What Would Life Under President Sanders Actually Look Like?

The Vermont socialist’s plan to make the United States more like Scandinavia.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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When ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Bernie Sanders earlier this year whether a self-proclaimed socialist could be elected president, the candidate brought up Scandinavia. “In those countries, by and large, government works for ordinary people in the middle class rather than…for the billionaire class.”

“I can hear the Republican attack ad right now,” Stephanopoulos replied. “‘He wants America to look more like Scandinavia.'” Sanders didn’t hesitate. “That’s right. And what’s wrong with that?” How would Sanders Scandinavian-ize the US? Here are his big ideas:

Double the minimum wage. Congress can’t pass a $10 minimum wage. Sanders thinks it just isn’t shooting high enough—he wants $15, or more than double the current rate.

Tax the rich. (And tax them. And tax them.) He endorses a return to Eisenhoweresque tax rates of potentially more than 50 percent for Americans in the highest tax brackets.

Cap and tax. Right now, companies deduct “performance-based” executive compensation, such as bonuses and stock options. But Sanders wants them to pay taxes on these perks if the gap between top and bottom salaries exceeds a certain percentage—or they could spread the wealth to the low-wage workers at the bottom of the scale.

Universal Medicare. Sanders voted for the Affordable Care Act, but he still dreams of a single-payer system—Medicare for everyone.

Make Wall Street pay for college. Tax every Wall Street transaction—the so-called “Robin Hood tax”—and use the money to make tuition free at public colleges and universities.

Seize the means of production. Kinda. Provide loans to workers who want to buy a stake in their companies, in order to spread profits across the workforce—not just the 1 percent.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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