Sunday, February 28, 2016

Bernie Sanders is Bad for Indian-Americans and America

The 2016 US presidential election could easily be called the 'rage election'. Both parties are witnessing full blown revolts by their respective voter bases and voters are literally hoisting certifiably lunatic candidates and showering electoral success on them. Electorates of the past have gone to the polls and vented their ire against status quo but the candidates they chose to be the vessels of their hopes were candidates of hope like Reagan or Clinton or Obama but this election cycle see the voters running behind a socialist peddling hare brained schemes that promise utopia and a hate mongering billionaire clown.

The danger that Donald Trump poses is apparent and needs no sophistication to unravel but the danger posed by Bernie Sanders, self styled 'Democratic Socialist, is more subtle but no less poisonous because it comes wrapped in good intentions and therefore very attractive to the gullible. Policy makers sympathetic to Democrats have come out openly and issued a signed statement debunking Sanders's proposals as fantasies that if enacted would wreck the American economy. Sanders's socialism has found wide acceptance within the Democratic party which is intellectually predisposed to such an ideology. Indian-Americans are mostly democrats and have surprisingly become supporters of Sanders overlooking Hillary Clinton. How did an ethnic group that ran away from a socialist country become cheerleaders for a socialist? Why does an ethnic group that has enjoyed the fruits of capitalism become supporters of socialism? How did an immigrant group end up supporting a anti-immigration advocate?

Bernie Sanders (Image courtesy Wikipedia)
The most attractive proposal of Sanders that has literally caught fire is his 'medicare-for-all'. Sanders's proposal is to institute a single payer system akin to what countries like UK, Canada and other European countries have. The woes of America's healthcare system are well known. Essentially America spends more capita on healthcare and results like mortality rates are no better than that of any industrialized country. Until Obama passed his legacy making healthcare overhaul legislation insurance companies refused coverage for pre-existing coverage amongst many other issues. Sanders makes the argument that for a modest tax increase on all, an average $500, everyone can get coverage that would save $5000. Those cost and savings projected are based on estimates arrived at by his campaign and have become the fiercest contested detail by especially left leaning economists.

Sanders often cites the example of Denmark as a model of a country that takes care of its poor. What Sanders conveniently forgets to mention is that Denmark has a top income tax rate of 60% and that rate starts at annual gross income of $60,000. If Sanders even offers a tax rate close to that from a debate stage his supporters will get a jolt of electrifying reality. Sanders presents a rosy picture of the single payer system without even hinting at why such a system is plagued by troubles in every country it currently exists. Sanders's own home state Vermont tried instituting a single payer system but eventually abandoned it because the projected costs exceeded the total revenue of the state despite stiff increases of taxes on businesses. Sanders argues that in a single-payer system there will be cost efficiencies because the government, the single-payer entity, can bargain better prices from drug manufacturers and hospitals. What is unsaid is that such cost-efficiencies entail deep cuts in how doctors and hospitals are reimbursed. It is a problem that the current medicare system faces with doctors and hospitals exiting the system due to paltry reimbursement.

A critique of Sanders's health plan by left leaning economists, a New York Times report noted, none of whom are aligned with Clinton and are not republican friendly, said that Sanders's plan "will increase the size of Federal government by more than 50%" and add "two trillion to $3 trillion to the deficit each year". Yes, that's each year.

An AP-GFK poll on support for Sanders's medicare for all illustrated the limits of what Americans are ready to support. 39% expressed support while 33% opposed the plan. When the supporters where asked if they'd still support the plan if the plan meant tax increases the support flipped with 39% now opposing. Essentially everyone loves socialism only when somebody else is paying the bill.

UK's much vaunted NHS is practically facing a revolt by junior doctors and an exodus of doctors to countries like Australia and New Zealand is happening. In Canada some private insurance is required to supplement the single payer insurance provided by the government and of course taxes on income and sales taxes are considerably higher than the US.

To make his health plan work Sanders needs to completely overhaul one-sixth of American economy ranging from how much doctors are paid, hospital reimbursements, drug pricing, ability to see specialists, even ability to sue doctors or hospitals for malpractices (nearly 75% of US malpractice lawsuits are frivolous lawsuits. But Democrats who are controlled by the multi-billion dollar Tort lawyers lobby will not touch Tort reform with a ten foot pole). Indian-Americans boast of having large number of doctors and many hope their children will become one, therefore it's ironical to see this group support Sanders's fantasy plan.

Skyrocketing college fees is a nightmare for every American parent and Sanders the Santa Claus comes to the rescue with 'free-college for all'. Just as his single payer system was a failed idea in practice this too is a failed idea. A Washington Post article lays bare the stupidity of such an idea with a stinging title, "the false hope of free college". This is utter nonsense. Like anything given free the program when implemented by Georgia it was a disaster. When Obama offered a similar plan even left leaning think tank Brookings institution ripped into it saying that it is "bad for poor Americans". Again, Sanders will have to institute price controls for teachers salaries and college administrators. Elizabeth Warren, beloved lioness of the fringe far left and former professor at Harvard, was paid $300,000 for being a part-time professor.

Sanders airily dismisses talk of how to pay for his programs with a proposal to tax Wall Street transactions. He calls it a "tax on speculators" and rants that the business model of Wall Street is 'fraud'. His campaign cites very optimistic estimates of such revenue. The position paper on his own site states plainly that the revenue estimates from such a tax has little theoretical background since it has never been tried. A "financial transaction tax" will not hit just "millionaires and billionaires" but every American who holds retirement accounts and college savings accounts, both of which are heavily used by the high earning Indian-American community. When Obama floated a proposal to tax the wildly popular college savings plan even liberal democrats revolted, including a Sanders supporting colleague of mine. Again and again everyone loves socialism provided somebody else pays the bill.

While Sanders was filling stadiums with thousands of fawning supporters a friendly fire came from economists who had served in Obama's administration. When Sanders rails against a 'rigged economy' and calls for a 'political revolution' it discredits democrats who have fought in the trenches to advance liberal policies against stiff opposition. Sanders makes them look like weasels for compromises that they agreed to in order to advances a larger goal. The open letter bluntly stated that Sanders's economic proposals are not supported by evidence.

Sanders also hits Indian-Americans where it hurts most, immigration. He has always been anti-immigration arguing that influx of labor is inimical to native workers. Again, economic theory is not on his side. Running for the presidency in the Democratic party Sanders is spinning that his vote against a Ted Kennedy sponsored legislation for immigration that included a guest worker program was because that program was "akin to slavery". Hillary Clinton hit back that Ted Kennedy, a liberal lion of the senate, would not have proposed any legislation that treats workers as slaves. Sanders has muted his anti-immigration stance bending to political pandering for office. So much for truth telling.

Indians while being instinctively capitalist when it comes to their personal wallet and earning they are yet to become intellectually comfortable with capitalism as a philosophy. Many Indian-Americans who support Sanders are comfortable with higher taxes because they think he's only targeting 'millionaires and billionaires' and even if their taxes go up it'd only do so marginally in which case the benefits will outweigh the cost. Both are fallacious naivete. To finance Sanders's extravagant proposals taxes will have to rise steeply, on all. Sanders cannot have Denmark with American tax structure. There are some who'd argue "well so what if my taxes go up, after all someone has to pay".

During a debate Sanders pointedly accused Hillary of being unworthy of the label "progressive" because she's a "moderate". He could not have stated more clearly that in his mind being a progressive means a militant far left liberal and nothing to do with being a moderate. Moderation, for Sanders, is a vice. Sanders has a blind faith in the goodness of the government to the extent that when evidence piled  up against Veterans Affairs hospitals of corruption and venality he, according to a New York Times report, refused to believe it at first. On the contrary Sanders think an entire private industry is made up of criminals with fraud as business model. Sanders is a hypocrite who rails against Wall Street but is silent on how the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the darling of the liberals, created a man made disaster by flooding a river with highly toxic materials and indulged in a year long cover up of lead contamination in the drinking water supplied by the city of Flint. If any private company had done either of that Sanders would be baying for their blood.

A Sanders presidency will hurt Indian-Americans where it hurts most, college admissions for their children. Indian-American applicants to colleges face a steep challenge, especially for Ivy League universities, thanks to affirmative action and admission practices that practically border on discrimination. The passing away of dependably conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia has put the very ideological balance of the court at play. Sanders has already vowed to nominate a liberal judge. Asian-Americans have filed lawsuits against Harvard alleging discriminatory practices. A case against affirmative action is already pending in the Supreme Court. With a justice like Sonia Sotomayor, a self confessed affirmative action baby, is inimical to Indian-American interests and the absence of a Scalia poses grave danger to prospects of Indian-American kids.

Sanders, as Hillary points out, is a single-issue candidate who knows nothing beyond ranting about income-inequality. To a question of Afghanistan he turned the answer to Syria and parroted his vote against the Iraq war in 2003 leaving the viewers scratching their heads. Indian-Americans still mostly view their adopted country as a foreign country and through the prism of foreign policy. Also, they are instinctively sympathetic to the ideas of America as an imperialist country without having taken any efforts to learn how an isolationist country underwent a metamorphosis post-Munich and Pearl Harbor. Sanders tries to present himself as reasonable by saying he's not totally against war but his record is anything but. The 1991 Persian Gulf war, sanctioned by UN Security council, funded by Saudis and had a clear definition of what constitutes victory, did not get his vote of approval in the Congress nevertheless. Sanders is a hopeless far left liberal pacifist who's intellectually incapable of understanding geo-politics.

Why should any of the above matter? Hillary adroitly recently pointed out that the dishonesty behind telling voters, especially the poor voters, that they can save $5000 by paying just $500 in taxes is cruel. Sanders's intellectual dishonesty is breathtaking. He shares, uncomfortably, several traits with Trump. Trump often beats back those who say his policies are unrealistic he retorts with a truism that anything he says is true because he says it and anyone refusing to accept it is tarred with a brush. Sanders labels his naysayers as "the establishment" and "reactionaries".

How does Sanders attract so many fawning voters? People love free stuff. That's an undeniable attraction for anyone. Who'd not like it if their kid can get free education, especially when somebody else is picking up the tab. Sanders's voters, in another parallel with the Trump campaign, have simply willed themselves into believing anything he peddles. Washington Post editorial board acidly wrote, "Mr Sanders's success so far does not show that the country is ready for a political revolution. It merely shows that many progressives like being told what they want to hear". The editorial was duly titled "Bernie Sanders's fiction filled campaign".

Why did Paul Krugman and Fareed Zakaria decry Sanders for promoting unserious ideas and for peddling intellectually dishonest economics? Both Krugman and Zakaria have repeatedly condemned Republicans for peddling intellectually dishonest theories about how tax cuts, however irresponsible and not paid for, would spur growth and compensate the loss of revenue. Krugman and Zakaria lamented how Sanders is bringing back an era of democratic politics when unrealistic economic proposals where freely dished out to entice voters about how paradise was waiting. Zakaria wrote:

"But this is nitpicking. He is painting with a broader brush, being an authentic man who speaks his mind, willing to present bold ideas geared to capture the imagination. Never mind that establishment elites criticize them as unworkable or divisive or radical.Am I speaking about Bernie Sanders — or Donald Trump?"

Bernie Sanders is bad for Indian-Americans and America.

References:

  1. Fareed Zakaria's column "Bernie Sanders's outlandish plans make Republicans look serious" https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/sanderss-plans-make-republicans-look-serious/2016/02/18/4dbddb40-d684-11e5-b195-2e29a4e13425_story.html
  2. New York Times article "Why left of center policy wonks are skeptical of Bernie Sanders" http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/19/upshot/why-left-of-center-wonks-are-skeptical-of-bernie-sanders.html
  3. NYT article "Left leaning economists question cost of Bernie Sanders's plans" http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/16/us/politics/left-leaning-economists-question-cost-of-bernie-sanderss-plans.html
  4. AP-GFK poll on support for healthcare http://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2016-02-25/ap-gfk-poll-support-shaky-for-sanders-medicare-for-all
  5. Obama administration economists's open letter to Sanders https://lettertosanders.wordpress.com/2016/02/17/open-letter-to-senator-sanders-and-professor-gerald-friedman-from-past-cea-chairs/
  6. Paul Krugman's column on Sanders's economic policy "Varieties of Voodoo" http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/19/opinion/varieties-of-voodoo.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2FPaul%20Krugman&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&module=Collection&region=Marginalia&src=me&version=column&pgtype=article
  7. Washington Post editorial "Bernie Sanders's fiction filled campaign" https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bernie-sanderss-fiction-filled-campaign/2016/01/27/cd1b2866-c478-11e5-9693-933a4d31bcc8_story.html
  8. Washington Post oped "The false hope of free college" https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/02/23/the-false-hope-of-free-college/
  9. Brookings Institution paper on Obama's free college plan http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2015/01/20-obama-free-community-college-bad-idea-sotu-butler
  10. Washington Post editorial rebuttal to Bernie Sanders who claimed that they oppose his plan because it's bold. "Bernie Sanders's idea are not too bold. They are facile" https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mr-sanderss-ideas-are-not-too-bold-they-are-too-facile/2016/01/28/e7125bca-c60a-11e5-9693-933a4d31bcc8_story.html












6 comments:

Srini Radhakrishnan said...

Excellent one. Though I am left leaning (at least as far as European context goes), I see far left radical peddlers of utopia as dangerous as far right blind idiots.

kailash said...

You are belittling the voters just because you don't like the candidates . No one ran away from India just because it practices socialism , people moved to other countries for job opportunities and studies to improve their self economy and their career.

Why Bernie and Trump got more supporters ? Because they speak the problems faced by American Public in their daily life , no one stopped Clinton or Rubio or Cruz to talk about the real issues . Their speeches may be crazy , Don't you think Income inequality , Education and jobs for Americans are not real issues . They may look like jokers but both of them are driving the presidential campaign in different directions and PAC are wondering how to proceed with their money .

//A critique of Sanders's health plan by left leaning economists, a New York Times report noted, none of whom are aligned with Clinton and are not republican friendly//

They are Democratic CEA chairs—Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Christina Romer, Austan Goolsbee, and Alan Krueger . Larry Summers , Goosebee are the ones who have attacked Sanders plan . They have either Served in Clintons or Obama Administration or both as Chairman of Economic Council of Advisers . I am not questioning their credentials im refuting your allegation that "none of whom are aligned with Clinton " . Their main attack is on Gerlad Friedman who conducted the study on Sanders Plan . Even they have projected wrong projections many times . They are attacking Friedman saying its wrong where as their predictions have been proven wrong in many instances.

If you need i can provide you source for the above allegation . Howard Dean was criticized and ridiculed for his 50 State strategy but what happened now , most state capitols are ruled or dominated by GOP now and Democrats are losing one by one .

Bernie lacks support among blacks but he is giving tough fight for Clinton Unexpectedly . IF he garners support among Blacks no one can stop his Democratic nomination only problem is DSCC and Democrat House committee wont be able to generate funds .

When ACA was introduced look at the support numbers ?

There was a huge gap between supporters and opposers and now margin has reduced remarkably and difference is now 2% supporters according to Kaiser Tracking poll which conducts the poll on Healthcare act for a longer time .

Sanders wants to treat Consider Capital Gain as ordinary Income where as rest of the candidates are keeping mum on this.

Finally if you are so worried about Liberal Judges , I expect you to talk about Citizens United also .Whose product is Citizens United ? Since Bernie has campaign Fund from Small Donors and Trump has his own money they are surviving the primaries else they would have been routed long back

Anilkumar Kurup said...

Well your article , as usual liberally researched was informative. To me , living in India , it really doesn't matter much whether it is Democrat - socialist or a joker and feral one like the mad Trump. Was there ever a real difference towards Indians and India from Presidents Republican or Democrats?
It has all been the same.
But what I contest is your claim about socialist India. Goodness me, there you have gotten all wrong . What data do you have to tell India is socialist, except for the word being inserted in the preamble in the height of the Emergency?

Anonymous said...

Sanders has won only 4 states against Clinton's 7 states. So why this lament about somebody who is not even going to be in the Presidentail race?
Saravanan

Arka Ghosh said...

Actually I never ran away From India after I came to United states first time in 2005. Even went back to settle in India in 2011. But came back again to escape the right wing extremism and hooliganism under Modi and now if Bernie gets elected I am seriously thinking of filing a green card and settling in America because I do agree America will be more on "democratic socialist" than India and thats good for everyone.

Unknown said...

Very amusing
The concern is of Americans who are faced with serious economic and social problems Both Trump and Sanders are adept at making the noises their constituency wants. There is serious policy proposal or analysis for any sector except vague hate statements.
Arka Ghosh clearly prefers left wing hooliganism and extremism to right wing, therby exhibiting a clear ignorance of our history. the incidents in the last couple of years (e g Dadri) were the responsibility of the state Governments which failed Why blame the Centre? And as with our leftists --And I worked with Communist leaders--they feel that they will take us to the socialist heaven as in Bengal or the other money order economy Kerala!