What Would Life Under President Sanders Actually Look Like?

The Vermont socialist’s plan to make the United States more like Scandinavia.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

When ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Bernie Sanders earlier this year whether a self-proclaimed socialist could be elected president, the candidate brought up Scandinavia. “In those countries, by and large, government works for ordinary people in the middle class rather than…for the billionaire class.”

“I can hear the Republican attack ad right now,” Stephanopoulos replied. “‘He wants America to look more like Scandinavia.'” Sanders didn’t hesitate. “That’s right. And what’s wrong with that?” How would Sanders Scandinavian-ize the US? Here are his big ideas:

Double the minimum wage. Congress can’t pass a $10 minimum wage. Sanders thinks it just isn’t shooting high enough—he wants $15, or more than double the current rate.

Tax the rich. (And tax them. And tax them.) He endorses a return to Eisenhoweresque tax rates of potentially more than 50 percent for Americans in the highest tax brackets.

Cap and tax. Right now, companies deduct “performance-based” executive compensation, such as bonuses and stock options. But Sanders wants them to pay taxes on these perks if the gap between top and bottom salaries exceeds a certain percentage—or they could spread the wealth to the low-wage workers at the bottom of the scale.

Universal Medicare. Sanders voted for the Affordable Care Act, but he still dreams of a single-payer system—Medicare for everyone.

Make Wall Street pay for college. Tax every Wall Street transaction—the so-called “Robin Hood tax”—and use the money to make tuition free at public colleges and universities.

Seize the means of production. Kinda. Provide loans to workers who want to buy a stake in their companies, in order to spread profits across the workforce—not just the 1 percent.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Give a Year of the Truth

at our special holiday rate

just $12

Order Now

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.