Bernie’s Zombie Math

Bet you didn’t know $3.2 trillion equals $1.6 trillion
By Steve Hirsch

beware zomebie sign

With Bernie Sanders slipping badly in the polls, his chance of winning the Democratic primary is practically dead. But he’s spawned otherworldly spirits. I don’t know how it happened, but all of the Democratic candidates who are not named Bernie Sanders have turned into Bernie Zombies.

For evidence, I call attention to Bernie’s Medicare For All. It was his brainchild, and now, it’s taken root in the brains of the other Democratic candidates. It’s not just that Kamala Harris, spiritual advisor Marianne Williamson, and other semi-invisible Democratic Presidential candidates have come out in support of it. It’s that even the Democratic front-runner, Joe Biden, wants to offer something similar that he calls Medicare buy-in. Yeah, Bernie’s presidential hopes are dead, but Medicare For All is undead. Spooky, isn’t it?

Bernie has put out two documents on Medicare For All. Judging by their respective lengths, he thinks one of them is a lot more important than the other.

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The hefty one is titled A Bill To Establish Medicare-for-all National Health Insurance Program. If you’re up to wasting a bunch of time reading fluff, it’s posted here on Vox. Yeah, 100 pages chock full of specific promises of how Bernie plans to spend billions per year of government money.

The other document, the skimpy one, is six pages. You can check it out on Bernie’s website. It deals with an obviously less-important subject, namely how the government is going to raise the billions per year. Bernie doesn’t call it a plan.  He titles it, Options To Finance Medicare For All.

Options are cool. I love options. If you don’t like one of them, you can pick another. That’s why they call them options.

Bernie says we should think about these options, and he wants us to “vigorously debate” about them. But my guess is he’d prefer that we don’t think too deeply, that we shuffle behind him like automaton zombies. That’s because the numbers don’t add up, even according to Bernie’s projections. If every one of his options were enacted, his estimate is that they would raise an average of $1.6 trillion per year.

That’s a lot of dough, huh?

Actually, it’s about half what the government would need. Yeah, it’s $1.6 trillion per year too little. Big numbers make even non-zombie people’s eyes glaze over. So to put the $1.6 trillion in perspective, it means that the government would be losing about $12,500 every year on each American household’s Medicare For All. And that’s according to the left-leaning Urban Institute.

Yeah, the Urban Institute’s 39-page report says Medicare For All would cost an average of $3.2 trillion per year. Right-leaning Mercatus Center at George Mason University comes up with almost the exact same projection.

Bernie hopes no one notices $1.6 trillion per year doesn’t equal $3.2 trillion per year. People might start asking stupid questions.

Hey, Bernie, where’s the government gonna get the other $1.6 trillion per-year from? And Bernie, once we’ve squeezed the rich for all they’ll pay, won’t we need to copy the Scandinavian utopias’ policy of charging exorbitant taxes on the middle class and poor?

I’ve discussed the $1.6 trillion-per-year shortfall with a lot of people. Some of these people are liberals, and it’s weird, but every one of them comes up with the same reply. They tell me that I don’t understand.

Bernie-lovers say that with Medicare For All, national health expenditures would go down. I’ve noticed that they always say this with a bored-sounding voice. It’s like they’re all repeating a zombie mantra that they learned in a secret zombie boot camp. They drone on, every one of them, saying national health expenditures would go down because Medicare For All would be more efficient than private insurance. Even if that were true (read on to see that it’s not), it’s irrelevant.

bernie picture

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Regardless of what Americans might save by not having to buy insurance, the government would need to tax us $1.6 trillion more per year than Bernie’s telling us. Where’s the government going to get the $1.6 trillion per year?

I’ll tell you where. Taxes. Taxes that Bernie didn’t write about when he published his six-page Options To Finance Medicare For All. I guess some options are better left unpublished. He says he loves Sweden’s healthcare model. Sweden levies high taxes on the middle class and poor.

But it’s worse than that. Going back to the left leaning Urban Institute’s report, Medicare For All would not result in America spending less on healthcare. National health expenditures would go up $660 billion. This comports with the aforementioned right-leaning Mercatus Center’s projections. But don’t take the word of right-leaning and left-leaning institutions. Look to centrists. In 2018, centrist Rand Corporation’s report said national health care expenditures would have gone up 1.8% in 2019.

Hey, Bernie, I’ve got a couple more questions. Is the Urban Institute lying? Is Mercatus Center lying? Oh, and is Rand Corporation lying?

Yeah, Bernie says he can raise $1.6 trillion per year to fund his $3.2 trillion per year brainchild that he calls Medicare For All. But not to worry, says he, because national health expenditures will go down, even though they won’t. Medicare For All is a zombie idea. The brain that created it is Bernie Sanders, but it’s a brainchild that lives on in the brains of new hosts. I call attention to the gray matter within Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden's skull, as well as the craniums of Kamala Harris and other candidates.

Election season is almost upon us. Beware, the zombies are coming. Unthinking zombies. Instead of working to fix the Medicare for Seniors trust fund that’s due to run out in 2026, they follow each other in circles, mumbling under lifeless breaths about Medicare For All. And in their brains, where Bernie’s essence has taken over, they think $3.2 trillion equals $1.6 trillion.

It’s like a scary movie, except it’s reality. One of them could become President.

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Steve Hirsch

Steve Hirsch
I'm a businessman who is fast approaching retirement age.