Bernie Sanders made waves with his big fundraising totals, bringing in over $5.9 million from over 225,000 individual contributors. Bernie’s fundraising prowess was a big part of the reason he was able to wage an insurgent campaign in 2016 to begin with, and it’ll certainly be important in 2020. However, the most important component of Bernie’s political revolution is his policy agenda, because at the end of the day that is what drives the hundreds of thousands of people to contribute to his campaign to begin with and over a million to sign up to volunteer their time to his effort.
To retool a longstanding political adage, “it’s the policy agenda, stupid.”
From Medicare for All to Taxing the Rich, Bernie’s Vision is Clear and Popular
Medicare for All is now the standard healthcare policy in the Democratic Party, to the point that candidates are bucking the policy to establish a more “centrist” or “bipartisan” record. People like Amy Klobuchar have explicitly done so, people like Beto O’Rourke are a little more tepid but the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, Beto’s support for “affordable healthcare for all.” Candidates like Kamala Harris show the otherside, she’s been unwilling to completely break from the policy, even though she walked back abolishing private insurance, that’s a bold stance and she’s stuck to the broad strokes of the policy after the push back. Which is commendable.
Kamala’s approach in the face of pressures that people like Klobuchar or O’Rourke have seemingly caved to is, again, commendable. However, if you believe elected officials are supposed to represent their constituents and the policy positions those constituents support, pushing for Medicare for All is the bare minimum.
According to recent polls from the Kaiser Family Foundation, up to 71% of Americans support Medicare for All and a broad “health care as a right.” The same poll showed that 67% of Americans support the policy when the goal is framed as “eliminating out of pocket costs and insurance premiums.” When asked if they would like to “raise their taxes” in order to “abolish the private insurance industry” the number drops to 26% and 37% respectively. And a similar number for proposals which do away with the current Medicare program. Taking a look at Bernie’s plan, it seems like it would fit that more 71% or 67% popularity.
While taxes will need to go up across the board, as one could imagine, Bernie’s tax structure, and other popular proposals like Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax, are capable of raising significant sums of money largely on the backs of the rich. Once the cost/benefits are clearly articulated and people see the sums saved both individually and on the government level, support for the program will likely only go up.
Taking a look at Medicaid expansion passed in conservative states recently, this is the exact trend that played out with the Affordable Care Act. States like Idaho and Utah were some of the most vicious opponents of the ACA and fought tooth and nail to keep healthcare markets out of their state. These same states voted via ballot initiative to expand medicaid, by pretty significant margins. People in conservative, largely rural, states have material needs that aren’t being met as well. They like it when people speak to that, and they like it when they offer a solution that doesn’t cost them too much. Which is where soaking the rich comes in, another incredibly popular policy proposal.
The Left’s “Soak the Rich” Plans for a New Era of American Tax and Spend are Hugely Popular
Bernie Sanders’s vision for America is often met with derisive calls of “how will you pay for that.” Despite the fact that many universal programs actually save money in aggregate. (Take a closer look at the numbers for Medicare for All, as an example, we would save $2 trillion + over 10 years.) Additionally we spend a SIGNIFICANT amount of money on the military with spending hikes each year. To top it all off, American taxes are at a decades long low, coming off another decades long low. Combine that with corporate loopholes and all sorts of legal/accounting tricks only accessible by the wealthy and powerful, and there is a significant need to rejigger American revenue streams. Which is exactly what Bernie wants to do and it’s pretty popular.
When discussion of Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez’s 70% top marginal tax rate reached the media, people were aghast. Going back to the 1970s status quo is unacceptable, because the golden age of American communism in the 1950s under Dwight D. Eisenhower (when top marginal rates were 90%+) was pretty awful, right? This discussion inspired more than bad faith media narratives, it also created a need to poll Americans on their views when it comes to taxing the rich. And much to Republican lawmakers surprise I’m sure (actually I’m not that sure, they’re slimy fucks) the majority of even their constituents support the move in theory.
Specifically, 70% of Americans support such a rate on income over $10 million. Even a majority of Republicans support the proposal at 54%. Close to 61% of Americans support Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax and there is similar support for Bernie’s estate tax plan. Combine that with the fact that 55% of Americans claim they do not feel the effects of the Republican tax cuts, there is a significant argument for fundamentally reshaping the American tax code.
And that is exactly what candidates like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and reps like AOC, propose. Again, a majority of Republicans support soaking the rich, because even they are impacted by rampant income inequality. A force that Donald Trump utilized on his rise to power.
The takeaway, the real bipartisan message is that of Bernie Sanders, not wishy-washy centrists.