We are currently knee-deep in political primary season, as the two major political parties and voters analyze and reduce the list of hopeful candidates to the eventual nominees. Most will probably agree that this particular cycle is a bit unusual, as one side has a candidate who expected a coronation, but instead sees her numbers falling dramatically in the face of a strong challenge, and a long list of candidates on the other side is being dominated not by an experienced familiar face, but by an outspoken and blunt outsider to the political process.
Businessman Donald Trump continues to lead the large Republican pack, defying the predictions of many political pundits who said he was a flash in the pan, and the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finds self-described “democratic socialist” and political independent Sen. Bernie Sanders nipping at her heels among Democrats.
Mr. Trump’s shoot from the lip style is heavy on bluster and self-confidence, but light on substance. Mrs. Clinton relies on comments in defense of her indefensible use of a private email server that are truly silly. “Looking back,” she said, “it would have been probably, you know, smarter to have used two devices” for her emails, as if you can’t access more than one email account on any “device,” and ignoring the server issue altogether.
And then there is Bernie Sanders. The Vermont independent is proposing an array of socialist programs, the cost of which that would likely be the largest spending program in American history, dwarfing the gargantuan spending spree of Barack Obama., who pushed the national debt up by more than $5 trillion in his less-than seven years in office, a debt that now totals more than $18 trillion. That enormous number has been growing for many years, and is something that neither Democrats nor Republicans in the White House and Congress have treated as a serious problem for far too long.
Sen. Sanders proposes to spend another $18 trillion over 10 years, including an estimated $15 trillion for a government-run single-payer health-care program covering every American, as well as more money to rebuild roads and bridges, make college tuition free, and expand Social Security. That ought to strike fear into everyone, and it has done just that even for many Democrats.
It will come as no surprise that the preferred way of financing this absurd plan is raising taxes, perhaps including a hike in payroll taxes on employers and workers. These tax increases, Sen. Sanders believes, will bring in only $6.5 trillion over the 10-year period, if it all goes as he plans. Maybe he doesn’t realize that when you raise taxes on an activity, you get less of it, and therefore less in tax collections than might be assumed.
Liberal Democrats and other socialist-leaning folks love giveaways like free tuition and healthcare, and seem either immune to, or not to care about, the negative impact on society so long as it helps them in the next election. But there are important negatives in this plan that threaten America’s future.
The marriage rate has plummeted since 1980 and out-of-wedlock childbirth has soared, weakening the most dependable stabilizer of society in history, the traditional family, consisting of a mother, a father and their children. A 2013 report noted that fewer than half of American households now contain a traditional nuclear family; that 40 percent of children are now born into households without a father; and non-married cohabitation is seven times higher than it was in 1970. Another report showed that 40.7 percent of all children born in 2012 were out-of-wedlock births.
The liberal/socialist tendency to support dependency actually encourages these dangerous behaviors by subsidizing non-familial living conditions, such as increasing welfare payments for having additional children, and cutting support payments in some cases when unmarried women get married and bring a man into the home. The message: Don’t get married; you will lose subsidies if you do.
The more people that live off the government, the fewer people will be working and funding the government and its destructive subsidies through tax payments. The system is simply economically unsustainable at the level Sen. Sanders proposes, and even at the current level damages the individual self-reliance that built and sustains the American idea.
So, Bernie Sanders expects this foolhardy plan to propel him to the Democrat nomination and to eventual victory over whichever of the Republicans survives this crazy primary process.
For socialists/liberals, more is never enough. Their problem is that, as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously said, “at some point you run out of other people’s money,” the mother’s milk of socialism. They are handcuffed by what economist Dr. Thomas Sowell calls “stage-one thinking,” which involves grabbing onto an idea to solve a problem without projecting its consequences a few steps down the road. Failure generally ensues.
At this point Democrats must choose between the proudly socialist Sanders and the somewhat less socialistic Clinton. The Republicans have a broad and deep field, some who have proven they know how to run a government, create jobs, cut taxes, and grow their state’s economy. That mindset is what we need now.
James Shott is a columnist for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, and publishes his columns on several Websites, including his own, Observations.