Election 2020: When Bernie Sanders announced on Tuesday that he was running for president, the only surprising thing was how much competition he’ll have on the far left. The current crop of 2020 candidates is so liberal, in fact, that it makes the Barack Obama of 2008 look positively right wing.
When Obama first ran, he tried to position himself as something of a fiscal moderate.
Obama complained about “the orgy of spending” under President George W. Bush. He pledged that all his spending plans were more than offset with spending cuts.
“What I’ve done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut,” he said.
Obama the Moderate?
He attacked Hillary Clinton for wanting to mandate the purchase of health care, and John McCain for proposing a tax on employer-provided health benefits. About the latter, Obama warned that it would unravel the country’s employer-based private health insurance system.
“That, I don’t think, is the kind of change that we need,” he said.
Instead, Obama said he’d focus on lowering health costs to make insurance a more affordable option.
As for the rich, the only tax hike Obama promised was to return the top rate to 39.6%, where it had been under President Bill Clinton.
Obama also promised regulatory reform and tax cuts for the middle class. On child care, he talked only about boosting the child tax credit to make it more affordable for parents.
On immigration, Obama promised to improve border security. “We need stronger enforcement on the border and at the workplace,” he said.
Obama promised only to fill in the financing gap for Social Security, but never mentioned expanding benefits.
Of course, Obama betrayed many of those promises and failed to keep others. And he was much more liberal than he let on.
Double The Size Of Government
Nevertheless, were he campaigning on his 2008 proposals today, he’d likely be written off as an uninspired, centrist establishmentarian.
Think about it. Where Obama was railing about an “orgy of spending,” today’s Democrats are pushing plans that, combined, would more than double the size of the federal government.
In fact, the 12 Democrats who’ve already announced seem to be in a race to see who can propose the biggest, most expensive new government programs, paid for by substantial tax hikes on the “rich,” including a confiscatory “wealth tax.”
Of the seven major candidates who’ve declared, most have signed on to the radical “Medicare for all” plan developed by Bernie Sanders. It will cost $32 trillion in its first 10 years, and that’s a lowball estimate. It would outlaw private insurance, including all employer provided health plans. And it would be bigger in scale and scope than the health care program of any other nation, with the possible exception of Cuba.
Even the supposedly moderate former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, another possible 2020 presidential contender, is on board.
Socialist Green New Deal
Every major candidate now in the race has also endorsed socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal.” As we pointed out, the GND is nothing less than “a call for enviro-socialism.” It would put the government in charge of virtually every corner of the economy.
The cost is impossible to calculate, but the disruption and harm it would cause the economy would be unprecedented. Just trying to convert half the nation’s energy to renewables would double or triple household energy costs. And the GND wants to go 100% renewable in a decade.
Most of the candidates also support the idea of “guaranteed federal jobs” — a guarantee last seen in the Soviet Union’s constitution. The price tag: about $7 trillion over a decade.
Bernie Sanders wants to guarantee a job for every American worker that pays at least $15 an hour, and comes with health care benefits, a retirement plan and the same generous paid leave that federal workers get today.
When Sen. Corey Booker introduced a bill that would test a jobs guarantee in 15 local areas, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren — all running in 2020 — signed on as co-sponsors.
This week, Warren announced a plan to provide free child care to anyone who makes less than twice the poverty rate, and cap costs at 7% of income for anyone else. The cost: $700 billion in the first decade.
The candidates are also calling for things like universal Pre-K education ($150 billion) and free college ($750 billion). Several of the 2020 candidates signed on to a bill that expands Social Security benefits — at a cost of $326 billion in the first five years and $560 billion over the next decade. Instead of border security, Democrats are talking about knocking down existing border barriers.
As we noted in this space recently, combined, this agenda would create a government that commands a bigger share of the economy than any other industrialized nation.
Will Moderate Dems Have A Chance?
True, it’s possible that some moderate Democrats will enter the race, such as former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
But how are they going to attract the support and enthusiasm in a field dominated by leftists who are willing to propose any new government program, no matter how massive?
And how are they going to appeal to the increasingly radicalized Democratic base? Not by blathering on about fiscal responsibility and the need to offer “realistic” proposals.
President Donald Trump was right to warn in his State of the Union address that Democrats want to import socialism into the U.S. The fact that there are so many Bernie Sanders clones running next year is proof of it.