In advance of the 2020 presidential election the contenders for the Democratic nomination have taken a sharp left turn. The rapidity with which this has occurred is downright dizzying (and frightening). Some of their positions would have been considered ultra-radical just a few years ago. If you are a traditional moderate or even mildly liberal Democrat your head must be spinning.
For example, let’s look at two of the more prominent candidates – Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Harris has been a strong advocate of: (a) ending private health insurance and providing free Medicare for everyone, (b) free education from pre-K through college, (c) open borders, (d) sanctuary cities, (e) legalization of recreational marijuana, and (f) imposing a substantial tax increase on corporations and the wealthy while reducing them for everyone else. In particular, her recently-announced healthcare plan made a big splash. [By the way, do you know what the name “Kamala” means? See below.]
In my opinion, these items have two characteristics in common. (1) They sound good, and (2) they won’t work. They sound good, because who doesn’t like free stuff? Who wouldn’t like free education and free healthcare? However, there is one little, teensy, weensy problem. It is the same problem with most liberal ideas. Can you guess what it is? I’ll tell you. How do we pay for it? Tax the rich, you say. Well, do you have any idea how much all this free stuff would cost? No, you don’t, and neither does anyone else, including Harris. I have seen various estimates, and the best guess is $30 TRILLION over a 10-year period. $30 TRILLION! There is not nearly enough additional tax money to be had to begin to pay for it, anyone who thinks there is is delusional.
Her plan is even more inane when you combine it with her open borders policy. So, let me get this straight. We grant anyone who wants it free, unfettered access to our country, and then we pay for their health insurance and education. What do you suppose would happen? I’ll tell you. The current flood of illegals would grow to a never-ending torrent. It would destroy our country. And this is a person who is a serious candidate for president?
Harris’ handlers may come to realize how radical and unworkable her plan is and may prevail upon her to “walk it back,” but don’t be fooled. It is what she really believes and wants. Even worse, I suspect there are many Dems who agree with some or all of it. They just don’t want to say so openly.
Elizabeth Warren has espoused most of the above policies. In addition, she has proposed a wealth tax on the “superrich.” Households with wealth in excess of $50 million would pay a 2% tax annually. Those in excess of $1 billion would pay 3%. That is another inane idea appeals to the average person but has not been well thought out.
A wealth tax is not a novel idea. It has been tried in several countries, and it has not worked well. Both valuation and collection were shown to be problematic. Invariably, the superrich find ways to hide, transfer, or undervalue their assets and, thus, avoid or minimize the tax. Plus, placing a value on assets such as a business, artwork, real estate and other non-liquid assets is very subjective. Economist Jonathan Gruber points out that “when you tax people’s wealth, they manage to somehow reduce their taxable wealth.” Some, like French actor Gerard Depardieu simply moved a few miles across the border to neighboring Belgium. Hello, Canada.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development the number of nations imposing a wealth tax has decreased from 12 in 1990 to four in 2017. Many of them have realized that it’s easier to tax liquid assets, such as investment and capital gains.
It appears that the Dem presidential candidates are in a contest to see who can propose the most liberal/socialist policies. This may be a good strategy for the primaries, but the winner will be so far left, he or she will have trouble getting back to the center in order to win the general. The Dem party has moved so far left that traditional moderates, such as Joe Biden, must be in shock as many of their policies may no longer be in vogue.
All that said, one must remember that it is still very early. History tells us there will be many twists and turns before the 2020 election. Indeed, a recent “Washington Post” poll disclosed that 56% of Dems and Dem-leaning independents, when queried as to whom they would support for the nomination didn’t disclose a preference. Moreover, the leader among those who did express a preference was Joe Biden, who has not yet even declared he is running, with 9%. At this point, many of them probably do not even know who most of the candidates will be.
Stay tuned. 2020 should be a wild ride.
According to Wikipedia, “Kamala” is derived from the Sanskrit word for lotus flower. Her mother is from India.