Who should we believe of the leading candidates remaining in the Presidential primaries that last through June? Bernie says he will tax the wealthiest enough to pay for his programs, such as free public college tuition and universal health care. But that means raising middle class taxes, as well.
The Donald says he is such a successful businessman that he will negotiate us out of all our problems. But how much can he be believed with four bankruptcies and three marriages already?
Polls show that economic issues top the voters’ concerns, so we should look at the how they will solve those issues. Bernie believes he will save citizens money by converting to universal health care, because if everyone’s covered, the government will have the clout to negotiate down drug and hospital costs.
Though Trump says he won’t touch social security and Medicare, he would cut taxes for the wealthiest further, which will only increase the budget deficit. That’s because trickle-down economics doesn’t work (i.e., more tax breaks for the wealthiest), as evidenced by GW Bush’s two recessions and 8 million jobs lost during his 8 years.
So Mr. Trump is trying to convince us that he is the better negotiator than President Obama, who has managed to pass so many progressive programs (like Obamacare) that conservatives say they feel betrayed. His most hollow pronouncement is the Wall to keep out Hispanic immigrantss, when as many enter through Florida and New York, not to speak of California, and maybe Canada? So he would have to build a wall that surrounds all of US!
Today’s economy is experiencing both record income inequality, since the wages and salaries of 80 percent of our workforce have barely risen above inflation for the past 30 years, and our degraded infrastructure. And let us not forget Flint, but also the many other municipalities with drinking water problems.
Senator Bernie says we are the only developed country without universal healthcare and tuition free higher education. Denmark is his oft-repeated example, but they pay for it with a maximum tax rate of 60 percent. Well, America had a maximum tax rate of 92 percent during President Eisenhower’s reign, which enabled US to build our freeway system, land on the moon, create the Internet, and we still had a 4 percent plus growth rate during that time.
So can Bernie’s promises be paid for? We would have to reverse a trend of lower taxes begun in the 1970s. That means bringing out new voters—mostly young—that have been sitting on the sidelines until now. The New Hampshire primary results show that the new voter turnout was HUGE, in Bernie’s words. But as Rachel Maddow pointed out on MSNBC, they were mostly Republicans.
His test will come with the upcoming Nevada caucus and South Carolina primary, with their much more diverse ethnicities. The economic issues being debated this election year are really between facts and fiction—whether economic facts can trump political ideologies. That’s the bottom line. We, the United States of America can’t grow and thrive without our citizens having the benefits of every other developed country, and many undeveloped ones.
Those benefits may seem expensive, as in the Nordic countries, but the drag to economic growth from neglecting these issues is even more expensive—with the ongoing poor health outcomes, a crumbling infrastructure, and unprotected environment.
Harlan Green © 2016
Follow Harlan Green on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HarlanGreen