You didn't need to be an expert on health care, you didn't need to have a degree in economics and you didn't need to be knowledgeable about government bureaucracy to know what was being said from 2007 to 2009 could not possibly be feasible.
Candidate Barack Obama and then President Barack Obama was telling campaign rallies and then the American people that his health care plan would save American families $2,500 per year.
He wasn't talking about individuals who had to buy their own health insurance, either. He said over and over his proposal would work with employers to save that amount in premiums for families who had plans through their work.
However, the average person who thought about this for any amount of time could grasp that the government couldn't create a new bureaucracy to offer subsidized health insurance for those who 1) didn't have insurance, or 2) were paying exorbitant rates because they didn't have an employer-based plan AND save workers who already had employer-based plans $2,500 per year.
It was impossible, but millions of low-information voters lapped it up and elected Obama president. History, of course, proved the fallacy of the promise. Not only did families with employer-based insurance not save $2,500 annually, but it wasn't until this year that the government-subsidized plans stopped incurring steep annual rises in premiums.
Now comes U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, who refused several opportunities to be truthful at Tuesday's Democratic primary debate about her plan to provide free health insurance for everyone.
She'd been asked at a previous debate about the cost of her plan, but she changed the subject. With polls showing her now leading in some polls for the nomination, she ducked the question once or twice before answering. The wealthy would pay more and corporations would pay more, she said, but "costs would go down for the middle class."
Almost as if Warren hadn't actually said it, she was asked about it again. Yes, she said, health care costs would go down for the middle class if her $32 trillion-plus plan (over 10 years) is implemented.
One of her fellow candidates, perhaps still incredulous at her answer, pointed out that the entire federal budget does not come close to equalling what one year of her plan would cost.
Nope, Warren said, the taxes on the middle class would go down if her plan were implemented.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who "wrote the damn bill," as he keeps telling us, must have been popping digitalis to keep from having another heart attack as she repeated her mantra. Because Sanders, to give him credit, has acknowledged that the middle class would pay more in taxes if the bill were to pass.
Apparently, Warren believes her wealth tax proposal would be all the federal budget needs to pay for her plans. But her so-called Ultra-Millionaire Tax, according to her website, would bring in only $2.75 trillion over 10 years. That 10-year amount is less than the one-year amount her health care plan would cost. And she's already got other plans for the wealth tax — free college, canceled student debt, universal pre-K and universal child care.
Plus, as one or more of her fellow candidates told her Tuesday, most of the European countries who adopted a wealth tax abandoned it because it was unworkable.
So, like Obama's savings on insurance premiums, Warren's health care numbers are impossible. Even if one factors in that the federal government would absorb many of the costs currently being paid by states and the private sector, it's unrealizable. Indeed, an analysis by the liberal Urban Institute determined that the Sanders-Warren plan would increase overall health care spending in the U.S. by $6.6 trillion over a decade.
Unfortunately, Americans seem to be more and more gullible when it comes to presidential candidate promises. They were never going to see a $2,500 drop in their health insurance premiums, Mexico was never going to pay for a Southern border wall and middle class taxes are never going to go down if a $32 trillion free health insurance scheme — $34-plus trillion in a just released estimate — is adopted.
Warren's promise is no more worthy than sending money to an unfortunate Nigerian prince to spring him from custody or depositing a modest sum of money into an account because it will unlock your sizable lottery winnings. If something sounds too good to be true, and a candidate's lips are moving, it probably is.