An old idea is making its way into new political debates: socialism. Once thought relegated to the ash heap of history, this failed ideology’s resurgence comes at an odd time. The 3.7 percent U.S. unemployment rate is near a 50-year low. Wages are up, particularly for low-skilled workers. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, even income inequality is down. With America’s economy firing on all cylinders, it is unclear how socialism would fix what is not broken.
The Facts Speak for Themselves
Socialism is about state power over citizens and control of the production, distribution, and exchange of all goods and services. It takes decision-making power out of the people’s hands and allows one government authority to determine how everyone spends their time and hard-earned money. Though recent Democratic proposals like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal may look good on bumper stickers, they are dictates straight out of this playbook.
Medicare for All would kick the 180 million Americans with private health insurance off plans they chose and put them on a program mandated by Washington. In a strange twist on past promises, it would mean that, even if you like your health-care plan, you cannot keep it. But the new system would not be the same Medicare on which so many Americans over age 65 have come to rely. Medicare for All would cost $170 trillion over 30 years, an impossibly high number that would bankrupt our country.
The Green New Deal would make matters worse while not accomplishing its stated environmental goal. According to analysis from the American Enterprise Institute, the Green New Deal would lower global temperatures by only 31 one-hundredths of a degree Fahrenheit by the year 2100. In the process, working-class Americans would end up paying the $9 trillion annual cost – half the value of everything produced in the United States annually – and new regulations would change almost every aspect of American life.
Many of the proponents of these ideas call themselves “democratic socialists.” However, as Alexis de Tocqueville once wrote, “Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”
At the ideology’s peak, nearly 60 percent of the world’s population lived in a socialist country, like the Soviet Union or Cuba. Though that number has gone down, we still see tragic results today in countries like Venezuela. I am thankful that America has thus far avoided these false promises.
Americans’ resistance to socialism once frustrated even Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. When told by the United States’ small communist party that there would be no revolution in this country, Stalin responded by demanding an end to the “heresy of American exceptionalism,” coining the phrase.
America is still exceptional. We remain the strongest and most prosperous country in the world because our form of government and the free enterprise system unlock the God-given potential of every man, woman, and child.
This is not to say that everything in our country is perfect. The American economy requires light-touch regulations to protect consumers, foster competition, and ensure choice, and I am working with my colleagues to get more people into good jobs, lower health-care costs, and update trade agreements. These policies would empower every citizen to live the American Dream, building on what has worked so well for our country.