'Medicare for All' will fail Democrats

'Medicare for All' will fail Democrats
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Democratic senator and presidential hopeful Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris unveils 0M commitment to new global health fund Senate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam House passes bill to compensate 'Havana syndrome' victims MORE of California gave an outstanding performance in a CNN town hall in Iowa this week. I had never seen her speak on on stage before, but she came across as poised, tough, likable, and knowledgable. As I watched and listened to her, I thought uh oh, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE may have met his match. Then she suddenly blew herself up with one of the dumbest statements I have heard from a politician in a long time. When asked whether she endorsed “Medicare for All,” she dutifully said yes, as it is now Democratic dogma.

When Anderson Cooper pried further and asked if she favored abolishing private insurance plans, the obvious correct answer should have been, “Hell no.” Instead, Harris restated without hesitation, “I’m for Medicare for All,” which anyone watching would interpret as “for everybody.” Then she explained, “The idea is that everyone gets access to medical care. You don’t have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through the paperwork.”

Her plan, she said, would “eliminate all that.” It reminded me of a similarly boneheaded response several months ago by Democratic senator and presidential wannabe Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Gillibrand11 senators urge House to pass .5T package before infrastructure bill Hochul tells Facebook to 'clean up the act' on abortion misinformation after Texas law Democratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees MORE of New York. Asked if she would favor abolishing ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, she inexplicably replied that she would. Why do leading Democrats say such politically suicidal things? The obvious answer is that this is where the far left of the party wants the candidates to go in 2020. It is as if these candidates are running for president of MoveOn.org, not of the United States. Except for a few left wing crazies, who in their right minds really wants to abolish our immigration enforcement or border patrol agencies?


Now Harris is blissfully following the same radical forces. My sense is that this was not a gaffe and she was actually coached to say this about “Medicare for All” to fully establish her liberal credentials. Tellingly, the crowd of Democratic primary voters in Iowa burst into applause when she said that she wants to do away with private insurance. It is one thing to endorse allowing young people to buy into Medicare, which is a bad idea, but not crazy. What is crazy is telling over 150 million Americans with employer provided or other private health plans that they will have to give it all up because the politicians in Washington have a better deal for you.

It was not so long ago that Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTo Build Back Better, improving Black women's health is a must Rahm Emanuel has earned M since leaving Chicago's city hall: report 60 years after the Peace Corps, service still brings Americans together MORE reassured voters that, under the Affordable Care Act, “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” That statement turned out to be untrue because millions of Americans across the nation lost affordable health plans under the Affordable Care Act. Still, people liked the idea that universal coverage did not mean that families would be forced into a government health plan.

It turns out Harris was only regurgitating the actual intent of “Medicare for All” legislation. Section 801 of the Medicare for All Act specifies that “no employee benefit plan may provide benefits that duplicate payment for any items or services for which payment may be made under Medicare.” This effectively bars employers from covering workers, retirees, and their families. No more health care choice. No more competition. No more forms to fill out. You get sick, go to the doctor, and it is basically free.

To cover the 30 million or so Americans with no health insurance, 150 million Americans would have to give up their current coverage. That is a terrible deal. Meanwhile, polls consistently find that about 70 percent of Americans with employer or union health plans like what they have. But that does not matter. The young bolsheviks will move them out. It also does not seem to matter that Medicare already faces tens of trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities, or that it is soon to be flat out of money. This “Medicare for All” plan is like investing all of our lifetime savings in mortgage backed securities on the eve of the financial crash of 2008.

I share in the disdain that Harris holds for health insurance companies. They often turn out to be the unnecessary middle men driving up medical transactions. The law of economics would tell us that if Americans paid more of the upfront costs themselves, health inflation would fall, as has happened with programs like health savings accounts. Instead, we get the opposite system, as everyone pays for health charges for everyone else.

We have Democrats now touting 70 percent tax rates, wealth taxes, public health care, no border patrol, free college tuition, and $15 minimum wage. Moreover, we are hearing that as many as a dozen more Democrats will soon enter the presidential race, pushing the crowded field even further to the left. Suddenly, Donald Trump is looking like a sure winner in 2020.

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow with the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He served as an adviser to the 2016 Donald Trump campaign. He latest book out with Arthur Laffer is “Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy.”