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Republicans for All

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Last month, self-proclaimed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) released his Medicare for All plan. Said Sanders,

Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege. Every man, woman and child in our country should be able to access the health care they need regardless of their income. The only long-term solution to America’s health care crisis is a single-payer national health care program.

A few months earlier, Sanders released his College for All plan. He said,

Higher education in America should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few. If we are to succeed in a highly competitive global economy and have the best-educated workforce in the world, public colleges and universities must become tuition-free for working families and we must substantially reduce student debt.

Although Republicans say they oppose these plans, Sanders and Republicans are actually two peas in a pod.

Sanders’s Medicare for All plan “would create a federally administered single-payer health care program” that would provide “comprehensive coverage for all Americans.” The plan would “cover the entire continuum of health care, from inpatient to outpatient care; preventive to emergency care; primary care to specialty care, including long-term and palliative care; vision, hearing and oral health care; mental health and substance abuse services; as well as prescription medications, medical equipment, supplies, diagnostics and treatments.” Patients would “be able to choose a health care provider without worrying about whether that provider is in-network and will be able to get the care they need without having to read any fine print or trying to figure out how they can afford the out-of-pocket costs.” There would be “no more copays, no more deductibles and no more fighting with insurance companies when they fail to pay for charges.”

Sanders claims that his plan “will cost over $6 trillion less than the current health care system over the next ten years.” The typical middle-class family would save more than $5,800 a year. Businesses would save more than $9,400 a year per employee. The plan has been estimated to cost $1.38 trillion per year. It would be paid for by “a 6.2 percent income-based health care premium paid by employers,” “a 2.2 percent income-based premium paid by households,” and more “progressive income tax rates.” Higher-income taxpayers would have to pay a marginal tax rate of

  • 37 percent on income between $250,000 and $500,000
  • 43 percent on income between $500,000 and $2 million
  • 48 percent on income between $2 million and $10 million
  • 52 percent on income above $10 million

Capital gains and dividends would be taxed the same as income from work, tax deductions would be limited for the “rich,” and the estate tax would be increased.

Sanders’s College for All plan would “eliminate undergraduate tuition at 4-year public colleges and universities” by providing “$47 billion per year to states to eliminate undergraduate tuition and fees.” The federal government would cover 67 percent of the cost of tuition and the states would cover the remaining 33 percent of the cost. To qualify for federal funding, “states must meet a number of requirements designed to protect students, ensure quality, and reduce ballooning costs.” Colleges and universities “must reduce their reliance on low-paid adjunct faculty.” States “would be able to use funding to increase academic opportunities for students, hire new faculty, and provide professional development opportunities for professors,” but not to “fund administrator salaries, merit-based financial aid, or the construction of non-academic buildings like stadiums and student centers.” In addition, “student loan interest rates would be cut almost in half,” the federal work-study program would be expanded, and the student-aid application process would be simplified.

The plan would be “fully paid for by imposing a Robin Hood tax on Wall Street.” Imposed will be “a Wall Street speculation fee on investment houses, hedge funds, and other speculators of 0.5% on stock trades (50 cents for every $100 worth of stock), a 0.1% fee on bonds, and a 0.005% fee on derivatives.” Not only could this provision “raise hundreds of billions a year” to make “tuition free at public colleges and universities,” it could also be used to “create millions of jobs and rebuild the middle class of this country.”

Republicans in and out of Congress are unanimously opposed to both of Sanders’s plans, as are conservative talk-show hosts, bloggers, pundits, and think tanks.

But why?

Considering what they currently support, one would think that Republicans would be for Medicare for All, College for All, and all similar proposals.

Republicans support government provision and funding of health care. They support Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP, and EMTALA; the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act; government grants for medical research, government vaccination programs, government medical-licensing laws, government funding of clinical trials, government laboratories, government regulation of medical schools, community health centers, government regulation of medical devices, government medical-record requirements, government-mandated insurance coverages, government nutrition guidelines, government restrictions on the sale of body organs, government HIV/AIDS-prevention initiatives, the National Institutes of Health, the FDA, and the federal Department of Health and Human Services. And of course, Republicans haven’t yet repealed Obamacare.

Republicans support government provision and funding of education. They support mandatory-attendance laws, property taxes to pay for public schools, Pell Grants, government student loans, and government research grants to colleges; government teacher-education requirements, government teacher-certification standards, government school accreditation, government educational vouchers, government math and science initiatives, Head Start funding, and school breakfast and lunch programs; the Higher Education, Elementary and Secondary Education, and Education for All Handicapped Children Acts; and a federal Department of Education.

If Republicans don’t support any of those things, then why do congressional Republicans keep funding them? Republicans had absolute control of the government for more than four years under George W. Bush. They have absolute control of the government now. Yet all of these things continue.

Contrary to Republicans, the libertarian position on health care and education is a simple one. Government should not provide health care or public education, fund or subsidize anyone’s health care or education, or regulate health care or education in any way.

Since Republicans are for all of these things in one degree or another, it is puzzling why they are so adamantly opposed to Senator Sanders’s plans. They don’t believe in the Constitution or limited government any more than Bernie Sanders does.

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