Wednesday, February 07, 2018

The Worst Thing Hillary Clinton Said During The 2016 Campaign

To me, anyway, and I don't mean it contributed to her losing the election.

Now, I'm a little different from those who say free college for everybody. I am not in favor of making college free for Donald Trump's kids.

This isn't about free college, it's about the idea that every public/publicly provided good needs to be means tested. I think we should soak the rich. We do that by taxing the hell out of them. If their kids want to go to Penn State* (they won't, because they are rich and can go to Harvard), fine. The truth is there aren't that many rich people. We call them the 1% or the 5% or the 10% for a reason. They're 1% or 5% or 10% of the population. They do, however, make a lot more than 1% or 5% or 10% of the income. That's the point. Means testing programs like universal free public college (thus making them not universal) doesn't "save" much money. What does is pushing up their tax rates. Removing the richest person from free college saves a year of tuition. Increasing their tax rate by one percentage point pays for a shitload of tuition for the rest of us.

And if you do want to "save" money through means testing, to get your CBO score down to some arbitrary number that makes Fred Hiatt happy, you have to go much lower in the income distribution. Suddenly your universal free college is only for the bottom 50%. One big problem with ACA is the subsidies aren't generous enough, because the only way to cut the "cost" was to phase them out at fairly low incomes. "Subsidize" health care for everyone and claw it back on their income taxes, not by means testing the program itself.

I'm a little different from those who say we must means test all public goods. I am in favor of letting Donald Trump's kids go to state colleges for free, and increasing his tax rate to pay for the free college for the rest of the kids.

*Penn State is actually quasi-public, but you get the point.