The White House Has Apparently Decided It's Time for Another Red Scare

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President Donald Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers has a new report out today. No, it’s not about how Republicans have robbed poor and working class people to pay for tax cuts, or about how real wage growth has been stagnant for decades. Nope, this report is about the dangers of socialism. What year is it again?

In recent months, Trump and the GOP—which has spent much of the past decade labeling avowed capitalists like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi as socialists—have kicked the tires on a new Red Scare. This has featured constant references to Venezuela, attacks on people standing up to fascists in their neighborhoods, and Trump himself taking a shot at the Medicare for All proposal by Sen. Bernie Sanders.

And now we have this, a 72-page report released on Tuesday, in which the CEA tries its very best to validate every GOP talking point about everything and everyone socialist, from Venezuela to Joseph Stalin to Elizabeth “I believe in markets” Warren.


Some of the highlights (emphasis mine):

  • This whole passage: “The Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who cited Marxism as the model for his country, described “the ruthless economic exploitation and political oppression of the peasants by the landlord class.” Expressing similar concerns, current American senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have stated that “large corporations . . . exploit human misery and insecurity, and turn them into huge profits” and “giant corporations . . . exploit workers just to boost their own profits.” (It’s fairly safe to say that no Democratic politician—democratic socialists like Sanders and Congressional candidates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib included—is agitating for an American Great Leap Forward.)
  • “Living standards in the Nordic countries are at least 15 percent lower than in the United States,” a statement for which there appears to be no citation whatsoever.
  • The report says that Iceland is the only Nordic country that “forces single-payer on the entire nation,” but counteracts that by saying it has a smaller population than the least-populated U.S. state, Alaska. Except Alaska isn’t the least-populated state—Wyoming is. These people are supposed to be good at statistics!
  • If Medicare for All were adopted, the report says, “GDP would fall by 9 percent, or about $7,000 per person in 2022, due to high tax rates that would reduce incentives to supply the factors of production.” Its reference for this is the CEA’s own numbers.

The whole thing is first and foremost a nakedly political attempt to scare the Republican base and swing voters who remember the Cold War into voting, but it does show that the GOP views the growing socialist movement in the United States as a tangible threat to its power. With any luck it one day will be, but, uh, I don’t think we’re quite at the level where it warrants an official White House report.