I 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.
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.