The closer we get to the 2020 election, Democratic presidential candidates support more socialist proposals, and the more that we Venezuelan immigrants experience déjà vu.
We’re all-too-familiar with the rhetoric Democrats have delivered over the course of their campaigns. All candidates endorse a transition to Medicare-for-All in one form or another, higher taxes on Americans, and a fresh wave of regulations and government-guaranteed “rights.” And just recently, Elizabeth Warren seemed to endorse government-provided housing. These are the kinds of measures they hope will bring about a paradise similar to the Left’s beloved Nordic countries. Even so, for Americans used to a liberal government, it can be hard to envision what a democratic-socialist America would really look like.
But I can. I’ve lived it.
I saw my home country go from prosperity to starvation in less than two decades. All because the people were tricked into voting for a candidate who sought to punish the rich and give everything away for free. Sound familiar?
If America buys into the ideas of the Sanders and Warrens of the world, things will go downhill just as quickly.
Imagine: It’s January 20, 2021. The Democratic base showed up in droves for the 2020 election, and Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or one of their socialist cohorts has snagged the key to the Oval Office. Within the next four years, they pass their trademark proposals.
Democrats kick everyone off their private insurance and cover them under Medicare. But Medicare-for-all turns out to be Medicare-for-none — older Americans suffer from increased wait times for surgeries and emergency room visits as more people flood the system. The lack of copayments means the number of people who go to the doctor and emergency room without a serious reason skyrocket, crowding out the truly needy. Moreover, Medicare-for-All cuts payments to hospitals by about 40 percent, relative to private insurance. Like in Venezuela, price controls like these force businesses to close. In America’s case, many hospitals in rural and low-income areas can’t make a profit under the new system, so they either go bankrupt or stop accepting Medicare, forcing folks to pay out of pocket or travel to a hospital that does.
The Democrats have to pay for this program somehow, so they increase payroll and income taxes for all workers. Americans suddenly lose, on average, over $5,600 of income per year. And the millennial voters who were so eager to elect a socialist now suffer the most from this. After all, millennials represent the bulk of the workforce, so they bear the brunt of additional taxation while using healthcare less than any other group.
The corporate tax rate that Trump had cut is brought back to life, and there’s a new wealth tax on millionaires and billionaires. China, Mexico, and the Europeans will rejoice as hundreds of thousands of American jobs disappear or move offshore to avoid the higher corporate tax. Businesses borrow more from China since wealthy Chinese investors — many of them tied to China’s brutal regime — aren’t subject to the wealth tax American investors must pay.
Under the new $15 per hour minimum wage, small businesses close shop, and millions of jobs dissipate. Youth and minority unemployment, which reached record-lows during Trump’s presidency, rise dramatically. Venezuela used a similar tactic with a similar, sorry end. After countless minimum wage increases of this kind in Venezuela, they have fewer jobs and more inflation.
High taxes, the minimum wage, and regulations hit the youth especially hard. Despite getting their student debt “forgiven” and going to college tuition-free, once they graduate, young people find out that their college degrees are worthless. Similar to the job market in Southern Europe, more than 1 in 3millennials are now unemployed.
By this point, America boasts an unsustainable budget deficit of many trillions of dollars per year — on top of the trillions of debt, it’s buried under now. In 2024, Americans have learned that “free” things come at a high price, and this massive expansion of government doesn’t end well.
Given full power, Democratic-Socialists would thrust America into an economic nightmare from which it might never escape — not into some Nordic paradise. Venezuelans learned this the hard way. In 2020, Americans can avoid our fate by remembering that free markets, not socialism, lead to prosperity.
Daniel Di Martino (@DanielDiMartino) is a Young Voices Contributor, Economist, and Venezuelan freedom advocate based in Indianapolis, Indiana.