Tag Archives: Deficit

New study: “Medicare For All” would cost $32.6 trillion, but it’s actually more

A Christian friend of mine who is divorced with children surprised me by telling me that she favored single payer health-care. I asked her if she realized that people would have to be taxed to pay for all this free health care, and she seemed to be aware of it. But even I didn’t realize how much it would really cost.

Investor’s Business Daily reports on a couple of recent studies – one from the left, and one from the far-left – that both agreed on the price tag for universal health care.

Excerpt:

Last year, 16 Senators, including three presidential hopefuls, co-sponsored Sanders’ “Medicare for all” bill. And earlier this month, more than 70 Democrats signed on to form a “Medicare for all” caucus. Support for the bill is now something of a litmus test for Democratic hopefuls.

Do they have any idea what they’re endorsing?

A new study out Monday from George Mason University’s Mercatus Center finds that Sanders plan would add to federal spending in its first 10 years, with costs steadily rising from there. That closely matches other studies — including one by the liberal Urban Institute — that looked at Sanders’ plan.

To put this in perspective, “Medicare for all” would the size of the already bloated federal government. Doubling corporate and individual income taxes wouldn’t cover the costs.

Even this is wildly optimistic. To get to this number, author Charles Blahous had to make several completely unrealistic assumptions about savings under Sanders’ hugely disruptive plan.

The first is a massive cut in payments to providers. Sanders wants to apply Medicare’s below-market rates across the board, which would amount to a roughly 40% cut in payments to doctors and hospitals. Blahous figures this will save hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

But cuts of that magnitude would drive doctors out of medicine and hospitals out of business, since the only way providers can afford Medicare’s cut-rate reimbursements today is by charging private payers more.

The study also assumes that shoving everyone into a government health care plan would cut administrative costs by $1.6 trillion over the next decade and prescription drug costs by $846 billion. Neither of those are likely, and wouldn’t make much of a difference in overall spending anyway. Private insurance overhead accounts for about 6% of national health spending, and drugs less than 10%.

There’s also the fact that every other federal health program has seen costs explode “unexpectedly” after they were enacted. The per-enrollee cost of ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion, for example, is almost 49% higher than expected. Medicare itself cost nearly 10 times as much as projected in its first 25 years.

The author of the Mercatus study was nominated Barack Obama to be a member of the Board of Trustees of the Social Security Trust Funds. That might explain his questionable assumptions about costs. And the Urban Institute is even further to the left. There can be no doubt that the true cost of the Sanders health care plan would be much higher than what these two studies calculated it to be.

Now, you might think that we can just tax the people who earn the most money to pay for all this spending.

In 2012, John Stossel wrote this in Forbes:

If the IRS grabbed 100 percent of income over $1 million, the take would be just $616 billion.

In 2011, the Tax Foundation explained that even if you taxed ALL THE DISPOSABLE INCOME from all the people who make $200,000 or more, you would only raise $1.53 trillion dollars:

There’s simply not enough wealth in the community of the rich to erase this country’s problems by waving some magic tax wand.

[…]After everyone making more than $200,000/year has paid taxes, the IRS would need to take every single penny of disposable income they have left. Such an act would raise approximately $1.53 trillion. It may be economically ruinous, but at least this proposal would actually solve the problem.

Taxing the rich isn’t enough to pay for single payer health care. $32.6 trillion over 10 years works out to $3.26 trillion per year. We’re not going to pay that off even with $1.53 trillion a year of additional revenue. And this is assuming that the wealthy would just allow themselves to be made into slaves, and keep working even if the government takes all their money.

Pretty soon, our mandatory expenses will consume all of our tax revenues
Pretty soon, our mandatory expenses will consume all of our tax revenues

Who is going to pay for all the spending we already have scheduled? As the graph above shows, things are going to get worse in the future as the big entitlement programs pay out more than current tax rates take in. I’m sure glad that I’m going to be retiring before 2032, and I’m not going to be stuck with the bill for this. It’s one thing for me to get out of bed every morning to be paid only 75% of what I earn. I certainly wouldn’t want to be working if the tax rates here were more like Europe, so that I’d be taking home less than half of what I earn. No thank you!

By the way, it might be a good idea to think about whether you want to have children or not before you vote. Children are expensive, and if we keep electing the big spenders like Obama, then there isn’t going to be any money left over to run a family and raise kids. Think about it before you vote with your feelings only.

Conservatives vote against wasteful $1.3 trillion spending bill

The new Republican spending bill has nothing for conservatives
The new Republican spending bill has nothing for conservatives

Even though many conservative Republican congressmen voted against the massive spending bill, it still passed the House. All the Democrats voted for it. It’s a Democrat spending bill – there’s nothing in it that Trump promised. No money for the wall. No de-funding of sanctuary cities. No de-funding of Planned Parenthood. No de-funding of Obamacare.

CNBC reports:

The U.S. Congress was racing on Thursday to approve a massive spending bill and send it to President Donald Trump for enactment before a midnight Friday government shutdown deadline, in a move that would significantly boost defense and non-military funding through Sept. 30.

The House of Representatives planned to debate and vote on the measure on Thursday. If it clears the chamber, despite opposition from some conservatives protesting the measure’s crushing deficit spending, it is likely to have an easier time passing the Senate.

When coupled with recently enacted tax cuts, the bill is projected to result in budget deficits hitting more than $800 billion for this year. That could create political difficulties for Republicans running for re-election in November if the conservative wing of the party lashes out at this legislation.

[…]It also would deliver a further setback to Trump, whose proposals for severe cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department and other federal agencies would be scaled back.

The bill, which also excludes some of Trump’s immigration-related funding requests, was unveiled late on Wednesday. Senate No. 2 Republican John Cornyn said his chamber could take it up on Thursday night if no senator acts to slow it.

On Wednesday, the White House signaled that Trump would sign the legislation if Congress sends it to him.

House Republicans’ conservative Freedom Caucus on Thursday said its roughly three dozen members would not back the bill because it massively increases spending while not defunding Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and so-called sanctuary cities.

“You’re going to see lots of conservatives vote against it,” U.S. Representative Jim Jordan, a caucus member, told Fox News in an interview.

Trump at one point wanted $25 billion included in the bill to fully fund construction of his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, but negotiations with Democrats to make that happen fell apart early this week, according to congressional aides.

Instead, Trump would get nearly $1.6 billion more for border security this year.

Trump is busy lying about border wall funding in the bill, promising that “more will be forthcoming”. But this bill is a loss for conservatives. Ted Cruz has vowed to vote against the bill in the Senate, which tells you something about whether the bill is conservative or not. It’s garbage. We’re going back to trillion-dollar deficits to fund worthless government bureaucracies again.

 

Young workers are paying Social Security taxes but will they ever collect benefits?

What if we had no money for anything except entitlement spending?
What if we had no money for anything except interest and entitlements?

The way Social Security taxes work is that you pay 12.4% of your salary, and another 2.9% for Medicare. That’s 15.3%, before any federal, state and local taxes. So, what are you getting for this 12.4% contribution to the Social Security welfare program? You’re supposed to be able to withdraw that money when you retire, but that money isn’t being stored in an account with your name on it. It’s being spent right now on people who are already retired. Will there be money available for you to withdraw when you retire?

If you’re a young person who retires in 2035 or later, the answer is absolutely not.

The Daily Signal has the numbers:

The American people need to know the state of finances of the Social Security program so they can better understand why reform is not only necessary, but absolutely essential. Here are five takeaways from the most recent financial report:

  • $66 Billion Cash-Flow Deficit in 2016

Social Security is still considered solvent and able to pay full benefits because it has accumulated a $2.8 trillion trust fund, but since the entirety of its trust fund consists of IOUs, cash-flow deficits must be financed by general revenue taxes or new public borrowing.

Since 2010, the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance program has taken in less money from payroll tax revenues and the taxation of benefits than it pays out in benefits, generating cash-flow deficits.

  • $14.3 Trillion in Unfunded Obligations

However, this figure assumes that the $2.8 trillion in trust fund reserves are available to be spent. The problem is that these reserves represent liabilities for the U.S. taxpayer. The payroll revenues have been spent and the trust fund was credited with U.S. bonds, which represent claims on the American taxpayer. This is why the actual unfunded obligation is $14.3 trillion.

The trustees report that Social Security’s unfunded obligation has reached $11.5 trillion. That is the difference between what the program is expected to receive in income and what is expected to spend over the 75-year horizon the program’s actuaries consider for projections.

  • Insolvent by 2035

Based on current projections, the Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance trust fund will be depleted by 2035, reducing Social Security’s expenditures automatically to what the program will receive in revenues, regardless of benefits due at that time.

Social Security is only legally permitted to spend funds in excess of its revenues until its trust fund is depleted.

  • 25 Percent Automatic Benefit Cut

What this means for beneficiaries is that in the absence of congressional action, benefits could be delayed or indiscriminately reduced across the board by 25 percent.

Once the Social Security trust fund is depleted, the program will only be able to pay 75 percent of scheduled benefits, based on payroll and other Social Security tax revenues projected at that time.

  • High Costs to Delaying Reform

The trustees highlight that if Congress waits until the trust funds become exhausted, the cost of making the program solvent will be as much as 40 percent higher, meaning significantly greater benefit cuts and/or tax increases for workers and beneficiaries.

There are several key reforms Congress could pursue to preserve benefits for the most vulnerable beneficiaries without increasing the tax or debt burden on younger generations. However, the longer Congress waits the act, the larger the changes that will be necessary to address Social Security’s combined financing shortfall.

Young people working today who retire in 2035 or later will never see a dime of their Social Security contributions. What’s more likely is that the taxes on their income will go even higher. Take a good look at your paycheck, and you will see money being deducted for this entitlement program. This is money you will never see again. It is being used now, to buy the votes of elderly people who vote against reform when they vote Democrat.

The only person to try to do something about these Social Security problems was George W. Bush – a Republican. But his effort to set up private savings accounts was stopped by Democrats, who depend on the votes of the people who collect from Social Security.

These problems are even worse when you realize that Social Security is only one of the entitlement programs that is going bankrupt. There are others – as well as interest on the $20 trillion debt. ($10 trillion of which was added by Obama in his 8 years as Welfare President). Young people: you are paying taxes for programs that will not be there for you when you need them. Stop voting Democrat, because money matters!

Millennials who elected Obama will face high taxes, poverty and unemployment

We can't raise taxes enough to fix this overspending
We can’t raise taxes high enough to fix this much overspending

My regular readers have probably noticed that I have stopped blogging about day-to-day politics, ever since the Republican primary candidates with conservative records (Cruz, Jindal, Walker) were eliminated from the GOP primary. I have heard though that the mainstream media is going all in to elect Hillary Clinton. My concern is that many people rely on television news and will never think about two really important issues. First, Obama has been the worst President in the history of the country and has destroyed the economy for decades to come. Second, his disregard for national security and weak foreign policy has emboldened the enemies of Western democracies, e.g.  Russia, Iran, etc. We will see the consequences of this (wars and terrorism) for years to come. Those are the real challenges we face as a nation.

This Hoover Institute article by Victor Davis Hanson explains the big picture that the mainstream media doesn’t care about.

Excerpt:

Consider the $20-trillion national debt. Most Americans accept that current annual $500 billion budget deficits are not sustainable—but they also see them as less extreme than the recently more normal $1 trillion in annual red ink. Americans also accept that the Obama administration doubled the national debt on the expectation of permanent near-zero interest rates, which cannot continue. When interest rates return to more normal historical levels of 4-5% per annum, the costs of servicing the debt—along with unsustainable Social Security and Medicare entitlement costs—will begin to undermine the entire budget.

Count up current local, state and federal income taxes, payroll taxes, property and sales taxes, and new health care taxes, and it will be hard to find the necessary additional revenue from a strapped and overtaxed middle class, much less from the forty-seven percent of Americans who currently pay no federal income taxes. The Obama administration has tried to reduce the budget by issuing defense cuts and tax hikes—but it has refused to touch entitlement spending, where the real gains could be made. The result is more debt, even as, paradoxically, our military was weakened, taxes rose, revenue increased, and economic growth remained anemic at well below 2% per annum.

The national debt is one ticking time bomb, but there are others. Illegal immigration and Muslim refugees create additional financial problems for the next generation of entrepreneurs and workers:

Illegal immigration poses a similar dilemma. No nation can remain stable when 10-20 million foreign nationals have crashed through what has become an open border and reside unlawfully in the United States—any more than a homeowner can have neighbors traipsing through and camping in his unfenced yard.

Likewise, there are few multiracial societies of the past that have avoided descending into destructive ethnic chauvinism and tribalism once assimilation and integration were replaced by salad-bowl identity politics. Common words and phrases such as “illegal alien” or “deportation” are now considered taboo, while “sanctuary city” is a euphemism for a neo-Confederate nullification of federal immigration laws by renegade states and municipalities.

Illegal immigration, like the deficits, must cease, but stopping it would be too politically incorrect and painful even to ponder. The mess in Europe—millions of indigent and illegal immigrants who have fled their own failed states to become dependent on the largess of their generous adopted countries, but without any desire to embrace their hosts’ culture—is apparently America’s future.

Progressive Christians and  left-leaning Republicans join Democrats in imposing costs on the next generation of taxpayers with open borders immigration policies. The bill for importing people who take more in welfare than they pay in taxes has to be paid by someone. Not only will taxes on individuals go up, but taxes on businesses will cause them to create fewer jobs, or move their production to countries that have lower taxes on business.

The rest of the article talks about more ticking time bombs created by young leftist voters. Obama’s anti-police rhetoric has created a crime crisis that will require more police, more incarceration and higher insurance premiums. Obama’s anti-school-choice policies have made it harder for the next generation to get the education they will need to offer value to employers. Without skills, you won’t have a job, and you will be poor – poorer than your parents’ generation.

Although most young leftists are ignorant about foreign policy, that did not stop them from voting to cause crises that will harm our economy, and may also draw us into war. Territorial disputes involving strong countries like Russia and China could easily lead to war. Sponsors of terrorism like North Korea and Iran have gained strength during Obama’s reign of stupidity. Wars that impact trading partners or allies will cost taxpayers money. And millennials are the ones who are going to get the bill for a failed foreign policy.

The article doesn’t mention other crises like the trillion dollar student loan bubble, or the next mortgage lending crisis, or the unfunded pension programs crisis, or Medicare going bankrupt, and then Social Security shortly after, etc. No one in the mainstream media mentions these things, and the millennials aren’t aware of these problems. It’s not in their culture to put financial concerns above having a good time. But closing your eyes doesn’t make a threat disappear. Millennials can’t study English in college, rack up student loans, spend all their money on alcohol, work minimum wage jobs, then travel to Europe in their 20s, and expect everything to work out when they get serious about career and savings at age 30. These crises – which millennials voted for – are going to make their lives harder than their parents’ lives ever were.

How exposed is your state to the problem of underfunded pensions?

I am thinking about moving to a new state in the future, and one of the factors I am considering is underfunded pension liabilities. This basically refers to the ability of a state to pay out pensions to retiring public sector employees going forward. I’m going to tell you everything you need to know to solve this problem in this post.

First, Investors Business Daily explains the problem:

A new report by Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Joshua Rauh shows that, unless action is taken soon, many local governments could face bankruptcy because they can’t meet their pension obligations.

[…]The problem is surprisingly simple: States and cities overestimate returns on their pension fund investments, while systematically underfunding them. The result is a growing deficit that will require massive tax hikes or dramatic and painful cuts in government services and promised pensions to public workers.

Rauh’s study looked at 564 state and local pension systems, representing $4.8 trillion in pension liabilities and $3.6 trillion in assets — for an apparent current deficit of just $1.19 trillion.

So far, so good. But Rauh notes the average expected return on pension assets is about 7.6% — which means a doubling every 9.5 years. He calls that assumption “wildly optimistic,” and says a more realistic assumption would be the Treasury bond rate of 3% or lower — less than half the expected return.

Unless pension managers, politicians and voters do something now, the unfunded liabilities of the national system will continue to grow out of control, reaching $3.4 trillion in just 10 years. States and cities across the country would have to raise taxes massively to keep from becoming insolvent.

Right now, state and local governments set aside about 7.3% of revenues for public pensions. To keep the funding gap from exploding and taking down governments across the nation, pension spending would have to rise to  17.5% of revenues on average — roughly equal to a 240% tax increase.

How did things get so bad? Generations of feckless politicians have refused to face down public employee unions, which have negotiated massively expensive pensions for their members while concealing their true cost. Politicians have gone along with it because, heck, it’s not their money and anyway, the problems will take place long after they’re out of office. That’s where we are now.

States and cities will come under intense pressure to raise taxes on local citizens to pay for this travesty. Instead, they should get rid of the public employee unions that have plundered the public for too long and have made local government inefficient, expensive and dysfunctional. If not, they can expect to face the same economy-crippling effects as Detroit, San Bernardino and a number of other cities have — financial insolvency.

Now, obviously states with kick-ass governors like Scott Walker of Wisconsin are not going to have the same exposure to such problems as incompetent governors like Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire. Scott Walker know how to rein in public sector unions.

Let’s get the numbers to confirm this hypothesis.

Bloomberg has the numbers:

Bloomberg ranked 49 U.S. states based on their pension funding ratios in 2014 under GASB 25. (Delaware is not included because of insufficient data for GASB 25.)

Here are the best states… Wisconsin is 100% funded:

States with the best-funded pension liiabilities
States with the best-funded pension liiabilities

And actually there is a comprehensive analysis of the fiscal solvency of all the states right here from George Mason University.

Here’s the map:

Overall fiscal solvency by state
Overall fiscal solvency by state

I notice that the deep blue states like California, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, etc. are just horrible states. No wonder everyone is fleeing them in droves. Socialism doesn’t work. Eventually, the money runs out.

So, if you’re thinking of moving to a new state, look at that. And if you don’t want to move, then vote for governors like Scott Walker who will take on public sector unions – otherwise, you’re headed for a big tax hike in the future, to pay for the big spending liberals of the past.