Why Medicare Is Okay but Not Medicare-for-All

Centers for Medicaid and Medicare ServicesI find it curious that in America, Medicare is an accepted institution but Medicare-for-All is somehow radical. Don’t get me wrong: I understand that Medicare-for-All is popular. Back in March, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 59 percent of Americans are in favor of it. But the fact remains that the establishment of the Democratic Party is highly skeptical of it. And the media is even worse.

“Objective” “Liberal” Media Against Tax Increases

This is most telling in Jake Tapper’s recent “fact check” of Bernie Sanders’ statement that the Mercatus Center report showed that Medicare-for-All would save Americans $2 trillion over a decade. In order to find the statement deceptive, Tapper claimed that Sanders had said it would save the government $2 trillion.

I don’t think Tapper meant to misquote Sanders. I think it is simply a matter of how Medicare-for-All is seen by people in Jack Tapper’s class. They know that they would have to pay more in taxes. So there’s really no thinking involved — just a gut reaction that they might lose a little money in the name of allowing poor people to live.

Old people are far more expensive to insure. Since they would not, in general, be able to afford insurance, give it to the government!

And this is a poison of this entire class. It’s funny that these are the very people who most think they are non-ideological — that they just look at the facts. They are the self-described moderates. But the truth is, they do have an ideology — one so insidious that they can’t even admit to it. And when their errors are pointed out, they just retool their arguments without the errors and — What a surprise! — conclude the exact same thing.

For example, Tapper was going to take the error out of his online video. But that was it. The rest would be the same. And there would be no on-air recantation because Tapper doesn’t see that his entire argument fell to pieces.

Similarly, it’s funny that before Glenn Kessler had to take out all his salient points against Sanders, he gave the claim “Three Pinocchios.” After his argument was shown to be nonsense: “Three Pinocchios.” The article was changed to its core, but the conclusion remained. It’s shameful.

Why We Can’t Have Medicare-for-All

But I’m interested in the usual question: why can’t we have nice things? Why is it that Medicare is fine but not Medicare-for-All.

Part of this is just ossification: we’ve had Medicare for a long time. Thus, for most people, it is fine. For rich journalists, that money is already taken from them so they don’t have to worry that they might have to give up a day of vacation each year.

But I think the bigger issue comes down to what is best for insurance companies. In general, they are glad there is Medicare. Old people are far more expensive to insure. Since they would not, in general, be able to afford insurance, give it to the government!

This is time-honored. In our country, where the only kind of speech that matters is lobbying, we allow the government to do those things that the private sector doesn’t think it can make much money at. Certainly, if we did not have public education, we would never be able to get it today.

As it is, that’s what the charter school movement is all about. When businesses couldn’t get vouchers, they changed to charter schools. It’s never been about providing students with a quality education. If it had been, we would get rid of charter schools because there is no indication that could be notably better than public schools. But we keep with them because rich people are making money off them.

What we see in modern America is a political system that only caters to the rich. And we have a media landscape that pretends that their highly ideological dismissal of popular working class policies are objective. Both facts alone would poison a good political system. And we didn’t exactly start with the most informed and democratic system.

2 replies on “Why Medicare Is Okay but Not Medicare-for-All”

  1. James Fillmore says:

    I believe there’s another, greater fear on the part of rich conservatives; that if government takes over health insurance, reduces costs and paperwork, people will like it. (Will it have flaws? Yes. Will it be better than now? Yes.)

    And if, God forbid, one could poke a huge hole in the myth that “government screws everything up, the Free Market is better”… uh-oh. No telling what could be next.

    As for the journalists who go along, well, they’re social climbers. The journalists at “Democracy Now” don’t, and that’s why they’ll never live like a Friedman or Brooks.

    When you want to run in the right social circles, there are things you don’t think. Or else the whole edifice of your innate superiority crumbles. And the things you do think are, naturally, what the Best People think. It’s why these people watch TED talks (but not the challenging ones) and read books about how global finance is curing poverty worldwide, with climate change next to be solved via Innovative Business Miracles. Elon Musk will take us all to Mars! Etc., etc.

    It reminds me of Howard Zinn’s old metaphor about the prison guards at Attica. Who were killed just like the prisoners. If you serve a corrupt system, be aware it will eventually turn on people just like you. I guess the trick is to be one of the lucky ones who ducks in time.

    • Frank Moraes says:

      I think conservatives are against M4A because they are against any progress — ever. You are dead on about why the Villagers hate it.

      But here is a quote from CLR James that has been much on my mind recently, “The rich are only defeated when running for their lives.” That’s true. The problem with our society as it is now constructed is that the rich are not afraid. And why would they be? We don’t just protect them from all the people they oppress — we don’t even allow them to lose money. Our entire political infrastructure is based upon protecting them. How conservatives can live with themselves, I can’t say given that their entire philosophy is based on the belief that the current system is right. That’s not to say that liberals are much better.

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