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Monday, September 9, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The third Democratic debate is just around the corner. While it’s challenging to predict what zingers the candidates will deploy, one thing is more certain: Moderate and reasonable policy ideas will take a backseat to far-fetched proposals that belong more in the realm of fairytale.

The discussion will likely veer even further to the left compared to previous debates. Some of the less extreme candidates — including Sen. Michael Bennet and former Congressman John Delaney — will not be participating in Thursday’s spectacle.


Hurricane Dorian will be Exhibit A for the “climate crisis.” Opinions range broadly on the matter. Some argue changes to climate are largely cyclical, although influenced by human behavior. Others predict it will be impossible to avert doomsday if Americans don’t immediately purchase a Prius. The 2020 Democratic hopefuls argue it’s closer to the latter end of the spectrum. 

To address the problem, many of the candidates argue for radical regulation, but a select few take it a step further. Sen. Bernie Sanders recently introduced his version of the “Green New Deal” — mirroring a package of policies initially proposed by climate authority Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  

In part, his plan would federalize the U.S. energy sector, construct a new power grid and replace all current forms of energy production for electricity and transportation with renewable alternatives by 2030.

Seem unfeasible yet? Well, the plan also includes creating 20 million new “union jobs” and providing current fossil fuel industry workers with guaranteed wages, housing, health care and pensions. And all for the low, low price of $16 trillion; but for this week only.

Next up on the left-wing bucket list is “Medicare for All” —  a policy that was unpopular even among most Democrats just a few short years ago. It’s no wonder why. The government takeover of the health care system would have major repercussions for all parties involved — including patients, hospitals, doctors, insurance providers and taxpayers. 

Unlike the “you can keep your plan if you like it” mantra of Obamacare, Medicare for All would not simply hamstring insurance companies by forcing them to abide by stringent regulations, it would eliminate the entire private health insurance industry altogether. Adios consumer choice and competition. 

As a result, medical professionals will be spread thin as demand for health care rises rapidly — resulting in shortages. And the reduced rate at which health care providers will be reimbursed under the plan would force many hospitals to close down — exacerbating the problem. Some estimate the reimbursement rate under Medicare for All to be as low as 60 percent of current private payouts. 

Look no further than the U.K. or Canada for real world train wrecks spurred by socialized medicine.

During January of 2018, 80,000 patients in the U.K. waited more than four hours to be assigned a hospital gurney; 1,000 of those people waited longer than 12 hours. In 2017, nearly 89,000 operations in the U.K. were canceled the day of because of staffing, administrative or other non-clinical problems; nearly 4,000 of which were considered “urgent.” 

Canada is not much better. The average wait time to be seen in an emergency room is about 10-times longer than in the United States. And while the average time before being sent home after an emergency room visit in the United States is under two hours, in Canada, 10 percent of patients waited nearly eight hours. 

What would it cost U.S. taxpayers to participate in such a comparatively worse system? Only $32.6 trillion over the next decade. And that number doesn’t even include the unknowable number of people coming north because of the “open borders” suggestion.

Too little space exists in the opinion pages of this newspaper to fully chronicle all of the far-fetched proposals that may be revisited Thursday evening. If you don’t hear them all, you can add to your list amnesty for college debt, universal free college, a compulsory gun buy-back program, trillions of dollars for race reparations and packing the U.S. Supreme Court.  

In his 1996 State of the Union address, President Bill Clinton proclaimed, “the era of big government is over.” For the realists in America, that is no longer true.

• Richard Berman is the president of Berman and Co., a public relations firm in Washington, D.C.


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