Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bernie Sanders: Reading Past the Campaign Slogans (Part 1)

Going past the campaign slogans of the self-proclaimed Socialist Democrat {Part 1}
[Image credit: http://www.theblaze.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Bernie-Sanders.jpeg]

A Bernie Sanders supporter sent me an article recently wanting to explain how Bernie Sanders proposes to "pay" for "everything", assuaging my fears and recent points doubting the feasibility of the $18 trillion dollar plan.  This actually got me reading a lot of documents I would have not been reading otherwise - but, I understand I need more knowledge ammo if I'm going to debate Bernie Sanders supporters. Oh, and the article does not explain how Bernie is going to pay for $18 trillion in new programs, it says this: "Sanders has been somewhat less-vocal on how he plans to financially support all his amazing positions without running the Federal Government into the ground..." Can I get a what-the-hell? That's NOT a very smart way to introduce your article, but anyway, here are a few good pieces of information I found today.

1. On Carbon Taxes: The article states, "The carbon tax imposed by these pieces of legislation (Climate Protection Act, Super Pollutants Act, and the Sustainable Energy Act) would be more than enough to provide the funds for these initiatives, with the specifics being a $20 carbon tax per ton of carbon emissions that will rise by 5.6 percent over the course of 10 years."

From the CBO's PDF document called "Effects of a Carbon Tax on the Economy and the Environment". "The Burden of a Carbon Tax - that is - the hardship caused by price increases for fossil fuels and emission intensive goods and services and by the reduction in wages and returns on investments would fall disproportionately on these groups:

1) Low Income Households (because of the increase in the cost of goods)
2) Workers and investors in emission-intensive industries and
3) People in regions of the country that rely on emission-intensive industries for their livelihood or use emission-intensive fuels to produce power.

The high prices resulting from a carbon tax would tend to be regressive - that is, they would impose a larger burden (relative to income) on low-income households than high-income households.  The reason is that low-income households spend a larger share of their income on goods and services whose prices would increase the most, such as electricity and transportation. "

"Lawmakers could balance these trade-offs (see part about tax swaps, etc) by choosing to use the revenues in more than one way. For instance they could allocate some of the revenues to offsetting costs to hard-hit households and the rest to reducing economy-wide costs. By one estimate, offsetting the cost of a carbon tax for households in the lowest two/fifths of the income distribution would take less than 30 percent of the gross revenues ; offsetting the costs for households in the lowest one/fifth would take roughly 12 percent."

So, after reading the document, it basically says depending on how they use the revenues from the CO2 tax, it could equalize the negative effects it has on the economy and maybe surpass it, but at first it would have more negative effects than positive, seeing as the economy and businesses would need to make huge adjustments and build new ways to produce electricity, etc.

2. Single-Payer Healthcare: The article states, "Perhaps the single most memorable aspect of Sanders’s platform is the fact that he wants to expand Medicare to every American in this country. Sanders justifies this by pointing out how we pay much more for a lower-quality system than other countries with a single payer plan."

"Single-payer systems cause shortages of general physicians and specialists and reduce access to medical technology. As an example, Heartland Institute Senior Fellow Peter Ferrara has noted only one-quarter of women in the United States diagnosed with breast cancer die of it, whereas the corresponding death rates are 35 percent in France and 46 percent in Britain, two nations with single-payer health-care systems.

Single-payer systems are notorious for long waiting lines and limited access to care. Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute notes, “Forty percent of the population in Canada does not have a general practitioner because there are so few doctors. Even though they have theoretical entitlement [to health care], they can’t get it.” Such long queues force citizens in single-payer systems to seek care in the United States." [https://www.heartland.org/policy-documents/research-commentary-dangers-single-payer-health-system]

As well, I found this interesting tidbit no one seems to mention: "In 2011, the Vermont state government enacted a law functionally establishing the first state-level single-payer health care system in the United States. Green Mountain Care, established by the passage of H.202, creates a system in the state where Vermonters receive universal health care coverage as well as technological improvements to the existing system.

On December 17, 2014, Vermont Democrats abandoned their plan for universal health care, citing the taxes required of smaller businesses within the state.[1]" 

[ https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermont_health_care_reform.]  Hmmm, Bernie never mentions that.

3. Fixing America's Infrastructure:  To me, this sounds great at first. Who doesn't want to fix America's crumbling bridges and roads?

"Tuesday, January 27, 2015, Sanders introduced legislation to create 13 million jobs, called the "Rebuild America Act." You can view a press release here, a summary of the bill here, and the full bill here.

The bill proposes to spend $1.6 trillion on rebuilding America's roads, bridges, railways, airports, waterways, ports, national parks, and electric grids from 2015 to 2022. Funding for this proposal appears to come in the establishment of a National Infrastructure Development Bank to give out loans."  Source.

Cost: $1.6 trillion. (Here is a visual representation of what a trillion looks like) Bernie Sanders doesn't propose any new taxes to pay for this, but the creation of a new government owned bank called the National Infrastructure Development Bank.  The qualifications to run this bank are a) to have public sector experience and b) to have private sector experience. That's it. That's all it says.  The bank will "borrow on the global capital market and lend to regional, State, and local entities and commercial banks for the purpose of funding infrastructure projects, and "Purchase in the open market any of the Bank's outstanding obligations at any time and any price". 

In simple terms, this just means more debt!

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