NDN Blog

The Threat Of Trump's Trade Agenda

This piece was originally published by the Washington Monthly. Below is an excerpt from the piece, and you can find the whole piece here.

Democrats should be pleased with the successful negotiations over the USMCA and the deal’s passage in the Senate. While the trade agreement’s scope is clearly quite limited—and more work remains to be done on the environmental impact of continental trade—the pact achieves some much-needed tariff reduction, modernizes some aspects of digital trade, and helps to improve labor standards in Mexico. Importantly, House Democrats were able to negotiate stronger labor rights for workers on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, with more effective enforcement provisions for those rights, which helped give the deal more teeth. These are all positive steps that will help American workers and businesses.

All that said, Democrats cannot wash their hands of trade policy now that the USMCA has been completed. Quite simply, the deal is only a minor piece of the president’s overall trade strategy. His larger trade agenda is undoubtedly malignant. He has attempted to tear down the global trading system by illegally circumventing the legislative branch­—moves that must be challenged strongly by Congressional Democrats. Otherwise, their win on the USMCA will be significantly undermined by a broader trade policy that has created major losses for incomes, jobs, and the rule of law. 

To read the rest of the piece, please click here.

NDN's Greatest Hits

NDN's most important work from before the years before Trump. 

Most Significant

An Enduring Legacy: The Democratic Party and Free and Open Trade Jan 21, 2014 - The global system created by Presidents FDR and Truman has done more to create opportunity, reduce poverty and advance democracy than perhaps any other policies in history. 

TIME Features NDN Economic Analysis, Chart, Labels It "Most Important Chart in American Politics" Feb 5, 2013 - Michael Scherer of Time reports on the influence Dr. Rob Shapiro's analysis has had on shaping recent thinking about how the American economy is changing.

"Forward, or Backward?" - The Descent of the GOP Into A Reactionary Mess 10/25/12 - In a new magazine essay, Simon argues that the more the world moves away from the simplicity of the Reagan moment the more angry and defiant the Republican offering is becoming.  In both Spanish and English.

The 50 Year Strategy, November/December 2007, Mother Jones. Simon and Peter Leyden offer a landmark vision for how progressives can win and prosper in the decades to come.

The New Landscape of Globalization 6/20/07: By Robert J. Shapiro We can address the challenges of the 21st century economy without sacrificing the benefits of globalization and technological advance, principally by expanding public investments in critical areas and reforming health care and energy policies.

Just Really Good

The Pernicious Politics of Oil Dec 16th, 2016.  Petro-powers are challenging the global order, and the next president seems uninterested in stopping them.

Crafting an American Response to the Rise of the Rest, January 21, 2010, Cross posted on NDN.org and Salon.com.  Simon argues that the second generation Obama narrative must be a strategic response to the most significant transformation taking place in the world today, the rise of new global economic powers, or what Fareed Zakaria has called the “rise of the rest.”

Tapping the Resources of America’s Community Colleges: 7/26/07: By Robert J. Shapiro - Young Americans are increasingly adept at working with computers, but many American workers still lack those skills. Here, we propose a direct new approach to giving U.S. workers the opportunity to develop those skills.

A Laptop in Every Backpack 5/1/07: By Simon Rosenberg and Alec Ross.  We believe that America needs to put a laptop in every backpack of every child. We need to commit to a date and grade certain: we suggest 2010 for every sixth grader.

 

The Foreword to Crashing the Gate, 3/7/06 (a book by Markos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong) Simon Rosenberg -  If we really want to build a modern movement, progressives of all stripes must learn to work together, to tolerate and respect our differences, to debate but not to fight, to understand that we are all playing different positions on the same team.

America Not Winning, Bernie Stumbles and Biden Leads - Notes on 2020

The images that we see today of the Senate Impeachment trial and the President at Davos while in many ways distant from one another speak to the same story – the savaging of America and its democracy by the President and his party.  The President arrives in Davos a reviled global leader, unfaithful, unsteady, and increasingly seen as dangerous.  As conservative columnist Max Boot wrote last night: “The number of people abroad who express confidence in the US president fell from 70% in 2013 to 28% in 2018 while the number who see the U.S. as a threat climbed from 25% to 45%. More Germans now view Trump as a danger than Kim, Putin, Xi, and Khamenei combined.”

Here at home, the President’s illiberal disdain for our democracy and its inherent limits and virtues will be on full display over the next few weeks. While many had anticipated that Senator McConnell would “rig” the trial for the President, few anticipated the extraordinary lengths he has chosen to go and how closely he has aligned the once august US Senate with the President’s historic venality. This type of contempt for democratic norms and institutions is part of a broader embrace by the Republican Party of what we call "Moscow Rules" in our politics. Our hope is that GOP Senators and the presiding Judge improve the absurd package McConnell has proposed, and allow a fair hearing of what sure appears to be extensive crimes committed by the President and many who work for him. 

Over the past few weeks we’ve argued that it was going to be far harder for McConnell to get the Senate to acquittal than conventional wisdom holds, and his actions in the last 24 hours actions are not those of a leader confident of winning.  A just released CNN poll shows that Mitch is right to be worried, as it confirms that he and the President are losing the big arguments that they need to win this Impeachment fight - 69% of Americans want to hear from new witnesses; 58% believe that he abused his power; 57% believe that he obstructed Congress; by 51%-45% Americans want the Senate to remove him; his job approval is 43% approve, 53% disapprove; Americans disapprove of the GOP's handling of the Senate trial by 54%-39%; and only 37% approve of Trump’s handling of the Senate trial.  These are shockingly poor numbers on issues of such importance to the President (ones consistent with the last few weeks of polling) and suggest that whatever the outcome of the trial, the President has become a spent force in the life of our country. A majority of Americans are ready to see him go. 

As for the Democrats, we share 538’s assessment that Joe Biden has the best chance of winning the nomination.  The last two polls taken in Iowa have him ahead, and 538 has him leading in all four early states right now. Bernie Sanders’ attacks on Biden and Warren have felt desperate, were poorly executed, and probably have done him more harm than good. It is a reminder that as someone who isn’t now and has never been a Democrat, Bernie has never shied from attacking Democrats and the Democratic Party itself. It remains a bit shocking that a career politician who has spent his career outside the Democratic Party believes he could ever effectively lead it. 

Parnas, Impeachment and McConnell's Weak Hand

This essay was originally published on Medium on Thursday, Jan 16. 

In the coming days, Senator McConnell is going to discover there are three reasons getting his colleagues to acquittal will be far harder than he and the President hoped:

The President is clearly guilty, and the evidence is overwhelming — A reminder that every witness who has been called works/worked for the President, including Lev Parnas; the House investigation began only after two Trump appointees, the General Counsel of the CIA and the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, raised alarms about what the President had done, labeling it a matter of “urgent concern;” and the current SDNY/FBI investigation which arrested Lev Parnas was launched by another Trump appointee, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

 

The scandal was discovered by people who work for the President; the investigations were originated by people who work for the President; every witness has been someone who works/worked for the President. All the House has done is let these people talk and tell their story — and a damning story of lawlessness and criminality it is, without peer or precedent in our history. In that regard there is no such thing as Democratic or Republican witnesses — there are only witnesses. And remarkably the President has yet to produce a single witness capable of rebutting the testimony of the cascade of Administration officials who have already testified. They may have people who can talk about things unrelated to the scandal but it would be wrong to call them witnesses to the crimes the President has been charged with.

Trump and “innocence” can’t be used in the same sentence — It remains difficult for us to understand what explanation a Senator will be able to use if they vote to acquit…..was the President innocent of the charges? Is it okay for a President to use the awesome power of the Presidency to threaten and shake down a foreign leader for his own political advantage? Did the Senator not believe the eyewitnesses including Ambassador Sondland who said it was a quid pro quo? Why did the President block documents and witnesses — and refuse to testify himself, as Bill Clinton did — if he was innocent? How could this man, already an unindicted co-conspirator in 2016 felony level election law violations, be considered “innocent” when 3 of his top aides — Flynn, Gates and Stone — will be joining Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen in being sentenced to jail; two more — Parnas and Fruman — were arrested; and there are at least two federal investigations looking into Rudy Guiliani?

As long time political players, it is really really hard to understand how one gets to “innocence” when talking about Donald Trump and what happened here; and we are sure that all the GOP Senators have taken note of how ineffective the President has been in recent weeks of convincing the American people about Impeachment and his recent skirmish with Iran, something we review in this new analysis.

The SDNY/FBI Parnas Investigation will make it impossible for McConnell to make the Ukraine scandal disappear — Last fall SDNY/FBI launched a new formal investigation into Trump and Ukraine that, like the President’s activities in 2016, has once again begun arresting his current set of his aides. The man at the center of this investigation, Lev Parnas, let it be known last night that he believes that not only was Trump directing the illegal shakedown of Zelensky, but Rep. Nunes, Pence, Pompeo, Barr, Rudy, and other top White House officials were involved in the illegal conspiracy too. What this means is that this SDNY/FBI investigation has become a federal investigation into the President and most of his senior team, including the Vice President; and even if acquitted, the President will be running for re-election while under another federal investigation which could at any moment begin arresting or indicting potentially dozens of people involved in these illegal activities including some of the most important leaders of the Republican Party.

Imagine voting for acquittal and then see Rudy, Mulvaney, Nunes, or Pompeo indicted? How do you explain that to your voters?

Impeachment, Biden Leads, McConnell's Carnage - Jan 13th Notes

Notes On 2020 – Iran/Iraq, Impeachment, State of the Union/Budget, IA/NH/NV/SC, Booker dropping out, many Democratic debates - our system is about to get overloaded and polling, which has been pretty stable in 2019, could get awfully bouncy and volatile in the days ahead.  But let’s look at what we know now. 

Biden remains in the strongest shape of any Democrat and given the increased sparing in recent days we should expect a feisty debate tomorrow night.  One note on the current “electability” discussion – the Justice Democrats, the group aligned with AOC and thus loosely with Sanders, only won 7 of 79 of its 2018 races and only 4 of 76 if you remove three safe incumbents.  They didn’t win in a single Trump district – only safe Democratic ones. 

Trump - we know he is an historically unpopular President, and was been beaten badly in the three elections from 2017 to 2019.  But what has been very suprising to us in the past weeks is the President's struggle to persuade the American people about the two big new issues he faces - Impeachment and Iran.  Look at the numbers which follow - lots of 20s and 30s, not so many 40s and no 50s. 

Highlights from recent polling on the Iran conflict:

      Approve of Trump’s handling 43/56

      Less/More Safe 52/22

      Trump's behavior w/Iran reckless 52/34

      Divert from Impeachment 47/39

      Congress should limit Trump's war powers 55/33

Impeachment polls taken at the end of 2019 tell a similar story (Politico/Morning Consult and Fox News):

      Approve Convict and Remove/Don't Approve 52/42 (P/MC)

      Witnesses/No Witnesses 54/27 (P/MC)

      More Likely to Vote for Member Who Vote to Impeach/Less Likey 43/34 (P/MC)

      Abused His Power?  Yes/No 53/38 (Fox)

      Obstructed Congress? Yes/No 48/34 (Fox)

      Committed Bribery Yes/No 45/37 (Fox)

      Wrong to Ask Foreign Leader to Investigate Rival Yes/No 60/24 (Fox)

      Democrats Running Inquiry Fairly? Yes/No 45/42 (Fox)

All of this suggests the President is a bit of a spent force now.  Failure to convince the public about these two issues, or even get close to parity, has to be extraordinarily worrisome to those running the 2020 elections for the GOP.  The public has grown weary of him, and a majority are ready for him to go. 

Impeachment - What is perhaps most shocking about the last few weeks is that the President is either so desperate or out of control that in the Iran conflict he did exactly what the House has Impeached him for – he appears to have once again broken US laws/abused his power in the conduct of US foreign policy; and is once again obstructing reasonable oversight into what took place.  Like the Ukraine affair, it is far easier to understand how the President’s recent actions in the Middle East have benefited Russia’s ambitions than our own, which is the principal reason NDN has called on the House to conduct a broad review of the President’s national security decisions over the past year. 

Given the totality of what has happened – serial lawbreaking by the President, his top aides going to jail and a new investigation and more arrests, years of clearly criminal obstruction, and behavior more befitting of a King than a President – it is just outrageous how Mitch McConnell is approaching the impending “trial.” How can one have a trial without witnesses? There is and has never been such a thing.  How can the Senate actively enable and encourage the suppression of testimony and witnesses given months of complaints from the GOP about reliance on hearsay? The whole thing is beyond absurd and beneath this great country.  Mitch McConnell is in the process of degrading one of the most important tools for advancing democracy mankind has ever created, the US Senate. There is no win here for McConnell, no claims of “innocent” for our corrupt and venal President; there is disgrace, dishonor, and what will be a far harder election this Fall than any of them currently understand.  

Simon's Notes On 2020

Each week, Simon publishes his thoughts on the state of the Democratic presidential campaigns, general election polling and new developments, and recent actions by the Trump administration on issues of both foreign and domestic policy. Below you can find an up-to-date archive of these notes over the past several months.

You can also receive these analyses through our weekly newsletter, NDN News. To get it in your inbox each Monday, visit here - and thanks for being part of our extended family. 

Dems Battle It Out, Nevada Caucus Concerns - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 2/10/20 - With polling in New Hampshire extremely volatile, we really don’t know much other than that Bernie and Pete will likely do well tomorrow. The DNC and the state parties must also take steps to assure the public that we are not headed towards another fiasco like in Iowa

On To New Hampshire, Impeachment Ends, The App Fiasco - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 2/5/20 - Impeachment ends today, and it means that the attention of many Democrats will turn to the Presidential race.  What they will find is a wide open race, with six candidates, including Mike Bloomberg, slugging it out over an incredibly intense five week stretch. 

Crossing The Rubicon - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 1/27/20 - The descent of the GOP from Reagan to Trump, and its increasing acceptance of illiberalism and actions at odds with our democratic tradition to gain/maintain power, is perhaps the most important political story of our time.

America Not Winning, Bernie Stumbles And Biden Leads - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 1/21/20 - The Senate Impeachment trial begins with McConnell and Trump continuing to savage our democracy and the cause of democracy and liberty everywhere in the world.  With Iowa looming, Biden leads and Bernie stumbles. 

Impeachment, Biden Leads, McConnell's Carnage - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 1/13/20 - In his weekly take on the 2020 election, Simon takes a deep dive into recent polling on Impeachment and the President's handling of Iran, and challenges Mitch McConnell to honor our Senate and democracy by convening a fair trial. 

Game Time For Democrats, Bidens Leads - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 1/7/20 - As we head into a very intense period on the Democratic side, former VP Joe Biden enters this stretch in the best shape of all the Democratic candidates, while the President’s standing with the public remains historically low for a President at this point in their first term.

McConnell's Weak Hand, Trump Russia Returns - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 12/23/19 - McConnell’s corrupt threat to rig the Senate trial has been made far more challenging by Trump’s unceasing criminality, exemplified by the expanding SDNY criminal investigation into the Ukraine scandal which has already started arresting close Trump aides.

Trump Is Losing The Argument On Impeachment - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 12/16/19 - Simon makes the case that all there is for Trump and Republicans is bad news.  The President is historically unpopular and got beat badly in elections in 2018 and 2019. McConnell’s promise to rig the Senate trial is a sign of panic and weakness, not confidence and strength.

Syria Fiasco Makes The Case For Removing Trump Far Stronger - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 10/15/19 - Trump’s decision to surrender Syria to Russia and Turkey has made the case for his removal far stronger. For we now have clear evidence of the threat posed by leaving him in office – Russia strengthened, ISIS revived, and America humiliated.

Our Mad King - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 10/7/19 - The President’s recklessness on his Syria withdrawal, and his making big calls which do not clearly advance the interests of the United States, is why his removal from office is an urgent national priority now.

Countering Illiberalism's Rise

Over the past decade, a major new threat to the Western liberal democratic order has come to the forefront of our politics - the rise of far-right illiberalism. Openly supported and aided by the Putin regime in Russia, illiberal political leaders including Trump in the US, Farage and the pro-Brexit movement in the UK, Matteo Salvini in Italy, and Viktor Orban in Hungary have gained significant political power, and have begun to erode democratic norms and institutions. NDN has written extensively about the need for all political organizations and parties to more forcefully challenge this rising illiberalism. 

To Defeat Illiberalism, Democrats Must Embrace Their Success As A Governing Party - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 12/14/19 - Over the past 30 years, the Democratic Party has been the most successful center-left party in the developed world.   It is time it started acting like it, and begin to far more purposefully lead the fight against rising illiberalism here and abroad. 

Lavrov Comes To America For A Russian Victory Lap - Simon Rosenberg, GEN, 12/9/19 - In country after country over the past year the President has taken steps to align US foreign policy w/Russia's. It has been a dramatic, little understood development, and has left America a weakened power, Russia a rising one. Congress must step in.

Tariffs, Trump and Tyrants - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 5/31/19 - More Mad King than President, Trump's refusal to honor the laws, rules and norms which make democracies work is the greatest High Crime of all.  His ill-considered, whimsical tariffs are just the latest example, and should be forcefully challenged by Congress.

The End of Pax Americana?, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 1/26/17. Donald Trump is taking radical steps that is weakening the global order America imagined and built after World War II.  Before he does more harm to our interests, Congress must force a big debate about his vision, and challenge him if necessary.  

The Pernicious Politics of Oil Dec 16th, 2016.  Petro-powers are challenging the global order, and the next president seems uninterested in stopping them.

The West Is On The Ballot, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 11/4/16. In the column, Simon argues that Trump isn't running just against Clinton, he's also running against what America has become and the world it has built.

Calling all Patriots, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 10/13/16. While in a reflective mood about the future, their nominee and party, Simon suggests two other activities Republicans should swiftly denounce and distance themselves from.

Trump's Worrisome Embrace of Putin, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 9/12/16. In this column Simon does a deep dive on Trumpland’s embrace of Russia’s Putin, and why their admiration for his “strength” is a betrayal of our values.

The Liberal Order Needs an Upgrade - Simon Rosenberg, US News, 9/23/14.  President Obama should breathe new life into the international order when he speaks before the U.N.

An Enduring Legacy: The Democratic Party and Free and Open Trade Jan 21, 2014 - The global system created by Presidents FDR and Truman has done more to create opportunity, reduce poverty and advance democracy than perhaps any other policies in history. 

"Forward, or Backward?" - The Descent of the GOP Into A Reactionary Mess 10/25/12 - In a new magazine essay, Simon argues that the more the world moves away from the simplicity of the Reagan moment the more angry and defiant the Republican offering is becoming.  In both Spanish and English.

Our Mad King and Impeachment

NDN has written extensively on the House's impeachment inquiry against the President, the President's lawlessness in the Ukraine affair, public opinion and polling surrounding impeachment, and the coming Senate impeachment trial. Below you can find links to all of our work on this important subject. 

Where Bolton Is Headed - Putin - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 1/28/20 - When John Bolton talks - and he will, soon - I predict the most explosive revelations will be about Trump's repeated altering of US foreign policy to align with Putin's wishes. Questions of Trump's loyalty will be raised.

Parnas, Trump, And McConnell's Very Weak Hand - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 1/16/20 - McConnell is going to discover that getting his colleagues to acquittal will be far harder than he had hoped because the President is clearly guilty, the evidence is overwhelming, and the SDNY investigation of Parnas and Giuliani is only just beginning.

Impeachment, Biden Leads, McConnell's Carnage - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 1/13/20 - In his weekly take on the 2020 election, Simon takes a deep dive into recent polling on Impeachment and the President's handling of Iran, and challenges Mitch McConnell to honor our Senate and democracy by convening a fair trial. 

Iran, Our Mad King, And Impeachment - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 1/6/20 - The President's wild and reckless behavior these past few weeks has strenghtened the case for his removal, and is making it far harder for any Senator to claim this desperate man is "innocent" and fit to serve. 

Acquitting Trump Will Be Harder For The Senate Than It Appears - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 12/21/19 - McConnell's hand is far weaker than it appears, and a renewed focus on the unprecedented criminality of the President is going to make it impossible now for the Republicans to assert "innocence."

NDN Calls On The House To Conduct A Broad Security Review - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 12/21/19 - As the Senate takes up Impeachment, the House should launch a formal security review of the President's foreign policy, helping create a better understanding of the damage done to our standing in the world and our national security. 

The House Should Consider Breaking Impeachment Into Three Parallel Tracks - Simon Rosenberg, GEN, 12/1/19 - In a new essay, Simon makes the case that the Impeachment process should be broken into 3 parallel tracks: 1) the crimes 2) the co-conspirators 3) A security review. 

New Polls Show Impeachment Moving Into Dangerous Territory For Trump - Chris Taylor, NDN, 10/1/19 - The first round of polling since the beginning of the impeachment inquiry represents very dangerous territory for the President. Larger numbers of Americans want him impeached than not, and this is before the House of Representatives conducts new impeachment hearings.

Tariffs, Trump and Tyrants - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 5/31/19 - More Mad King than President, Trump's refusal to honor the laws, rules and norms which make democracies work is the greatest High Crime of all.  His ill-considered, whimsical tariffs are just the latest example, and should be forcefully challenged by Congress.

The US Tax System Cannot Finance Medicare For All

This essay was posted originally at The Pointwww.sonecon.com.

Medicare for All remains the most contentious and consequential issue for 2020 Democrats. It’s easy to see why.  A large majority of Democrats—and a slimmer majority of Independents—have said they approve of it. But even larger majorities of Democrats and Independents also want to keep their private coverage or enroll in a public program. Then there’s the cost: A recent poll of 3,000 Democrats in Michigan found that only 18 percent of single-payer supporters would be willing to pay as much as 10 percent more taxes for Medicare for All.

Elizabeth Warren says she can cover all or most of the costs with new types of taxes of individual wealth and corporations, but no one knows how those taxes will work until they’re tried. Bernie Sanders hasn’t shared any specific plans to pay for his proposal. Instead, he’s promised that the super wealthy will bear most of the burden and the benefits for middle-class Americans will outweigh some modest, if unavoidable, tax increases.

We can test Senator Sanders’s proposition by determining how much revenues Congress could raise by dramatically raising current taxes on wealthy people, corporations, and middle-class families.  The results show that tax hikes on corporations and rich Americans would cover less than one-quarter of MFA’s expected costs.  Moreover, even large tax increases on everyone (i.e. 50 percent hikes in income and payroll taxes) simply won’t be enough to fund what Sanders has promised.

According to the Urban Institute, the Sanders plan would cost $40 trillion over 10 years (2022-2031). A more conservative estimate by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University  sets the 10-year cost at $32 trillion. The challenge, then, is how to cover costs averaging $3.2 trillion to $4.0 trillion per-year. But here’s the hitch: It doesn’t matter whether we define the wealthy as the top 0.1 percent, the top 1 percent, or even the top 5 percent of Americans. Hiking their income taxes by 50 percent would cover, at most, a small fraction of MFA’s costs.

Those calculations start with the most recent Internal Revenue Service data (2016),   adjusted for increases in income since then.  On this basis, the top 0.1 percent of taxpayers will pay $310 billion in income taxes in 2020. Increasing their income tax burden 50 percent would raise an additional $155 billion, which is less than four or five percent of MFA’s average annual cost. (For an account of how these and other estimates were derived, see this underlying study.)

If you expand the definition of the wealthy to include the top 1 percent, a 50 percent hike in their income taxes would raise $312 billion in 2020.  Ease up more to cover the top 5 percent of taxpayers—everyone earning $250,000 or more a year—and the 50 percent tax increase would raise $489 billion in 2020.  Those revenues cover 12 or 15 percent of MFA’s annual cost.

Sanders also calls for new taxes on corporations. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that corporations will pay $245 billion in federal income taxes in 2020, so if Congress doubled the revenues fromcorporate taxes, it would raise at most another $245 billion. Add that to the new funds from a 50 percent tax hike for the top five percent of Americans, and this approach could bring in, at most, $734 billion in 2020—sufficient to cover at most 23 percent of MFA’s average annual cost.

The difficulty lies in the sheer scale of the challenge.   Under current law, Medicare will cover 62.1 million people in 2020.  MFA would add the 196.3 million Americans now privately insured and another 31.4 million people without public or private group coverage. Sanders has to find a way to pay for adding 228 million people to the Medicare rolls.

Dramatic increases in everyone’s taxes aren’t enough.  Based on CBO revenue projections, adjusted for the 2022 to 2031 timeframe used by the Urban Institute and the Mercatus Center, the Treasury will collect an average of $1,668 billion per-year in payroll taxes, $2,597 billion per-year in personal income taxes, and $395 billion per-year in corporate taxes over that period.  

So, if Congress raised everybody’s income and payroll taxes by 50 percent and doubled the federal corporate tax, it would raise $2,378 billion per-year over the next decade. That would only cover about 60 percent or 74 percent of MFA’s costs.

This funding challenge is even worse, because these revenue estimates are unrealistically high.  They do not take account of how much higher payroll taxes could dampen employment and wages.  They do not consider how much higher income and payroll taxes could reduce the incentive to work among part-time workers.  The estimates also ignore the prospect that many large American companies could shift more of their operations to lower-tax countries when faced with a doubling of U.S. corporate taxes,

The idea of Medicare for All has powerful appeal. It promises to both achieve universal coverage and provide truly equal healthcare to everyone.  But its reality carries an equally powerful cost: Paying for it would crush most taxpayers and businesses, and overwhelm the U.S. tax system.  Sad to say, it’s a policy equivalent of the Venus Flytrap, drawing people in and then (financially) eating them alive.

Congress Must Have A Robust Post-USMCA Trade Agenda

Congress should be pleased with the soon-to-be successful passage of the USMCA, a deal that is quite limited in scope and impact but does achieve some real advances in modernizing digital trade, reducing agricultural tariffs, and improving enforcement of labor protections. However, it is critical that Congress doesn't wash its hand of trade policy now that the USMCA debate is over, because the President's larger, destructive trade strategy continues to erode the global rules-based trade system. Over the past two years, Trump has an undertaken an unprecedented experiment with protectionism, hoping to rejuvenate US manufacturing and broader jobs and growth. Instead, manufacturing has been driven into a deep recession while hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars in total income growth have been destroyed. It is time now that Congress finally step up to challenge this failed experiment. 

First, Congress must end the trade conflicts that even in the best case scenario don't serve any purpose, are largely targeted at US allies, and are done merely to harm the global trading system. The most important of these is to re-open the WTO's dispute resolution court, which was effectively shut down when the Trump administration refused to appoint new judges to fill open seats. With the dispute process closed, there is no legal way for countries to appeal protectionist measures taken against them, a process that has benefited the US significantly over past decades (indeed, the US has won 11 disputes against China, compared to China winning only 4 against the US) and whose dismantling serves no US interest whatsoever. Congress must also once and for all repeal Trump's tariffs on key US allies who are not committing trade abuses, particularly the steel and aluminum tariffs and threatened auto tariffs on Japan and the EU. These tariffs serve only to weaken jobs and income growth both in the US and abroad, and have no strategic goal because our allies aren't committing any trade abuses that would justify them. 

Second, Congress must develop a coherent strategy to address the more difficult trade problems facing the country. The most prominent of these is dealing with China, a country that systemically commits trade abuses but whose "phase one" deal with Trump contains no details about addressing them. The President's unilateral trade war with China has not created the leverage to force them to actually pursue structural reforms in their economy, while significantly harming the US economy in the process. Instead, Congress must begin crafting a multilateral strategy that works alongside our trading partners and allies and offers benefits to China if it commits to genuine liberalization. You can read more about NDN's analysis of the economic costs of Trump's trade war here, and find NDN's broader work on trade and economic policy under the Trump administration here.

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