As is custom on NFP days, Larry Kudlow made the TV rounds on Friday morning to chat about the jobs report which, by all accounts, far exceeded expectations despite hurdles that should have tripped things up.
Larry was, of course, happy about the numbers, but what really stood out was his bombastic criticism of Elizabeth Warren’s 10,000-word proposal for funding “Medicare for All”.
Warren has run a highly effective campaign thus far, and has overtaken Joe Biden in several polls. Aside from generic references to “socialism” (despite Warren being an avowed capitalist), her opponents have had a hard time coming up with criticism that “sticks”, so to speak. One of the only lines of attack that’s worked involves chastising Warren for not explaining precisely how she plans to fund Medicare for All. Warren being Warren, she obliged on Friday, with a novella-length plan.
You can read her tome for yourself, but what we would encourage everyone to at least acknowledge, is that you can’t very well criticize Warren for not explaining how she would pay for her healthcare plan, and then refuse to read her explanation on the excuse it’s too detailed.
And yet, that is precisely what her critics appeared to be doing on Friday morning, because if you actually read all 10,000 words of it, she is characteristically trenchant.
Larry Kudlow hadn’t read it by the time he showed up on Fox News to trash it, that’s for sure. But not having read it didn’t stop Kudlow from lambasting Warren in the most bombastic terms imaginable.
The first thing you’ll “enjoy” about the clip below is the feigned sense of outrage from Stuart Varney, who adopts a cartoonishly condescending tone and demeanor in the course of tossing a softball for Larry to hit out of the park.
Note that Varney immediately chides Warren’s plan for “costing $52 trillion over ten years”. Of course, if you read it, you’ll find this:
Our current system… will cost the country $52 trillion over ten years. And under that current system 24 million people won’t have coverage, 63 million have coverage gaps or substandard coverage that could break down if they actually get sick. The American people will pay $11 trillion of that bill themselves in the form of premiums, deductibles, copays, out-of-network, and other expensive medical equipment and care they pay for out-of-pocket — all while America’s wealthiest individuals and biggest companies pay far less in taxes than in other major countries. My approach to Medicare for All, would cost the country just under $52 trillion over ten years. Under this new system every person in America — all 331 million people — will have full health coverage, and coverage for long-term care. The $11 trillion in household insurance and out-of-pocket expenses projected under our current system goes right back into the pockets of America’s working people. And we make up the difference with targeted spending cuts, new taxes on giant corporations and the richest 1% of Americans, and by cracking down on tax evasion and fraud. Not one penny in middle-class tax increases.
That’s the reality.
But Fox isn’t big on reality (unless by that you mean the “reality” TV show that is the Trump presidency), which is why Kudlow proceeded to insist that this will be “devastating to the economy”, without providing any evidence whatsoever to support that conclusion.
Then, Kudlow took a page right out of Trump’s book. He called the Green New Deal, the “so-called” Green New Deal – much like our judiciary is populated by “so-called” judges. And just like the impeachment probe is a “so-called” inquiry.
In case it’s not clear, just because you use the derisive term “so-called” in front of something doesn’t thereby render that thing you’re describing not real. If I point at a tree and call it a “so-called tree”, it’s still a tree. It’s no less of a tree just because I’m angry at it.
In any event, Kudlow continued as follows:
This would have a devastating, catastrophic effect [and] would probably take out close to 15% to 20% of our GDP. The only way [to pay for this] is through deep, heavy, onerous, middle class tax increases. Let’s be very clear. It would have a catastrophic effect on the economy. And all these numbers that we’re seeing – all these numbers – would literally evaporate, and by the by, so would the stock market.
A couple of things there. First of all, let’s remind ourselves that Larry isn’t an economist. He just plays one on TV. That is not a joke. I mean, it is a joke. And he is a joke. But he really isn’t an economist. When you see the media refer to him as one, that is a lie.
But, beyond that, Warren’s plan specifically addresses many of the things that Kudlow critiques. I suppose we can all forgive him for not acknowledging as much considering he hadn’t read the plan (if you look at when she released it on Friday and when Kudlow was on Fox, it isn’t humanly possible for him to have reviewed her proposal) when he went on national television to slander it.
Additionally, Kudlow steadfastly refuses to address (or at least not head-on) the reality of the current situation, which is that although the labor market is still doing reasonably well, and although the Trump economy has been strong until recently, the tax cuts Kudlow promised would “pay for themselves” have instead ballooned the deficit to $984 billion. That figure will top $1 trillion going forward. Meanwhile, growth is generally projected to decelerate to somewhere between 1.6% to 2% – and that’s assuming we avoid a downturn.
The point: While Kudlow is more than happy to malign the hypothetical red ink that would flow under a Warren presidency, what he doesn’t want to talk about are the very real deficits which this administration’s policies have created in the here and now.
If you’re wondering whether there’s any hope of Larry reading all 10,000 words of Warren’s Medicare for All proposal, the answer is “of course not” or, better, “why, hell no”.
He’ll be too busy working with Trump and Republicans on the next round of tax cuts which, in supply-side Wonderland, will more than fund themselves with 5% GDP growth. If only we wait around long enough.