By Jason Hart | Watchdog.org
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent and self-described socialist from Vermont, inadvertently reminded America “progressive” is just another word for “socialist” with a Dec. 29 Huffington Post op-ed.
In his column, titled “Fight for Our Progressive Vision,” Sanders called for universal health care, increased government redistribution of wealth, limits on political speech, additional government action against “climate change,” $1 trillion in new infrastructure spending and more spending on education.
“At a time when the middle class is disappearing and when millions of families have seen significant declines in their incomes, we will not support more austerity against the elderly, the children and working families,” Sanders wrote. “We will not accept cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, nutrition or affordable housing.”
Earlier in December, The New Yorker called Sanders’s agenda a “progressive manifesto.”
The “progressive” priorities spelled out by Sanders are shared by Democratic Socialists of America, a national socialist group dedicated to “building progressive movements for social change while establishing an openly democratic socialist presence in American communities and politics.”
For several years DSA hosted the official website of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which was founded by Sanders. A page of the CPC website captured by archive.org in 1997 listed CPC’s “Progressive Promise” side-by-side with DSA’s nearly identical “Progressive Agenda.”
The vision Sanders championed in his recent Huffington Post piece and promotes from his Senate office mirrors DSA’s Progressive Agenda adopted in 1992. DSA agrees so strongly with Sanders, the group has launched a petition imploring him to seek the Democrat nomination for president in 2016.
“Senator Sanders is a lifelong champion of the public programs and democratic rights that empower working class people,” DSA’s petition states. “His candidacy could help expand both the progressive movement and the democratic socialist voice within that movement.”
Sanders has told reporters he will decide by March whether to enter the presidential race. Neither DSA nor the senator’s office responded to requests for comment.
During President Obama’s time in office, which Sanders described in his Huffington Post op-ed as marred by government “austerity,” the national debt has increased by $1 billion every seven hours.
Sanders also decried America’s “bloated military budget” as an obstacle to job creation, but defense spending pales in comparison to the entitlement programs Sanders seeks to expand.
Meanwhile, in Sanders’s home state of Vermont, Democrat Gov. Peter Shumlin announced last month he was abandoning single-payer socialized medicine program Green Mountain Care because it was too expensive.
While Sanders is widely seen as a standard-bearer for progressive thought, it’s hardly a secret he’s a socialist.
“In a country that just put Republicans in charge of Congress, he is testing whether Democrats will embrace a socialist for the White House in 2016,” The New York Times wrote in a Dec. 19 news story.
Regardless of their ideological labeling, the policies promoted by Sanders would greatly expand government and reduce incentives for hard work from the people expected to foot the bill.