- President Donald Trump is increasingly trying to link Democrats to socialism, possibly in an attempt to drive Republican voters to the polls.
- Trump has pointed to the growing popularity of Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” plan as evidence of socialist influence in the party.
- Concurrent with this push, the White House Council of Economic Advisers released a 72-page report on “The Opportunity Costs of Socialism.”
- The report attempted to tie policies like Medicare for All to the ideology of dictators like Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong.
In the stretch run before the midterm election in November, President Donald Trump has begun to rely on a new attack in an apparent effort to deter voters from pulling the lever for Democrats.
Over the past few weeks, the president has repeatedly used socialism as a political boogeyman during rallies and speeches, warning voters that Democrats would radically reshape the economic structure of the country if they take control of Congress.
“Let me say… let’s get to another subject: Fake News Democrats want to replace freedom with socialism,” trump claimed at a rally with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
“Democrats want to massively raise your taxes, impose socialism on our country,” Trump said Saturday at a Nevada rally. “We’ll be another Venezuela. They want to take away your health care, destroy your Second Amendment.”
The latest example came Tuesday from Trump’s White House, where the Council of Economic Advisers issued a report entitled “The Opportunity Costs of Socialism.”
The report, which CEA Chair Kevin Hassett said on a call with reporters was necessary because socialism is “in the news,” purports to show the economic downside if the US were to shift to a more government-controlled economy. It did so by modelling expected GDP under what it portrayed as socialist systems, ranging from Venezuela to Nordic countries.
The report even goes so far as to compare single-payer healthcare, a system used currently by countries like Canada and the UK, as analogous to the ideas of dictators such as Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong.
“Modern journalists and analysts routinely claim that single-payer programs are more efficient – and thus are similar in spirit to Lenin and Mao, who justified government takeovers on the basis of the virtues of single-payer programs,” the report reads.
The major subject of attack appears to be Sen. Bernie Sanders “Medicare for All” plan, which is becoming more popular with Democratic candidates. The plan, which is also gaining traction with many voters, would expand the current government-run Medicare program to all Americans.
In addition, a growing number of Democratic candidates in the midterm have identified as democratic socialists, which generally means the candidate is most stringently in favour of a stronger social safety net and stricter oversight of corporations.
‘We will come dangerously closer to socialism in America’
Hassett declined to answer when asked how much the report cost to produce and deflected when asked why previous Democratic presidents – Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – did not turn the US into Venezuela.
“Certainly there are proposals on the table – like the Medicare for All – that are very consistent with the design of socialism,” he said. “And my role at the CEA is not to be a politician, but to be an analyst.”
But Trump has in recent weeks extended his attacks to cover a variety of Democratic policies that are not necessarily aligned with socialist ideologies, such as gun safety legislation and support for public schools.
“If Democrats win control of Congress this November, we will come dangerously closer to socialism in America,” Trump wrote in a recent USA Today op-ed. “Government-run health care is just the beginning. Democrats are also pushing massive government control of education, private-sector businesses and other major sectors of the US economy.”
Trump’s push comes as Republicans look likely to lose control of the House in November and as Republicans try to close the enthusiasm gap with their base.
More young people and Democrats, in particular, have warmed to socialist ideologies – 51% of people age 18 to 29 and 57% of Democrats have a positive view of socialism, according to a recent Gallup poll. But support among those groups has not dramatically increased since polling on the topic began in 2010.
Also, what Americans define as socialism has changed dramatically. According to Gallup, a plurality (23%) of Americans consider equate socialism with “equal standing for everybody, all equal in rights, equal in distribution,” up from 12% in 1949. At the same time, 17% of people define socialism as government control of industries, down from 34% in 1949.
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