New Liberal Mantra: ‘Spend and Tax and Elect and Bankrupt’

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer walks with President Joe Biden after a lunch with the Senate Democratic Caucus at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., July 14, 2021.
(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The $3.5 trillion spendapalooza announced by Senate Democratic leaders on Monday is so stuffed with spending that even liberal commentators wonder if it can fit through any possible legislative window.

A particularly irresponsible proposal is one that would expand Medicare to include vision, hearing, and dental benefits — this at a time when Medicare trustees warn that Medicare’s Part A “trust fund” is likely to run dry in just a few years.

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Congress dipped into Medicare’s reserves to help fund the COVID-19 bailout efforts this spring. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that, because of the pandemic, the Part A trust fund won’t be able to pay all of its bills starting in late 2023 or early 2024.

“I think we have a real, impending health-care crisis,” says Dr. David Shulkin, who was undersecretary for health at the Department of Veterans Affairs under President Barack Obama.

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So why are Democrats practicing Russian roulette with Medicare’s solvency? David Jonas, a former Obama staffer who’s now an editor at Political Wire, says Democrats are worried that, if they pass spending programs under budget reconciliation, future Congresses can repeal or roll them back.

Whatever you think of the underlying policy, the politics of expanding Medicare benefits are near perfect for Congressional Democrats.

Only takes 50 Senate votes to pass, a great campaign talking point for at-risk Dems, and Rs unlikely to repeal.

My latest for @politicalwire. https://t.co/FWtaMvQpQd

— David Jonas (@DavidTSJonas) July 14, 2021

“You would want something that can pass with 50 Senate votes, but that the other side wouldn’t want to touch later on even if they could,” Jonas says. He claims that “modern politics” is about leveraging the political popularity of huge popular programs. On that basis, “congressional Democrats have the makings of a long-term winner” in proposing Medicare expansion.

There are no words to describe the utter cynicism and recklessness this strategy represents. In 1936, the New York Times reported that FDR’s liberal adviser Harry Hopkins claimed that the administration’s plan was to “‘spend and spend, and tax and tax, and elect and elect.’”

To that mantra, today’s liberals are adding “bankrupt and bankrupt.”

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