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Reflections


Sanders Sham Economics

by Ralph R. Reiland,
Professor of Free Enterprise at Robert Morris University
 

In his Feb. 9 column in The Hill newspaper, political insider and Democrat strategist Lanny Davis delivered a dire warning to Democrats regarding the political consequences of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

In his column "What 'revolution,' Sen. Sanders? A Republican one?," Davis said he wasn't opposed to progressive policies, but asked this: "What revolution would occur if Sanders, a self-declared 'democratic socialist' who calls for socialized medicine, higher taxes and a government takeover of – well – virtually everything, is actually the Democratic nominee?"
Davis pointed to some political history that might not be familiar to many of today's college students who are supporting Sanders.

"In 1968, other progressives and I worked for anti-Vietnam War candidate Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.) in New Hampshire and refused to work for the eventual Democratic nominee, progressive Democratic Gov. Hubert Humphrey (Minn.)," explained Davis. "The result: Richard Nixon's election as president."

The same thing occurred in 1972, warned Davis, when Nixon carried 49 states against "left-base candidate Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.)." And again, eight years later: "In 1980, we worked for Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) against an incumbent Democratic president whom we did not consider liberal enough. The result: Ronald Reagan carried 44 states."

And it happened again in the next two elections, stated Davis: "In 1984, we supported the great progressive Sen. Walter Mondale (D-Minn.), former vice president, who promised to raise taxes. Reagan won 49 states. In 1988, we supported Michael Dukakis, progressive Democratic governor from Massachusetts. Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush won 40 states."

In November, Sen. Sanders succinctly defined his ideology: "Democratic socialism means that in a democratic, civilized society, the wealthiest people and the largest corporations must pay their fair share of taxes."
The facts paint a different picture. Entering fiscal year 2015, for instance, these were the five countries with the highest corporate tax rates among the world's major economies: United States, 40 percent; Japan, 35.64 percent; Argentina, 35 percent; Pakistan, 34 percent; Venezuela, 34 percent.

Similarly, related to "fair" shares in tax payments, CNBC editor Robert Frank reported on income and tax figures based on data from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in his column "Top 1% pay nearly half of federal taxes," April 14, 2015: "The top 1 percent of Americans will pay 45.7 percent of the individual income taxes in 2014 – up from 43 percent in 2013 and 40 percent in 2012."

Additionally, reported Frank: "The bottom 80 percent of Americans are expected to pay 15 percent of all federal income taxes in 2014, according to the study."

The rabble-raising mantra from candidate Sanders simply repeats ad nauseam that the incomes of the top one percent are way too high while their taxes are way too low. In fact, the portion of total federal income taxes paid by the top one percent of income earners is generally double the portion of total income earned by the top one percent.

In 2013, for example, the share of total U.S. income earned by the top one percent was 19.0 percent while they paid 37.8 percent of all federal income taxes.

More specifically tied to his spending proposals, Sen. Sanders doesn't say too much to his cheering student audiences about who will most likely get stuck picking up the tab for so-called "free" college tuition. As reported by the Tax Foundation in "Summary of Latest Federal Income Tax Data," December 22, 2014: "In 2012, the top 50 percent of in taxpayers paid 97.2 percent of all income taxes while the bottom 50 percent paid the remaining 2.8 percent."

Fast-forward, in short, and that means that today's college students, assuming they're learning some things that are valuable in the labor market, will likely end up in top half of income earners and be paying for "free" college tuition for others until the day they retire.

Sen. Sanders has called labor leader and Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) "the greatest leader in the history of the American working class." Stated Debs, "Privately owned industry and production for individual profit are no longer compatible with social progress."

In fact, nothing in history has improved the living standards of ordinary people as much as privately owned industry and production for individual profit.

Ralph R. Reiland
Pittsburgh, Pa. 15236
Phone: 412-527-2199
E-mail: rrreiland@aol.com


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