Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
The Left is Not Extreme
If you listen to the right-wing politicians and pundits spout their invectives against the policies of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and their supporters who number in the tens of millions you would come away thinking that the progressive wing of the Democratic party are raving lunatics.
Even some of those people who are contending for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president from time to time slip into this irrational fervor.
Universal Healthcare, otherwise known as single-payer or Medicare for all, this is not a radical idea.
Free college or trade school tuition, this is not a radical idea.
Forgiving people their student debt this is not a radical idea.
We have to be careful not to get swept up into heated arguments with those who oppose these policies, because these are not radical positions, and we are not extremists for wanting to see them enacted. Democrats in particular need to hold the line against other democrats who are made nervous by these policy proscriptions, we have to normalize them, and this should not be too difficult because they are normal policies.
Universal Healthcare: There are eighteen countries that offer true universal health coverage: Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
These so-called “first world” countries are all our allies and our biggest trading partners, if they can do it so can we. They have figured out the problem. They all have different systems tailored to the individual needs of their societies. They are leading the way, and it is long past time we figured this out for ourselves.
What is extreme is to promote the belief that universal healthcare is not doable by the United States, that is the extreme position. The we can’t do it position is the position that flies in the face of so-called “American exceptionalism.”
We need to confront the naysayers with the truth, and just tell them to relax. We believe in America, we can do this.
Free universal college tuition is less common than universal healthcare but there are seven industrialized countries that offer this to their citizens: Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, and France, Ireland and Australia. If America is going to continue to promote itself as first among equals in the so-called free world, it is time that we move past the nay-sayers, and hold fast to the position that America can do, because America can do anything.
These countries have different ways of funding these programs, but here is how Australia does it.
If you are accepted to a college or university, and you complete your degree program, and you subsequently become employed in a job where you earn more than 50k per year, then you are subject to a tax that funds the entire program.
If you do not complete your degree, or do not become gainfully employed, or if your circumstances change and you lose your earning power due to some unforeseen circumstance than this tax does not apply to you.
If you go to college, and your degree pays off, if you are earning well then you pay in.
This is simple, it is not radical, this should be easy to normalize.
Some people balk at the idea of forgiving the current load of student debt, they get really incensed by it, as if this proposal involves some kind of crime.
The current load of student debt is 1.5 trillion dollars.
The 2017 Trump tax-cuts cost the country 1.9 trillion dollars.
The second round of proposed Trump tax-cuts are projected to cost the country another 1.4 trillion.
The difference between the tax-cuts proposed by the Republican party and the proposal to eliminate student debt is this.
The tax cuts benefit the wealthiest Americans, allowing them to keep more of their money, without requiring them to put it back into the economy, the stimulative effect to the economy is negligible.
The 1.5 trillion dollars in student debt, is held by Americans who are solidly in the middle class, from the working poor to the upper-middle range. Almost forty-five million Americans are carrying student debt. The average monthly student loan payment (which includes principle and interest) is $393 dollar.
Americans spend 17.5 billion dollars per month servicing their student loan debt. If those revenues were freed up to be used by middle class Americans, it would go directly into the economy. It would be the biggest single economic stimulus for our economy that you could possibly imagine.
This is not radical; it is sound economic policy.
The left is not extreme, we just make sense.