That’s an inaccurate framing. Greece is basically in the same position that states like Mississippi are in our system, only Greece is in far worse shape because of how the EMU is structured, and what the ECB cannot do. The central bank in Greece cannot create the currency they use. There is no distributing the surplus that countries like Germany have accumulated to the periphery countries like Greece, like we do with states like California that create large surpluses that are then transferred to states like Mississippi that get more in aid than they pay in taxes. The ECB does not allow one state to help another state in fiscal trouble, and the states are barred from injecting demand into the economy beyond a certain point and the ECB cannot do a host of things that the Fed and Treasury can. The austerity being forced on Greece has actually exploded public debt, since the austerity has led to the economy collapsing at a quicker rate than the debt was being paid off. If a country owes $100 and has $100 in debt, the debt to GDP ratio is one to one. If a country pays off $20 of its debt, but austerity policies have caused the economy to shrink to $50, the debt to GDP ratio is now 80/50. Even with paying off the debt in nominal terms, the economy has shrunk so much that the debt has ballooned in real terms, and since Greece cannot create the currency it uses, it essentially owes money in a currency it cannot pay off by the government creating money or via exports to other countries in the EU. So, what’s left? Sell everything (islands, airports, ports, public assets) for pennies on the dollar. And the entirety of the “bailout” of Greece was actually a government bailout of the private banks that were exposed in Greece. Not a cent went to Greece. The country is in ruins. Greek workers work tons of hours (the only OECD country that works more hours is South Korea, last I checked), and their social spending was always well under countries like Germany. Comparing Greece to the US is absurd.
One last time anyway, public debt is not what people think it is. It isn’t. The government does not borrow money to spend. You don’t pay taxes in order for the government to spend. The government is the only institution in society that can create our official currency, either coins or dollars, our base money. It can spend whenever it wants to, although obviously doing too much can result in high inflation. If the government here in the US spends more than it takes in, leaving a deficit, that means that the government is leaving money in the private economy. That deficit is the money that is then used by the private market to buy up our bonds, and bonds are used not for the government to borrow in order to spend. The government spends first, and issuing bonds takes money out of the economy. It is a means of managing inflation and allowing the Fed and Treasury to meet interest rate targets. Some economists, like Randall Wray, have argued against the government creating and issuing bonds at all and for it to take money out of the economy by other means, like taxes, since the government managing inflation by creating bonds is essentially a public subsidy to private financial capital. The government could just inject the money into the economy and could manage inflation via taxes and limiting the amount of money that private banks create. Private banks create over nine times more money in our economy than the government does, and the government has some control over the private banks creating money.
In regards to single-payer anyway; it would save (according to Gerald Friedman’s oft cited paper) about 17 trillion over the next decade. That is 1.7 trillion per year, and funding universal college education would cost an estimated 70-80 billion a year, and that doesn’t take into account the reductions in private expenditure that will not then go towards paying for college. The fact is that the policies of democratic-socialists are just better. The argument about how we could afford things is flawed from the get go. Corporate journalists, when asking about how to pay for single payer, are basically asking, “How can we afford a far cheaper and more efficient healthcare system?” It’s nonsensical. Ocasio-Cortez has got to point this out every time.
The tax cuts are horrible because they increase inequality in a country already with massive inequality, and because they right wing will ignore how the monetary system actually works (or just don’t know how it works) and will pretend that deficits are problems in an of themselves. They can be if too much money is in the economy, but even with these tax cuts, inflation won’t increase that much because that money isn’t injected into the real economy, because the rich aren’t investing to produce more stuff really (why would they when workers have so little in wages and the government is not allowed to inject demand into the economy) and they aren’t buying enough goods and services with that money to increase demand. It is just going to buy up their own shares, sitting in tax shelters and sloshing around the financial markets.
Paul Ryan at one point told Alan Greenspan that private accounts would be better than the Social Security system, which is insane. His argument was that the government would “run out of money” (impossible) and that the SS system is unsustainable. Greenspan, of all people, shut that logic down.
Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNCZHAQnfGU