Why the UK Election Race Is Closer Than Expected (and a riff on means-tests)

by David

From the Department of Predictions Are Hard, Especially About the Future, and Elections
Of note, the linked videos in there are interesting.  In a radio interview, an interviewer just wouldn’t let Corbyn off the hook for not knowing how much one of his centerpiece proposals is going to cost.
It’s actually probably a very good proposal — child-care for everyone without a means-test.  As any economist will tell you, means-tests almost always have unfortunate side effects — their effect is that of a high marginal tax rate starting at the phaseout — meaning it’s effectively a tax increase on exactly the wrong folks
The problem is that without means-tests, programs cost more — but the folks who are wealthy enough to not need these programs — the argument for the means-tests being that rich people don’t need government benefits — those rich folks who don’t need these benefits are already the ones paying for them anyway.  Because, due to progressive taxation, we already tax the rich.  Why shouldn’t they get some of the same benefits that they’re paying for?
Unfortunately, folks on the left don’t want the rich to get these benefits (and won’t embrace the high cost of providing benefits to everyone).  And folks on the right don’t want to pay for them for anyone at all.  Which leaves the left and the right to always end up making the worst possible compromise — means-tests.