“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)

Photo Source Molly Adams | CC BY 2.0

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

-Apocryphal (often spuriously attributed to Mark Twain)

Three assertions:

+ There is no such thing as “taxpayer money.”

+ Taxes do not pay for government spending. (Nor does debt. No revenue is needed.)

+ Leftists who continue to talk as if “taxpayer dollars” must be collected to “pay for” government programs are undermining Medicare-for-all and every other progressive policy initiative.

I know these assertions run counter to an economic ideology that has been ingrained in us as obvious and irrefutable, known for sure. And I know how easy and seemingly effective it is to say things like: “Look at all the taxpayer dollars going to the military. We should spend some of those taxpayer dollars on healthcare instead.” But I want to show, with specific examples, why using this language is a bad idea—a really bad idea.

Maggie’s Farm

There are two reasons why it’s important to stop talking like this: 1) Because it’s not true, and 2) Because it perpetuates an ideology of how money and public financing work that is not only false, but profoundly reactionary and politically damaging—that is designed to, and will, impede achieving the most basic progressive goals.

Let’s deal with the second point first, since I know a lot of leftists won’t overcome their resistance to understanding and promoting an…

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