Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Economists' Criticisms for Sanders' Plans



 Bernie Sanders’ health care plan is expansive, to say the least. It would require revamping many parts of the government; it could increase the size of the federal government by up to 50% (NYT), impose a higher tax on the wealthy as well as a 6.2% payroll tax and 2.2% income-related premium applicable to all works (Huffington Post), all the while with claims to save trillions of dollars over the course of many years, theoretically balancing out and saving Americans more than what they’d be paying in increased taxes to fund this plan.
With such large ideas, there are bound to be equally as large criticisms; these criticisms come even from fellow liberals. One of Sanders’ biggest ideas is a single-payer health care system, which essentially means health care becomes de-privatized and the government assumes all its costs. The 2.2% tax described above is supposed to be the central player in paying for this system, but economists question whether or not this tax will yield enough (NYT).
Further, the usefulness of this plan for the upper-middle to upper-class is obviously questionable; they are likely wealthy enough to afford a privatized version of all of what Sanders’ is proposing without suffering increased tax cuts. Under the plan, they’d end up spending more.
Lastly, for a single-payer health care system to function without financially ruining itself, it has to make decisions on which treatments it wants to cover. This means the government makes this choice. Just because coverage is provided by the government doesn’t mean everything is covered. The government cannot cover absolutely everything and hold down its costs, so there will still be instances where Americans will be left without coverage for some (likely more expensive) treatments due to the government having to balance costs (New Yorker).

  1. Do you think the criticisms of Sanders’ plan are valid? Whether the ones you see here or others you’ve heard.
  2. What do you think about single-payer?
  3. How do you think the upper-middle to upper-class is going to be affected? Will they in fact lose more than they’ll gain?

2 comments:

Juliana Stahr said...

Nice post Caroline! I do think most of Bernie's critics are valid. Most of his criticisms are coming from the Republican side because this policy proposal will largely increase government spending as well as government involvement. Republicans are not only against this more progressive idea, but because of the nature of the presidential race, criticisms tend to be a bit overboard. Similarly, people have been quick to label Sanders a "Socialist." Most people do not even know what Socialism is and yet they assume word is negative. Socialism is simply more power given to the government. This can have both positive and negative connotations, however, I think people are viewing this more as a negative than anything else. I actually really like single-payer. Fist, it creates equality among all demographics. Everyone can finally have a chance to receive health care, no matter what one's financial circumstance is. The only cons that really come into play with the single-payer is the fact that this can increase doctor shortages and extend waiting lines. I do not think the middle class or upper class will be affected too much if this were to pass, which quite frankly I do not think it will - because it is way too progressive. The only great change that I can see changing will be a reduction in the overall quality of care. This might be because with single-payer, there will be doctors tending to more patients and might need to rush their procedures in order to attend to all clients. With more doctors, however, this would not be too much of an issue. I think Bernie is doing the right thing by speaking out and highlighting the need for more government involvement. He is trying to advocate a government more similar to Europe's, which I strongly support.

Sources:
http://apecsec.org/single-payer-system-health-care-pros-and-cons/
http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2016/02/bernie-manifesto

Caroline Mameesh said...

Thanks for your comment, Juliana!
You are certainly right that a lot of Sanders' critics are Republicans, however more criticism is springing up from fellow liberals, too, which I think is interesting. It makes sense, though, since his ideas are extremely liberal, so moderate liberals may be more likely look for holes.
I also agree that people throw around socialist and socialism all too casually, however they are correct. Sanders wants far more government involvement, though you are right that people shouldn't be so quick to negatively correlate this label.
Glad to know you support Sanders' willingness to speak out in favor of more government involvement, via single-payer and other various proposals. We must also consider the costs, economically and so on, that come from this involvement, too, however. It isn't all rainbows and butterflies!