Indiana Daily Student

OPINION: How the left can pay for it

Bernie Sanders fires up students at a rally Apr. 27, 2016, at IU Auditorium.
Bernie Sanders fires up students at a rally Apr. 27, 2016, at IU Auditorium.

Since the new left wing of the Democratic party surged with popular support for universal programs, they have been facing resistance at every turn by critics in the media and within their own party.

The most common question used to gaslight Americans is, “How are you going to pay for it?” This is a legitimate question to ask; however, the problem is the question is only asked when the issue benefits the American people.

For example, the question of cost is never asked when the topic is continuing endless war in the Middle East or continuing our rapacious privatized health care system. Not to mention, candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-V.T., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-M.A., have already fleshed out numerous detailed cost estimates and plans for paying for them.

The question of cost is an important one, but it also needs to be asked when analyzing the status quo and not solely to obfuscate the arguments for progressive reform.

Some of the major issues today where cost is most relevant are Medicare-for-all single payer health care, free public college education for all, canceling all student and medical debt, expanding social security, universal daycare and paid family leave.

First, we must evaluate the projected cost of these programs. Medicare-for-all according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund will cost about $1.2 trillion a year, substantially less than the current system at about $3.5 trillion annually.

Free public College and University education for all, including trade school, would cost roughly $80 billion annually according to data by the Department of Education.

The cost of canceling all student debt would be about $1.6 trillion and all medical debt about $81 billion. It would cost about $32 billion annually for paid family leave, about $120 billion annually for a social security expansion and $170 million per year for universal child care.

Now that’s a hefty price tag, over $3.1 trillion for these proposals alone, but nowhere near out of reach. With the exception of Medicare-for-all saving up to $5 trillion over a decade, how can Democrats pay for this?

Some easy ways to fund these programs would be to reverse the Bush and Trump tax cuts which give away a combined $652 billion annually to the top 1% and corporations, and to immediately end the Afghanistan and Iraq wars that cost $127 billion a year.

The U.S. is currently engaged in wars in 7 countries as well as operating hundreds of military bases all over the globe, that cost at least $156 billion annually to maintain.

On top of that, the U.S. should cut all fossil fuel subsidies (saving $26 billion annually) and implement a carbon tax at $73 per ton, which would generate about $300 billion a year.

A wealth tax is also an important policy that can generate a lot of revenue for universal programs. If we implement Sen. Warren’s wealth tax of 2% for household income over $50 million and 3% for household income over $1 billion that will raise $275 billion per year. Sen. Sanders’ plan goes substantially further.

Other very important ways to obtain funds for these universal programs include a Wall Street Speculation tax. Sen. Sanders’ College for all plan proposes this as a method of funding the program.

It would entail a 0.5% tax on stock trades (50 cents on every $100 of stock), a 0.1% fee on bond trades and a 0.005% fee on derivative trades, raising around $55 billion yearly.

Raising the estate tax will also generate revenue. Enacting a 45% tax on estates above $3.5 million, 50% tax above $10 million, 55% tax above $50 million and 77% tax above $1 billion will generate roughly $31.5 billion a year.

Additionally, we can raise the long-term capital gains rates from 15% to 20%, generating $5 billion annually, and we can raise the social security payroll cap to $250,000, raising $120 billion every year.

It is beyond clear that the U.S. can afford these popular social programs especially considering these are only a few ways to raise the money.

The question of how to pay for these programs is a fair one, but let’s not pretend that we can’t find the money when the richest 400 families in America pay a lower tax rate than the middle class.

The plutocratic U.S. government has had no problem paying for the desires of the rich and large corporations, I think it’s time the majority of Americans get what they rightly deserve.

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