Opinions, Column

Why Bernie Sanders’ Policies Make Sense

In defiance of the economic stigma surrounding the infamous S-word, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the one ‘socialist’ in the presidential race, has the most financially sound policies of any candidate, even when compared to so-called ‘fiscally conservative’ candidates. If you haven’t actively sought out the information, you may not know much about the specifics of Bernie’s policies. A recent study by news commentator Andrew Tyndall showed that Bernie received only 5 percent of the television exposure his primary rival, Hillary Clinton, was given, despite having topped her in both New Hampshire and Iowa polls and having the most individual campaign contributions in the history of American politics. Consequently, many  Americans have an obscured, rose-tinted understanding of Bernie’s label or no legitimate idea about the policies he’s proposing.

Bernie has put out the most extensive series of policy proposals thus far in the race. His ambitious agenda accounts for every dollar. While most candidates spout hot air about how they will make America great again, Bernie has, on his website, laid out the exact steps he will take to rebuild our crumbling middle class. The total price tag of his plan is $17 trillion over 10 years, which I acknowledge sounds anything but fiscally conservative. At the core of fiscal conservatism, however, is the belief that the government should foster economic growth, and that is exactly what Sanders is proposing.

The vast majority Senator Sanders has suggested spending comes from his proposal for universal health care, to the tune of $14 trillion. Trust me, I can hear your gasps from here. It’s an obscene amount of money. But get this: Bernie would be saving the average American family $5,000 a year and businesses $9,000 an employee. Our current health care system is far from fiscally conservative. It’s bloated with administrative costs and increasingly plagued by exponential price inflation. America spends the most in the world on its health care coverage per capita, yet 33 million people are still uninsured and, compared to every other developed nation, we rank dead last in quality of care.

Not only would Bernie’s health care system be more efficient, it would also take the pressure off of businesses and entrepreneurs who have to bear the brunt of medical costs under our current system. Paradoxically, by having government take over health care, it would free companies from the expense of paying for their employees’ insurance, allowing them much more flexibility in how they manage their hard-earned profits. Additionally, Bernie’s plan would remove one of the biggest barriers for new entrepreneurs: extreme independent health care costs. This combination of factors ensures that Bernie’s health care proposal is the most fiscally responsible because it would not only cost less than our current system, but it would also allow for more freedom in business and entrepreneurship.

The other $3 trillion in Bernie’s economic plan is dispersed among many federal spending proposals, including $1 trillion to rebuild America’s infrastructure, $750 billion to make public college tuition-free, and $5.5 billion in a youth jobs initiative. Government spending is a staple of Keynesian economics, a school of economic thought, and its benefits toward aggregate demand and the economy’s health in general are well-documented. Strategic governmental spending can jumpstart a faltering economy, such as after the Great Depression.

Even though we are supposedly the greatest country in the world, we have the 25th best infrastructure, a sign that we desperately need improvements. Bernie’s plan to improve infrastructure will create 13 million new jobs as well as repair our nation’s roadways, railways, and airports, rendering them more business-friendly. Making public college tuition-free would vastly improve America’s workforce by allowing more people to attend college who had previously been unable to due to financial barriers. It would also make students more active consumers, since they would no longer be overwhelmed by student loans.

The sum of these fiscal policies will be an explosion in jobs and an improvement in an ever-faltering American workforce. This will put more money in consumers’ pockets as they become employed and gain greater-skilled jobs, which will in turn spur more consumer spending and increase aggregate demand, aiding the economy as a whole. What is more fiscally conservative than aiding the business health of this nation?

Now the question is: how the heck is Bernie going to pay for all of this? Well, for starters, a tax on Wall Street speculation will foot the bill for his free public college proposal. A combination of closing corporate tax loopholes, increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and eliminating Social Security exemptions for millionaires will provide the rest of the $2 trillion in proposed non-health care spending. Bernie’s Medicare-For-All plan is paid for by a combination of taxes on businesses and individuals (it’s important to note that 91 percent of households would pay less than $250 per month with no co-pays or deductibles), closing tax loopholes for the wealthy, and losing the obsolete tax-breaks for now-defunct insurance companies. Every dollar is accounted for, the national deficit does not increase, and thus, those worried about the economy can sleep soundly.

The ‘socialist’ policies of Bernie Sanders make economic sense. His proposals will save money, increase the freedom of businesses, encourage entrepreneurship, and improve the economy as a whole. Bernie will invest in the American economy, an investment that will see immediate benefits as well as immense long-term payoffs. If you consider yourself fiscally conservative, take an honest look at this so-called fringe candidate, and you just might find yourself feeling the Bern.

Featured Image by The Associated Press

January 20, 2016