A common criticism labeled against presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (outside of being a communist) is that he wants to give away all this free stuff without paying for it. This comment isn’t as slanderous as it might appear, however, as Sanders has been somewhat less-vocal on how he plans to financially support all his amazing positions without running the Federal Government into the ground (something Bill Maher tried to push him on on last week’s episode of Real Time).
However, what is false about these claims is that Sanders does in fact have very logical methods for backing these programs without raising taxes too much on middle class Americans. Let’s look at each category:
Perhaps the single most memorable aspect of Sanders’s platform is the fact that he wants to expand Medicare to every American in this country. Sanders justifies this by pointing out how we pay much more for a lower-quality system than other countries with a single payer plan.
Sanders plans to pay for this through the American Health Security Act. Under this bill, various new taxes would be imposed, including: a 6.7 percent employer payroll tax, a 5.4 percent tax on high-income individuals, a .02 percent tax on securities transactions, and a progressive tax on individuals making between $200,000 to $600,000 a year.
Sanders’s strong appeal among millennials relies on his fiery stance on many issues dear to us, including the terrible college debt situation we have now. Sanders wishes for everyone to have equal access to a high quality education in this country, not just for debt reasons but because it actively discourages high school students from wanting to attend universities.
The average year-long tuition for an in-state student is over $9000 (keep that specific category in mind since out-of-state fees are even more ridiculous), meaning people going for a bachelor’s degree will end up with over $36,000 in debt by the time they graduate (and that’s discounting the interest that builds up over the years).
Sanders plans to pay for this through the College for All Act. Aptly named, but what are the specifics? Well, for one, there’s going to be several taxes on Wall Street speculation- .5 percent on investment houses, hedge funds, and stock trades, .01 percent on bonds, and .005 percent fee on derivatives.
These numbers may sound small, but they will procure billions of dollars in funds for Bernie’s tuition free college.
Sanders has been a committed environmentalist during his entire career, so it’s no surprise that he wants to tackle climate change head on through supporting green energy initiatives.
But, conservatives may ask, how do you plan to do this since Solyndra failed? Well, through several pieces of legislation: the Climate Protection Act, Super Pollutants Act, and the Sustainable Energy Act. All have been held back so far because of Republican House members, but they each strive to tackle a very important aspect of shifting the economy towards a pro-environment standard.
The Climate Protection Act would do two things- impose a carbon tax on greenhouse gas emitters, as well as pump millions of funds into clean energy technologies. The Super Pollutants Act would financially go after corporations that deliberately pollute the environment and get away with it. And finally the Sustainable Energy Act continues many of the policies set forth in the Climate Protection Act, including providing funds for a billion dollars to transition workers into their new jobs and tripling the budget of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), a government agency that develops advanced energy technologies.
The carbon tax imposed by these pieces of legislation would be more than enough to provide the funds for these initiatives, with the specifics being a $20 carbon tax per ton of carbon emissions that will rise by 5.6 percent over the course of 10 years.
So as you can see, all the whining on the Right is just that- whining that Sanders actually has legitimate plans for the betterment of the United States, while the lot of them are stuck on deciding whether or not we need to build a freaking wall around the country.