Ron Radosh

Bernie Sanders Is Pushing the Democratic Party Towards the Far Left

Courtesy AP Images

Courtesy AP Images

While Republicans are receiving the most attention for their contentious race for their party’s nomination, the Democrats are having their own problems. Judging from her team’s recent behavior, the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, is becoming worried.

Until Joe Biden announces he is going to run — which may happen soon — Hillary’s biggest problem is the surge of support for the democratic socialist candidate, Bernie Sanders. Sanders gets a giant turnout everywhere he speaks, as enthusiastic crowds respond to his Robin Hood message to tax the rich (the one percent) and give the rest to the other 99 percent.

Indeed, the RCP New Hampshire poll averages reveal that Sanders is now ahead in that state’s Democratic primary by 42.8% to Hillary’s 32.3%, a 10-plus spread. The RCP Iowa poll averages show Sanders even with Hillary in the Iowa caucus, where both scored 37.0%.  Even without declaring he is a candidate, Biden scores 14.0%. If he does get into the race, he is likely to draw many voters away from both Hillary and Sanders.

Given these results, it is not surprising to learn that the leading Hillary super PAC, David Brock’s Correct the Record, e-mailed The Huffington Post about what it called “similarities” between Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing extremist who now heads the Labor Party in Britain, and Bernie Sanders:

The “similarities” between the two, according to the email, include Sanders’ introduction of legislation to terminate the United States’ nuclear weapons program, comments that NATO’s expansion into former Soviet states is dangerous because it could provoke Russia, opposition to more U.S. funds for NATO, and saying he “was concerned” that proposed new NATO members had shipped arms to Iran and North Korea.

The e-mail also equated Sanders’ favoring of an agreement with Venezuela that provided cheap heating oil to low-income Vermont residents, something that six other states also did, with Corbyn’s support of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, who Corbyn said had “electoral democratic credentials.”

The leftist publication Salon called Brock’s attacks “anti-Bernie Sanders red-baiting,” and the writer of the article, Simon Maloy, went on to accuse Brock’s group of trying to make Sanders appear as “part of the international socialist conspiracy” and “dangerously extreme,” although they had “no compelling evidence of their opponents’ disqualifying radicalism.”

Sanders is no Jeremy Corbyn, but in fact, his own proposals reveal him to indeed be quite extreme. As Igor Bobic wrote last June in The Huffington Post, Hillary’s supporter, Sen. Claire McCaskill, said on television that indeed Sanders was too extreme, and complained that “I very rarely read in any coverage of Bernie that he’s a socialist.” Her latter complaint, as we know, has long since been corrected by the media.

However, McCaskill — herself a liberal Democrat — is correct in her observation that Sanders wants an expansion of entitlements, and that he seems to have no concern for the increasing debt the United States would incur as a result of his policies.

Sanders, with his proposal for instituting a single-payer U.S. national health system, alone would help lead the country to bankruptcy. The Wall Street Journal got national attention for its front-page news story, in which reporter Laura Meckler revealed that Sanders’ proposals would cost $18 trillion in new government spending, including “an estimated $15 trillion for a government-run healthcare program that covers every American, plus large sums to rebuild roads and bridges, expand Social Security and make tuition free at public colleges.”

To pay for it, Mr. Sanders…has so far detailed tax increases that, according to his staff, could bring in as much as $6.5 trillion over 10 years.

Of course, the Left disputes the Journal’s analysis. Paul Waldman argues in The Washington Post that citizens would only be paying “through taxes for things we’re already paying for in other ways.” And in The Nation, Joshua Holland claims that the Journal article was “designed to shock and awe and discourage voters from giving the social democrat’s ideas a close look,” and that “Sanders’s highly progressive proposals wouldn’t cost the United States a single penny, on net, over that 10-year window. In fact, they’d cost less, overall, than what we’d spend without them.”

If you believe this, as they say, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Both writers somehow forget to mention what happened in Sanders’ own state, Vermont, when it planned to institute a single-payer system. Gov. Peter Shumlin, the champion of “Medicare for all” as the solution to our health problems, promised voters to institute universal healthcare. Then, as Sarah Wheaton writes in Politico, “the governor admitted what critics had said all along: He couldn’t pay for it.” He concluded that “the 11.5 percent payroll assessments on businesses and sliding premiums up to 9.5 percent of individuals’ income ‘might hurt our economy.’ ”

What Shumlin finally figured out is that no social service is really free, and establishing the social-democratic paradise in one state, as would be the case in our nation as a whole, would hurt those with lower- and middle-class incomes the most. Why did Vermont think it would work? It turns out, Politico also reports, that the now notorious Jonathan Gruber, on a salary of $400,000 a year, told the governor there would be no problems. He turned out to be quite wrong. The major problem?

The model called for businesses to take on a double-digit payroll tax, while individuals would face up to a 9.5 percent premium assessment. Big businesses, in particular, didn’t want to pay for Shumlin’s plan while maintaining their own employee health plans.

Bernie Sanders will, of course, not get the nomination. But the reason the Clinton camp is trying to red-bait him is simple: many of the liberal programs she supports are as unfeasible as the ones Sanders champions. And if Elizabeth Warren decides to enter the race, she will undoubtedly resurrect the worst of Sanders’ proposals without having herself branded as a socialist. Moreover, she will quickly inherit all of Sanders’ supporters, as Sanders himself is forced to give Warren his endorsement.

That all the Democratic candidates will be advocating economically unfeasible proposals is a reflection of just how far left the Democratic Party has moved. Clinton, Warren and Biden may not be democratic socialists, but at this point, it’s a distinction without much difference.