Fellow at Peterson Institute, a regressive-minded think tank, concedes the many benefits of a nation that provides universal access to pre-school, healthcare, and college
by Jake Johnson
In a televised debate with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on CNN Thursday night that quickly became a social media sensation, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tore into the "fraud" that is the Trump-GOP tax plan, slammed America's corrupt campaign finance system that allows the wealthiest Americans to buy policies and politicians, and "dunked on" a Danish representative of a right-wing think tank who challenged Sanders on his support for Scandinavian social democratic policies.
Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute, charged late in the debate that Sanders wants to spend like a Scandinavian nation, but not tax like one.
Sanders responded by highlighting the benefits citizens of Denmark, Sweden, and other Scandinavian nations reap as a result of paying more in taxes and concluded that these benefits far outweigh the costs.
"How much do you pay when you go to the hospital, if you have cancer, God forbid, and you went to the hospital?" Sanders asked.
"Zero," Kirkegaard said.
"And what about college in Denmark?" Sanders went on. "Our kids can't afford to go to college. How much does it cost to go to college in Denmark?"
"Well, in fact, you get a government stipend to go to college," Kirkegaard said.
"Oh. In other words, not only is it free, they give you a stipend, because they want to make sure—correct me if I'm wrong—that they take advantage of the wisdom of all of the kids," Sanders replied. "They want to make sure that every kid in that country gets the best education he or she can have."
"Wow," tweeted Josh Miller-Lewis, Sanders' deputy communications director, "Bernie just dunked on this guy from the Peterson Institute."
"Bernie Sanders just (peacefully) disarmed a Danish Pete Peterson plant—brilliantly," added Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher of The Nation.
By the end of their exchange, Kirkegaard conceded that familiar right-wing talking points about single-payer healthcare—for instance, the oft-repeated claim about extraordinarily long waiting lists—are false.
Sanders concluded the debate by calling on Americans to resist attempts by Cruz, President Donald Trump, and the Republican Party to "give $1.9 trillion in tax breaks to the top one percent" and "throw 15 million people off of Medicaid, cut Medicare by over $450 billion, cut Pell Grants, [and] cut programs like the Women, Infant, and Children program."
"I do not believe that America is about giving tax breaks to the very, very wealthy and cutting life-and-death programs for working families. This Trump Republican tax proposal is a disaster," Sanders concluded. "And the American people have got to stand up. And together we are going to defeat that awful proposal. Thank you very much."
This article, originally appeared on Common Dreams, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.