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Warren health plan departs from US 'social insurance' idea

SeattlePI.com Thursday, 7 November 2019
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren's plan to pay for "Medicare for All" without raising taxes on the middle class departs from how the U.S. has traditionally financed bedrock social insurance programs. That might impact its political viability now and in the future.

While echoing her party's longstanding call for universal health care, the Massachusetts Democrat is proposing to raise most of the additional $20.5 trillion her campaign believes would be needed from taxes on businesses, wealthy people and investors.

That's different from the "social insurance" — or shared responsibility — approach taken by Democratic presidents like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Broad financing through payroll taxes collected from workers and their employers has fostered a sense of ownership of Social Security and Medicare among ordinary Americans. That helped derail several Republican-led privatization efforts. And signs declaring "Keep Government Out Of My Medicare" proliferated during protests against President Barack Obama's health care legislation, which scaled back Medicare payments to hospitals.

The Warren campaign says the reason programs like Social Security and Medicare are popular is that benefits are broadly shared. A campaign statement said her plan would put money now spent on medical costs back in the pockets of middle-class families "substantially larger than the largest tax cut in American history."

But Roosevelt was once famously quoted explaining that he settled on a payroll tax for Social Security to give Americans the feeling they had a "legal, moral and political right" to benefits, thereby guaranteeing "no damn politician" could take it down.

Medicare, passed under Johnson, is paid for with a payroll tax for hospital services and a combination of seniors' premiums and...
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Sen. Bernie Sanders ramped up his criticism of his progressive rival Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Thursday, saying her Medicare for All plan would be "quite a hit" for average workers and employers. During an interview for the "Deconstructed" podcast hosted by journalist Mehdi Hasan released Thursday,...

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