12-21-15 – Bernie Sanders: Federal Spending Hawk

by Chris Campion

In a shocking turn of events, Sen. Barry, er, Bernie Sanders (current whereabouts unknown, but might be found in a server storage facility at DNC headquarters, or apologizing spasmodically at the last debate to his Probably Pantsuit Overlord) recently decided that he opposes federal spending!  In the interests of saving digital space, I omitted any additional exclamation marks at the end of the previous sentence.

Bernie has taken this bold stance as a result of the House and Senate passing the omnibus spending bill, just in under the wire to continue funding the federal government, and just a few weeks from the New Year:

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Friday in favor a $1.8 trillion package of spending bills and tax breaks, sending the legislation to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

(As an aside, out in the real world, if you’re finally getting around to authorizing your next year spend two weeks before it starts, you get fired.)

Bernie’s response to this record-setting spend?  Billionaires are evil.

Millions of Americans are unemployed and working longer hours for lower wages, yet this spending package gives more tax breaks to billionaires, encourages large corporations to ship jobs overseas and makes worse an already corrupt campaign finance system.

First of all, unemployed Americans are not going to become more employed by doing the opposite of what Bernie’s complaining about here – raising taxes will reduce employment, as more money flows to the federal, state, and local governments rather than being invested in businesses, which leads to hiring.  The fact that federal spending has exploded in the last 8 years (with Bernie cheering the way on much of that increase in spending) while employment and incomes have remained stagnant seems to escape the reality of a man who’s literally fed himself off the labor of other people.  Taking money from the productive sector of the economy will in no way create a job.

Government spends more, incomes stay flat. Another economics lesson that Bernie hasn't bothered to wrap his receding hairstyle around.

Oh, and “shipping jobs overseas”?  Don’t worry about the budget or spending bills, Bernie – our corporate tax rate is enough to do that as it is.  And since Bernie loves to tout European countries as being more progressive than the knuckle-draggers here in the states, maybe he can explain why, say, Sweden has a lower corporate tax rate than the United States?  In fact, why does the US have the highest rate out of all these countries?  Are those countries also shipping jobs overseas?  I guarantee that they’re not shipping them to the US with a higher corporate tax bite.

Can't wait for Bernie's platform to call for European-level corporate tax rates. How long will I have to wait for that to come out of Bernie's mouth?

Oh, and as for corruption in campaign finance – who are some of Bernie’s biggest campaign contributors?  Public-sector employees.  So tax dollars collected from the private sector are paid to those employees, a portion of which is also paid to their union, then the union lobbies Congress – and Bernie Sanders – to increase their rates of pay and benefits.  It’s a circular kickback scheme.

Yes, by all means - let's end campaign contribution corruption, starting with unions.

Still, Bernie is by no means finished; he’s still going to take a swing at industries that produce that hated result – jobs:

Scientists tell us that we must act immediately to combat climate change, but this bill will lift the crude oil export ban and encourage the burning of more fossil fuels. 

Scientists also tell us that climate change is directly correlated to solar activity, and that the cooling period that’s occurring now (prompting a change from the “global warming” nomenclature to “climate change”) is part of normal solar activity.  Scientists also tell us that smoking tobacco will kill us, yet Congress hasn’t banned tobacco.  Or banned cancer.  What’s Bernie waiting for?

Now, lest we forget the children, Bernie reminds us how evil Republicans are, again, in case anyone’s missed his earlier messaging on this issue:

And 16 million children are living in poverty in this country, but Congress has decided to cut food and nutrition services for our most vulnerable and increase the already bloated defense budget.

Yes, but by the measures used to define “poverty”, Bernie ignores the one trillion or so spent annually in the US on welfare programs, of all kinds.  From the article:

The government’s own data show that the actual living conditions of the more than 45 million people who are deemed “poor” by the Census Bureau differ greatly from popular conceptions of poverty.[18] Consider these facts taken from various government reports:[19]

  • Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, at the beginning of the War on Poverty, only about 12 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Nearly three-quarters have a car or truck; 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.[20]
  • Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television.
  • Half have a personal computer; one in seven has two or more computers.
  • More than half of poor families with children have a video game system such as an Xbox or PlayStation.
  • Forty-three percent have Internet access.
  • Forty percent have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.
  • A quarter have a digital video recorder system such as a TIVO.

Only in Bernie’s America do poor people have 2 cars and a plasma TV, and get to be categorized as “poor”.  Since the War on Poverty began,  $19.8 trillion has been spent on it – triple the total spent on military wars for the entire history of the US.

Since the beginning of the War on Poverty, government has spent $19.8 trillion (in inflation-adjusted 2011 dollars) on means-tested welfare. In comparison, the cost of all military wars in U.S. history from the Revolutionary War through the current war in Afghanistan has been $6.98 trillion (in inflation-adjusted 2011 dollars).[3] The War on Poverty has cost three times as much as all other wars combined.

But Bernie complaints continue:

While there are some important and positive provisions in this bill like the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, the truth is we cannot afford another spending package that expands the power and wealth of the billionaire class at the expense of everyone else. Congress must pass legislation that make our rigged political and economic systems work once again for the vast majority of Americans not just the 1 percent.

As Bernie fails to note, again and again, is that the 1 percent, the 10 percent, the 50 percent – those are the only people in the country paying taxes.  So if you’re going to create tax incentives or cut rates, it will of course impact the people actually paying the taxes, not the net recipients of those taxes collected.

If the 1% are so powerful, why are they the ones always stuck with paying the bills?

And to keep Bernie somewhere in the vicinity of Honesty, USA, the top 10% of income earners in the US pay 68% of taxes.  The top 50% of taxpayers pay 97% of all income taxes collected.

I guess coughing up 6-7 times your earnings in taxes paid relative to everyone else isn't enough in BernieLand.

If there’s something unfair in that tax scheme, it’s that half the country has almost no skin in the game whatsoever in paying taxes – so of course they’re going to vote for tax increases on the wealthy, because it nets them more government stuff.

And that, in its entirety, is why Bernie Sanders is a presidential candidate.  His supporters’ votes have been bought and paid for by the 1% he so routinely demonizes.

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