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VICTOR JOECKS: Elizabeth Warren is the secular Joel Osteen

In her quest for the presidency, Elizabeth Warren has turned herself into the secular Joel Osteen.

Osteen leads the largest church in America, teaching what’s known as the prosperity gospel. That’s the belief that if you obey God and have enough faith, God will always reward you with health and wealth. The prosperity gospel is a distortion of Biblical teaching. Christ told his followers that the world would hate them. The apostle Peter told believers that suffering for doing good was “commendable before God” and not to be surprised by fiery trials.

But Osteen’s appeal is obvious. If you trust in God, you’ll have eternal bliss in heaven and “your best life now.” That’s the title of Osteen’s book, which has sold a staggering 4 million copies. Osteen isn’t interested in mentioning things such as sin, repentance or suffering. “I want to help people sleep at night,” he told the Financial Times.

Warren has co-opted this approach as she seeks the presidency. She doesn’t want you to turn to God to solve your problems. She wants you to turn to government — with her in charge.

Does student loan debt keep you up at night? Vote for Warren. She’ll make it go away and make it free to attend public colleges.

Are you worried about the cost of child care? Warren wants free child care for low-income families and to cap expenses for wealthier families.

Stressed that you can’t afford housing? She wants to build 3.2 million new housing units and help some first-time home buyers.

Just put your faith — or vote — in Warren and you’ll have your best life now. No need for pesky things such as personal responsibility, hard work and delayed gratification.

At least Osteen has a source — an all-powerful God who created the universe — capable of rewarding the faithful. Warren has proposed only two funding sources for her giveaways, a wealth tax on assets of more than $50 million and a new corporate tax. Leave aside the significant constitutional and practical problems with a wealth tax. The Warren campaign estimates those two taxes will raise $3.7 trillion over 10 years.

That’s a lot of money. Just not when you’ve promised “Medicare for All.” Warren wants people to believe she’ll make them wealthy — and healthy.

The estimated cost of Medicare for All is $32 trillion over 10 years. It would cost much more if passed — and not just because government expenses always soar past projections. Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors, nurses and hospitals are 40 percent less than private insurance companies pay. Sometimes Medicare’s reimbursement is less than the cost of providing the service. Those rates — and the cost to taxpayers — would have to increase once Medicare for All eliminates private insurance.

Warren’s tax plans would pay for 12 percent of that deflated estimate, assuming she didn’t fund any of the other programs she’s promised. Paying for Medicare for All would necessitate a middle-class tax hike. Even Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., acknowledges as much.

At Thursday’s debate, moderator George Stephanopoulos asked Warren twice if her plan required a middle-class tax hike.

Warren dodged the question. Just like Osteen doesn’t want to talk about sin, she doesn’t want to talk about how to pay for her many plans. That’s because the country can’t afford them, even with a middle-class tax increase.

The success of Warren’s prosperity politics relies on the blind faith of her adherents.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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