Recently, conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks released an op-ed undermining Senator Bernie Sander’s economic proposals and all those who support them.
Brooks’ claims are like many others we hear from Republicans or even Hillary Clinton supporters: his system won’t work – giving more money to the federal government, “without a plan to pay for it” as Clinton would falsely acclaim, won’t work.
Given Bernie Sanders is truly able to funnel $18 trillion into government spending, it would increase the United States’ spending comfortably to the range of spending in most European nations, as Brooks writes.
But Brooks also argues that doing so would degrade the value of the U.S. economy for four main reasons.
One, his proposals would centralize power in Washington. Two, his proposals would weaken the middle class. Three, his proposals would only provide incentive for the already wealthy. And four, his tuition-free college plan would only benefit the “already wealthy” while his single-payer healthcare system would devalue the prosperity of our current medical system.
The true claims are misleading and the false claims are, well, false.
Centralizing power in Washington would give the government more power over the everyday actions of U.S. citizens. But what Brooks missed is the fact that underfunding education, dismissing healthcare, ignoring public works and water quality, refusing to raise the minimum wage to a livable wage and incarcerating a disproportionate amount of minorities is another way the government already has too much power.
We currently live in, as Sanders love to preach, the only industrialized nation that refuses so many basic life necessities to a massive amount of its citizens. But, columnists as Brooks would argue, most other industrialized nations aren’t continent-sized.
Here’s a map, look close for good ol’ Canada while you take a peek.
I’m sure that in nations relative in size such as Australia and Canada, poverty-stricken cities don’t have lead-filled tap water literally killing their citizens. In nations with similar or higher population densities like the United Kingdom or Sweden, it isn’t too much of an issue either.
Instead of filling the voids of logic talking about how fundamentally different American culture is from that of Northern European nations, individuals like Brooks should be acknowledging our ability, as the “vibrant” Americans we are, to address problems and adapt to them by moving toward the rest of the modern world when it comes to health care, tax structure and education.
I’m not sure what middle class Brooks refers to in his point that Sanders’ proposals would degrade the integrity of America’s middle class. If Brooks is referring to the top 1 or 2 percent, then yeah, it isn’t all up from a Sanders’ presidency.
But last I checked, Sanders is the only candidate with an actual plan that hits the rich in the face saying “We will raise taxes.”
I’m hoping and praying that under Sanders I’ll be blessed with the opportunity to pay the 73 percent tax rate that Brooks hoots and hollers about like it’s the something straight out of hell.
Anyone who is paying that much in taxes is one of the individuals from the 13,000 households making at least $10 million a year in the United States. Being part of that .01 percent is still a goal even if I’m having to file the majority of the money I don’t need toward helping fund education and health care.
But because Brooks didn’t actually address the clear tax proposal Sanders stands by, he has no true evidence of the future crumbling of the middle class.
(And, by the way, the current top marginal tax rate is 39.6 percent and the current tax brackets don’t differentiate between the massive disparity of a multimillionaire or billionaire and an individual making $415,000.)
So, as the naive, young individual you dismiss as uninformed and clueless in this article, I’ll tell you why so many young voters have faith in Sanders’ idea for increased government intervention – especially in public universities.
We are tired of worrying over our future debts and thinking of the bottomless pit that decades of work is unlikely to pull us out of. As Sanders put it in last night’s debate, a college degree now is the equivalent of a high school diploma from fifty years ago. And fifty years ago, we decided to pass legislation ensuring equal educational opportunity for all. Now the time has come to do it again (this time through economic incentives) or watch the country fall to shambles.
Also, stating the American health care system is scores beyond that of the rest of the industrialized world is completely inaccurate. This country, and its health care system, is a joke to the international community.
Low income individuals often fail to receive the necessary treatment they need as a result, and we see the United States shape into one of the worst countries for health care in the industrialized world.
Also false: the claim that centralized health care equates to longer waiting periods for appointments or operations. The Commonwealth Fund reports other industrialized countries Sanders and his supporters strive to be more like have shorter waiting periods for doctor appointments and quicker care options.
There’s also something missing in the claim that Sanders’ plan is “vague”- and it very may well be the fact that Sanders’ plan is and has been explicitly laid out. But since Brooks never once cites Sanders in a piece about Sanders, it could be assumed that he just hasn’t read the plan.
The bottom line is this: The vibrant, wonderful economy I’m guessing Brooks views from the top of the elite is no longer around for many of the millennials (or quite frankly anyone) to enjoy. We don’t have economic freedom that leads to economic prosperity, we have economic disparity that bars the lower classes from making a living and allows the wealthiest individuals in our country to build up more mansions with their overwhelming incomes.
As Dee from Detroit in the comments section put it best:
David, I have a suggestion for you. Take a leave of absence from your job, tell your family that you are going to disappear for about a year and go undercover. Walk out of that comfortable bubble that you live in and discover what it’s like in this country. Suspend your health care, forget about all the contacts you have built up over the years, when you apply for a job put down that you have a four year degree from an average college and a 3.0 GPA. When you find a job, deduct what it would have cost you to pay for that college and live on the rest. If an employer asks about your age during an interview, tell them you got dumped when they downsized. After a year or two of this, come back and tell us about the vibrancy of our wonderful, dynamic economy.
I’m glad to say that the majority of the comments section was in agreeance with me on this one. Regardless of your stance on Sanders or his proposals, mocking them with fabricated statements about the state of our society isn’t acceptable. I just hope the next article the mainstream pushes out on Bernie doesn’t read as shallow as this one remains.
And Hillary, here’s Bernie Sanders’ proposals… and the payment plans behind them. You should look into it before the next debate, as should the reporters who idolize you as last night’s winner.
Photo by John Pemble via Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing