After years of voting for increased spending on everything from farm subsidies to healthcare, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), shown in red, has, it seems, suddenly discovered that the federal government can’t afford to pay for everything people might want.
At a town hall meeting in Fulton, Missouri, last week, McCaskill addressed the question of having Washington provide “free” college tuition to Americans, an idea popularized by self-described socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
“Free college tuition is a great goal except it’s really expensive,” McCaskill said. “It’s really expensive and we are struggling with how we’re going to pay for what we have in place right now in terms of Medicare. We have a demographic bubble that is moving into the system and we have interest rates going up and we owe a lot of debt. And if we’re not careful, we’re going to get so far under that we could be Greece.”
Medicare, in fact, ought to serve as an example of exactly why creating government giveaways is dangerous. The program already costs many times initial projections and has unfunded liabilities over the next 75 years of anywhere from $32 trillion to $44 trillion. Its reimbursement rates are so low — and falling — that the Medicare trustees fully expect senior citizens to have difficulty finding doctors, hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities willing to treat them in the coming decades.
Yet McCaskill — who, despite a cumulative Freedom Index score of just 16 percent, enjoys a reputation as a moderate — stated that she is a “very big supporter of Medicare.” On top of that, she said she thinks “it’s inane that [Medicaid] has not been expanded in Missouri” even though that program’s expansion as part of ObamaCare, for which McCaskill voted, has been a bad deal too, with more enrollees and higher costs than expected.
Both Medicare and Medicaid were ostensibly created to mitigate rapidly rising healthcare costs for certain segments of the population — costs that were driven in large measure by earlier government interventions into the health sector. Likewise, college tuition has skyrocketed over the past few decades because of government financial aid, while the resulting increase in college enrollment has greatly diluted the value of a college degree. Making college free (at taxpayer expense) would only exacerbate those problems.
Still, give McCaskill credit for recognizing that there are limits to how much taxpayers can be asked to shell out. After declaring her support for Medicare and the expansion of Medicaid, the senator added, “I also want to be mindful of the fact that we can’t just start having the government pay for everything. When people talk about that and they point out countries where that happens, people are paying 70 percent of their income in taxes in those countries.”
Such tax rates serve as a disincentive to work, and eventually the tax-eaters outnumber the taxpayers. While the system lasts, government services become increasingly shoddy, and individuals may be euthanized in an effort to save money. Once it inevitably implodes, rioting commences.
If McCaskill is genuinely concerned that the United States may go the way of Greece, her first order of business ought to be introducing legislation to repeal Uncle Sam’s numerous wealth-redistribution programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, which are taking this country down the very same road to serfdom. Such an approach would have the added advantage of adhering to the Constitution that McCaskill has twice sworn to uphold but which, judging by her voting record, has heretofore been all Greek to her.