Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders made his rounds on Tuesday at Penn State University. He was noticeably absent from his New York Democratic Primary campaign operation, where he lost hours later to frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Sanders toured downtown State College and even ate at a local Indian restaurant.
The line waiting to see Bernie is long…. pic.twitter.com/Q5xaopoNIo
— Onward State (@OnwardState) April 19, 2016
At around 8am in the morning, the most loyal Sanders supporters began camping outside Rec Hall to hear the leader of the “political revolution” speak. It was clear that most of the people who waited in line were feeling the Bern, but as a right-leaning centrist, I was only Berning up under the hot sun for two and half hours.
While I am a registered Republican, I walked into the rally with an open mind hoping to learn more about Sanders’s policies, listen to some of his supporters, and get a better feel for why Sanders is so popular among members of my generation.
At a quarter after 7pm, Sanders finally took the stage on the Rec Hall floor with a roar of applause and people chanting, “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie.” Unfortunately, while the room was full of his enthusiasm, the policies he laid out remained deficient of any substance, detail, or plan of action.
During the rally, Sanders described his ideas as “big ideas”. They clearly are. Universal healthcare, free public college education, expanded social security, a $15 minimum wage, and of course breaking up the big banks are all “big ideas”. But they will only remain “ideas” and not solutions until Sanders provides a feasible plan for paying for them. Ok, sure, we’ll raise taxes on the 1% and everyone else below them, but even Sanders’s own supporters aren’t willing to pay enough to cover the things he wants.
Enter the next suppressors of the “political revolution”: Congress. At his rally at Penn State, during debates, and at town halls, Sanders fails to ever explain to his supporters how he will get his tax plan passed by a Republican held Congress. Even the slightest increase in taxes would fail instantly and the last time I checked we still have three branches of government. Sanders’s tax plan also remains unsettling among his Democratic colleagues. Even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, explained in a press conference that, “We’re not running on any platform of raising taxes.”
Many economists and health policy experts have also called into question the feasibility of Sanders’s plans. Paul Krugman, a left-leaning Nobel Prize-winning economist and NY Times Op-Ed columnist, said that Sanders’s single-payer healthcare plan, “Was low-balling costs in an effort to obscure how hard making such a plan would be, and how many currently well-insured people would end up being losers.” It doesn’t end there. Healthcare policy expert and single-payer healthcare plan supporter Kenneth Thorpe, who was even retained by Sanders’s home state legislature twice, called into question Sanders’s idealistic healthcare plan. Thorpe explains in his analysis that Sanders’s single-payer healthcare plan would not only require a 20% hike in taxes, but also leave 71% of families worse off even after taking into account the reduced cost of healthcare and increase in taxes. The Sanders campaign could only respond by calling out Thorpe’s plan as a “total hatchet job.”
Sanders’s biggest appeal among my fellow classmates by far is his free public college education for all plan. We’re all students. Most of us have some form of college debt. We jump at the opportunity to have anything free. But once again, at Sanders’s rallies he never says how we’re going to feasibly pay for it and how we’re all going to get free public college education. His College for All Act relies on a 2-for-1 federal matching program providing that states foot about 33% of the bill and the government pays for the rest. With more and more states reducing funding to higher education, his plan is a non-starter. At best, only a couple states will indulge in Sanders’s dream, but that isn’t “college for all” is it?
Enough is enough. No Republican will pass any of Sanders’s socialist-driven plans. Most Democrats won’t get on board either. Left-leaning economists and policy experts call into question the feasibility of his plans. That leaves us with his supporters, mostly college students – my fellow Penn Staters. The only thing Bernie Sanders was selling during his rally was fiction, hopes, and dreams. Perhaps he is leaving out the painful details and the hard truth on purpose, hoping to energize the same base that Barack Obama did 8 years ago. The only difference was that Obama had the details. He had a plan. Sanders’s plan is A Future to Hope and Dream About rather than one to “Believe In.”