It’s Time for the US to Return to “Socialist” Policies

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to a crowd of over 10,000 during a campaign rally in Madison, Wisconsin, 1 July 2015. (Photo via Shutterstock)Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to a crowd of more than 10,000 during a campaign rally in Madison, Wisconsin, July 1, 2015. (Photo: Juli Hansen / Shutterstock.com)

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It’s been just over a month since the Wall Street Journal ran its misinformation hit piece claiming that Bernie Sanders’ budget proposal would cost $18 trillion, and the Journal is back at it again.

This time it’s Jason Riley who’s criticizing Bernie’s budget plan as being unrealistic and expensive, not to mention socialist.

In his opinion piece titled “Bernie Sanders and the Soak-the-Rich Myth,” Riley writes “Bernie Sanders has been asserting […] that pretty much every domestic problem, from aging infrastructure to student debt to teenage acne, could be solved by raising taxes high enough on the super rich.”

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Riley goes on to construct the rest of his, very flawed, argument based on this exchange between Senator Sanders and George Stephanopolous on Sunday.

Bernie went on to explain that guaranteeing paid family and medical leave would require a small increase in the payroll tax across the board.

And Riley is quick to write that that would mean a tax increase that would “hit” everyone.

But he completely ignores the fact that guaranteed paid sick and family leave would actually save many US workers money because they wouldn’t be forfeiting wages whenever they take time off.

Riley goes on to broaden the scope of his piece, he criticizes Hillary for claiming that she would “make the wealthy pay,” and then he writes: “[T]he irony is that liberals who want the federal government to secure more revenue for redistribution ought to favor a tax code that’s less progressive. Time and again, history has shown that the rich pay more when the marginal rate is reduced.”

The rest of his piece weaves a web of historical dreams, one where President Kennedy supported trickle-down economics and one where economic growth has anything to do with the top marginal tax rates.

He preempts any criticism of his history by writing, “The reason liberals find this history unpersuasive is because their soak-the-rich-rhetoric is more about politics than economics.”

He goes on to accuse liberals of being too concerned with inequality and not concerned enough about growth.

And he’s wrong. On pretty much every count.

The truth is that liberals, and anyone familiar with our country’s economic history, find Riley’s version of history unpersuasive because it’s a complete distortion of reality.

It’s well documented that the economy does best when the middle class does best.

In other words, the economy does well when economic inequality is low.

Beyond that, according to a 2012 report from the Congressional Research Service, “Analysis […] suggests the reduction in the top tax rates have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth. However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution.”

That research looked at the last 65 years of tax rates compared GDP, and the researchers found that lowering taxes on the rich doesn’t cause the economic pie to get bigger.

It just means that the richest in the country get a bigger slice of the economic pie.

Because that’s what Reaganomics does, it concentrates the wealth at the top.

If Riley were really concerned about growth, he’d be supporting Sanders’ plan to invest in US infrastructure and US jobs.

And if the Wall Street Journal were truly concerned about a healthy economy and stimulating private consumption, they’d support very high marginal tax rates for the top 1% of earners.

According to research published earlier this year, the highest marginal tax rate paid exclusively by the super-rich should be 90 percent, where it was just after World War II under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower and Democrat John Kennedy.

And guess what? the economy grew under Eisenhower because he maintained high taxes on the rich and on corporations, and then he used that revenue to invest in massive infrastructure projects, expand social services and invest in the US middle class.

It’s time that the Wall Street Journal stop trying to make Bernie Sanders and other progressives seem radical for proposing that we tax the wealthy and close corporate tax loopholes, that we provide tuition-free college and paid sick leave, that we rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and that we provide health care for all.

These aren’t radical proposals.

They’re proposals that both Republican and Democratic voters overwhelmingly agree on, and that every other developed country in the world has already implemented.

For 35 years, Reaganomics and tax cuts for the rich have only benefited the rich, at the expense of the middle class and the country as a whole.

Notwithstanding the Wall Street Journal’s deceptively promoting Reagan’s failed experiment in “trickle-down” economics, Americans overwhelmingly want our nation to return to the “radical socialist” policies pioneered by Dwight D. Eisenhower and bring the middle class back again.