Bernie's Dream Is Set In A Nightmare

  1. (1) Demanding that the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes. As president, Sen. Sanders will stop corporations from shifting their profits and jobs overseas to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. He will create a progressive estate tax on the top 0.3 percent of Americans who inherit more than $3.5 million. He will also enact a tax on Wall Street speculators who caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, homes, and life savings.

  2. If you go to berniesanders.com this is the first proposal in his plan to reduce income and wealth inequality. Bernie, like many progressives, hasn't accepted the fact that the kind of economic revolution he's calling for can't take place in America alone. Billions of dollars travel through digital networks everyday. We live in a world where lawyers in New York and politicians in Washington craft policies that affect people in India. Globalization isn't just a catchy word used by slightly inebriated undergrads. The monster we call capitalism has grown into a hulking beast that no single government can contain. This doesn't mean we should give up and wait for the wealth gap to grow so wide it takes down the whole system, but we need to be honest: either we advocate for a shift to a more nationalized government run capitalism or we admit that tinkering around the edges, in order to delay the inevitable, is our only play. 

    Sen. Sanders will stop corporations from shifting their profits and jobs overseas to avoid paying U.S. income taxes.

    The first (and most fatal) flaw in his program is [D]emocracy. Democratic participation was down in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. In contrast, the Republicans have had their best turnout through four states ever. I don't think this is a reason to panic for the presidential race, but it makes me very pessimistic about the likelihood of a major shift in the House of Representatives. I hope I'm wrong, If Bernie wins, and the Democrats take back the senate there would still be enough southern Republicans with a "mandate" to stop his agenda. It's safe to say that southern Republicans won't work with Bernie against the wishes of Fox news and their constituents. Bernie authored S. 922: Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act on April 14, 2015; it was assigned to a congressional committee where it sits with a 1% chance of getting out of committee and a 0% chance of being enacted. This is the legislative reality either of our candidates is likely to inherit. 

    But for the sake of argument, let's imagine a scenario where some form of this bill makes its way through congress and lands on President Sanders' desk: What would be the response of the multinationals? Human nature leads me to believe that capital would move outside of the country before one of those ceremonial bill signing pens ever touched paper. This is one time where the conservative talking points are right. If such a bill passed an up down vote in the senate: capital markets around the globe would go into free fall. This is why you have to kill baby Hitler. We might be a quarter century to late to make any meaningful changes to the system without hurting those most vulnerable to it. As progressives, how do we prevent an inevitable economic disaster without creating one, or do we burn it all down and start over?  

    Bernie's tax plan has three components: stop corporations from sheltering profits and sending jobs overseas, tax Wall Street speculation, and tax inheritances. The only component with a chance of ever being passed is his estate tax on inheritances worth more than 3.5 million dollars. Conservatives who've signed pledges to never raise taxes could, in theory, hide behind bipartisan populism to pass this kind of bill, but this is a stretch.                                                                                                          
    One attack Bernie supporters use against Hillary is that she's too entrenched with the banks. Maybe she is; having never met her, I don't know where her loyalties lie. But if she's heavily influenced by Wall Street then my hunch is that she isn't alone. This gets us back to the Democratic vain inside our Republic. Even if we get a major electoral shuffling of the legislative deck nothing guarantees that the new faces won't take the money. Making Hillary Clinton the face of this systematic problem is useless. This is the kind of thinking that allows someone like Bernie Madoff to be sacrificed for a system that, in many ways, facilitated his actions. I'm not saying Hillary Clinton is on the take, but if she is what's worse: being influenced by money or having a system where money can influence? 

    The size and scope of this problem doesn't easily fit on a tee-shirt or bumper sticker. We will NEVER get money out of politics. There will always be people with money seeking power and people with power seeking money. Getting money out of politics is a bigger dream than thinking we can radically change capitalism while remaining in capitalism. I don't fault Bernie for being ambitious; I fault progressives for being naive. If Bernie's ultimate play is to push the country so far left that compromise yields incremental shifts inside the system then he's a genius, but if he believes his platform can be enacted then he's as myopic as the #BernieBros who occupy my social media with feeds with campaign rhetoric.