In the contest between Bernie Sanders (BS) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, there is a stark and important contrast between the two candidates that has been given insufficient attention by the media and the punditocracy. What follows is meant to lay out and sharpen that distinction.
Chief among Senator Sanders’ proposals are universal healthcare (the so-called single payer system) and free college tuition for all. These are terribly expensive programs and that isn’t even arguable. But, the candidate believes both can be paid for by means of a sizable tax increase that would hit the highest income brackets hardest, but not exclude the middle class. The latter group would not feel the pinch of this added levy because they would have more money in their pockets thanks to the savings that would accrue to them from the savings they would enjoy due to not having to pay healthcare insurance premiums.
This all sounds wonderfully doable and hundreds of thousands of potential voters have gone “all in” over BS’s run for the presidency. Their enthusiasm is at a level that is hard to work through with reasoned rebuttal and more importantly, facts and reality which is what HRC and her supporters have tried to inject into the political dialogue.
By way of contrast, HRC has proposed that instead of the single payer system of BS, we strive for improvements in Obamacare. She favors support for college-bound students, but not a “free lunch”.
What makes the differences between the two aspirants so striking, is that what BS has offered is simply not politically manageable. Of course, the key word here is “politically” and here’s why: The majority that the GOP now holds in the House will not change appreciably with the next election. That means that Sanders’ single payer program is dead on arrival before it even reaches that chamber. As HRC has tried to remind everyone, passing Obamacare was a struggle that garnered not a single Republican vote of support. That is established history. Getting something far more socialistic and expensive so much as debated, let alone passed, requires a high level of fantastical, unrealistic thinking. Yet, that is the mindset of BS and his supporters.
And then there is this: While we have technically recovered from the Great Recession of 2008, that rebound has been demonstrably less than robust. After years of holding interest rates at zero, the Federal Reserve recently, and cautiously, raised it slightly believing that our economy was on solid enough footing to absorb that small bump. However, in light on the current global economic slowdown, especially in China, the Fed has made it clear that no further increments are in order for the immediate future.
Given this tenuous state of affairs, imposing a large personal income tax on millions of Americans as BS has signaled, is a very bad idea. Taxes take money out of consumers’ wallets, so they sensibly curb their spending. Yet, it is consumer spending that drives our capitalistic economy. If BS does not understand that (never mind his supporters), then he lacks an important qualification for the presidency.
Finally, of the two candidates, the one who has both feet firmly anchored in reality is HRC. Whatever else you think of her, that is evident on the facts, on history, and what she is proposing. Too many BS adherents have closed their minds to all this, threatening to either stay home on election day or vote for a third party candidate. This is the equivalent of political suicide for nothing would work more favorably towards the election of a Republican president.
What would such an outcome portend? With the GOP solidly in control of the House, and possibly the Senate as well, Republicans would have a completely free hand to repeal Obamacare, champion more restrictive voting rights, try to roll back the Roe v. Wade decision as well as newly-won LGBT rights. Medicare and Social Security benefits would surely be on the chopping block. Simply put, 75 years of progress we have made towards becoming “a more perfect union” would be put at extreme risk.
If that is the kind of country you want, then vote Republican or stay home or vote for a third party.