What is the point of running as a far left candidate?

No matter where prominent “socialist” or “Berniecrat” or “progressive” candidates and politicians go lately for interviews, they get asked how they will pay for their programs. The answers come in one of three types:

  1. Repeating mainstream Obama ideas for raising a little bit more revenue from wealthy voters, which covers maybe 5% of the bill.

  2. Saying, “We can pay for F-35 fighters, so I’m sure we can find a way”, which again, is citing a pretty tiny fraction of money considering their actual ambitions.

  3. Ummm… errrrr… Republicans don’t pay for their stuff, we’ll talk about this another time!

A response I get often is, “Oh, they are trying to move the Overton Window”. But they don’t need to do that on spending. The public loves Medicare for All! The public loves free college! As long as they don’t have to pay for it.

So if you’re trying to move the Overton Window, you have to get voters to support increasing their own taxes. A lot. But the attempt isn’t even being made, so what’s the point? Since their taxing ambitions are limited to what mainstream Democrats support, that means their spending ambitions will also be limited to what mainstream Democrats support when they actually have to govern.

So why not just run as a mainstream Democrat and have a unified message instead of fighting like rabid cats over what amounts to nothing in the real world?

I think that’s actually very optimistic coming from you! I think they’d hate Medicare For All long before the taxes came into play, as soon as the ~75% of the public who like their insurance learn that the government is proposing to take it away. (And I want it!)

Yeah, the disruptiveness is even more politically dangerous. There is a way around that though: Medicaid buy-in. Employees and employers can replace their private insurance plan with Medicaid, but only if they want to, and Democrats then HOPE that Medicaid will be the only one left standing. It won’t happen that way, it’s never happened that way, but at least that means people actually get to keep their insurance if they like it.

It isn’t specific to the Left or the Right. Politicians don’t like to talk about how to pay for any of their ideas. That’s why we get ‘tax cuts will pay for themselves’ and ‘Obamacare will reduce your premiums by $2500 a year’ and ‘if we make everyone buy health insurance they will go to the doctor and that will reduce emergency room visits’ and ‘raise taxes on the 1% and pay for everything that way’. Then when you run the numbers and find they don’t add up, change the subject.


The better question is, how can we afford to not pay for education and health care for all? Not having them is a lot more expensive than having them.

Damn straight.

And it’s weird that things like this, and the notion that a full-time job should at least lift you over the poverty line, are what passes for ‘far left’ in the eyes of a lot of people.

“How do you pay for it” is the new Fox talking point, in all segments about democratic socialism, which is hot now. You can take this as an absolute assurance it has no meaning.

How do you pay for unnecessary wars, finding lost kids and putting them back with their parents, and tax cuts 1.0 and 2.0?

Money is fungible Rebupkins! You can follow it. We can see every movement your hand is making.

Because what’s the ‘mainstream Democrat’ message? I don’t know either. If it’s Hillary’s platform from 2016, what was it? There wasn’t much in it that was a rallying cry, was there?

The point of being a ‘far left’ Democrat is to be in favor of stuff that people actually want, that would make a difference in their lives.

Re “how will you pay for it”: how did we pay for Bush’s combination of wars and tax cuts? I don’t know either, but here we are. And between the GOP tax cuts of the Bush and Trump eras, part of the answer anyway is “repeal the tax cuts, above $____”.

Past that, we can raise taxes on the rich beyond merely repealing 21st century tax cuts, and past that, we can pay for it the same way Republicans have been paying for everything since 1981: borrow.

You take the money people pay privately, and you use that money in taxes instead. The taxes should be progressive but should also hit the middle class too a bit.

Right now the medicare tax is 2.9% of gross wages split between employers/employees. Under a medicare for all plan that rate may be 10%, plus an additional income tax on high income earners.

People pay a ton privately for health insurance and health care. Take some of that money in the form of new taxes to fund medicare for all.

Instead of a middle class family and their employer paying $10,000 a year in health insurance and health care costs, have the family and their employer pay $8,000 a year in taxes to fund medicare for all.

Thats the answer most leftists will give.

As far as other programs, again, taxes to replace private spending.

By and large, the biggest progressive expense is medicare for all. Their other programs are fairly cheap by comparison.

FWIW, a medicaid (or medicare) buy in is a great idea. Put medicaid, medicare and the VA on the exchanges in all 50 states.

When Vermont looked at single payer, they found two single payer plans (options 1 and 3) would reduce medical costs by 25%. But just adding in a strong public option (option 2) would reduce costs by 16%, providing 2/3 of the cost savings of single payer with very little controversy to the public. I’m not sure why states aren’t pushing this idea of opening up medicare, medicaid or the VA on the exchanges.

Absolutely. A corollary on the right is spending cuts. Moderate Republicans propose tiny spending cuts that most people can agree are waste or not very useful, but only amount to a teensy portion of the budget anyway. Hard right Republicans call for big spending cuts, and when asked what they’d cut, they cite the SAME things the moderate Republicans do and then say, “We’ll look into ways to save the other $200 billion I’m proposing in cuts”. But in reality they are only going to be able to cut what the moderates want to cut, so there’s no point in having a different message.

THat’s a nice slogan but it’s not really how the world works. We do pay for education and health care. We just don’t guarantee it, and it’s not why we pay more. Making health care and college free for all won’t make either less expensive. If costs are cut, it will be because other things went along with it, like price controls and pay cuts for workers in the industries. Which we can do without universal coverage if we want to.

Now as for a full time job, it does lift an individual over the poverty line. Poverty line for single person- $12140. 40 hour minimum wage job- $15080.

Broke people don’t have a right to get a girlfriend. They write songs about that you know.

It has all the meaning in the world. If you can’t pay for it, you can’t pass it. Period. No big entitlement has ever passed without being fully paid for, at least in the medium term. The closest example would be Medicare Part D, which costs approximately 5% of what Medicare for All will cost.

For starters, the cost of all of that put together is 10% of the cost of ONE of their proposed entitlements. The scale isn’t even comparable. And you can’t call a $1.5 trillion tax cut irresponsible and then turn around and propose $32 trillion in new spending. And that’s just for starters.

Not to mention tax cuts are easy to fix: if you run into fiscal problems, you raise taxes. Fixing runaway entitlement spending is nearly impossible and no nation has yet successfully grappled with it on a large scale. Which is why all responsible countries know you have to have a dedicated funding mechanism for this stuff. We do it too: Social Security and Medicare are paid for through payroll taxes. Medicare for All will also be paid for through payroll taxes. Socialist candidates should be straightforward and just say this. If they can’t say it, it means they can’t pass it.

Absolutely. There’s no mystery as to how this works. Lots of other countries have this system with a few minor variations. But the standard way to do it is payroll taxes. Or “social insurance taxes” as some other countries call them.

That probably doesn’t cut it. If we assume $3.2 trillion per year, or $11K per person, that requires an average 20% rate on workers.

France charges 13%, and it falls entirely on employers:


That poses problems we don’t want, like France’s structurally high unemployment. Also, that doesn’t free workers from health care costs, France has co-pays and pays an average 70% of health care costs.

What socialists propose is free at the point of service, no premiums, so that means the entire cost of the system has to be collected in taxes. Which means about 20%, probably divided between the employer and the employee like Social Security. but even there 10% won’t do it, because now you run into two other problems with our system:

  1. Are you going to make current Medicare beneficiaries pay more? I think not. So more of the cost has to fall on workers
  2. Are you going to make veterans pay for health care that is currently free to them? I think not again.
  3. Are you going to make Medicaid recipients pay? I think not.

So you have to put that entire $32 trillion on about 50% of the population. The non elderly, civilian workforce.

You assume unrealistic savings given political realities. They also don’t talk about where savings comes from. Because the savings are also politically dangerous. Going to cut doctor pay? That’s what every other country does. Won’t fly here. Going to limit more expensive treatments. That’s what every other country does, but some people have cadillac insurance plans that do give them such access and won’t settle for a less generous plan.

Now I know details are difficult in any program, but when you’re dealing with a program where the details are as politically deadly as Medicare for All, you have to be straight about what it entails. Because the right will tell the public what it entails and if progressives have no answers, they have no chance.

Look at all the deficit-bursting programs of the past decades and you’ll always find a Republican brainstorm behind them. “It’ll pay for itself” is the only Republican battlecry.

Funding for medicare for all can be found here. Payroll taxes and progressive taxes.

Keep in mind about 50-60% of all medical funding is already done by government. And single payer hopefully will result in 10-20% cost savings. That means you need about 20-40% of the health care system in new taxes to replace private spending.

HR 676 calls for about 1.4 trillion a year in new taxes, which would be offset by lower private spending.

Medicare for all is not some pie in the sky program. It has been studied on the federal, state and private level. It has been researched with actual dollar figures for savings and tax rates.

What is the point of running as a Right wing candidate?

No matter where prominentRight wing or Trumpist or Tea party candidates and politicians go lately for interviews, they get asked how they will pay for their programs, such as huge tax cuts.

What are you talking about?

Really? That’s a very arrogant statement. Just because you are far left and want certain things doesn’t mean that other people want those things. You and I likely agree that a good public education system and UHC are not only good things in themselves but net benefits to the country. Healthy workers are more productive workers and educated workers are more profitable workers etc. But not everyone thinks that. So we have to persuade them, not dictate to them.

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