Tucker Carlson’s monologues to the assault by First Things intellectuals on “the dead consensus” that are designed to undercut, subvert, or morally discredit the market in favor of something else—they know not what—will prove to be as inefficient, ineffective, and morally corrupting as they ever were.
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|From: Brumar89||10/29/2019 7:59:31 PM|
|Choices for Financing Medicare for All: A Preliminary Analysis|
OCT 28, 2019 | HEALTH CARE| TAXES
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Proposals to adopt single-payer health care in the United States have grown in popularity in recent years, as numerous lawmakers and presidential candidates have embraced Medicare for All. However, few have grappled with how to finance the new costs imposed on the federal government. By most estimates, Medicare for All would cost the federal government about $30 trillion over the next decade. How this cost is financed would have considerable distributional, economic, and policy implications.
In the coming months, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget will publish a detailed analysis describing numerous ways to finance Medicare for All and the consequences and trade-offs associated with each choice. This paper provides our preliminary estimates of the magnitude of each potential change and a brief discussion of the types of trade-offs policymakers will need to consider.
We find that Medicare for All could be financed with:
A 32 percent payroll tax
A 25 percent income surtax
A 42 percent value-added tax (VAT)
A mandatory public premium averaging $7,500 per capita – the equivalent of $12,000 per individual not otherwise on public insurance
More than doubling all individual and corporate income tax rates
An 80 percent reduction in non-health federal spending
A 108 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increase in the national debt
Impossibly high taxes on high earners, corporations, and the financial sector
A combination of approaches
Each of these choices would have consequences for the distribution of income, growth in the economy, and ability to raise new revenue. Some of these consequences could be balanced against each other by adopting a combination approach that includes smaller versions of several of the options as well as additional policies.
Consequences could also be mitigated through aggressive efforts to lower per-person health care costs and/or by substantially scaling back the generosity or comprehensiveness of Medicare for All.
The Cost of Medicare for AllThough it is a somewhat amorphous term, the term Medicare for All has come to represent proposals that offer universal, single-payer health insurance coverage for virtually all health care services (including dental, vision, and long-term care) with no meaningful premiums, deductibles, copayments, or restrictive networks.
In theory, Medicare for All may increase or decrease national health expenditures, which is the total amount spent on health care by all private and public sources. Cost increases would come from covering those who are currently uninsured; expanding coverage to include services like dental, vision, and long-term care; and eliminating deductibles and copayments that currently help curb utilization. Cost reductions would come from lower administrative costs and significantly lower payments to medical providers and drug manufacturers.
Regardless of the impact on total national health expenditures, adopting Medicare for All would mean shifting virtually all private health costs to the federal government. Most independent estimates of Medicare for All find it would cost the federal government $25 trillion to $36 trillion over ten years (though not all incorporate long-term care coverage). Most recently, the Urban Institute estimated Medicare for All would cost $34 trillion over the next decade, or $32 trillion net of income tax effects. These estimates represent additional costs on top of the $16 trillion the federal government is already projected to spend on major health programs over the next decade.
The bulk of this expense represents the direct cost of eliminating premiums, copayments, and other out-of-pocket costs. That spending will total nearly $2 trillion this year alone. Replacing it will require significant new funds regardless of changes to national health expenditures.
Options for Financing Medicare for AllFor the purpose of our analysis, we assume Medicare for All would cost $30 trillion over the next decade net of new revenue – roughly the midpoint of a variety of estimates. Though much of this cost represents savings to the private sector, it nonetheless needs to be financed through higher taxes, lower spending, more borrowing, or some combination of the three.
Our estimates are rough and preliminary, do not account for economic feedback, and may change modestly in our final analysis. Importantly, the options we present are illustrative rather than prescriptive. Their economic, distributional, and other consequences should be weighed relative to each other and against the effects of eliminating all premiums and out-of-pocket spending and providing comprehensive, universal health coverage through the federal government.
We estimate that policymakers could finance Medicare for All over the next decade in any of the following ways: 1
Impose a 32 percent payroll tax. Currently, most wage income is subject to a 15.3 percent payroll tax divided evenly between workers and employers to fund Social Security and Medicare. Wages above $133,000 are subject to either a 2.9 percent or 3.8 percent payroll tax to fund Medicare. We estimate a new 32 percent payroll tax, divided evenly between workers and employers, would raise roughly $30 trillion over a decade. This tax would apply to all wages, not just those below a taxable maximum. An equivalent amount of revenue could be raised with a 23 percent payroll tax on the employee side only or a 48 percent tax on the employer side. 2 A 32 percent payroll tax would raise the total payroll tax rate on most wage income to above 47 percent and the rate for high-wage earners to nearly 36 percent. It would apply to all earned income.
Establish a 25 percent income surtax on adjusted gross income (AGI) above the standard deduction. Under current law, households pay taxes on their income under a progressive rate structure that ranges from 10 percent to 37 percent, with preferential rates for long-term capital gains and qualified dividends as well as deductions for mortgage interest, charitable giving, state and local taxes up to $10,000, pass-through business income, and other purposes. There is also a standard deduction of $12,200 for individuals and $24,400 for married couples. We estimate a 25 percent income surtax above the standard deduction threshold – which would apply to all AGI without deductions or preferences – would raise roughly $30 trillion over a decade. 3 This surtax would effectively increase the bottom income tax rate from 10 to 35 percent, the top income tax rate from 37 to 62 percent, and the top capital gains and dividends rate from 24 to 49 percent.
Enact a 42 percent value-added tax (VAT). Whereas most developed countries raise a substantial share of their revenue through a tax on consumption – known as a VAT – the United States only taxes consumption broadly through state and local sales taxes. A VAT could be introduced at the federal level to finance Medicare for All. Based on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), we project a broad-based VAT of 42 percent would raise about $30 trillion over a decade. The first-order effect of this VAT would be to increase the prices of most goods and services by 42 percent; the VAT would thus represent 30 percent of costs on a tax-inclusive basis, which is more comparable to an equivalent income or payroll tax rate increase. Importantly, a VAT can be designed in a number of different ways, and a different tax base would change the required tax rate.
Require a mandatory public premium averaging $7,500 per capita – the equivalent of $12,000 per individual not otherwise on public insurance. Currently, most Americans are charged health insurance premiums – the majority of which are paid by employers on their behalf. Though current Medicare for All proposals call for ending premiums, policymakers could consider financing Medicare for All through mandatory fixed-dollar payments to the federal government. These payments would be a form of head tax but could resemble premiums in a number of ways. For example, they could vary based on household size and could be paid in part or in whole by employers. They could also be reduced or waived for some individuals, perhaps based on income. In 2021, we estimate those premiums would need to average about $7,500 per capita or $20,000 per household (including single-person households) and is the average applied to all individuals, including retirees, children, and low-income individuals. As an illustrative example, fully exempting everyone who would otherwise be on Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP would increase the premiums by over 60 percent to more than $12,000 per individual.
More than double all individual and corporate income tax rates. Under current law, ordinary income is taxed under a progressive rate structure with a bottom rate of 10 percent and a top rate of 37 percent, while long-term capital gains and qualified dividends are taxed at a top rate of 23.8 percent and corporate income at a rate of 21 percent. Assuming capital gains are taxed at death and pass-through income is no longer deductible, 4 we estimate that doubling all individual income tax rates would raise $20 trillion to $25 trillion over a decade, and doubling the corporate rate would raise about $2 trillion. Some additional revenue would be needed on top of these increases to reach $30 trillion in total revenue. This option differs from the income surtax in a number of ways, especially because it would represent a much smaller tax increase for lower-income taxpayers. Under this scenario, the bottom ordinary income tax rate would be raised to 20 percent, the top ordinary rate would be 74 percent, capital gains would be taxed at a top rate of 47.6 percent, and the corporate tax rate would be 42 percent.
Reduce non-health federal spending by 80 percent. The federal government is projected to spend $60 trillion over the next decade, including $16 trillion on health care and $6 trillion on interest costs. Accounting roughly for the taxation of certain federal benefits, we estimate that financing the full cost of Medicare for All with spending cuts would require cutting the remaining federal budget by 80 percent. 5Cuts of this magnitude are unrealistically large and certainly could not be imposed on a short timeline. For illustrative purposes, an 80 percent cut to Social Security would mean reducing the average new benefit from about $18,000 per year to $3,600 per year, and an 80 percent cut to the military would mean, among other things, reducing the number of soldiers and officers from about 1.3 million today to 270,000.
More than double the national debt to 205 percent of the economy. Federal debt held by the public currently totals about $17 trillion, or 79 percent of GDP. Under current law, debt is projected to reach 97 percent of GDP by 2030. Assuming no changes in projected interest rates or economic growth, deficit-financing Medicare for All over the next decade would require about $34 trillion of new borrowing including interest, which is the equivalent of 108 percent of GDP by 2030. As a result, debt would rise above 205 percent of GDP, more than double its currently projected level. This would put debt in 2030 at almost five times its historic average of 42 percent and nearly twice the historic record of 106 percent (set after World War II). Under this scenario, debt would continue to grow rapidly beyond 2030.
Impose impossibly high taxes on high earners, corporations, and the financial sector. There is not enough annual income available among higher earners to finance the full cost of Medicare for All. On a static basis, even increasing the top two income tax rates (applying to individuals making over $204,000 per year and couples making over $408,000 per year) to 100 percent would not raise $30 trillion over a decade. In reality, a tax increase that large would actually lose revenue because it would institute marginal tax rates above 100 percent when other taxes are incorporated – effectively requiring people to pay rather than be paid to work, earn business income, or sell capital assets. We previously found that an extremely aggressive package of tax hikes on high earners, corporations, and the financial sector might cover one-third of the $30 trillion cost of Medicare for All. Our very rough estimates showed that over the next decade raising the top two individual and pass-through rates to 70 percent would raise about $2 trillion, phasing out most tax breaks for higher earners (assuming that 70 percent top rate) could very generously raise another $2 trillion, and doubling the corporate tax rate would raise $2 trillion. We also found that a wealth tax or “mark-to-market” capital gains taxation could raise $3 trillion, and the combination of a financial transaction tax and a tax on large financial institutions could raise about $1 trillion. Other taxes on high earners and the wealthy could raise some additional funds.
Enact a combination of approaches. Rather than identify a single revenue source to finance Medicare for All, policymakers could combine several options. For example, one could combine a 16 percent employer-side payroll tax with a public premium averaging $3,000 per capita, $5 trillion of taxes on high earners and corporations, and $1 trillion of spending cuts. Other small options, such as a higher excise taxes on alcohol, tobacco, or sugary drinks, could also be included, as could policies to require or encourage state governments to contribute to offsetting the cost of Medicare for All. Adopting smaller versions of several policies may prove more viable than adopting any one policy in full.
While the financing options above are quite large in magnitude, they could be reduced significantly by reducing the cost of Medicare for All itself.
These cost reductions could be achieved in part by reforming or reducing provider payments, improving care coordination, and identifying policies to reduce excessive utilization of care. Our Budget Offsets Bankincudes numerous options to reduce the cost of traditional Medicare; some of these options would save much more if applied to a comprehensive Medicare for All program.
Cost reductions could also be achieved by scaling back the generosity of a Medicare for All program. For example, the Urban Institute recently estimated that a Medicare for All plan that required cost sharing to cover between 5 and 20 percent of medical costs (depending on income) and covered only core health benefits (not vision, dental, hearing, or long-term services and supports) would cost the federal government half as much per person as a comprehensive Medicare for All plan. A $15 trillion cost could be financed with a 15 percent payroll tax, as compared to the 32 percent payroll tax required to fund $30 trillion.
Choices and Trade-Offs in Financing Medicare for AllDeciding how to finance Medicare for All involves weighing significant trade-offs amongst options as well as relative to the current system. Indeed, the design of Medicare for All financing may have as much distributional, economic, and policy importance as the adoption of Medicare for All itself.
While many Americans are enrolled in heavily subsidized Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance plans, the majority of Americans pay for their health care through premiums (especially employer-paid premiums), deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.
While premiums and cost sharing are not a form of taxation, they do share some features in common with a “head tax” – a fixed-dollar tax imposed on every person. For those with employer-provided health insurance especially, premiums generally remain fixed regardless of changes in income. Like head taxes, insurance premiums would thus be regressive if measured relative to income among those who pay them (though many of the lowest earners on Medicaid or receiving exchange subsidies pay little or no premiums). Also like a head tax, premiums are economically efficient in the sense that they create very little economic distortion and do not generally disincentivize more work, investment, or productivity. Finally, because premiums and cost sharing don’t affect marginal tax rates or returns to work and investment, they have little effect on the government’s ability to raise revenue.
Any plan to replace current premiums and cost sharing must weigh how the new finance scheme will impact income distribution, economic output, and tax capacity. In the coming months, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget will release a full report evaluating the various effects of most of the options mentioned in this paper.
From a distributional standpoint, most of the options we put forward above would be more progressive on average than current law, though the impact would vary person to person and many of the options would represent a cost increase for lower-income individuals and families who currently benefit from Medicaid and exchange subsidies. Options would differ in their distributional impact. To get a broad sense of how distribution may differ, a recent CBO study shows that in 2016 the top income quintile (indirectly) paid less than 40 percent of employer-side health premiums, but they paid more than 85 percent of individual and corporate income taxes and would have paid over 50 percent of a new flat payroll tax. The top percentile paid about 2 percent of premiums, but they paid over 40 percent of income taxes and would have paid 10 percent of a new flat payroll tax.
At the same time, most of the options we present would shrink the economy compared to the current system. The 32 percent payroll tax hike, for example, would increase the effective marginal tax rate on labor by about 23 percent after accounting for various interactions. Penn Wharton Budget Model recently estimated that an 11.25 percent payroll tax increase used to pay for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) would reduce GDP by 1.7 percent. 6 This suggests that financing Medicare for All with a payroll tax would shrink the size of the economy by about 3.5 percent by 2030 – though the actual effect may differ. This economic impact would be the equivalent of a $3,200 reduction in per-person income and would result in a 6.5 percent reduction in hours worked – a 9 million person reduction in full-time equivalent (FTE) workers in 2030.
Deficit-financing Medicare for All would be far more damaging to the economy. Assuming that such a massive increase in the debt would not roil financial markets or lead to high inflation, we estimate that a 108 percent of GDP increase in the federal debt would shrink the size of the economy by roughly 5 percent in 2030 – the equivalent of a $4,500 reduction in per-person income – and far more in the following years. This is a low-end estimate of economic impact because it implicitly assumes few limits on the amount of foreign savings available to purchase Treasury bonds. Because deficit-financing would have little direct impact on the incentive to work, we estimate a 0.7 percent or 1 million FTE reduction in work hours by 2030.
An additional consideration is how much tax capacity any of these financing options might leave for future policymakers aiming to raise revenue to pay for new programs, fund existing ones, or reduce deficits. The best economic literature suggests a revenue-maximizing tax rate of between 63 and 73 percent, 7 after which further rate increases actually lose revenue. Tax rates approaching these high levels would reduce the ability of policymakers to raise revenue in the future.
Under current law, the top effective marginal tax rate (accounting for state and local taxes in a typical state) is about 48 percent. That rate would rise to 69 percent after a 32 percent payroll tax hike (the increase is smaller than the tax due to interactions with the tax base), 73 percent after a 25 percent income surtax, and 85 percent if income tax rates were doubled. In other words, each of these options would bring the top rate close to or above the revenue-maximizing rate.
ConclusionRegardless of its impact on national health expenditures, Medicare for All would shift substantial costs from the private sector to the federal government. By most estimates, a comprehensive Medicare for All plan that expands coverage to every U.S. resident for nearly all medical services and eliminates premiums and cost sharing would cost the federal government roughly $30 trillion over a decade.
Policymakers have a number of options available to finance the $30 trillion cost of Medicare for All, but each option would come with its own set of trade-offs.
In this preliminary analysis, we estimate the cost could be covered with a 32 percent payroll tax, a 25 percent income surtax, a 42 percent value-added tax, or a public premium averaging $7,500 per capita or more than $12,000 per individual who wouldn’t otherwise be enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP. Medicare for All could also be paid for by more than doubling individual and corporate income tax rates, reducing federal spending by 80 percent, or increasing the national debt by 108 percent of GDP. Tax increases on high earners, corporations, and the financial sector by themselves could not cover much more than one-third of the cost of Medicare for All.
Rather than adopting any one of the proposals above, policymakers could also consider a combination of approaches to finance Medicare for All. Reducing the cost, scope, or generosity of Medicare for All would also reduce the magnitude of needed financing.
In deciding how to finance Medicare for All, policymakers must consider the distributional, economic, and policy consequences of replacing premiums and cost sharing with various alternatives. Most of the options we put forward are more progressive on average than current law but would shrink economic output and bring the top tax rate up to its revenue-maximizing level – leaving little capacity for further taxes.
This paper will be followed by a more detailed analysis of the various consequences of different financing options.
1 These figures represent rough estimates generated by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget using our own models as well as a variety of sources, including the Open Source Policy Center’s Tax Brain, the Congressional Budget Office, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Tax Policy Center. Estimates are from 2021 to 2030, exclude any macroeconomic effects, and include only modest behavioral effects. All estimates assume that the elimination of private health insurance premiums would lead to a significant increase in taxable wages.
2 An employer-side payroll tax raises significantly less than an employee-side tax because higher employer contributions lead them to pay lower taxable wages. The result is lower revenue from current income and payroll taxes as well as from the newly imposed payroll tax itself.
3 As part of this policy, we also assume all capital gains would be taxed at death and with this surtax. Absent that assumption, capital gains revenue would significantly decline under this surtax.
4 Allowing households to deduct 20 percent of business income and step-up the basis of assets held at death would require much higher rates and would likely result in substantial tax avoidance. We therefore assume any reasonable policy to increase tax rates so dramatically would close off these and other avoidance techniques that could lead to large revenue losses.
5 The replacement of Medicare, Medicaid, and most other federal health spending is already assumed in cost estimates of Medicare for All. If the cost of the new Medicare for All program were cut proportionally with the rest of the budget, the total size of the cut would fall to 45 percent.
6 A payroll-tax-financed UBI should be economically similar to a payroll tax financed Medicare for All, as both essentially raise the payroll tax to finance a lump-sum payment.
7 Economists Mathias Trabandt and Harold Uhlig estimate a revenue-maximizing rate of 63 percent, while economists Peter Diamond and Emmanuel Saez estimate a revenue-maximizing rate of 73 percent.
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|From: Brumar89||12/2/2019 7:17:19 PM|
|I Believe in America|
Happy Thanksgiving, to my adopted home.
by SHAY KHATIRI
NOVEMBER 28, 2019 6:42 AM
The Statue of Liberty in New York City harbor where she greets immigrants in search of freedom, New York, New York, c. 1960. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
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“Don’t tell your friends we just had breakfast.”
That was my Dad. I was in first grade and he was dropping me off at school.
We lived in Iran, it was Ramadan, and everybody had to fast during the month. Technically, I didn’t have to fast, because of my age, but my parents did. And if somebody had found out that they had breakfast and weren’t fasting, they could get into trouble.
When I entered high school, I had to fast too. I wasn’t actually Muslim—my parents are atheists, and they’d raised a miniature atheist in me. But that didn’t matter. In Iran, you had to pretend you were Muslim, full-stop. This wasn’t a joke.
Before I’d been born, both of my parents had spent time in prison because of their politics. My Dad had been tortured. I didn’t want them to ever have to go back.
I grew up, went to college, and became, myself, involved in anti-government protests. Which got me kicked out of school. Realizing that I could never go back to college, I decided to leave.
First, I went to Hungary.
Despite the growing political authoritarianism in Hungary, it was more open than Iran. By a lot. I spent a couple of good years there before I realized that the Hungarian sense of nationhood is based on ethnic background. And since I wasn’t Hungarian by either blood or soil, I was never going to be an equal member of their society.
So I left, again. This time I arrived in Arizona, USA. And it was a crazy, almost unimaginably different world. The only people who cared that I didn’t grow up in the United States were the people curious about my story. Being an immigrant wasn’t a bug, it was a feature. Because being American had nothing to do with land or heritage. It was about nothing less than an idea. If you are American in your heart, then you can become an American.
It’s been five and a half years since I adopted America. Or she adopted me. I’m not sure which it is. Probably both. I don’t have American citizenship—yet—but I am American in my heart, and so people treat me like an American. Like we’re all confederates in love with the idea that makes our country special.
America isn’t perfect, obviously. Nothing is. There are problems. Three times I’ve been subjected to some xenophobia, and I remember each of these instances. But that’s the point: It’s happened so rarely that I can keep count. Three occasions!
And even though I’m not a citizen, I get to participate in politics with no fear of persecution.
Nobody minds that I don’t attend religious services. Well, that’s not true. I have a handful of friends who, out of love, want to drag me to church with them. But only because they want to save my soul—I have nothing but gratitude for the care they show for my wellbeing. No one is calling the Guidance Patrol.
I was treated like a third-class citizen in my country of birth.
In America, I’m treated as equal even before I’ve become an actual citizen.
Why? Because that’s the fundamental premise of our nationhood.
A while ago, a friend of mine asked why it is that I’m always happy and cheerful. I told him that it’s difficult not to be if you grew up in Iran and are lucky enough to live in America.
This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the same thing I’ve been thankful for for the last five years: America.
For her promise and her imperfections, for her goodness and her struggles.
I love my home. I love you, America.
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