Also writing on the Huffington Post, US Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) offers his own take on our financial crisis and the federal government’s reaction to it:
This is the most extreme example that I can recall of socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor.
And when it comes to socialism, Sanders knows what he’s talking about, being the former socialist mayor of Burlington Vermont.
But Sanders offers more than just criticism, and doesn’t outright dismiss the notion of some sort of financial market bailout. Sanders notes that it is the wealthiest Americans who have prospered most from our recent anti-regulatory policies, while middle class Americans have seen their incomes steadily decline. And since it is the wealthiest Americans who benefit most directly from a huge government bailout—and are most able to afford pay for it—a large portion of the cost of the bailout should fall directly on their shoulders.
Specifically, to pay for the bailout, which is estimated to cost up to $1 trillion, the government should:
a) Impose a five-year, 10 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year for couples and over $500,000 for single taxpayers. That would raise more than $300 billion in revenue;
b) Ensure that assets purchased from banks are realistically discounted so companies are not rewarded for their risky behavior and taxpayers can recover the amount they paid for them; and
c) Require that taxpayers receive equity stakes in the bailed-out companies so that the assumption of risk is rewarded when companies’ stock goes up.
Honestly… tell me… are these three concrete proposals any more “socialist” than our rush to nationalize troubled Wall Street firms? In fact, I’d guess that the majority of Americans would find these proposals fair, reasonable and common sensical.
In addition to the principle that bailout should be paid for by those who benefited most from the policies that created the crisis, and who can thus afford to pay the costs, Sanders puts forth three other principles that should be seriously debated in discussing any bailout plan:
(2) There must be a major economic recovery package which puts Americans to work at decent wages. Among many other areas, we can create millions of jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and moving our country from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy…
(3) Legislation must be passed which undoes the damage caused by excessive de-regulation. That means reinstalling the regulatory firewalls that were ripped down in 1999…
(4) We must end the danger posed by companies that are “too big too fail,” that is, companies whose failure would cause systemic harm to the U.S. economy. If a company is too big to fail, it is too big to exist…
Again, reasonable proposals all, that deserve serious discussion as we rush to write Wall Street that giant blank check. Sanders is not arguing against a bailout, but rather against a bailout that doesn’t have conditions attached that the protect the interests of US taxpayers, help working families struggle through the resulting economic slowdown, and takes concrete steps toward preventing a similar crisis from happening again.
Huh. That doesn’t sound all that radical, now does it? So as long as our two major parties are embracing the principles of socialism, shouldn’t we at least listen to the advice of a real socialist?