Liberal Economists Say Sanders’ Economic Numbers “Don’t Add Up”



One of the redeeming features of liberal politics, and policies, is standing firm on reality and not fantasy or what one wishes were true; particularly reality in numbers. Some Americans may remember that Democrats typically have an easy time debunking Republican economic proposals like those of so-called “economic policy wonk” Paul Ryan. Liberal economists get to the truth of Republican economic scams by using good old-fashioned arithmetic; something Republicans, conservative belief tanks, and Paul Ryan never take into consideration in creating what real economists call “fantasy economics.”

Now, a group of liberal economists have assessed another economic policy proposal of a real liberal politician, and using math concluded that Senator Bernie Sanders’ “rosy economic projections do not add up.” The economists warned, like they did with Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity,” that “there is no credible economic research to support its (Sanders’) conclusions.”

The group of “leading liberal economists,” Alan Krueger, Austan Goolsbee, Christina Romer, and Laura D’Andrea Tyson sent a letter to Senator Sanders’ campaign and cautioned that;

Making such promises runs against our party’s best traditions of evidence-based policy making and undermines our reputation as the party of responsible arithmetic.”

In fact, the highly respected economists, who are all universally regarded as luminaries in the field, say the Sanders’ economic projections “are as irresponsible as those promoted by Republicans who claim that deep tax cuts will jump start the economy.”

They tell the Sanders’ campaign;

These claims undermine the credibility of the progressive economic agenda and make it that much more difficult to challenge the unrealistic claims made by Republican candidates.” These liberal economists are just the latest to question not only the Senator’s numbers, but his “grasp on political realism.” It is a recurring concern.

It is noteworthy that these are the same liberal economists who, at different times over seven years, have served in the Obama Administration and were instrumental in “using responsible arithmetic” to debunk every single Republican economic proposal over the past seven years.  They have also advised the President on his economic policies and agenda that lifted the economy out of the Great Recession, created millions of jobs, and all while reducing the deficit; not heaping trillions of dollars on it.

In fact, a prominent health policy economist at Emory University, Kenneth E. Thorpe, contradicted Mr. Sanders’ Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton and said her claims about how much the Sanders’ healthcare agenda would increase the size of the federal government was completely wrong because it is way too conservative.

Mr. Thorpe, whose field of expertise is “economic health policy,” says Mr. Sanders’ health plan will cost $27 trillion over the next ten years. It is not $14 trillion as advertised and will bring the total of all his initiatives well above $30 trillion through 2026. Mrs. Clinton had said the Sanders’ plan will increase the size of the federal government by 40 percent and the liberal economists all say that too, is all wrong; it will increase it by 50 percent. Now there is a fact Republicans would love to ram down Democrats throats in a general election because that increase is in addition to regular government operating expenses.

That increase is a level that “will surpass any American federal government expansion since the buildup in World War II.” It leads one to wonder exactly how any Democrat will convince Koch Republicans who own the nation’s purse to increase the size of federal government by one percent, much less 40 or 50 percent; particularly when the GOP’s only goal is cutting government to a size they can easily “drown in a bathtub.”

The Sanders’ campaign responded to the liberal economists’ facts and arithmetic-based letter and assessment by dismissing their economic expertise as Clinton sympathizers and corrupt industry insiders. The liberal economic experts join a group that is increasing in size every day based on utterances void of praise for Mr. Sanders.

Look, it is not a popular reality for some Americans, but the fact-based reckoning of the left-of-center economists, none of whom work for Hillary Clinton, are as valid assessments of a real liberal politician’s economic plan as they are for a real Republican politicians’. According to President Obama’s former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, now a University of Chicago professor, “the Sanders’ proposal numbers don’t remotely add up;” it is the same conclusion liberal economists reached about Republican Paul Ryan’s economic proposals.

Austan Goolsbee alluded to another progressive economic analysts’ assessment of the Sanders’ single-payer plan as “puppies and rainbows” he said was nonsense.  He asserted that after his liberal economic teams’ assessment,  “the puppies and rainbows evolved into magic flying puppies with winning Lotto tickets tied to their collars.”

It is worth mentioning yet again, that these real liberal economists, like Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, think the concept of a single-payer plan is worthy of consideration. However, like Mr. Krugman, they also note the major difficulty Democrats and President Obama had in winning support for and implementing a less-ambitious healthcare reform law; one Republicans still want abolished as much as they want to wipe out Medicare.

The liberal economists regard putting everything into a “fairy tale a fool’s errand; particularly at the expense of other necessities such as education, infrastructure, climate change, worker benefits and preserving the Affordable Care Act itself.”

A longtime health economist at the Brookings Institute, Henry J. Aaron, said,

The single-payer idea has enormous appeal: coverage for everyone, hopefully use government power to hold down overall costs, and clean out the godawful mess that the U.S. private health care system is and save money there.”

But Mr. Aaron said that, like nearly all liberal economists, in this political climate such a proposal is a “fairy tale.”

The proposal is a fairy tale in this political climate and it is why it is more important to present realistic numbers. The good news is that real liberal economists are honest enough to use the same standards to assess a liberal’s economic proposals as they are a Republicans’. As the economists said in the letter to the Sanders’ campaign, “these claims undermine the credibility of the progressive economic agenda and make it that much more difficult to challenge the unrealistic claims made by Republican candidates.”

Democrats, no matter who their candidate of choice is, can be assured that Republicans will take great joy in challenging the unrealistic claims made by the Sanders’ campaign. Armed with some honest assessments, hopefully Senator Sanders will revisit his economic proposals and use “responsible arithmetic” to come up with a plan that no liberal or conservative economist can possibly call a fairy tale.