As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is pulling away from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, people seem to forget the socialist curmudgeon has many ideas that can only be described as certifiably insane. Here are his top 10 wackiest ideas.
1. "Medicare for All." As one of the sections on Sanders' website explains, the presidential candidate is calling for a single-payer healthcare system. Medicare is an example of a single-payer system, which is why Sander calls for "Medicare for All." The problem is that Medicare already faces $43 trillion in unfunded liabilities and denies healthcare claims at a higher rate than any private insurer. "Medicare for all" would drive the country into bankruptcy.
2. $19.6 trillion in tax increases. An analysis by The Washington Examiner determined that Sanders' proposed tax increases total $19.6 trillion over the next ten years. By comparison, the U.S. currently has an estimated $17 trillion economy. Sanders's tax increases would cost more than the entire U.S. economy over the next decade.
3. Breaking up the big banks. One of Sanders's populist rallying cries is calling for the breakup of big banks. In July, Sanders said, "If we are truly serious about ending too big to fail, we have got to break up the largest financial institutions in this country."
Breaking up big banks might sound like good idea if one subscribes to knee-jerk, emotion-based actions, but the laws of economics suggest that Sanders' proposal would result in economic catastrophe, as Bloomberg's Paul Dwyer explains:
It's unclear how regulators would split up, say, JPMorgan Chase, which got bigger after the crisis because the U.S. implored it to absorb Bear Stearns (ditto for Bank of America, which acquired Merrill Lynch and Countrywide). If regulators divided the bank into commercial and investment banking halves, how would they disentangle the interwoven asset and liability threads around the globe? Millions of contracts would have to be renegotiated. Lines of credit might have to be terminated because smaller banks can't afford to finance them.
...Using the brute force of government to divide big banks could so destabilize the financial system it might invite another crisis. Would the New York clearinghouse, which is operated by the largest banks to process trillions of dollars in daily payments, continue to work, for example? Would multinational corporations, which rely on global U.S. banks for payroll, short-term credit, bond issuance, currency exchange, hedging needs and many other services, have to switch to foreign banks if smaller U.S. banks can no longer afford to operate globally?
4. Bernie loves him some Fidel Castro. The Daily Wire has reported that in 1985, Sanders gushed about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro:
“In 1961, [America] invaded Cuba, and everybody was totally convinced that Castro was the worst guy in the world,” said Sanders.
“All the Cuban people were going to rise up in rebellion against Fidel Castro. They forgot that he educated their kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed society,” he said.
“You know, not to say Fidel Castro and Cuba are perfect - they are certainly not - but just because Ronald Reagan dislikes these people does not mean to say the people in these nations feel the same,” continued Sanders.
Sanders also traveled to Cuba in 1989 with his wife in the hope of meeting the dictator, but never got the chance.
5. Bernie also loves him some Soviet Union. The New York Post's Paul Sperry published a piece chronicling Sanders's radical past, in which he exposes Sanders' longtime admiration for socialist Eugene Debs, a believer in the Soviet Union. Sanders shares Debs' views:
Sanders also adopted a Soviet sister city outside Moscow and honeymooned with his second wife in the USSR. He put up a Soviet flag in his office, shocking even the Birkenstock-wearing local liberals. At the time, the Evil Empire was on the march around the world, and threatening the US with nuclear annihilation.
Then, in 1989, as the West was on the verge of winning the Cold War, Sanders addressed the national conference of the US Peace Council — a known front for the Communist Party USA, whose members swore an oath not only to the Soviet Union but to “the triumph of Soviet power in the US.”
Today, Sanders wants to bring what he admired in the USSR, Cuba, Nicaragua and other communist states to America.
It is therefore disingenuous for Sanders to call himself a socialist; he's a through and through communist.
6. Prosecuting so-called "climate deniers." Sanders, who shares former Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore's passion for preaching brimstone and fire on climate change, has called for the prosecution of climate change skeptics.
The climate change issues section of his website reads, "Bring climate deniers to justice so we can aggressively tackle climate change. It is an embarrassment that Republican politicians, with few exceptions, refuse to even recognize the reality of climate change, let alone are prepared to do anything about it. The reality is that the fossil fuel industry is to blame for much of the climate change skepticism in America."
It continues, "Bernie recently called for the Department of Justice to investigate Exxon Mobil, which may have not only known about the dangers of climate change, but has spent millions of dollars to spread doubt about the causes and impacts of burning fossil fuels."
Sanders's proposal is totalitarian in nature, as it is essentially an attack on the First Amendment. Being publicly skeptical of climate change is, of course, constitutionally protected free speech.
7. Expanding Social Security. The Social Security section on Sanders's website explicitly calls for the expansion of Social Security, which he claims would be funded by lifting the cap on taxable income for Social Security. Problem is, Social Security faces $22 trillion in unfunded liabilities with cuts in benefits looming. Even if the cap on taxable income is lifted, expanding it will only exacerbate the program's fiscal insolvency.
8. Making college tuition-free. As part of his Santa Claus schtick, Sanders calls for college to be tuition-free. It's a utopian proposal – it's alluring, but flies in the face of the law of economics.
Radio host and constitutional scholar Mark Levin writes in Plunder and Deceit that a serious factor behind the rise in college tuition is that colleges and universities recklessly spend on lavish projects to heighten their appeal to students. The result: $205 billion of debt compiled by colleges and universities in 2011. Federal subsidies have enabled colleges and universities to continue their spending spree. Abolishing tuition does not address this problem; it simply shifts the cost completely onto the backs of taxpayers, a part of Sanders' $19.6 trillion in tax increases.
9. Bernie hates Uber. Sanders has "serious problems" with Uber because it is "unregulated." Not only is this false on many levels, it is unwise politically for Sanders since half of millennials use Uber and he risks alienating Silicon Valley, a liberal stronghold.
10. Ending private prisons. The "Racial Justice" section on Sanders's website declares, "We need to ban prisons for profit, which result in an over-incentive to arrest, jail and detain in order to keep prison beds full."
This is false. As Reason magazine's Leonard Gilroy and Adrian Moore point out, private prisons were built as a response to tough crime laws, but even still they only house 9 percent of prison inmates. Abolishing private prisons would only further strain the public prisons that are burdened with overcrowding issues.