The 2020 campaign for Presidential nominee in the Democrat Party is very strange. The characteristics are warped, thrown into a quasi-hypnotic level of distortion. At least, that is how it looks from a conservative viewpoint.
The campaign does do one thing very well. It highlights the extremely vivid ideological divide between a culture of common sense and pragmatic conservatism such as it exists with President Trump, and the schizophrenic range of ideologies that all together make up an extremely liberal offering of candidates.
Along with the Democrat Party offerings come some really absurd proposals. Most obvious are those of Bernie Sanders, the present, and possibly future leader in the primaries. One commenter on a Fox piece said it very well, and hopefully he or she sees this piece so we can put a real name on their brilliant thought:
Things Bernie has promised….so far:
- Free college — “We’ll just tax the rich”.
- Medicare for all — “We’ll just tax the rich”.
- Free Medicare for illegals—“We’ll just tax the rich”
- Pay off all medical debt – “We’ll just tax the rich”
- Erase all college debt –“We’ll just tax the rich”
- Erase all credit card debts — “We’ll just tax the rich”.
- A free house for everyone — “We’ll just tax the rich”.
- Guaranteed income — “We’ll just tax the rich”.
- Reparations — “We’ll just tax the rich”.
- Cure for cancer – We’ll just tax the rich”
- Free cell phones for everyone – “We’ll just tax the rich”.
- Free cars that will all be electric – “We’ll just tax the rich”
- Free electricity – “We’ll just tax the rich”
- Free Rent Controls – “We’ll just tax the rich”.
- Free Sex Changes – “We’ll just tax the rich”
- Social Security for illegals- “We’ll just tax the rich”
- Oh yeah, free money to the UN for “climate change” — “We’ll just tax the rich”.
- And now we can add Free child care – “We’ll just tax the rich”
The basic idea is pretty consistent. Bernie delivered a rather surprising set of plans, available for viewing on his own campaign website – definitely worth studying. Here, he details how his proposals would be enacted and how they would be paid for. He gives many numbers. To distill this, we refer to a piece run on 25 February from Fox News. We offer a redacted excerpt that should not diminish from the full piece; nevertheless, we advise our readers to read that full piece for the most accurate effort at analysis:
…[T]he fact-sheet highlighted for the first time that many of Sanders’ expected cost-saving measures relied heavily on conjecture. For example, Sanders’ document asserts matter-of-factly that a “modest tax on Wall Street speculation … will raise an estimated $2.4 trillion over ten years” and, in one fell swoop, make all “public colleges, universities and trade schools tuition-free … and cancel all student debt over the next decade.”
The proposal specifically would place a “0.5 percent tax on stock trades – 50 cents on every $100 of stock – a 0.1 percent fee on bond trades, and a 0.005 percent fee on derivative trades.”
The National Review has likened a tax on so-called “Wall Street speculation” to a de facto tax on savings, saying the Sanders plan “would mean paying $25 to the federal government every time you traded $5,000 worth of stock — or five times what you’d pay the typical online brokerage in fees. … Over the long term, that imposes serious costs on actively traded funds such as the ones containing many Americans’ retirement funds.”
Meanwhile, housing for everyone would cost $2.5 trillion over ten years, and would be paid entirely by a “wealth tax on the top one-tenth of one percent,” raising a total of $4.35 trillion, according to Sanders’ fact-sheet. Similarly, “universal childcare and pre-school to every family in America” would be provided with a wealth tax on the “top 0.1 percent,” again raising more than $4 trillion.
Sanders’ plan did not discuss the possible stock market ramificiations of a major seizure of some of this wealth, much of which is held in markets and other investments. The plan also did not discuss how the government would be able to reliably obtain the money, given that many investments could simply be liquidated or transferred elsewhere before his administration took office.
Instead, Sanders’ proposal said only that it would eventually establish a “national wealth registry and significant additional third party reporting requirements,” buff up IRS funding and, and “include enhancements to the international tax enforcement.” The plan would require the IRS “to perform an audit of 30 percent of wealth tax returns for those in the 1 percent bracket and a 100 percent audit rate for all billionaires,” and would include a “40 percent exit tax on the net value of all assets under $1 billion and 60 percent over $1 billion for all wealthy individual seeking to expatriate to avoid the tax.”
His detailed plan describes paying for many of his plans with a “small” tax on the top one-tenth of one percent earners in the country.
One must question how this works: His plan discusses at total of $70 trillion to be raised from taxes, and that over ten years. But there is a problem.
A count of US billionaires reveals that there are 540 such people in the United States, with a combined worth of some $2.399 trillion. While this group of people may be far fewer in number than the “top tenth of the top one percent” it is not likely that that tiny fraction of earners is going to be able to cough up $7 trillion per year. Neither are the taxes on stock trades likely to help this. In fact, the total US Gross Domestic Product for 2019 was $21.43 trillion. To skim a third of this every year for ten years would be devastating to the US economy by any measure.
Because of this information, Bernie’s plan appears to be complete “pie in the sky” when run against a reality check, but Sen. Sanders did make a clever ploy by illustrating and releasing his plan. No doubt his supporters will be thrilled at his move, calling him an anti-Trump or something more clever than that.
Yet, despite the political advantage gained in the short term, reality does not support this set of idea. Further, Sanders does not appear to recognize the mechanism of American politics – the only way to forcibly seize such funds is to get Congress to pass laws to tax in such ways, and that requires a majority in both houses that would actually support such moves. Given the present state of the economy this appears unlikely.
Further, speculation that the COVID-19 “coronavirus” outbreak is going to spread is probably correct. We see it doing so. But unless the virus turns out to be the kind of thing that disaster movies are made of, there will eventually be vaccinations available against it, and it may just become another virus in the background of all of these things that can make people sick or even kill them. The present death rate does not indicate the nightmare scenarios we dreamed about in books and films… at least not thus far. With this in mind, the present economic hit will eventually stabilize and move forward again.
It is not likely to make American voters espouse widespread social programs, and it is also not likely that an economic hit spurred by COVID-19 would hurt President Trump. He will simply give his attention to this problem, and point at the outbreak as the cause for any economic problems, and this will be accepted as true.
With all this said, what about the rest of the Democrat Party field?
This is where the “entertainment” aspect seems to shine. The debates are anything but debates. They are not policy discussions so much as they are something more akin to low-grade reality TV, maybe something on the level of Jerry Springer. (Indeed, instead of a man dressed as a woman, we now feature a “married” gay man trying to become President of the US… and who talks the best game of any of the candidates… that is Pete Buttigieg, folks!)
The rest of it is equally absurd. The only policy wonk in the mix is Sanders. All the others are much more vague on policy ideas (though none are believable), and it is presently understood by pundits such as Rush Limbaugh that really, all the candidates have the same basic ideology, but only Sanders is gutsy enough to actually tell people.
The whole Democrat scene is really being run as a sideshow, and it is very sad. Donald Trump knew how to play the sideshow when it was being done four years ago on the GOP side, and he played it to win based on a sharp combination of policy and truly enjoying the fight for the top spot, sans pandering. The Sanders campaign cannot make this claim. He panders, but less than the other candidates do.
The real tragedy of these “debates” is the actual absence of debate, itself. This is a loss for the American voter, who really does need to be informed if he or she is to use their vote wisely. However, it must also be said that the classless Springer-esque Democrat debates exist the way they do because the populace in many ways prefers such a show rather than to think.
It is not that Americans are stupid – (even though I have often written so) – it is that they are driven to process political and policy matters purely emotionally, passionately, and therefore WHO presents a given policy is far more important in terms of “political sex appeal” than WHAT the policy itself is.
That is why we see over and over, Campus Reform videos where university students say they support President Trump’s enacted policies as long as the questioner says that some Democrat put them into place.
This is a sad place to be for the country. It is not without precedent, for in fact the Russian 2018 Presidential debates (which President Putin never participated in) featured very similar sort of behavior, only magnified one hundred times, since Russians are not politically correct, and have no qualms getting really nasty on television.
We all know who won that contest.
It is enough to make one wonder: Who is interfering with whom’s elections?
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.