9.19.19 / Updates

‘Here’s The Thing…’: Families Would Pay Higher Taxes Under Medicare For All

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday night, U.S. Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) appeared on CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” where Colbert brought up Warren’s support of Medicare for all, and asked: “How are you going to pay for it?  Are you going to raise middle class taxes?”

In response, Warren made the now familiar assertion that while taxes would go up for “the wealthiest Americans and for big corporations,” middle class Americans would ultimately save under a one-size-fits-all health care system, drawing follow-up questions from Colbert.  Mediaite reports:

“But will their taxes go up?” Colbert pressed.

“Here’s the thing,” Warren began, but Colbert cut her off again.

“Here’s the thing,” he said.  “I’ve listened to these answers a few times before, and I just want to make a parallel suggestion to you that you might defend the taxes, perhaps, you’re not mentioning in your sentence.”

As Mediate notes, Senator Warren eventually “launched into a lengthy response that did not address the question of a middle class tax increase,” which is not the first time the presidential hopeful has avoided discussing Medicare for all’s unaffordable tax hikes on working families.

Here’s the reality: “There’s no possible way to finance [Medicare for all] without big middle class tax increases,” as Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) explained to The Washington Post.

And while proponents of Medicare for all routinely claim that their government-run system would save Americans money, Bloomberg reports that “[f]or many Americans, though, that would not be true,” and “higher taxes would exceed any savings [T]he 181 million taxpayers with employer-sponsored coverage could miss out on the benefits of the Sanders plan, and even those receiving Medicaid could pay more, according to health-care policy experts on both sides of the political spectrum … [Senator Bernie] Sanders has proposed a wealth tax, a bank levy and premiums paid by employers and employees.  But that only raises about half of what is needed, meaning that payroll taxes and income tax increases would necessarily have to be part of the plan.”

Fact-checkers for The Washington Post note that “[a]ccording to a study from the Urban Institute (and a follow-up paper), Medicare-for-all would still add $32.6 trillion to national health spending over 10 years.”  And CNN reports that “[t]ax experts … say that you can’t raise enough money from taxing the rich and that the levies on all Americans may exceed the savings for more people than Sanders expects.  This may be particularly true of low-income folks who get heavily subsidized coverage on the Obamacare exchanges.”

And while many Americans are just beginning to learn how a one-size-fits-all system would affect their health care, most are already well aware of the unaffordable tax hikes they’d be hit with: “There’s one thing Americans understand about Medicare-for-all: It would mean higher taxes … Americans seem most familiar with the fact that Medicare-for-all would require massively higher taxes,” The Washington Post reports of a recent national poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.  As Kaiser writes of their findings, “eight in 10 Americans (78%) are aware that taxes would increase for most people under such a plan.”  

A separate national poll by Kaiser revealed that 60 percent oppose Medicare for all when they learn it would require most Americans to pay higher taxes.  And Voter Vitals – a new quarterly tracking poll conducted nationwide and in 2020 battleground states – finds that a majority of Democratic voters are unwilling to pay any more in taxes for universal coverage and a supermajority of Democrats (69 percent) support building and improving on what we have today over new government insurance systems.  “A majority of Democratic, swing, and Republican voters are clear that they are not willing to pay any more in taxes for universal coverage.  They’re looking for health care policies that lower rising health care costs more than anything else,” said Phillip Morris, Partner of Locust Street Group, who conducted the survey on behalf of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future.

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