I'm asking because in an otherwise very reasonable column on doctors' pay, Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell suggests that if Medicare for All cut doctors pay, that they might "otherwise go into even higher-paying careers, like finance." In fact, almost all doctors are in the top two percent of the pay ladder for U.S. workers and many are in the top one percent. It is not plausible that the vast majority have higher-paying alternatives that they could otherwise pursue.

Doctors do go through years of training, and many work long hours. (They also have large debts from medical school, which is an issue, but grossly exaggerated.) Many other workers also have years of training and work long hours and get much lower pay.

In addition, there are hundreds of thousands of very smart and ambitious people elsewhere in the world who would be happy to study to U.S. standards and work for much lower pay than our doctors receive. They are prevented from coming here by protectionist measures.

For some reason "free traders" rarely seem bothered by protectionist barriers that inflate the pay of high end workers. In this case, these barriers cost us close to $100 billion annually, compared to a scenario in which doctors in the U.S. received pay that was comparable to pay in other wealthy countries. This is far more than the cost of Trump's tariffs, which have gotten economists quite excited.