Issues & Insights
Medicare for All
(Wikimedia commons)

Elizabeth Warren’s ‘Medicare for All’ Claims Are As Credible As Her Native American Heritage

Earlier this month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren promised that she’d reveal how she’d pay the $36 trillion (and climbing) cost of Medicare for All some time “in the coming weeks.” If she claims that it can be financed entirely on the backs of corporations and the rich, she will be lying.

That’s made clear by a report from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which is decidedly non-partisan. After studying tax data, it concluded that “Tax increases on high earners, corporations, and the financial sector by themselves could not cover much more than one-third of the cost of Medicare for All.”

The report notes that “there is not enough annual income available among higher earners to finance the full cost of Medicare for All. … Even increasing the top two income tax rates (applying to individuals making over $204,000 per year and couples making over $408,000 per year) to 100% would not raise $30 trillion over a decade.”

The rest of the report shows just how massive the tax hikes would have to be to come close to raising the money needed.

Among the options the CRFB considers that would raise $30 trillion:

  • Adding a 32% payroll tax on all wages, on top of the 15% already imposed to finance Social Security and Medicare.
  • Imposing 25% surtax on all income above the standard deduction, which would result in the lowest tax bracket of 35%.
  • Creating a 42% value-added tax.
  • Imposing a mandatory premium of $7,200 for every individual in the nation.
  • More than doubling individual and corporate taxes.
  • Cutting the rest of the federal budget by 80%.
  • More than doubling the national debt.

As the CRFB points out, these options would all have punishing impacts on the economy. Increasing the payroll tax will cost jobs and sharply reduce economic growth. Doubling income taxes will raise the top rate to close to 90%. A VAT would amount to a massive new tax on middle-class families. Piling on more debt to an already unsustainable trajectory would be catastrophic.

Keep in mind that these options assume Medicare for All only costs $30 trillion over 10 years, which is a completely unrealistic, low-ball estimate unless the intention is to completely destroy the health care system in addition to the economy.

Nor does the CRFB attempt to figure out how Warren would cover Medicare for All, while also promising nearly $10 trillion in other new federal spending programs.

Is it any wonder Warren isn’t being forthcoming with how she’ll pay for this?

Even Sen. Bernie Sanders, who at least admits that everyone’s taxes will have to go up, won’t provide any details. All he’s done is list “options” that, taken all together, wouldn’t cover half of Medicare for All’s tab.

When pressed for details by CNBC’s John Harwood how he’d cover the other half, Sanders would only say: “You’re asking me to come up with an exact detailed plan of how every American — how much you’re going to pay more in taxes, how much I’m going to pay. I don’t think I have to do that right now.”

Of course, Sanders and Warren have provided plenty of details on all the goodies Americans would supposedly get under Medicare for All. No premiums, no deductibles, no limits on doctor visits, first-dollar coverage for drugs, vision, dental and everything else under the sun.

Warren keeps telling the public not to worry, that middle-class families’ “costs” will go down. But without providing any realistic plan to pay for all that largesse, she can’t credibly make that claim.

Warren and Sanders aren’t on the fringes. They now represent the mainstream of the Democratic Party. It’s time for them to come clean about what socializing health care will mean for taxpayers.

— Written by John Merline

Note to Readers: Issues & Insights is a new site launched by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our mission is to use our decades of experience to provide timely, fact-based reporting and deeply informed analysis on the news of the day.

We’re doing this on a voluntary basis because we think our approach to commentary is sorely lacking both in today’s mainstream media and on the internet. If you like what you see, feel free to click the Tip Jar over on the right sidebar. And be sure to tell your friends!

We Could Use Your Help

Issues & Insights was founded by seasoned journalists of the IBD Editorials page. Our mission is to provide timely, fact-based reporting and deeply informed analysis on the news of the day -- without fear or favor.

We’re doing this on a voluntary basis because we believe in a free press, and because we aren't afraid to tell the truth, even if it means being targeted by the left. Revenue from ads on the site help, but your support will truly make a difference in keeping our mission going. If you like what you see, feel free to visit our Donations Page by clicking here. And be sure to tell your friends!

You can also subscribe to I&I: It's free!

Just enter your email address below to get started.


I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • One of the suggestions is “Imposing a mandatory premium of $7,200 for every individual in the nation.” Knowing that most of the people in the US does not have $7200 for each family member to give to the government annually, there will be natural carve outs and exclusions, making those with the means to cover the medical surcharge with more to pay – their part and another part for those less wealthy.

    I’m glad Medicare kicks in for me in 3 years.

    • Unfortunately for those of us who must use it, Medicare is hardly splendid insurance coverage and requires substantial supplementation.

      I fail to see why anyone except the socialists would be excited about extending it to everyone.

  • A few years back, Mary Kissel was at the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion page, and she remarked that Elizabeth Warren had only a “child-like understanding of economics.” I’ve always thought that was an insightful observation, and it has stuck with me.

About Issues & Insights

Issues & Insights is run by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

We Could Use Your Help

Help us fight for honesty in journalism and against the tyranny of the left. Issues & Insights is published by the editors of what once was Investor's Business Daily's award-winning opinion pages. If you like what you see, leave a donation by clicking on donate button above. You can also set up regular donations if you like. Ad revenue helps, but your support will truly make a difference. (Please note that we are not set up as a charitable organization, so donations aren't tax deductible.) Thank you!