The US military budget is such an inflated monstrosity that it contains accounting errors that can finance two thirds of…
The US military budget is such an inflated monstrosity that it contains accounting errors that can finance two thirds of the cost of a state-guaranteed single-payment sickness insurance scheme. All Americans could visit an unlimited number of doctors free of charge. At least, it is a perception that spreads on the left Twitter and was endorsed and reinforced by newly elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the Democrats’ biggest 2018 feelings, and an indisputable master of art to stay in the public eye.
Unfortunately, it’s not true. The thought spread like a phone game from a national article to the US Congress and lost an important detail: Pentagon’s accounting errors are really huge, but they are also just accounting errors ̵
1; they do not represent actual money that can be spent on anything else.
Misunderstandings always fly on Twitter and AOC’s level of political knowledge is quite typical of one member of the congress. But this special flub tells about progressive frustration over the dual standard of military and non-military spending, and also the fragile situation of running a Medicare-for-all program.
The draftsmen of this vision have the political wind in the back and continue to distribute the idea effectively to win arguments within the party without really making any progress on the fundamental obstacles to writing a Medicare-for-all bill that can be teamed. Considering that the political power instead of concrete legislation is the goal, it is probably the best.
The underlying article by Dave Lindorff in the nation who kicked off this is an investigation report in the Ministry of Defense’s accounting principles. Lindorff reveals that Pentagon’s accounting is rather weak, the department continues to flunking outside audits, funds are shifted between accounts without proper supervision and that the overall documentation of what actually happens with the Pentagon’s big budget is extremely bad.
Lindorff goes beyond these observations to argue that what is happening to deliberate fraud, the purpose of which is to convince Congress to increase the funding level beyond what would otherwise be approved.
However, critically referring the article as  Jordan Uhl quoted in the tweet as Ocasio-Cortez quoted does not mean that there are 21 trillion dollars in fraudulent or missing DOD spending between 1998 and 2015. In fact, it has not been 21 billion dollars in the (nominal) defense department spent over the entire US history.
The $ 21 trillion figure represents a summary of badly documented internal financial transfers, so that the same dollar can be transferred back and forth many times over. Then you end up with a total amount of undiscovered financial flows that far exceed the amount actually spent.
This is going to tell a story. And it is almost certain that if another agency would flubbing its internal financial controls to this extent, the US establishment would not tolerate it. But there is no $ 21 billion gold pot that may be subject to paying for a comprehensive health insurance program, even though the US really spends a lot on the military.
President Donald Trump, who echo previous talks from Barack Obama and George W. Bush but makes them much more powerful, has repeatedly complained that US NATO Allies in Europe do not meet their own commitment to spend 2 percent of national income on its military.
However, the United States spends much more than 2 percent of GDP in the quest for global military hegemony.
In a sharp Washington Post article this summer, Jeff Stein asked what America could afford if it scaled back its military to the 2 percent target level. Slashing military spending from its current 3.5 percent of GDP level would release about 3 trillion dollars in a decade. It would suffice to reduce poverty by half ($ 1.1 billion), eliminate public education ($ 750 billion), clean all lead and polluted land in the country ($ 400 billion), make preschool available to all poor children ( $ 250 billion) and still have plenty to build a wall on the US-Mexico border and at least modestly reduce the budget deficit.
Thoughts of this scale are routinely relieved as insurmountable, yet military expense increases that are not compensated or “paid for” somehow pass Congress all the time – with the votes of Conservative and Centrist members who are least enthusiastic about the idea of blaming to improve children’s well-being.
All that said, one thing that positively dwarfs the US military is the American healthcare sector. And with half of all healthcare costs currently provided by the private sector (and a decent part of the public sector’s share paid by the state and local authorities), it would cause a very big change, and the practical impact could lead to vary greatly depending on how exactly you did it.
Taking the entire healthcare to the federal books would be a big deal, as a huge amount of money is already spent in the healthcare sector. Medicare-for-all would cost upwards of $ 30 trillion over a decade because the federal government would take financial responsibility for a huge cost center.
There are no new expenses in an economic sense in the way that a highway, new highway or regional rail system would be.
In fact, Medicare-for-all-advocates claim that by making the federal government a monopson buyer of healthcare services, you can lower prices and save money overall.
It clearly shows that you could print a plan to finance the type of healthcare system that Ocasio-Cortez (and Bernie Sanders) talk about, although the plan could not knock 21 billion dollars in phantom Pentagon money as its main source of income.
As said, you can not just talk about how it is possible to fund the program you prefer. Instead, you need to write down a specific financing mechanism – including the ability to fund it with debt – and get the votes in Congress to send the specific invoice instead of someone else.
Forty months ago, when Sander’s presidential campaign was more of curiosity than an influential political movement, vagueness at this point was harmless. The name of the game was to build political support for an idea that currently had some support and sort the details later.
What is striking is, however, that essentially no progress has been made in sorting out the details. Therefore, you have one of the country’s top-rated Medicare-for-all proponents who tweet incorrect information about potential pay-shots: She has no specific canonical suggestion that she can point to as reflecting what she’s working on.
In purely political terms, it is probably the wisest action plan to avoid the specific wage demand. In Vermont, the idea of a state-level Medicare-for-all-plan was very popular until the legislature came to the tax page, at what time consensus fell apart.
And to defend the tactics of the Medicare-for-all-brigade, it’s not as if Trump’s campaign promises or House Speaker Paul Ryan’s different budget maps have made any kind of mathematical opinion either. You can go really far in American politics on the basis of some good slogans and a broad vision that fascinates an audience.
But critically, Ryan’s main ideas were never realized to a large extent because they were not reasonable. This proved not to be a deductible way of achieving them. Similarly, the obvious absurdity of claiming Mexico to pay for a border road prevents Trump from becoming president – but it has prevented Trump from paying for a border wall.
If the Medicare-for-all advocates hover to power in 2021 after five or six years of avoiding the difficult question of how (or whether) to compensate spending, there is no easy solution that will occur magically and quickly get consensus following President Sanders opening.
As said, those people who have pushed Medicare-for-all to their current level of appearance are not stupid, and are probably aware of all this.
And RoseAnn DeMoro, who, as head of the National Nurses Union, probably did more than anyone else over the years to form the Medicare-for-all debate, said something interesting this weekend at a collection of Bernie’s believers. According to journalist David Weigel, when asked by journalists if she had come into contact with other 2020 candidates, she simply said: “There are no other candidates.”
In the wake of 2016, a whole host of ambitious Democrats, including Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren approved Medicare-for-all in exactly the same form as Sanders. As DeMoro shows, it did not actually show Medicare-by-all believers in any other way than to confirm their admiration for Sanders, which they think should be president. Because it is the cause of the cause, and because that goal is best served by being vague, vagueness will likely continue to be today’s order.