Editorial: Dems offer a costly to-do list
The latest Democratic platform doesn’t try to hide its mission of growing government. Nearly every bullet point in the 2016 document would lead to higher taxes and more intrusive federal oversight.
Even Democrats acknowledge this platform is a significant shift to the left. While the party is striving hard to come together around Hillary Clinton, many of Bernie Sanders’ ardent supporters aren’t willing to give up the fight for their candidate, as has been displayed at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week. This action plan is an attempt to reach out to the most delicate fringe of the Democratic Party.
But it may not play as well with the broad electorate. The Clinton campaign itself called this the most progressive platform in Democratic Party history, a claim supported by numerous media outlets and pundits.
Similar to the Republican platform, which strikes several positions not taken by its nominee, Donald Trump, the Democratic document is further left than Clinton has been in her career. And like the GOP, the Democrats are preoccupied with social issues.
Clinton, to get Sanders’ endorsement, embraced a wide swath of his agenda. For instance, she agreed to support his plan to offer free college to all U.S. students — even those who could afford to pay their own tuition. It’s a proposal she once mocked.
That plan alone, which is in the platform, would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. And it is just one of many costly new giveaways.
Clinton is giving Detroit resident Henrietta Ivey, a home care worker she met while campaigning in Michigan, a prime spot Thursday night to make her case for a $15 national minimum wage. That would be inflationary, and ignores cost-of-living differences in various regions of the country. While $15 an hour might make sense in New York City and some other high-cost places, it would distort the economies in rural areas where costs and incomes are much lower.
The platform illustrates some of the stark ideological differences between Republicans and Democrats. To achieve their utopian vision for the country, Democrats believe that government holds the keys to opportunity and fairness. In contrast, Republicans — evidenced by their platform if not their nominee —hold that a more limited government that gets out of the way is what will open doors to economic prosperity.
Here’s a taste of what Democrats hope to accomplish:
■On abortion, the party removed a plank from the 2012 platform that expressed support for religious liberty, and advocates the abolition of all state and local laws that in any way limit abortions.
■Democrats are calling for a carbon tax on fossil fuel emissions. The GOP platform specifically opposes such a tax, which has worked poorly in the European countries that have tried it.
■The platform abandons previous language expressing respect for the Second Amendment, and instead advocates aggressive action to curb gun violence, including allowing lawsuits against gun stores and manufacturers when a weapon is misused. That would effectively end gun making and sales in this country.
■ It calls for a host of new social spending, on everything from relieving college debt to universal pre-school and expanded child care.
Of course, no price tag is included. But “reining in Wall Street” and “making the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes” offer a glimpse of how Democrats would hope to pay for all these offerings.
The platform’s introduction states, “Democrats believe that cooperation is better than conflict, unity is better than division, empowerment is better than resentment, and bridges are better than walls.”
That’s a lofty goal. But the federal government already spends one-third more than it brings in. Buying “unity” by going even deeper in debt will not provide the long-term stability required to empower people and build bridges.