Is Bernie Sanders Responsible For Gerald Friedman’s Economic Analysis?

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I’ve gotten enough tweets like this that I suppose I should probably respond:

The topic is Gerald Friedman’s paper suggesting that Sanders’ domestic spending program will supercharge the economy in wildly unlikely ways. And it’s true that Friedman isn’t officially part of the Sanders campaign team. But they’ve previously relied on his analysis of their universal health care plan, and the campaign’s policy director has repeatedly praised Friedman’s paper:

CNN: “Sanders’ policy director, Warren Gunnels, also defended the estimates, noting the candidate is thinking big. ‘We haven’t had such an ambitious agenda to rebuild the middle class since Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Johnson,’ he said.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Warren Gunnels, policy director for the Sanders campaign, hailed the report’s finding that the proposals are feasible…’It’s gotten a little bit of attention, but not nearly as much as we would like,’ Mr. Gunnels said….’It’s a very bold plan, and we want to get this out there.'”

NPR: “As for whether he was worried about these sorts of criticisms hurting the campaign in the future, he said no. ‘That does not bother us at all,’ he said. ‘What bothers us is the fact that the U.S. has more kids living in poverty than nearly any major country on Earth.'”

Come on, folks. If your policy director is out in the media promoting Friedman’s paper, then it means the campaign is standing behind it. There’s no two ways about this.

The second line of defense for Sanders’ supporters is that no one has proven that Friedman is wrong. In fact, the critics are “the establishment of the establishment”: just a bunch of Wall Street shills on Hillary’s payroll who have it in for Bernie. I’m at a loss about how to respond to this. Obviously you can’t prove that a forecast of the future is wrong. But you can say that Friedman is forecasting a sustained level of economic growth that’s literally never happened before in history. Not here, not in Denmark, not anywhere. Mature economies simply don’t grow 5 percent a year for a decade. Labor productivity doesn’t double just because you create a bunch of social welfare programs. The number of people in the labor force doesn’t skyrocket to new records even in the face of increasing rates of boomer retirement.

The discouraging thing here is that Friedman’s critics aren’t saying that Sanders’ proposals are bad. You can support every single element of his plan with a clear conscience. Their criticism is solely about forecasting how his plan will affect economic growth. And on that score, it’s not even remotely realistic. It’s about like saying his Medicare-for-all plan will increase life expectancy ten years. It’s beyond belief. No matter who you support, you shouldn’t do it based on fantasies like this.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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