But one day ahead of the New York primary, it is also important to consider whether, in the unlikely scenario that he becomes the Democratic nominee, and in the even less likely scenario that his policies are carried into effect as he wishes, would it be good for the country? A number of economists have said no, but I wanted to dig deeper.
I have not been one to vote my pocketbook. I believe that taxes are an important contribution that we as citizens need to make in order to invest in public schools (from which I benefited, both in secondary school education and in higher education, go bears), roads and public transportation (which I use daily), environmental protection (a global imperative), and the like. But efficiency in those allocations of funds is important (as is one's ability to pay for rent and groceries), and looking between the Democratic candidates, both of whom support those policies, with whom would a middle class person such as myself benefit?
The focal point of Sanders' campaign has been income inequality. Make the people on Wall Street accountable and protect those on Main Street. Prevent the rich from getting richer, the poor from getting poorer. That's all well and good. This tool can help one to calculate their change in tax liability under the four frontrunners for their party nominations (Trump and Cruz on the right, Clinton and Sanders on the left), given income level, marital status, and number of children. I am single, have no children, and have a current income of $45,000. According to those numbers, I would benefit from a tax perspective under the Republicans, I would pay $40 more with Clinton, but I would pay $4,880 more under Sanders. This is with an income that is incontrovertibly middle class.
I then looked to see whether the benefits under Sanders would kick in if I were at or around the poverty line, so I entered an income of $15,000 (holding constant marital status and children). Still, I would be paying more under Sanders, with an increase in tax liability of $20 under Clinton and $1,630 under Sanders. Even if earning $15,000 per year with two or more dependents, I would be paying $990 more under Sanders while breaking even with Clinton. Even more absurdly, with a marital status of married and with two or more dependents, one would need to make under $5,000 to benefit under Sanders' tax plan (under $10,000 year if single with two or more dependents). And while it is true that his policies absolutely hold millionaires and billionaires accountable at a higher rate, the fact that those on the middle and lower ends of the income distribution are feeling such a pinch -- in some cases to a debilitating extent --is inconsistent with his rhetoric of concern about the middle class disappearing and the desire to combat income inequality that benefits the wealthy at the expense of the poor. In fact, a recent poll revealed that Sanders supporters are willing to spend only an additional $1,000 more on taxes, vastly exceeding that which his policies would require of them.
It is consistent with the challenge that the Sanders campaign has faced throughout, which is that talking about policies and problems is an easier task than is implementation. Short of careful, deep thought about how to combat these economic and political struggles, he has devised an economic plan whose specifics appear to go against the positions for which he purports to stand. I do not in any way believe that this is the result of any nefarious work on the part of the Sanders economic advisors, but it should give New Yorkers and Americans across the country pause before endorsing these policies.