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Sanders Doesn’t Have a Plan for Federal Healthcare and Doesn’t Want One

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been debating Obamacare v. Sanders’ “universal” healthcare. The media is treating it like a serious matter.

In one sense, it is a serious matter. It is like being held captive by two delusional megalomaniacs arguing whether to keep giving you arsenic or to switch to cyanide—each arguing that his or her favored poison is healthy for us. It is serious because you are in real danger, but the debate itself is insane.

From what Politico reports, Clinton complained that Sanders kept making ad hoc changes in the details of his plan to remove the force of her criticisms. Ezra Klein at Vox was more pointed:

On Sunday night, mere hours before the fourth Democratic debate, Sanders tried to head off Clinton’s attacks by releasing his plan. Only what he released isn’t a plan. It is, to be generous, a gesture towards a future plan.

To be less generous — but perhaps more accurate — this is a document that lets Sanders say he has a plan, but doesn’t answer the most important questions about how his plan would work, or what it would mean for most Americans. Sanders is detailed and specific in response to the three main attacks Clinton has launched, but is vague or unrealistic on virtually every other issue.

Klein sees this as a weakness, but I guarantee you that Sanders thinks it is a strength. We went through this with Obamacare. Remember, Nancy Pelosi saying that Congress needed to pass the Affordable Care Act to find out was in it? And Obama felt free to lie about the plan, promising that if we liked our doctor we could keep our doctor under Obamacare.

Obamacare wasn’t much of a plan at all, despite being the size of a telephone book. It was a license for federal agencies to create thousands of pages of new laws—called “regulations.”

Remember Mitch McConnell’s tweet back in 2013 with a huge stack of regulations towering over a copy of the Affordable Care Act:

paper tower

My point here is that Obamacare was passed on the basis of very little information. It was a rush job. It had a basic flaw that brought the law to the Supreme Court.  There were no subsidies for people in states without exchanges and the IRS issued subsidies anyway.

And the Supreme Court rewrote the law.

HHS granted waivers from Obamacare to political favorites who were hurt by it.

They changed the law to make it “work.”

Sanders knows if he can get his “vague” plan passed into law, it doesn’t matter how flawed it is. Once the government enacts universal healthcare then politicians and bureaucrats will do anything to make it stay in place. They will create ad hoc solutions for the big problems and cover up the rest.

Sanders says his plan will cost $1.38 trillion a year. When has a politician proposing a new benefit ever correctly estimated the cost? The plans always cost far more than they say. But by then it is too late.

We will be stuck with it.

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Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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