During the first Democratic presidential primary debate, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton went back and forth about who loved Denmark the most. Turns out Sanders is a slightly bigger fan, but both have praised Scandinavia and its Democratic socialist governments as models for the United States to emulate. So what’s the reality of the left’s Danish utopia? Well, it’s a country with low corporate tax rates, but an insanely high taxes on the middle class. Oh yeah, and it’s swinging right and anti-migrant faster than you can say “rein in the excesses of capitalism.”
When CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Sanders how a self-described socialist could actually win the general election, Sanders turned to his go-to anti-capitalist talking points.
“When you look around the world, you see every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States,” claimed Sanders. “You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we’re not gonna separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have — we are gonna have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth.Those are some of the principles that I believe in, and I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.”
“We are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America, and it is our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism.”
Seeing an opportunity to score some easy patriotic points, Clinton responded, “We are not Denmark,” but then underscored her “love” for socialist countries, saying that what she wanted to do was to curb America’s “excesses.”
“We are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America, and it is our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism,” said the Democratic frontrunner.
But the reality of Denmark doesn’t quite measure up to the left’s soaring praise for the country. First, the middle-class-punishing tax rates: Denmark regularly has one of the highest top personal income tax rates in the world, currently around 60%, and income tax accounts for over 25% of its GDP (as compared to 15% in the U.S.). But that 60% rate is not just for the greedy one-percenters; that’s a rate that applies to everyone who makes around $60,000:
Scandinavian income taxes raise a lot of revenue because they are actually rather flat. In other words, they tax most people at these high rates, not just high-income taxpayers. The top marginal tax rate of 60 percent in Denmark applies to all income over 1.2 times the average income in Denmark. From the American perspective, this means that all income over $60,000 (1.2 times the average income of about $50,000 in the United States) would be taxed at 60 percent.
Then there’s Denmark’s value-added tax, which is a whopping 25% (as compared to America’s average of 7% sales tax) and makes up about 10% of its GDP.
Even Sanders admits that the crippling rates make it “difficult to become very rich in Denmark,” but maintains that it’s all worth it because “no one is allowed to be poor.”
In corporate tax rates, Denmark is more “generous” than the U.S., though the total percentage contribution to the government’s income is about the same (around 3%). While the U.S. crushes corporations with a 39.1% rate, Denmark’s only levies 24.5%.
But what should be most sobering to American progressives is the current political climate in Denmark, which is moving right and responding aggressively to the Middle Eastern migrant crisis in a way that undermines their “generous compassion” narrative.
The most recent election saw a major victory by a center-right coalition, as th right-wing, strongly anti-immigration Danish People’s Party has surged ahead, becoming the second-biggest party in the country. The results: the government is doing everything it can to dissuade “refugees” from trying to enter the country, including slashing benefits by half.