I’ve had several reporters ask me to comment on the philosophical and policy differences between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. I’m always happy to oblige, yet I don’t think any of them have included my comments in their stories because I always give what seems to be a very unsatisfactory response. My standard line is that Sanders and Clinton are two peas in a statist pod.
Yes, I realize that Sanders has a more aggressive us-vs-them approach, while Hillary is calculated and cautious, but those are merely differences in rhetoric and style.
What matters is action. And if you look at the Senate voting records of Sanders and Clinton, there’s almost no difference between them (or, for that matter, between them and Obama).
Let’s look at some of their policy proposals. Here are some excerpts from a Townhall column on Sanders’ statist agenda.
According to Bernienomics, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would prevent greedy capitalists from exploiting their workers and paying below a “living wage.” …Sanders…is…fighting for European style “free college”…Sanders supports the Environmental Protection Agency’s CO2 emission standards, even though these will raise the costs of energy and manufacturing. Sanders also supported allowing the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the internet as public utility… Sanders wants to raise taxes on the rich as much as possible…he has stated his desire to tax the rich at more than a 50 percent income tax rate. Sanders also recently proposed a massive increase in the estate tax… Sanders believes that Social Security is the “most successful government programs in American history,” so it only makes sense that he wants to expand it. …Sanders is also a major proponent of a single-payer health care system.
In other words, a typical statist agenda.
What about Hillary? Well, she’s must more guarded in what she says, but you can get a sense for her ideological mindset by looking at her new scheme to boost the capital gains tax.
Here’s some of what Ryan Ellis wrote for Americans for Tax Reform.
Hillary Clinton today proposed the most complex and Byzantine capital gains tax rate regime in history. …Under the Clinton plan, there would be six – yes, six — capital gains tax rates for those whose total taxable income puts them in the top 39.6 percent bracket. …or taxpayers not in the 39.6 percent bracket, we already have a graduated capital gains structure on assets held longer than a year. For taxpayers in this range, the rates could be 0, 15, 18.8, 20, or 23.8 percent. …her plan actually creates 10 different tax rates on capital gains, not counting those gains taxed as ordinary income due to their shorter duration of ownership. By anyone’s definition that’s really stupid tax policy. It will only serve to distort capital markets as investors will buy and sell not based on rational market signals, but on exogenous, arbitrary tax holding period considerations.
Not to mention that higher tax rates on investment will discourage risk-taking and entrepreneurship. And let’s not forget that it’s not a smart idea, from the perspective of competitiveness, to have the world’s highest capital gains tax rate. Or to pursue policies that will depress capital formation and thus lead to lower wages.
Now let’s get back to the main question. Is there a difference between Sanders and Clinton?
One could argue that Sanders has a more robust left-wing agenda. But that doesn’t make Clinton a moderate. Indeed, I challenge anyone to identify a single position she holds that would result in smaller government or less intervention.
The bottom line, as illustrated by this cartoon prepared by Jonathan Babington-Heina, is that Sanders and Clinton only differ in how fast they want to travel in the wrong direction.
P.S. This is the second cartoon from Jonathan I’ve shared. He also put together a superb cartoon that depicts the senseless damage caused by double taxation.
P.P.S. You also can get a sense of Hillary’s leftist mindest by looking at some of the crazy things she’s said over the years.
And to be balanced, Bernie also says crazy things. Let’s close with this example of political humor I saw on Twitter.
And here’s some more Hillary humor if you still haven’t received your recommended daily allowance.