I realized yesterday that in writing about the cost of everyone’s favorite crazy socialist uncle Bernie Sanders’, “Medicare For All” idea, I made a typo. I wrote that Bernie estimated that it would cost $14 trillion over two years, when I meant to write “ten years.”
Well, no sooner did I start correcting it than another story appeared that made me realize how little it mattered. This more detailed analysis by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University estimates that it would cost $32.6 trillion over the first ten years, and that’s a conservative estimate. By 2031, it would be eating up 12.7% of America’s GDP and require not only an exponential expansion of government but more than double our current taxes. Sanders claimed the report’s findings are biased and inaccurate, unlike the numbers being bandied about by the 76-year-old socialist who’s never held a successful job outside of government. His leftist supporters say that’s still slightly less than we would pay for health care anyway – of course, that's the cost people would pay for quality health care over which they have choice.
I’m not going to waste any pixels writing about which is more likely to be accurate, 14 trillion (enough dollars so that a jet flying at the speed of sound and reeling out a string of dollar bills behind it would have to fly for 196 years to expel it all) or 32.6 trillion (in miles, that's about the distance required to fly from the Earth to Uranus and back over 19,000 times.) That’s because there’s not a chance in a trillion that either of these estimates is remotely accurate. The estimated cost of any government program – particularly one based on creating a new right to “free stuff” for everyone – always turns out to be absurdly short of reality. When Medicare begin in 1966, experts assured us that by 1990, it would cost only $12 billion, adjusted for inflation. The actual cost in 1990: $107 billion. Medicare spending in 2016 reached $672.1 billion.
So if we’re being told now that “Medicare for All” will cost anywhere from $14 trillion to $32.6 trillion over 10 years, you can bet that the actual number will probably be one that only mathematicians know how to pronounce. It might be enough dollar bills to stretch to Uranus and back a trillion times. When it comes down to it, all these numbers are just being pulled out of Uranus. There’s only thing that can be said with absolute certainty about the cost of these massive new government giveaway proposals: we can’t afford them.