Why I’m Not Feeling the Bern

By: Melissa Wang

Living inside of a liberal bubble inside of a liberal bubble, many South Eugene high schoolers, generally known for being liberal Democrats, unsurprisingly back Bernie Sanders. However, many overlook the major flaws in Sanders’ agenda. To clarify, this is not an endorsement of Hillary Clinton who undoubtedly has her own problems but is to examine why Sanders’ ideas are, in the end, unrealistic and unworkable.

A key centerpiece of Sanders’ platform is his single-payer healthcare plan that would nationalize the U.S. health insurance industry, extending healthcare to all and having the government foot the bill. According to a report from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) — an international economic group comprised of 34 member nations — the U.S. spends two and a half times more per capita than most developed countries, including Great Britain, France, and Sweden.

However, the fatal flaw in Sanders’ plan is his campaign’s undeniably fuzzy math. Sanders plans to pay for his plan by raising the income tax on the wealthy and charging employers more, but several estimates show the program exceeding Sanders’ hypothetical budget by more than $1 trillion. Emory University healthcare expert Kenneth Thorpe, a liberal who actually proposed a single payer healthcare plan to the Vermont legislature in 2006, said in a study that Sanders’ plan would be underfunded by an average of $1.1 trillion per year. The Center for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan Washington think tank, also estimated that Sanders’ plan would fall short by $3 trillion over the period of a decade. On top of that, a group of well-respected liberal economists who were all former chairs of the White House Council of Economic Advisers released a public letter stating that “no credible economic research” backs up Sanders’ proposal.

The difference between Sanders’ research and others’ is Sanders was excessively optimistic and based his study on assumptions that his plan would spur economic growth to new heights and drastically reduce healthcare costs. Essentially, his proposal is based on shaky, artificial projections that face objections by a slew of very liberal economists, but that is not even my biggest issue with Sanders.

Even if Sanders’ plan was based on reasonable assumptions, one of the biggest problems our next president faces is uniting a divided country. Sanders keeps calling for a political revolution, but one is already happening around Donald Trump, the candidate who not only kicked the political handbook out the window but actually launched it into the stratosphere and still managed to win Nevada by more than 20 percent after insulting the Pope. As the country becomes increasingly polarized with more people than ever identifying as liberals or conservatives instead of moderates, the fact remains that Sanders needs to acknowledge just how unrealistic his proposals are. Obamacare barely squeaked by, and Republicans are still trying to repeal it. Introducing even more extreme legislature would only serve to encourage political gridlock and heighten partisan tensions.

Surprisingly, I actually do generally like Bernie Sanders. I admire his genuine passion for his beliefs and stance on campaign finance laws among other things, but I am unsure if he is the best candidate. In short, this election is mess. Merely look to the Republican race where, quite frankly, it looks like someone decided to add a pinch of “wacko” and a dash of “nutjob.” Nevertheless, I do think that change is necessary in the American political system, and Trump and Sanders rocking the boat is ultimately beneficial as a wakeup call to politicians.

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