Up is down; black is white; Trump is the GOP frontrunner; and a self-described democratic socialist has performed way beyond expectations. Oh, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) could snatch the GOP nomination away from Trump. This whole election cycle is full of surprises, so the obvious next step is that some of the most hard-core liberals who write for The New York Times actually pen something sensible. I’m talking about Paul Krugman’s piece last week, where the unabashed liberal economist (and Nobel laureate) said essentially that Bernie Sanders has jumped the shark:
From the beginning, many and probably most liberal policy wonks were skeptical about Bernie Sanders. On many major issues — including the signature issues of his campaign, especially financial reform — he seemed to go for easy slogans over hard thinking. And his political theory of change, his waving away of limits, seemed utterly unrealistic.
ou could argue that policy details are unimportant as long as a politician has the right values and character. As it happens, I don’t agree. For one thing, a politician’s policy specifics are often a very important clue to his or her true character — I warned about George W. Bush’s mendacity back when most journalists were still portraying him as a bluff, honest fellow, because I actually looked at his tax proposals. For another, I consider a commitment to facing hard choices as opposed to taking the easy way out an important value in itself.
But in any case, the way Mr. Sanders is now campaigning raises serious character and values issues.
It’s one thing for the Sanders campaign to point to Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street connections, which are real, although the question should be whether they have distorted her positions, a case the campaign has never even tried to make. But recent attacks on Mrs. Clinton as a tool of the fossil fuel industry are just plain dishonest, and speak of a campaign that has lost its ethical moorings.
The Washington Post editorial board also took Sanders to task after his train wreck of a meeting with the New York Daily News editorial board, where he touted a favorite talking point of the far left: he wants to break up the big banks. How? Well, he’ll come up with an answer to that question at a later juncture, which no one saw as an acceptable answer.
A New York Daily News editorial board interview with the candidate proved otherwise. The senator seemed to have no idea of what reformed banks should look like, or whether he would need new legislation, even though the government under his presidency would play a central role in tearing apart these complex financial institutions.
Mr. Sanders followed the interview with what was meant to be a clarifying statement. The treasury secretary would draw up a list of too-big-to-fail banks, Mr. Sanders explained, and break them up under the authority of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. In an interview with us, Sanders policy adviser Warren Gunnels said that current regulators are not applying existing authorities aggressively enough and that Mr. Sanders would pick a strong treasury secretary with no Wall Street ties to fill in many of the details.
It’s astonishing that, on this of all issues, the campaign would need to issue a what-the-candidate-meant-to-say statement. Even then, the campaign has left a lot of essential questions unanswered.
Oh c’mon, Washington Post; you saw that this guy was a mile-wide and an inch deep back in January:
Mr. Sanders’s story continues with fantastical claims about how he would make the European social model work in the United States. He admits that he would have to raise taxes on the middle class in order to pay for his universal, Medicare-for-all health-care plan, and he promises massive savings on health-care costs that would translate into generous benefits for ordinary people, putting them well ahead, on net. But he does not adequately explain where those massive savings would come from. Getting rid of corporate advertising and overhead would only yield so much. Savings would also have to come from slashing payments to doctors and hospitals and denying benefits that people want.
The scary part is that he has cobbled together a large following, especially with young, college-educated liberals. This is terribly depressing, since many of these students are suckered into thinking that free college is a serious, and sustainable, economic policy. Moreover, it could possibly gut black colleges. It seems like Sanders’ college plan could be one huge economic failure and a microaggession to boot. As for Bernie’s health care plan, well, it’s a total disaster for the working poor.
Last Note: Watch Cato Senior Fellow Johan Norberg explain how Sweden didn’t start off as a socialist haven, but such a theory was embraced towards the latter part of the 20th century and pretty much ruined the country.