Economics

Kamala Harris’s Economic Philosophy Is No Laughing Matter

Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris speaks during a campaign event in Detroit, Mich., October 25, 2020. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)
From healthcare to the environment to housing, Harris thinks the answer to almost every problem we face is more government.

During a 60 Minutes interview just over a week ago, Senator Kamala Harris was asked whether she would bring a “socialist” perspective to a Biden administration. She laughed, as if it were an absurd question.

It’s not.

Whether she embraces the label “socialist” or not, Harris’s stated agenda and Senate record both reveal her to be positioned a long way to the left on matters of economic policy.

From health care to the environment to housing, Harris thinks the answer to almost every problem we face is simply more government and more taxpayer money — raising taxes and further indebting future generations in the process.

Inaccurately described by liberal media outlets as a “moderate” and “centrist,” Harris actually supports an astounding $40 trillion in new spending over the next decade. In a sign of just how far left the Democratic Party has shifted on economics, Harris backs more than 20 times as much spending as Hillary Clinton proposed in 2016. (In both cases their plans covered ten-year periods.)

Harris has abandoned the old Democratic Party’s lip service (however unconvincing) to fiscal restraint. Labels aside, it’s unclear what exactly separates the approach to fiscal policy she would take from the runaway deficit spending and money-printing that has caused so much trouble for so many economies over the years.

And this is not just a matter of spending. During her failed presidential campaign, Harris supported a federal-government takeover of health care, with only a small and highly regulated role remaining for private insurers. This could mean that the government, not the individual, ends up with the final say on medical decisions.

Crippling the private sector and all but eradicating profit would destroy medical innovation, too. Right now, deeply flawed as it may be, the U.S.’s private health-care system is the most innovative in the world. We are responsible for more than 40 percent of total research-and-development spending despite comprising a much smaller fraction of the global population.

When you strip away the profit motive from the health-care industry and replace it with government bureaucracy, the driving force of innovation and discovery that makes us world-leading innovators evaporates along with it. For example, we currently have some of the highest cancer-survival rates in the world.

It’s no coincidence that we are one of the top countries for “medical tourism,” meaning that people come to the U.S. from all over the world to access our top-quality care and innovative treatments that don’t emerge in their native socialist systems. Yet Harris’s health-care agenda would doom the U.S. to the same fate of lackluster innovation.

The senator jumped on the “Green New Deal” bandwagon as well. She co-sponsored the Green New Deal resolution in the Senate that called for a “new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal era.”

With her support for the proposal, Harris embraced the idea of radically overhauling our economy to move it away from fossil fuels — even at the cost of up to $600,000 per household, according to a study led by a former director of the Congressional Budget Office. The resolution also endorsed having the federal government provide housing, health care, and food for all, and upgrading every building in America.

To be clear, this was just a nonbinding resolution, not the actual agenda Harris campaigned on in her presidential bid. Some of the items made it into her final $40 trillion agenda, some did not. But Harris’s signaling of her support for such a resolution speaks volumes about the true nature of the ideological leanings she would bring to the White House.

Oh, and the cost of housing would skyrocket under a Vice President Harris, too.

The California senator has evidently not learned from her home state’s failed experiment with “rent control,” as she supports enacting price controls on housing across the country. As almost all economists agree, this only exacerbates the problem by discouraging the construction of new housing and limiting supply. Higher prices emerge in the long run, and you end up like San Francisco and New York City, where failed government interventions have made housing either unaffordable or unattainable for far too many people.

It’s clear that while Harris laughs off the socialist branding, any objective analysis of her record at least raises the question of where she stands. She might dismiss the label — and she might even believe that it doesn’t apply to her — but what’s the phrase about swimming like a duck, quacking like a duck?

The left-wing group Progressive Punch analyzed Harris’s voting record and found that she is the fourth-most liberal senator, more liberal even than Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren. Similarly, the nonpartisan organization GovTrack.us deemed Harris the furthest-left member of the Senate for the 2019 legislative year. (Spoiler alert: If your voting record is to the left of Bernie Sanders, you might be a socialist.)

Ultimately, if Joe Biden wins in November, Harris will be next in line for the presidency. Under these circumstances, her agenda matters, and could, of course, possibly matter even more.

That’s no laughing matter at all.

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