Vol. 22, No. 5,514 - The American Reporter - September 7, 2016

by Randolph T. Holhut
Chief of American Reporter Correspondents
Dummerston, Vt.
September 24, 2015

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DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- It's not exactly shocking that The Wall Street Journal would run a piece tast week that would not be totally truthful about Bernie Sanders and his economic policies. After all, the Journal has been reliably hostile to progressive ideas for decades.

And it's not exactly shocking that many people actually took the piece seriously. After all, Sanders has gotten so little publicity from the corporate press that a little bit of anti-progressive propaganda goes a long way.

But once you get to the click-bait headline, "Price Tag of Bernie Sanders's Proposals: $18 Trillion," you could see what a steaming pile of manure the story is.

The first flaw in Laura Meckler's article lies in how she frames what she called "the largest peacetime expansion of government in modern history - at least $18 trillion in new spending over a decade - a sun that alarms conservatives and gives even many Democrats pause."

She quoted research done by Gerald Friedman, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. But she forgot one important point - the conclusion of Friedman's research.

Rebutting Meckler in The Huffington Post, Friedman wrote that the Journal "correctly puts the additional federal spending for health care under HR 676 (a single-payer health plan) at $15 trillion over 10 years. It neglects to add, however, that i> in reduced administrative waste, lower pharmaceutical and device prices, and by lowering the rate of medical inflation."

That's $5 trillion in reduced administrative waste, lower prices for drugs and medical devices, and slower increases in medical costs over all. Not to mention the amount of money that businesses and state and local governments would save by not having to pay for their employee's insurance.

The other part of the equation? If Medicare-for-All is not enacted, and the status quo for medicine in the United States stays in place, Americans would spend $15 trillion over the next decade. The only difference is that the full $15 trillion would go to the private insurance companies, and the $5 trillion in savings would never materialize.

Right now, Americans spend about $1.4 trillion a year on health care. If you believe that health care is one of those services that are better handled collectively than individually, and that government - the entity that ivilized societies use to to handle collective needs - can deliver that care for less money, you don't have problem with Sanders' plan.

If you do have a problem with Sanders' plan, then you're probably OK with the United States being the only free-market country in the world without universal health care, and the only free-market country with mostly for-profit companies delivering our health care.

You're probably also OK with the status of the United States being ranked last in health access, efficiency, and equity, according to last year's Commonweath Fund review of health care in the developed world.

If you're like most Americans, the ones who believe health care costs too much and ypu want a real alternative, you're likely looking at Sanders' plan and taking it seriously or, at least, taking it more seriously than The Wall Street Journal did.

AR's Chief of Correspondents, Randolph T. Holhut, holds an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and is an award-winning journalist working in New England for more than 30 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at randyholhut@yahoo.com.

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