Published as an LTE in the East Hampton Star.
Springs, February 24, 2020
Why doesn’t Bernie Sanders level with voters as to how he plans to pay for his flagship “Medicare for All” plan? The answer is simple: He can’t.
Take a look at Sanders’s official campaign website and take a look at his program for Medicare for All. If as Senator Warren says Pete Buttigieg’s plan is nothing more than a “Post-it,” the Sanders plan is more like a postage stamp. Nowhere does his campaign site include a plan for paying for his pie-in-the-sky program. After spending seven-plus years of foisting this plan on voters, one would think he would be able to explain it to us. He can’t, because it is unworkably expensive.
In short, it is nothing but political vaporware. What is vaporware? When the term was in vogue it described efforts by software companies to promise a non-existent product to deceptively discourage customers from buying an existing competitive product (or discourage competitors from developing one). So what Sanders is doing is deceptively attracting voters to a Medicare for All plan that promises everything but will deliver nothing.
And what’s even worse is that there is proof of his plan’s nonviability from an actual attempt to launch a similar plan. And guess where that plan was tried? Vermont (Bernie’s home state)! In 2011, then-Governor Pete Shumlin euphorically promised a single-payer plan, dubbed Green Mountain Care. Backed by advocates bordering on the “theological,” Green Mountain Care (encouraged by Senator Sanders) promised a system of health care for all that would save money, even though no one knew what it would cost when it passed in 2014.
That belief proved hopelessly naïve. As the Green Mountain plan moved into implementation, it became clear that the plan would double Vermont’s budget, would require raising state income taxes by up to 9.5 percent, and imposing an 11.5-percent payroll tax on employers.
The Green Mountain Plan crashed in flames in 2014, after the governor realized that the only economically viable plan would offer Vermonters less protection than they already had.
So there is every reason for Senator Sanders to avoid discussing how his Medicare for All plan would be financed (other than in the broadest of generalities, like “taxes would go up.” (Yes, but how much?) There is an equally obvious reason why he fails to even mention the failed Vermont plan, and a mysterious absence of any explanation of how his plan would correct the deficiencies of the Vermont plan he touted at the time.
Given Senator Sanders’s evasions, it is incumbent upon voters (and his competitors) to put his feet to the fire and force him to explain in detail, with data, how his plan would be paid for and why it would behoove 150 million Americans to vote for a candidate who would deprive them of their existing health care for an unknown product. Until he comes clean, it’s vaporware, and voters should beware of being duped. Taking him on faith could not be more dangerous.
Sincerely, BRUCE COLBATH