There’s One Question We Still Need Bernie Sanders to Answer

bernie-sanders-fbThere’s been one lingering issue about Bernie Sanders that I’ve had for months. One question that, over eight months into his campaign, he’s yet to address: What are the exact details of his tax plan? 

CNN’s Dana Bash recently pressed him on the details of his plan, to which he said he would release more details before Iowa – though he still seemed a bit defensive and vague on which details he plans to release by then. Sanders asserted that he’s already provided many specifics to his plan, which he really hasn’t.

Details matter. He’s spoken often about his desire to provide free public college education, paid family leave, health care and repair our nation’s crumbling infrastructure – but how, exactly? 

The specifics we need to know are:

  • What are the tax rates going to be under a “President Sanders” for every American?
  • What exemptions is he going to take away?
  • Is he going to raise more than just income taxes? If so, which taxes and how high?
  • Will we be able to reduce our debt?

We need to know these numbers so that we can finally understand whether or not his goals are feasible without adding trillions more to our debt. Thus far, it seems rather far-fetched that he’s going to be able to do all of these things based on the little bit that I’ve heard from him. At least not while also tackling our nation’s rising debt.

As the months have ticked by, I’ve found it rather odd that a candidate who’s based much of his campaign on income inequality; the push for a revolution within our capitalist system; providing three months of paid medical leave for every working American; tax hikes for the rich; and creating all these socialist programs that are very popular among many liberals – has seemingly been putting this off.

Clearly, eight months into his campaign, he has to know the details by now. Bernie Sanders isn’t Donald Trump, someone who simply spouts off asinine nonsense all for the sake of pandering to a group of voters gullible enough to believe him. Sanders obviously expects to do everything on which he’s campaigning and clearly he has a plan to do it.

That being said, aside from fairly general comments such as his mention of “over 50 percent” (though no specific number) for the “top income earners”; saying that he wants to lift the cap on the Social Security tax for those making more than $250k a year to expand Social Security; stating he wants to close loopholes (though doesn’t say which ones) that corporations use to stash money overseas; a comment during an ABC News interview where he said his payroll tax plan would “hit everybody”; and his statement during the third debate where he claimed his plan to provide three months of paid medical leave for every working family would only cost $1.61 per week in a tax hike – he’s been fairly standoffish about giving specifics. In fact, during the second debate he was pressed by moderators to identify an exact number for his top marginal tax rate… and he blatantly avoided doing so.

Aside from his $250k mark and $1.61 statement, most everything else he’s said is a broad comment, lacking true specifics. Granted, his plans sound great – but he’s proposing trillions of dollars worth of spending. That’s going to require a lot of changes.

While his most avid supporters might dismiss my questioning as an “attack,” this question matters. What Sanders is proposing is a huge overhaul to many facets of this country. Yet here we are, just a few weeks away from the first primaries, and he’s acting rather defensive when people question him about the details of his plan.

This makes me wonder if there are genuine concerns within his campaign that once people find out what he’s going to do with taxes, it could hurt him with voters. Not to say that his plans won’t make sense in the long-term, or be much better off for many Americans, but we live in an often short-sighted society where optics matter.

If Sanders releases a tax plan that calls on rates for the rich that are around 55 percent (or more), a raise in the payroll tax that would impact every working American and any other sort of tax hike that could impact the middle class – I don’t see that going over very well. While his most devout supports won’t likely be deterred, he’s not exactly going to bring over a ton of new support under the guise of, “Here’s the candidate who wants to raise tax rates on the middle class” – no matter how much he says he’s going to do with that money.

This is a question I’ve been asking for a few months. At first I thought he might release the details over the holidays, when fewer people were paying attention. But now that the holidays are over, we still don’t have the details of these plans he’s been campaigning on for months. It solidifies my belief that the numbers in his plan might be rather jarring. If they weren’t, I don’t see any rational or logical reason why he’s put off releasing the details of his plan that he says will bring about a “revolution” to this country.

Hit me up on Twitter or Facebook and let me know what you think.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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