The Reason America Cannot Afford Medicare for All: We Have Run Out of Other People’s Money
The comments below are an edited and abridged synopsis of an article by Chris Conover
To bankroll America’s two biggest entitlements—Medicare and Social Security—there would have to be the equivalent of a 100% tax on all US household wealth.
The problem of unfunded liabilities for entitlements is much bigger than conventionally depicted once realistic assumptions are made about Medicare spending. When we account for the inevitable delay in reaching a political consensus about how to handle this mess, the problem grows by at least 16% to as much as two thirds.
These topics were addressed in two previous articles; in this one, Conover shows that the full magnitude of the fiscal gap is now approaching one quarter of a quadrillion dollars (“yes, the problem is so large that trillions are becoming too small to adequately describe it!”). If it takes 20 years to start tackling this problem—easy to image in today’s hyper-partisan climate—the total could climb to $360 trillion.
Up for discussion: America’s total fiscal gap; the current path is unsustainable; filling the gap through higher taxes alone is politically unrealistic; filling the gap through a wealth tax is mathematically impossible; and closing the gap through spending cuts alone seems politically dubious.