Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) seems to be embracing a new tactic in his speeches, now that he seems to be falling behind in the primary polls: radical honesty.
Speaking to a crowd in New Hampshire, which he won handily in the 2016 primary, Sanders admitted that, in order to pay for his expansive "Medicare-for-all" plan, he's going to have to raise taxes, and not just on the "rich" and the "1%" — on everybody.
And, even then, it may not be enough.
Fox News reports that Bernie Sanders' plan to pay for universal health care would first involve an increase in payroll taxes alongside an increase in federal income taxes on "high-income earners" to fund the project, which some economists anticipate could cost as much as $32 trillion to implement over the course of the next decade (assuming that there would be no steep cuts to service).
If that's not enough, though, Sanders anticipates digging deeper into taxpayers' pockets, upping income taxes on "ordinary people." But he ultimately excuses his money grab by claiming that taxpayers will, in turn, save thousands on health care costs.
"It would cost you and ordinary Americans a lot less than you are currently spending on average," he told the crowd. "What it will probably end up looking like is a payroll tax on employers, an increase in income tax in a progressive way for ordinary people -- with a significant deductible for low-income people who pay nothing for it."
His campaign refused to put out a more detailed explanation of the plan, claiming that releasing information about "Medicare-for-all" would "engender enormous debate."
It certainly would. As it stands, Sanders' plan would replace all existing health care — including private plans — with a single-payer system that features no deductibles or copayments and, theoretically, no change in service for most health care consumers (at least according to Sanders and other members of the Congressional "Medicare-for-all" caucus).
But such a project would cost trillions, and even with an expansive tax increase, Sanders' can only anticipate covering about one third to one half the cost of the program, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Even if Sanders were able to raise $10 trillion without economic consequence, at least $17 trillion of the program's cost would remain unfunded, leading to either further tax increases or major cuts in service.
But those numbers are just the cost to the federal government. It's not clear how much Americans would continue to spend on health care, though CRFB anticipates that consumer health care spending wouldn't actually decrease by any marked amount.
At least Bernie's finally being honest, though. For years, Sanders and his progressive colleagues have touted the magical "Medicare for all" plan as a way to solve all the problems of the existing health care system — in a way that's "free" to all Americans. But nothing is really ever free, especially for Bernie Sanders.