Socialism: Newly minted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she isn’t modeling her brand of socialism on socialist basket cases like Venezuela, but on successes like Sweden, Norway and Finland. Apparently, she hasn’t bothered to look at just what sorts of economic policies those “socialist” countries have been pursuing lately. Network Error:During an interview on “60 Minutes,” Anderson Cooper put this question to Ocasio-Cortez: “When people hear the word socialism, they think Soviet Union, Cuba, Venezuela. Is that what you have in mind?”Her response: “Of course not. What we have in mind — and what of my — and my policies most closely resemble what we see in the U.K., in Norway, in Finland, in Sweden.”
If that were true, then Ocasio-Cortez would have to abandon almost her entire economic agenda and embrace free-market economic policies. Because that’s what those countries have been doing. Here’s a rundown:
Privatize Social SecurityOcasio-Cortez says she wants to expand Social Security benefits. There’s no question that she’s unalterably opposed to privatizing the federal pension program.But two of the countries she cites as role models have partially privatized their social security programs to save taxpayer money and provide better retirements for their citizens.Sweden partially privatized its social security program in the mid-1990s. Britain began partially privatizing its public pension program in the late 1950s. In both countries, workers can invest a portion of their payroll taxes in individual, private accounts.
Eliminate the Minimum Wage Ocasio-Cortez also wants to impose a $15 federal minimum wage and create a “federal jobs guarantee.”She is apparently unaware that neither Sweden nor Norway have any minimum wage laws at all. Or that Finland’s is 83% lower than the current U.S. minimum. The UK’s minimum wage is higher than the U.S., but nowhere near the $15 minimum she and other leftist Democrats are pushingAnd none of these countries would dream of something as radical as a “federal jobs guarantee.” Finland, in fact, just abandoned its experiment in a related idea called “universal basic income” because of its costs and its adverse economic impacts.
Cut The Corporate Tax Rate Ocasio-Cortez also wants to hike the federal corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. But wait a minute. The corporate income tax rate in the UK is only 19%. In Finland, it’s 20%. The rate is 22% in Sweden and 23% in Norway.When you count state corporate income taxes, the average tax on corporate profits in the U.S. is currently 25.7%, according to the Tax Foundation. So instead of calling for a hike, Ocasio-Cortez should be calling for further cuts in the corporate tax rate to bring them in line with her “socialist” role models.
Ditch ‘Medicare for all’How about health care? Ocasio-Cortez backs the “Medicare for all” plan, which would have the government pay 100% of the cost for health care, including doctor visits, hospitals, prescription drugs, dental and vision care. In short, “Medicare for all” would outlaw private insurance and virtually eliminate all out-of-pocket spending. (The only thing that the government wouldn’t cover is cosmetic surgery.)This, too, would be a radical departure from the countries she claims as role models.While those countries “guarantee” health care, most still rely on some form of private insurance or out-of-pocket spending to cover a significant portion of the bills. In fact, in Finland, private payers cover 20% of the nation’s health costs, in Norway it’s 15% and in Sweden, 16%. In the UK, it’s 21%, according to data from the OECD.What’s more, in every country but Sweden, the share of health costs paid by the government has been declining in recent years.
Embrace Free Markets Nor does Ocasio-Cortez seem to realize that while she wants to shove the U.S. toward big-government socialism, the countries she cites have been largely moving in the opposite direction — cutting taxes, reining in government benefits and freeing up their economies.In fact, all those countries have become more economically free over the years, according to the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom.
The Heritage index measures things like taxes, business freedom, government spending, property rights, and labor and trade policies.As a result, the UK and Sweden now rank higher than the U.S. on the Heritage index, while Finland and Norway are just a nose behind.
Less Diversity, More School Choice
Some more inconvenient facts about these so-called socialist paradises that Ocasio-Cortez would never endorse:Sweden, Norway and Finland are among the least diverse nations in the world. Out of a list of 159 countries ranked by ethnic and cultural diversity, Sweden, Norway and Finland rank in the bottom fifth. The U.S. ranks 85. In fact, the U.S. has more illegal immigrants living here than the entire populations of each of those countries.Sweden also has a school choice program, in effect since 1992, that lets parents take vouchers to publi