On Politics: Democrats — The Socialist Party of America? (opinion)
August 7, 2018
Whither the Democratic Party? First Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-styled "socialist," almost beat Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. Then 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knocked off the fourth ranking Democratic congressman in the 2018 New York primary election. Just last month Maine Democratic Senate Candidate Zak Ringelstein joined the Democratic Socialist of America Party (DSAP) becoming the only major-party Senate candidate to be a dues-paying member.
There are, however, 42 candidates running for federal, state and local offices bearing DSAP endorsements, according to the Associated Press. The conservative Patriot Post poked a little good natured fun at the "new" Democratic Party running a photo of John F. Kennedy captioned "Democrats, 1961 — Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country" followed by a photo of Ocasio-Cortez captioned: "Democrats, 2018 — Free stuff!"
In any case the DSAP platform advocates: Medicare for all, $15 national minimum wage, a guaranteed annual income, free college tuition for all and abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Conservative "talking heads" counter that socialism entails the government owning all the factors of production and doling out goods and services according to peoples' needs. They correctly say that socialism has never succeeded except where characterized by a totalitarian government and a denial of most civil rights, citing the USSR, Cuba, Venezuela and other colossal failures where people have to line up to buy toilet paper. This is a mistake.
Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are not advocating true socialism; they don't want to rewrite the Constitution to accommodate a dictatorial government. They simply want to reallocate resources without changing our present government structure. And here's the critical point: This has a broad appeal to a wide swath of voters.
Pew Research reports that 60 percent of those polled say the federal government should provide health care and a growing 33 percent of that cohort (including a majority of Democrats) favors a "single payer" system.
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USA Today reported that 60 percent of millennials feel their employers are not paying them fairly and 51 percent of those with student loans don't believe the value of a college education is equal to its cost.
Threatening a USSR or Venezuela style collapse will not resonate with these voters. The proper challenge is: "OK, how are you going to pay for it?" Their stock answer is "raise taxes on the wealthy." Until recently it has been difficult to disabuse liberals of that notion but two think tanks, the Urban Institute and George Mason University, have produced studies concurring that Medicare for all would cost $32.6 trillion dollars over 10 years.
That's $3.26 trillion per year, equal to every penny that our government currently collects in taxes each year. Funding that burden would require a doubling of everyone's taxes, including the Democratic socialists'. Their plan to tax only the wealthy to pay for universal health care would trigger even more serious problems. What does a benevolent social Democratic government do when businesses relocate offshore and the ultra-wealthy move to Monte Carlo and take out citizenship? If the response is "require them to remain" the benevolent government becomes a monster that shreds the Constitution.
The cost of universal "free college tuition" is impossible to estimate because there are so many different plans, scholarships, etc. A rough proxy would be to ask social Democrats about cost of forgiveness of current student loan debt.
Forbes Magazine reports that as of 2017 that figure is $1.3 trillion, an average of $37,172 per person (so you can see what drives millennials' attitudes).
The remaining measures would result in runaway cost-push inflation and a horde of foreign competition for jobs, both objectively unquantifiable.
If a liberal cannot be convinced by reasoned explanation have him or her call the IRS or Social Security and see how long it takes to talk with a live person. That's where they're trying to take us.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada State GOP Central committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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