Monday, May 2, 2016

Bernie Sanders and Democratic Socialism

I don't support Bernie Sanders for president. As I have said before, I prefer Hillary (for strategic reasons). Actually, I'm in the anybody but a Republican camp. There may be a lot of great third party, independent, or write-in candidates (I would be a good choice), but don't be naïve. Vote for the Democratic nominee.

You might be surprised to hear that I've given money to Bernie. Early in the campaign, I wanted to support the underdog candidate. I liked Bernie's Democratic Socialist platform (or at least most of it) and I wanted him to get his message out. We need national politicians calling for universal health care and Wall Street reform. Thank you, Bernie for doing so.

Many Bernie fans think the man walks on water. He doesn't. His plans sound good to the most thoughtful people, but they wouldn't work.

Of course, Bernie's plans would be D.O.A. in a Republican controlled Congress. His plans are likely to be too liberal for many Democratic Congressmen from moderate districts. But even if Bernie, could enact his proposals by fiat, they still wouldn't work.

The truly socialist thing about Mr Sanders’s admirably detailed economic plan is not its goals. It is that it is completely unworkable.
-The Economist
A vote for what?, February 13th, 2016

For example, the top marginal tax rate for the highest income earners would rise to 67%. That would discourage those earners from earning more. (Many liberals poo-poo that logic, but it's rock solid. Many of the rich would simply retire early or work less.) Furthermore, many of the rich would emigrate to other countries in order to keep their tax bills low or change investment patterns to avoid other taxes.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has concluded Bernie has highballed his revenue estimates by $3 trillion over a decade. Three trillion dollars. That puts a big dent in Bernie's plans.

Independent analysts assessments of Bernie's healthcare plan have differed. Kenneth Thorpe of Emory University, a well-respected healthcare policy researcher, has concluded that the plan over-estimates cost savings by $1.1 trillion (and that payroll taxes and income tax increases would need to double to cover the difference). Gerald Friedman, a respected economist from Umass believes that the actual cost savings would be more in line with the Bernie estimates. I would be inclined to side with Thorpe. Not because I have run the numbers, but simply because the U.S. Government is a behemoth that tends to run over budget.

It's a crying shame that the media ignores the financial accuracy of candidates proposals in favor of debates on penis size:

Bernie's plans are too Unicorns and Rainbows. I'd like to see an America that looks more like Denmark, too. In some ways, I'm more liberal than Senator Sanders. For example, I support universal healthcare and Draconian carbon taxes. I even support a universal basic income. That's right, free money for everyone. It doesn't get much more pinko than that, right? I'll post more details on these crazy ideas later...

Congress refuses to do its job working with the President to enact meaningful reforms that improved citizens lives whilst avoiding fiscal calamity. If it did, then I'd be happy to have President Sanders elected. Until then, I have to think strategically.

1 comment:

Morton Ehrenberg said...

I think you're correct about congress refusing to do its job and the need to vote strategically. You're also correct that some of Sanders plans are too far left to be practical (even if lots of the concepts work in other nations). But voting for Clinton is not good strategy on either of these fronts. First, the reason why government doesn't work for us is because legislators are financed by and in bed with powerful corporations and people whose interests are opposed to those of the average person. Hillary is inextricably part of this establishment and will never change it. Second, as we've seen with President Obama, if you start negotiations from the middle, policies end up on the right. Bernie's left (and not actually very far left) positions will lead to compromise somewhere in the middle, far closer to what's appropriate.

Bernie Sanders is not a perfect candidate by any stretch. He doesn't link high level goals to policy details as well as he should, he doesn't explain his ideas from enough perspectives. He doesn't exploit many opportunities for knockout blows. However, he has one key quality that every other candidate for high office in this country has lacked, at least our lifetimes: consistently sound judgement based on social justice and equality. He was fighting for civil rights when Hillary Clinton was a Goldwater girl. He supported gay marriage in the nineties. He opposed the invasion of Iraq from the start. He doesn't have a super PAC. In short he is a candidate we can trust, and deserves all our votes.

In case that wasn't convincing, here are a few more things to consider:
- Bernie has a larger lead over #littleD donald Drumpf in head-to-head polls.
- He has enormously higher favorability numbers and so will inspire a much larger turnout and could even swing the balance of congress on the strength of that.
- He's not under investigation by the FBI.
- He never accepted money or a wedding invitation from Schlrumpf.