Unicorns and Rainbows: Bernie Sanders’s ‘Democratic Socialist’ Price Tag: $18 Trillion

WASHINGTON— Laura Meckler writes: Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose liberal call to action has propelled his long-shot presidential campaign, is proposing an array of new programs that would amount to the largest peacetime expansion of government in modern American history.

“Sen. Sanders’s agenda does cost money. If you look at the problems that are out there, it’s very reasonable.”

— Warren Gunnels, Sanders’s policy director

In all, he backs at least $18 trillion in new spending over a decade, according to a tally by The Wall Street Journal, a sum that alarms conservatives and gives even many Democrats pause. Mr. Sanders sees the money as going to essential government services at a time of increasing strain on the middle class.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

His agenda includes an estimated $15 trillion for a government-run health-care program that covers every American, plus large sums to rebuild roads and bridges, expand Social Security and make tuition free at public colleges.


To pay for it, Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent running for the Democratic nomination, has so far detailed tax increases that could bring in as much as $6.5 trillion over 10 years, according to his staff.

“One of the demands of my campaign is that we think big and not small.”

— Bernie Sanders

A campaign aide said additional tax proposals would be offered to offset the cost of some, and possibly all, of his health program. A Democratic proposal for such a “single-payer” health plan, now in Congress, would be funded in part through a new payroll tax on employers and workers, with the trade-off being that employers would no longer have to pay for or arrange their workers’ insurance.


“The Sanders program amounts to increasing total federal spending by about one-third—to a projected $68 trillion or so over 10 years.”

Mr. Sanders declined a request for an interview. His campaign referred questions to Warren Gunnels, his policy director, who said the programs would address an array of problems. “Sen. Sanders’s agenda does cost money,” he said. “If you look at the problems that are out there, it’s very reasonable.”


Calling himself a democratic socialist, Mr. Sanders has long stood to the left of the Democratic Party, and at first he was dismissed as little more than a liberal gadfly to the party’s front-runner, Hillary Clinton. But he is ahead of or tied with the former secretary of state in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, and he has gained in national polling. He stands as her most serious challenger for the Democratic nomination.

“By way of comparison, the 2009 economic stimulus program was estimated at $787 billion when it passed Congress, and President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cuts were estimated to cost the federal treasury $1.35 trillion over 10 years.”

Mr. Sanders has filled arenas with thousands of supporters, where he thunders an unabashedly liberal agenda to tackle pervasive economic inequality through more government services, higher taxes on the wealthy and new constraints on banks and corporations. Read the rest of this entry »

[VIDEO] ‘Confiscation without Compensation’: Laura & Marvin Horne’s Supreme Court Victory in the Federal Government Raisin Fight


This Day In History Welfare State Born: FDR Signs Social Security Act, August 14, 1935


August 14, 1935: FDR Signs Social Security Act into Law

On this day in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, which was originally designed to provide economic security during the Great Depression.


Funded through a 2% payroll tax, the 1935 Social Security Act offered aid for the unemployed, the elderly, children and various state health and welfare programs. Read the rest of this entry »

[BOOKS] Graphic Novel ‘Forgotten Man’ Offers a Fresh Look at The New Deal

The Forgotten Man

Liberals often have their way in the realm of entertainment, dominating film, television and music.

Breitbart News reports: The graphic novel realm can also lean left, but that didn’t stop the creators of The Forgotten Man. The new graphic novel, from Amity Shlaes and Paul Rivoche, tackles the Great Depression from a center-right perspective. The black and white book argues that the New Deal effectively prolonged the country’s economic hardships.

[You can order the book “The Forgotten Man Graphic Edition: A New History of the Great Depression” from Amazon]

The duo chatted with Ed Driscoll about their project, and the conversation soon shifted to the culture wars. They argued that liberty loving artists must take a stand with their work…(read moreBreitbart News

[You can also order the book: “A People’s History of American Empire” from Amazon]



The Liberal Dream of a Social Safety Net Administrated by State Monopoly

clementine gallot/Flickr

clementine gallot/Flickr

Mike Konczal has an article in The Atlantic with a headline and sub-headline that dazzles at reaffirming statist conventions, congratulating progressive self-righteousness, and preserving liberal comfort zones. As eye-catching ‘screw you’ propaganda, it has a certain charm that begs for correction.

And that’s just the headlines! Who reads articles? Fear not. A good butchering can fix it.

So, with our characteristic zest for counter-programing—and a cheerful middle finger to the lazy critics of conservative ideology—let the rewrite begin.

The Conservative Myth of a Social Safety Net Built on Charity 

The Liberal Dream of a Social Safety Net Administrated by State Monopoly, Fortified by Corruption, Enforced by Violence.

(properly understood, the state is an instrument of force)

 The right yearns for an era when churches and local organizations took care of society’s weakest—an era that never existed and can’t exist today.

The left yearns for a secular utopia where religious charity and private philanthropy is bullied out of existence by academics, bureaucrats, and all-powerful federal administrators — a Marxist fantasy that never existed, and can’t exist today.

See? Isn’t that better?

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Tinseltown’s Propaganda Problem


Hollywood’s fine with proselytizing, as long as it’s for the right cause

 Jonah Goldberg writes: The legendary media tycoon William Randolph Hearst believed America needed a strongman and that Franklin D. Roosevelt would fit the bill. He ordered his newspapers to support FDR and the New Deal. At his direction, Hearst’s political allies rallied around Roosevelt at the Democratic convention, which some believe sealed the deal for Roosevelt’s nomination.

But all that wasn’t enough. Hearst also believed the voters had to be made to see what could be gained from a president with a free hand. So he financed the film Gabriel Over the White House, starring Walter Huston. The film depicts an FDR look-alike president who, after a coma-inducing car accident, is transformed from a passive Warren Harding type into a hands-on dictator. The reborn commander-in-chief suspends the Constitution, violently wipes out corruption, and revives the economy through a national socialist agenda. When Congress tries to impeach him, he dissolves Congress.

[Amazon has Jonah Goldberg‘s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, and latest book: The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas]

The Library of Congress summarizes the film nicely. “The good news: He reduces unemployment, lifts the country out of the Depression, battles gangsters and Congress, and brings about world peace. The bad news: He’s Mussolini.”

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The Fifty-Year War

NRO has a feature on the ‘War on Poverty‘, reviewing a taxpayer-funded big-budget blockbuster that took 50 years to make, only cost 15 trillion dollars, and is still in production…


This year marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s proclamation of a “war on poverty,” and the progress in this theater has not been encouraging. Trillions of dollars have been spent, and the number of Americans living in poverty is higher today than it was in 1964, while the poverty rate has held steady at just under one in five. That contrasts unpleasantly with the trend before President Johnson declared his war: The poverty rate had been dropping since the end of World War II. That progress came to a halt as President Johnson’s expensive and expansive vision began to be implemented in earnest, which coincided with the tapering of the postwar boom. By the 1970s, the poverty rate was headed upward. It declined a bit during the Reagan years, crested and receded again in the 1990s, and resumed its melancholy ascent around the turn of the century.

To understand the failure of the war on poverty requires understanding its structure, which itself is bound up in the idiosyncrasies of Lyndon Johnson’s politics. President Johnson played many parts in his political career: Southern ballast to John Kennedy’s buoyant Yankee idealism; an enemy of civil-rights reform and anti-lynching laws who reversed himself in 1964; a sometimes reluctant but in the end unshakeable Cold Warrior. But at heart President Johnson was a New Deal man, and his Great Society, of which the war on poverty was a critical component, was his attempt to resuscitate the spirit and the political success of Franklin Roosevelt’s program.

It was the New Deal that made Johnson’s Texas a fiercely Democratic state, as the older residents of New Deal, Texas, no doubt remember. Johnson’s House district was energetically anti-Communist, not especially segregationist, but above all wild about the New Deal. Johnson ran for the House as a New Dealer, and it was his association with FDR’s domestic agenda (and, according to biographer Robert Caro, a few thousand fraudulent ballots) that made him a senator and a force.

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Obama’s Unfresh Economic Ideas

Paleo-Liberalism’s Last Stand? Obama’s Economic ideas are a relic of big government’s industrial-age past

Paleo-Liberalism’s Last Stand? Obama’s Economic ideas are a relic of big government’s industrial-age past

His solutions for a stagnant economy were tried and found wanting long ago
Mona Charen writes: If President Obama has entertained an economic insight that wasn’t fashionable in 1933, I haven’t heard about it. Doubtless he’s for recycling glass and plastic, but he’s even more wedded to recycling ideas that were fresh and interesting during the New Deal but have since been discredited.

All of this was clear when he became the Democratic party’s pinup in 2008 (just by way of example, I wrote then that while Obama was “shiny bright and new” his ideas were “suffering from senility”). What’s dumbfounding now is Obama’s detachment from his own presidency. He continues to campaign (well, speak, but it always sounds like a stump speech) as if someone else were sitting in the Oval Office, as if someone else’s policies were responsible for the state of things, as if someone else should shoulder the blame.

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Why Americans Hate their Government


 writes:  Washington is having one of its odd debates as to whether the Obama administration’s rollout of HealthCare.gov was worse than the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina. But whatever the answer, if there is one, the real story is that both are examples of a major, and depressing, trend: the declining competence of the federal government. Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, has been saying for years that most Americans believe their government can no longer act effectively and that this erosion of competence, and hence confidence, is a profound problem.

“The federal service is suffering its greatest crisis since it was founded in the first moments of the republic,” scholar Paul Light writes in his book “A Government Ill Executed.”

Over the past decade, the federal government has had several major challenges: Iraq, Afghanistan, a new homeland security system, Katrina and Obamacare. In almost every case, its performance has been plagued with mismanagement, massive cost overruns and long delays. This was not always so. In the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, federal agencies were often lean, well managed and surprisingly effective.Paul Hoffman, the administrator of the Marshall Plan, pointed out that his monumental project came in on time and under budget.

Some federal agencies still maintain a culture of high performance, including NASA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Reserve System and the Defense Department’s research arm, DARPA. But they are now islands in a sea of mediocrity.

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The Pro-Welfare State Republicans

The establishment GOP’s embrace of progressivism’s central premise.
Dr. Krauthammer sings the praises of liberalism's primary domestic policy ideals, waxing lyrical about the virtues of the modern Welfare State, to the delight of noted Socialist, Conservative-mocking clown John Stewart

Dr. Krauthammer sings the praises of liberalism’s primary domestic policy ideals, waxing lyrical about the virtues of the modern Welfare State, to the delight of noted Socialist, Conservative-mocking clown John Stewart

Andrew C. McCarthy writes:  Charles Krauthammer has come to my rescue. You see, I’ve been on the receiving end of some spirited reaction since asserting in last weekend’s column that what we commonly call the Republican establishment — i.e., not all individual Republicans but GOP leadership — “is more sympathetic to Obama’s case for the welfare state than to the Tea Party’s case for limited government and individual liberty.” The statement may have been provocative in the sense of expressing a truth that people on the political Right prefer not to talk about. But it was not controversial because it is indisputably true.

This week, Dr. Krauthammer, Washington’s most influential expositor of mainstream GOP thought, obligingly spared me the need to prove my point. He gave as clear an account of the modern Republican conception of “conservatism” as you will find. Fittingly, he did it on the program of progressive commentator and comedian Jon Stewart. Today’s smartest Republicans, self-aware enough to know their core views deviate significantly from those of conservatives in the tradition of Buckley, Goldwater, and Reagan, are more likely to say what they think to Jon Stewart. His audience is apt to be receptive, maybe even won over, by a mature progressivism portrayed as what conservatives really think. It is not likely to go over as well with, say, readers of National Review.

Stewart claimed that conservatives are anti-government. Initially, Krauthammer appeared to reject this caricature, replying, “The conservative idea is not that government has no role.” But, alas, when he got around to what the proper role of government is, Krauthammer sounded more like Stewart than Buckley.

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Obama: Centralized Power Is the Source of Freedom


Jeffrey H. Anderson

January 23, 2013 8:40 AM

In his second inaugural address, President Obama made every effort to tie his political philosophy to the ideals and principles of the American Founding, even as he made clear how little he understands those ideals and principles.  The gist of Obama’s speech was that only government can grant freedom.  Or as he put it, “[W]e have always understood…that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”

To be clear, Obama doesn’t mean this in the sense of a limited government’s importance in securing certain unalienable rights.  Rather, as his speech made clear, he means it in the sense of an activist government’s importance in consolidating power effectively, redistributing wealth liberally, taxing and spending prodigiously, and heavily regulating the possession of that portion of Americans’ property that it allows to remain in their hands.

Thomas Jefferson said, “The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen, in his person and property, and in their management.”  In his second inaugural, Obama said very nearly the opposite.

Instead of emphasizing the importance and the nobility of individual Americans’ work, or of Americans coming together to form voluntary civil associations in their communities, Obama emphasized the need for collective action shepherded by the federal government.  He said, “No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.  Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people.”  Rather than emphasizing the possibilities of being a free man or woman in a free land, he emphasized the individual American’s powerlessness in the absence of the centralized state.

Obama added, “We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few” — thereby suggesting that, in the absence of consolidated power in Washington, prosperity is available not to the enterprising, the industrious, or the frugal, but merely to the lucky, and that the same is true for freedom itself.

Tocqueville described an overreaching centralized government as being something that “hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.”  In marked contrast, Obama says that Big Government’s biggest programs “free us to take the risks that make this country great.”  This naïve assertion makes one wonder what freed Americans to take such risks in the 150 years between the Founding and the New Deal.

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The end product of 80 years of progressivism is….

Rolling Stone: Obama is the “Progressive Firewall”

If you’re looking for Obama hagiography and a featurette on “A Day in the Life of Tom Hanks,” then the new issue is all you. Today’s epitaph for what Walter Russell Mead calls “the blue social model”:

Viewed through the lens of history, Obama represents a new type of 21st-century politician: the Progressive Firewall. Obama, simply put, is the curator-in-chief of the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier and the Great Society. When he talks about continued subsidies for Big Bird or contraceptives for Sandra Fluke, he is the inheritor of the Progressive movement’s agenda, the last line of defense that prevents America’s hard-won social contract from being defunded into oblivion.

The end product of 80 years of progressivism is … Big Bird and Sandra Fluke? I’d dare Obama to run on that, but he already is.


The Greenroom

The Obama Delusion: Who Needs Results When There’s a Future to Shape?

For Michael Grunwald, the president’s vision matters more than his results


The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era, by Michael Grunwald (Simon & Schuster, 528 pp., $28)

Journalist Michael Grunwald wants to convince readers that it’s not President Obama’s record that matters but his ideas. In The New New Deal, his book on Obama’s stimulus plan, Grunwald argues that because the stimulus will transform American industry in the long run, it doesn’t matter that the immediate employment situation has improved so little. The “change” that Obama promised, contends Grunwald, “is a direction, not a destination.” Put differently: the stimulus was “only partly about stimulus” and “also about metamorphosis.” Who needs results when you’re busy shaping the future?

President Barack Obama announces the Economic ...

Administration officials certainly saw the stimulus the way Grunwald does. “Stimulus czar” Matt Rogers, for instance, said of biotech investments that “we don’t know which of these approaches will work. . . . We don’t care.” Grunwald endorses this nonchalance, touting the Obama administration’s efforts at industrial policy—such as rejuvenating the renewable-fuel industry and expanding clean-technology loans—as a bold new direction for the American economy. But Grunwald also shows that Obama didn’t always favor such flightiness. On the campaign trail, Obama conceded that investing in alternative energy would “not . . . deal with the immediate crisis” but would “use economic hardship as a rationale for enacting an ideologically driven policy agenda.” As the crisis deepened, however, Obama and his advisors realized that it would allow them to implement bigger projects, and they began referring to the stimulus as a “down payment on long-term goals.” As Grunwald delicately puts it, this was the president’s “one shot to spend boatloads of money pursuing his vision.”

This new attitude drastically changed the nature of the stimulus. Whereas Obama’s advisors had previously stressed “timely, targeted, and temporary” investments, they now made quick and capricious decisions. One advisor described the process as “Someone would make a single phone call, and suddenly it’s, ‘All righty. Put a billion dollars over there.’” Seeking to recreate FDR’s public-works projects, Obama encouraged this haphazard approach. And Grunwald approves, arguing that “it made sense to fund things that deserved funding anyway.” Moreover, he asks rhetorically, would it have been better for Obama to “fill out the $800 billion with things he didn’t want to do?” The idea seems to be that Obama had to spend that sum. Grunwald is so convinced by the righteousness of the stimulus that he cannot conceive of an alternative.

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