Reprinted from Campaign For America's Future
Steven Pearlstein, in the ominously titled "What Bernie Sanders would do to America" at The Washington Post, warns that asking our government to do things like raising the minimum wage to $15, extending public education by four years, providing Medicare-for-All and especially paying for that by taxing corporations and extremely high-income individuals would "turn America into Denmark or Sweden."
He means that in a bad way.
Sanders' Proposals Would End The World As We Know It
Pearlstein turns to several "economists" to make a case against government doing things to make our lives better. These "economists" use their high "economist" perch on which they sit so far above us mere mortals, to explain that we can't have a government that does things for the people because "the trade-offs that go along with such a system" are "higher taxes and unemployment rates, open trade, slower growth, more income redistribution."
However, his "economists" do not make an economic case to support their argument. They make a political case to knock down Sanders' proposals. (P.S.: "Open trade?" What?)
Deep Economic Modeling That Involves No Economic Modeling At All
An example of the deep economic modeling that went into one "economist's" argument:"'There's nothing wrong with it other than that Americans are not Danes,' said Princeton's Alan Blinder, a top economic adviser to President Bill Clinton."
Another deep "economic" argument:
"The number one reason these policies are feasible in Denmark is that the country is extremely homogenous," said Jacob Kirkegaard, a Dane who is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. "The perception among the electorate is that the government will provide for me and for people who, in a linguistic, cultural and ethnic sense, are just like me."
And another "economic" argument: "The danger for the United States is that it would wind up looking more like Italy and Greece than Denmark and Sweden."
Pearlstein's "economists" also worry that Medicare-for-All "goes too far." Pearlstein quotes one economist who actually did economic modeling, but does so only to have other "economists" knock this down using political, not economic arguments:
"An analysis done for the Sanders campaign by Gerald Friedman, a University of Massachusetts economist, concluded that ... The average family ... would save nearly $6,000 a year, even after paying a new 8.4 percent payroll tax to the government instead of premiums and co-payments to insurance companies. At the same time, employers who offer insurance would save more than $9,000 per employee."
How does Pearlstein knock down the results of actual economic modeling?
"But Kenneth Thorpe, a widely respected health economist at Emory University, argues that Friedman overestimated the administrative savings and reduction in drug prices that the government could negotiate on generic drugs and home health care, both fast-growing segments. And he said that Friedman badly underestimated the additional demand for medical services induced by the elimination of co-payments and deductibles, creating the health-care equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet."
Thorpe offers no data or other evidence that Friedman "overestimated" the savings or additional demand. He just states this. But he is an "economist," so Pearlstein draws on this title for credibility.