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Democratic Socialism Briefly Explained: It’s Not What You Think

In recent years Republican attacks against Democrats for embracing “evil socialism” has exponentially increased. It first started when President Obama was called a “Marist Communist” by Fox News despite empirically being one of the most moderate presidents in recent history and a self-described “Moderate Republican.” However, in the past two years, this narrative has become mainstream with the adoption of this story by President Trump and other G.O.P. politicians. They claim that recently elected Justice Democrats such as Representative Ocasio-Cortez and senior politicians such as Senator Sanders want to “turn the United States into Venezuelan.” In the last State of the Union President Trump repeated this claimed and stated American would always remain “free” and not a “socialist county”.

This framing could not be further from the truth as Justice Democrats support “Democratic Socialism” which is more academically known as Social Democracy or the Nordic model. This is far from the authoritarian socialism of Venezuela. Social Democracy works to promote freedom and justice by ensuring that everyone is equal under the law and given the same opportunities in regard to education, healthcare, and social opportunities. Moreover, it ensures that everyone is able to live their lives as they see fit without interference from the state or society. It also means that advancement is based on merit. This system has led to some of the happiest, free, and most developed countries in the world.

The United States, on the other hand, has started embracing unfettered capitalism around the age of President Regan which has led to an influx of money in politics, corruption, less economic freedoms, and massive income inequality. Progressives believe that reforms in healthcare, education, the minimum wage, and taxes will fix the various problems facing our country. These policies would begin to make our country more aligned with the Nordic Model and thus freer!

The first major reform to increase economic freedom and social justice in our country would be to implement a Medicare For All Single Payer system with no cost at the point of service. Currently, our healthcare system has double the cost of the average developed country and worse healthcare outcomes in terms of infant mortality and life expectancy. It also has 27 million uninsured people which causes thousands of deaths each year. Medicare For All would enable every citizen to have quality affordable healthcare and save the American people two trillion in the next decade under the most conservative studies. In addition, it would end the hundreds of thousands of medical bankruptcies each year and allow greater flexibility in employment. This would allow employees to find jobs that better fit their skills and not have to worry about losing their healthcare.        

Second, College For All which would enable the upward economic movement of a college education to be accessible to everyone. Currently, the collective college debt is 1.5 trillion and the average amount of debt a student owes is $37, 000 in the 2016 graduating year. This burden forces recent graduates to accept any job that will pay well even if it does not fit their skills. It also forces out qualified students with low incomes out of reaching their full potential. Likewise, it limits the amount of money a graduate can put into the economy and slows economic growth. This plan would allow students to work a part-time job and receive a high-quality college or trade school education.

Third, an increase in the minimum wage would help employees and reduce income inequality. Currently, 1.8 million Americans work at or below the minimum wage. At 7.25 an hour with a yearly wage of $15,080 this places a family of two or more under the poverty line in the United States. Couples will often have to work multiple jobs and make tough finical decisions. Raising the minimum to at least $15 an hour adjusted for region and inflation would allow employees to pay for their basic needs and more money to flow into the economy.

Lastly, the creation of a progressive tax system would encourage employers to reinvest into their business instead of hoarding the money for themselves. This has been happing for decades under supply side economics which is better known as Trickle-down economics. The tax system would work by adding a bracket at the 10 million mark at which any dollar made over 10 million a year would be taxed at 70 percent. This does not mean that all their wealth will be taxed at 70 percent. Currently, the U.S. has brackets ranging from 10 percent at $0 to $9,525 to 37 percent at $500,001 or more.