Can Clinton Pay For Her Trillion-Dollar Plan?

Hillary Clinton proposes paying for half of her $1.1 trillion (over 10 years) healthcare plan through cost savings/modernization and the other half through higher taxes on wealthier Americans (those earning more than $250,000) by eliminating a portion of the Bush tax cuts.

But it seems that the $50 billion or so in new tax revenue (assuming a static analysis that ignores any ill effects on growth from the tax hike) that Clinton is counting on is also being eyed by other some other Democrats for their pet projects.

As one Capitol Hill source reminds me: "Sigh, aren't presidential races fun? Charlie Rangel wants to use [the elimination of the Bush tax cuts] to pay for his AMT repeal/tax 'reform' plan."

Now since reforming AMT is a top Democratic priority, someone is going to have to get his or her $50 billion a year from somewhere else--or even more, since it might take a while to capture the projected cost savings from modernizing the health system. To again quote a recent analysis by the left-of-center Urban Institute:

Blame whomever you want for today's current fiscal mess, but don't cling to any myths about how far rescinding recent tax cuts for the rich would go toward meeting the nation's many budgetary shortfalls. Our elected officials simply cannot get around the most fundamental of political dilemmas.

Even if they enact additional taxes on the rich--and that would not be easy--they still must either retract many of the promises made to the middle class, increase its taxes, or both.

By James Pethokoukis