Robert Reich: 4 reasons the Wall Street Journal's attack on Bernie Sanders is absurd

"The Journal’s numbers [are] entirely bogus, designed to frighten the public," argues the former secretary of labor


Robert Reich
September 19, 2015 7:00PM (UTC)
This originally appeared on Robert Reich's blog.

I’ve had so many calls about an article appearing earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal – charging that Bernie Sanders’s proposals would carry a “price tag” of $18 trillion over a 10-year period – that it’s necessary to respond.

The Journal’s number is entirely bogus, designed to frighten the public. Please spread the truth:

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1. Bernie’s proposals would cost less than what we’d spend without them. Most of the “cost” the Journal comes up with—$15 trillion—would pay for opening Medicare to everyone.

This would be cheaper than relying on our current system of for-profit private health insurers that charge you and me huge administrative costs, advertising, marketing, bloated executive salaries, and high pharmaceutical prices.

(Gerald Friedman, an economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, whom the Journal relies on for some of its data, actually estimates a Medicare-for-all system would actually save all of us $10 trillion over 10 years).

2. The savings from Medicare-for-all would more than cover the costs of the rest of Bernie’s agenda—tuition-free education at public colleges, expanded Social Security benefits, improved infrastructure, and a fund to help cover paid family leave – and still leave us $2 trillion to cut federal deficits for the next ten years.

3. Many of these other “costs" would also otherwise be paid by individuals and families – for example, in college tuition and private insurance. So they shouldn’t be considered added costs for the country as a whole, and may well save us money.

4. Finally, Bernie’s proposed spending on education and infrastructure aren’t really “spending” at all, but investments in the nation’s future productivity. If we don’t make them, we’re all poorer.

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That Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal would do this giant dump on Bernie Sanders, based on misinformation and distortion, confirms Bernie’s status as the candidate willing to take on the moneyed interests that the Wall Street Journal represents.


Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written 15 books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's also co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism."

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