Panic Time: Dem Establishment Feels the Bern

Around the Democratic establishment (meaning the interest groups that depend on control of government for their existence and purpose in life), Bernie Sanders is all good fun, but c’mon! While most Democrats in their heart would prefer a President Sanders to a President Clinton, power is more important than principle.* So as polls show Sanders gaining on Clinton just about everywhere, you can see the signs of the Democratic establishment circling the wagons against Bernie.

Like this from the New York Times yesterday:

Left-Leaning Economists Question Cost of Bernie Sanders’s Plans

. . . The reviews of some of these economists, especially on Mr. Sanders’s health care plans, suggest that Mrs. Clinton could have been too conservative in their debate last week when she said his agenda in total would increase the size of the federal government by 40 percent. That level would surpass any government expansion since the buildup in World War II.

The increase could exceed 50 percent, some experts suggest, based on an analysis by a respected health economist that Mr. Sanders’s single-payer health plan could cost twice what the senator, who represents Vermont, asserts, and on critics’ belief that his economic assumptions are overly optimistic.

And then there’s Jonathan Chait, in NY Magazine:

Bernie Sanders’s Health Care Plan Does Not Add Up

The centerpiece of Sanders’s domestic agenda is a plan for single-payer health insurance. Sanders claims his plan would immediately produce trillions of dollars in savings through lower health-care costs — not merely bending the cost curve down, as Obamacare has done, but snapping it sharply in the other direction. Kenneth Thorpe, a respected liberal health economist at Emory University, has estimated that Sanders’s plan is “completely implausible.” The Sanders campaign has called Thorpe’s estimates a “complete hatchet job” and, as Sanders’s supporters are wont to do, implied that he is bought and paid for by his corporate masters.

But the trillions of dollars in unspecified savings are not the only magic asterisk in Sanders’s plan. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget runs the numbers and finds that, even if you accept Sanders’s assumptions about his savings at face value, his plan would still fall several trillion dollars short of covering its expenses. The analysis also notes that Sanders would have to raise the top marginal tax rate to about 85 percent, which is above the level that economists Peter Diamond and Emmanuel Saez (who strongly support higher taxes on the rich) believe maximizes revenue. That is to say, Sanders would tax the rich at rates so high that even liberal economists suspect they would discourage work and raise less revenue than expected.

Vox asked six political scientists if Bernie could win a general election. The result: not likely.

Were Democrats to make the “democratic socialist” from Vermont their nominee, would he have a chance of winning a general election?

We posed that question to six of the country’s top political scientists, and their answers were broadly consistent: Under some unlikely circumstances, Sanders could win a general election. But nominating him would make it significantly more difficult for Democrats to keep the White House.

This is starting to be fun to watch.

*Yes, yes, I know: power is a key principle of the modern left, but always comes before principle when it comes to winning elections.

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