In a recent interview, former President Barack Obama admitted something Democrats have been trying to deny or keep secret for months. “If you look at Joe Biden’s goals and Bernie Sanders’ goals, they’re not that different from a 40,000-foot level,” he said.
And he’s right – Biden may have won the Democrat Party’s nomination by casting himself as the moderate alternative to Sanders, but in reality his agenda is only cosmetically different from that of his old Socialist-Democrat rival.
Let’s start with energy policy.
The “Green New Deal”, written and endorsed by Sanders and his fellow progressives, aims to eliminate oil and gas-based emissions across the country by 2050. This wildly ambitious goal would require a wholesale reshaping of our entire U.S. economy, if not our way of life, by bureaucrats in Washington.
Yet Biden also proposes to reduce carbon emissions to zero in less than three decades. That’s wildly unrealistic. At present, nearly 2/3rds of our electricity comes from fossil fuels. Last year, electric vehicles accounted for just 2% of cars sold in the U.S.
And according to an analysis conducted by the American Action Forum, shifting just the Nation’s Electrical Grid to a 50-50 mix of nuclear and renewables would cost $5.4 trillion over 10 years, would raise annual electricity costs by 22%, an average of nearly $300 per household,
Or take Social Security. The entitlement program is set to run out of cash by 2035. Sanders’ response to this crisis has not been to bring the program’s accounts back into balance; he simply calls for spending more money.
But Joe Biden does, too. He proposes to increase not just the Minimum Benefit, but payments to Surviving Spouses, as well as the program’s Cost-of-Living Adjustments.
Sanders and Biden also want to:
- More than Double the Federal Minimum Wage to $15
- Cancel at least some Student Debt, and
- Make College Free for more Americans.
To pay for all this federal largesse, both Sanders and Biden propose raising taxes on income and capital gains.
Many Democrats point to health care policy as the defining disagreement between Biden and Sanders. Here too, in actuality, their differences aren’t as deep as they first appear.
Sanders, famously, is pressing for “Medicare for All” – a complete government takeover of the U.S. health insurance system.
After a four-year transition period, wherein anyone could buy into Medicare, he’d outlaw Private Insurance and essentially dictate what health care providers could expect to be paid. It’d be a lot less than they take in today.
Biden, equally famously, has rejected “Medicare for All.” He just calls for an additional “new” public health insurance option to be sold alongside private insurance plans in ObamaCare’s Exchanges.
Biden’s public plan would also include an option with no deductibles.
This is a Medicare buy-in by another name, as the “public option” essentially dictates reimbursement rates to providers, just as Medicare does.
Biden and Sanders are united behind a policy program that would put the Federal Government in charge of an unprecedented share of the U.S. Economy.
Combine these with the fact that certain people with lower incomes would not have to pay premiums, and the plan amounts to completely taxpayer-funded health insurance for a significant group of people.
That’s a baby step toward a Federal Government run and provided single-payer system – and, it’s illustrative of just how a public option would amount to single-payer in slow motion.
Backed by the immense resources of the Federal Government – and the ability to dictate prices to providers – a public plan would be able to offer premiums and deductibles so low that private coverage providers simply couldn’t compete. In time, most Americans would transition to the new, low-cost government plan.
Starved of Customers & Revenues, private insurers would gradually exit the market, leaving nothing but the “public option” behind.
The millions of Americans previously employed by the private insurance industry would gradually, and then perhaps rapidly, find themselves out of work.
It’s impossible to predict how long this transition could take. It could be within four years – just like Bernie’s explicit plan for “Medicare for All”?
In the end, Biden and Sanders are united behind a radical policy program that would put the Federal Government in charge of an unprecedented share of the U.S. economy – and it would require unprecedented sums of money from U.S. Taxpayers to pay for it.
The two men are merely describing this radical vision in different tones of voice… hoping Americans don’t and won’t catch on.