On Sunday, CNN’s Jake Tapper put a very simple question to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: How are you planning to pay for the many and various expensive programs and plans that you are either proposing or support? The New York soon-to-be congresswoman didn’t have any answers. Like, none.
Here’s the exchange from Tapper’s “State of the Union” show (full transcript is here):
TAPPER: Your platform has called for various new programs, including Medicare for all, housing as a federal right, a federal jobs guarantee, tuition-free public college, canceling all student loan debt.
According to nonpartisan and left-leaning studies friendly to your cause, including the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities or the Tax Policy Center, the overall price tag is more than $40 trillion in the next decade.
You recently said in an interview that increasing taxes on the very wealthy, plus an increased corporate tax rate, would make $2 trillion over the next 10 years.
So, where is the other $38 trillion going to come from?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, one of the things that we need to realize when we look at something like Medicare for all, Medicare for all would save the American people a very large amount of money.
And what we see as well is that these systems are not just pie in the sky. They are – many of them are accomplished by every modern, civilized democracy in the Western world. The United – the United Kingdom has a form of single-payer health care, Canada, France, Germany.
What we need to realize is that these investments are better and they are good for our future. These are generational investments, so that not just – they’re not short-term Band-Aids, but they are really profound decisions about who we want to be as a nation and as – and how we want to act, as the wealthiest nation in the history of the world.
Tapper pressed, noting correctly that he didn’t ask why she believed in making the investments she supports but rather how she would pay for them. Ocasio-Cortez then responded with this: “Well, when you look again at, again, how our health care works, currently, we pay – much of these costs go into the private sector. So what we see is, for example, a year ago, I was working downtown in a restaurant. I went around and I asked, how many of you folks have health insurance? Not a single person did, because these – they were paying – they would have had to pay $200 a month for – for a payment for insurance that had an $8,000 deductible.”
Ocasio-Cortez is making the case that if government took over more aspects of peoples’ lives currently controlled by private industry, costs would go down on things like health insurance. So the $40 trillion price tag for her programs would be less.
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But again, that isn’t an answer on where the money might come from to pay for them. Let’s buy into Ocasio-Cortez’s case that costs would shrink if the government, rather than the free market, ran things. Let’s even say it would halve the costs of the programs that she supports making into law. That’s still $20 trillion – which has to come from somewhere, right?
Tapper is doing an important public service here. He’s highlighting the difference between campaigning and governing. The truth is that as a candidate you can be for almost anything because you don’t have any responsibility. You aren’t in charge of managing the federal budget or reducing our deficit and debt obligations. Free stuff sounds great! But free stuff is almost never free.
This is a problem that Verm