Eliot, is anyone thinking Bernie’s ideas are radical? Look at the national polls. His support for preserving Social Security and Medicare, reducing military spending, fixing the problem of college debt, addressing wealth inequality, etc., reflect support by a large majority of Americans.
A few quick points that turned incredibly long:
- Please name one Libertarian candidate who has ever advocated Sanders’ economic platform, because I can’t think of one. Aren’t higher taxes and more government involvement in a wide range of issues the complete antithesis of Libertarian doctrine?
- The argument about a Republican controlled Congress obstructing everything applies to both Democratic candidates.
- You are totally correct about the need for continuous progressive action at the state and local levels. This, along with unlimited corporate spending, gerrymandering and voter suppression laws, is silencing the will of the people.
- I agree the numbers don’t work out for some of Sanders’ proposals, without a lot of sacrifice on the part of American taxpayers, and that a large number of people don’t want to go in that direction.
- Let’s consider the risks and benefits of previous presidents who have used deficit spending as a means to drive their political goals:
a) Reagan used the threat of communism as justification for massive defense spending. Here’s what we got in return: Arming and training Osama bin Laden; supported repressive governments in Latin America; taught Bush how to invade smaller countries; and, of course, the biggest budget deficit in the history of the country.
b) George W. Bush used the threat of terrorism as justification to fight two wars, hiding the costs from the American people. Here’s what we got in return: a $1.7 billion invoice leading to even bigger deficits; destabilization of the Middle East, allowing Iran to increase its power along with the birth of ISIS; plenty of bad PR to help recruit new terrorists; almost 7,000 U.S. military casualties; 1 million wounded soldiers (many maimed for life physically or mentally); and another $4.3 trillion in future costs to care for the wounded.
c) Future President Sanders would spend $350 billion over the next five years to provide free college tuition, plus $1 trillion on infrastructure (pretty cheap compared to fighting wars). What would we get: modern infrastructure system (huge savings by avoiding future disasters and tragedies when water treatment plants, power grid, bridges, nuclear plants, etc. eventually fail; The ASCE estimates the economy losses $200 billion per year due to deterioration); 26 million new jobs; and a better educated and skilled work force to do that and other work that leads to faster economic growth.
In spite of the sky is falling mantra of the right wing bubble, the Federal Deficit as a percentage of the GDP is back to a fairly normal range — better than it was during the Reagan years. Here’s an interactive graph showing the relationship between Federal Surplus or Deficit and GDP. Here’s an article that shows federal government spending as a percentage of GDP is not out of the ordinary. From that article:
Question: “How important is it to pay off this debt? Is there a given time frame?”
Zumbrun: “I don’t think it’s obvious that governments ever need to pay off their debt entirely, since governments aren’t like people. They can fail, yes, but they don’t need to pay off their mortgage to enjoy a comfortable retirement. The goal is for the government to be a going concern. So with that in mind, the only thing the government needs to do is hold its debt at a sustainable level. If your interest payments are stable at 3% or less of the economy, for example, there’s no reason you could’t carry this debt forever.
The point is, this country has only done a wild deficit spending program that directly benefited the People once, under FDR. So the question is, why aren’t we investing to build our country up instead of blowing the sh*t out of everyone else?
6. I totally agree with Heather Nann that changing the national conversation is an incredibly important thing to do, considering the last 36 years of Reagan surrealism.