As the Democratic primary race tightens, Hillary Clinton has been trying to cast opponent Bernie Sanders as unrealistic and “pie in the sky,” but a leading University of Massachusetts economist says such criticisms are “dead wrong” and, in fact, the Vermont senator’s proposals are precisely what will “make the economy great again.”
In a column published at The Nation on Tuesday, Robert Pollin, distinguished professor in economics at UMass Amherst and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), examines the major policy items under Sanders’ economic agenda. These include a single-payer healthcare system; increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour; free tuition at public colleges and universities, to be financed by a “Robin Hood” tax on Wall Street transactions; and large-scale public investments in renewable energy and infrastructure.
Pollin’s conclusion: this program works, handily.
“All of his major proposals are grounded in solid economic reasoning and evidence,” Pollin states.
“Overall, the Sanders program is capable of raising living standards and reducing insecurity for working people and the poor, expanding higher educational opportunities, and reversing the decades-long trend toward rising inequality,” Pollin writes. “It could bring Wall Street’s dominance under control and help prevent a repeat of the financial crisis. It will also strongly support investments in education, clean energy, and public infrastructure, generating millions of good jobs in the process.”
Pollin’s analysis builds on previous research, including his own. It takes a big-picture look at the potential impact of Sanders’ policies, refuting claims made by Clinton and her supporters that they would stymie job and economic growth.
When discussing the minimum wage increase, Pollin dismisses the idea that employers would not be able to absorb the cost of the wage increase. Citing a recent study by PERI colleague Jeannette Wicks-Lim and himself, Pollin states, “even fast-food restaurants, which employ a disproportionate share of minimum wage workers, are likely to see their overall business costs rise by only about 3.4 percent per year during a four-year phase-in for a $15 minimum wage.”
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