FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

How Are We Going to Pay for Saving Trillions of Dollars?

Photograph Source: Molly Adams – CC BY 2.0

Enhanced Medicare for All — that wild scheme that Michael Bloomberg calls “untried” because it’s only been tested for decades in virtually every wealthy nation on earth — would cost $450 billion a year less than the current U.S. system. In the usual propaganda terms (in which you multiply by ten and then — if asked — admit that you’re talking about ten years) that’s a savings of $4.5 trillion! Let’s be honest and call it $450 billion a year.

The health coverage debate has gone on for the past century in the United States, during which numerous other studies have reached similar conclusions. The massive savings that awaits us according to these studies, does not include the potential healthcare savings of greater, more reliable preventive care, or of the reduced stress of guaranteed coverage, or the economic benefits of investing in Medicare For All.

Yes, a single-payer healthcare system involves shifting expenditures from private to public sources. No more do you get to pay your beloved health insurance bills and deductibles and co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses, or in any way contribute to your cherished health insurance companies. Instead, the U.S. government pays. But you, dear reader, pay far less than you do now for a few obvious reasons. (1) We’re saving $450 billion a year. (2) A government capable of enacting a major sensible policy is a government that by definition will begin taxing corporations and billionaires in a reasonable way. (3) All the other savings I mentioned above can be added to from the stress reduction to come from living wages, secure retirement, and the absence of student debt, plus the health benefits available to a society willing to enact a Green New Deal and reduce the poisons being injected into its earth, air, and water.

A Green New Deal, without even considering its health benefits, would cost somewhere in the range of negative trillions of dollars. This is just the saved money from refraining from causing climate catastrophes. Destroyed coasts and crops are expensive. We’re only starting to pay for them now, but we will be paying a lot more without a Green New Deal. We can pile onto such savings $20 billion a year in fossil fuel subsidies that the U.S. government now dumps into intentionally exacerbating the problem. I’m making the assumption that a Green New Deal would not co-exist with fossil fuel subsidies.

If we were serious enough to switch to vegan diets and eliminate the massive waste of the livestock industries — much of it public waste — the savings would increase further.

A Green New Deal isn’t free, just because it would costs trillions less than doing nothing. But it would produce jobs, it would produce other economic benefits, it would produce major savings for many people including home weatherization, solar and wind power, fast and convenient public transportation, etc. And it would be a public cost, which has all the advantages to non-billionaires mentioned above.

Improving public education and including college and preschool in it (here, and not on healthcare, is where one should say “for those who want it”) costs money. It improves lives, benefits economies, and creates whole populations capable of comprehending words like these (there must be savings potential in that!). But it does actually cost a (relatively small) positive number of dollars.

Yet, there are places those dollars can very easily come from. One is taxing the mega-wealthy and their corporations and their financial transactions.

We should bear in mind all of the pros and cons of eliminating billionaires. Among the pros: never having to see people like Donald Trump or Michael Bloomberg on television again, and not having to live under a government controlled by such people. Among the cons: once you tax the billionaires out of existence (as we damn well should) you can’t tax them the same amount again the next year.

Fortunately, there is another source of funding that is unfathomably huge, destructive in every way if left in its current state, and available anew year after year. There’s a government agency whose reports on what it spends are full of fraud and which has never met the legal requirement of an audit, and whose enterprise is openly the criminal one of aggression rather than the euphemistic one of “defense.” A good fiscal conservative might suggest that such an agency not receive another dime. Instead, the Pentagon, plus other military agencies and expenses, are getting $1.25 trillion a year while less than 3% of that could end starvation on earth.

Consider the economic benefits of peace conversion. For every $1 billion now spent on militarism that is moved to education, economists tell us we’ll produce over twice as many jobs (138.4% more jobs to be precise). A small fraction just of recent increases in U.S. military spending could fund our wildest educational dreams while producing millions of good jobs. To this we have to add consideration of the human, environmental, and property-damage cost of war, which globally is in the trillions of dollars every year. Why not save some of that while we’re in the saving mood? And if, in the process, we prevent a bit of all the sorts of damage that militarism does, who will really mind?

More articles by:

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.orgSwanson‘s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize by the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation. Longer bio and photos and videos here. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook, and sign up for:

Weekend Edition
July 03, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Peter Linebaugh
Police and the Wealth of Nations: Déjà Vu or Unfinished Business?
Rob Urie
Class, Race and Power
John Davis
A Requiem for George Floyd
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mutiny of the Bounties!
Richard D. Wolff
Revolutionary Possibilities: Could U.S. Capitalism Turn Nationalist?
Richard Falk
When Rogue States Sanction the International Criminal Court
Louis Proyect
Smearing Black Lives Matter…From the Left
Ralph Nader
Trump and Pence – Step Aside for Professional Pandemic Scientists and Managers
Ramzy Baroud
Tearing Down the Idols of Colonialism: Why Tunisia, Africa Must Demand French Apology
Philippe Marlière
Challenging the French Republic’s Color-Blindness
Richard C. Gross
Attack, Deny
Lee Camp
Connecting the Dates – US Media Used To Stop The ‘Threat’ of Peace
Steve Martinot
The Desire to Kill
David Yearsley
The War on Kitsch
Amy Eva Alberts Warren – Rev. William Alberts
Why are Certain Christians Democratic and Others Authoritarian?
Lawrence Davidson
Covid Madness
Brian Cloughley
Britain’s Disorder and Decline
Ellen Taylor
The US Military Has Its Knee on the Throat of the World
David Rosen
White Nationalists on the Attack
Jeff Cohen
Politicians of Color Should Not be Immune From Criticism
Joseph Natoli
Drawn Away from Reality in Plain View
Frank Joyce
Give Me Liberty,  Give You Death
Jonah Raskin
My Adventures in the Matriarchy
Paul Street
The Racist Counter-Revolution of 1776
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Corruption of the Democratic Party: Talking to Ted Rall about his new book
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Trump’s Record on Foreign Policy: Lost Wars, New Conflicts and Broken Promises
Paul Edwards
A Bridge Too Far
Jennifer Joan Thompson
How to Do Things With Theses: Chile’s National Police Force Sues the Feminist Artistic Collective, Las Tesis
Shawn Fremstad
Vacations for All!
Thomas Knapp
A Modest Proposal for Compromise on “Confederate” Military Bases
Vijay Prashad, Eduardo Viloria Daboín, Ana Maldonado, and Zoe PC
Venezuela’s Borderlands Have Been Assaulted by COVID-19
Thom Hartmann
COVID Masks: The Latest Faux Conservative Outrage
Jesse Jackson
Mandatory College Football Practices in Time of Pandemic are Nuts
Nicholas Vincenzo Barney
Consensus Politics on the Fringe: The Intellectual Dishonesty of the Intellectual Dark Web
Ted Rall
The Data is Clear: Progressives Should Boycott Biden
Joshua Tartakovsky
Sergei Khrushchev: An Eulogy from His Close Student
Theresa Church
In Reconsidering ‘Normalcy’ Genetically Engineered Trees Do Not Belong
Chelsea Carrick
Let’s Not Lose Momentum
Adam Rissien
Sorry Secretary Perdue, Our National Forests are Not Crops
Paul Gilk
A Few Theoretical Percentages
Thomas S. Harrington
“New Corona Cases”:  A Phrase That’s Tells us Very Little, if Anything,  About the Actual Levels of Danger We  Face
Claire Chadwick
I Got COVID-19 at Work. I Won’t be the Last
George Wuerthner
The Upper Green River Should be a National Park, Not a Feedlot
Julian Vigo
Profiteering in the Era of COVID-19
Ravi Mangla
Policing is Not a Public Good
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail