By Don Keelan
Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to borrow a page out of President Trump’s playbook titled, “How to Control the Media This Week.”
The president is a master at dominating what the national news media — printed, digital, and TV/radio — will cover during any given week. He does this by issuing, usually on a Friday, a ridiculous statement that CNN, NYTimes, MSNBC, and others will then cover 24/7. It will disappear when the following Friday’s statement is released (or, rather, tweeted).
Such weekly statements have included telling Israel not to grant visas to Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, as well as Trump’s offer to Denmark to purchase their territory, Greenland. This was preceded by a statement that we can obliterate Iran if we wished to. Recently, Trump took on the role of meteorologist — Hurricane Dorian was on its way to Alabama. There are more, of course — one for each week of the 2016 presidential primary and his 32 months in office.
All of what Trump has done in handling the media has not been lost on Sanders. While Sanders’ outlandish remarks may not have had the frequency of Trump’s, they do come along, if not weekly, certainly on a monthly basis.
It was only a few months ago that the traveling senator from Vermont proposed free college tuition at all state-run facilities. This trillion-dollar adventure would be funded by Trump’s minions from Wall Street, who, according to Sanders, are millionaires, if not billionaires.
If the above monthly news proposal wasn’t enough, it was preceded by another one — the elimination of all outstanding student loans, capping out at close to a trillion dollars. Wall Street couldn’t handle this one, so it would be funded by reversing the 2017 federal tax cuts.
Sandwiched in between the above monthly pronouncements was a long-standing wish of the senator — his declaration of Medicare for All. Until recently, this proposal was the Sanders Enchilada — it would be the end of all private healthcare insurance companies. There would be only one insurer, the federal government. And that entity alone would be making all decisions on how healthcare dollars would be allocated.
The price tag for Medicare for All was thought to be beyond anyone’s comprehension until three weeks ago. It was during the second week in August that Sanders went to the Trump Playbook and announced the Sanders version of the Green New Deal. The media, both liberal and conservative, was flabbergasted at the announcement’s price tag — $16.3 trillion.
If you can believe it, the Sanders proposal goes far beyond attempting to mitigate the present impact of carbons on the environment. According to the Wall Street Journal’s Aug. 26 editorial, it is “a wholesale transformation of our society.” And no wonder, when the price tag is the equivalent of 78% of the U.S. annual economy.
But the details of the senator’s 44-page plan were astounding:
- The government will provide $36 billion to convert residential lawns to food and tree growing areas.
- Fourteen percent of the price tag, or over $2 trillion, will be allocated to weatherize and retrofit homes and businesses. Washington will also look to provide the 7.4 million housing units needed.
- Food pantries, Meals on Wheels, and school lunch programs better be looking for more space and volunteers because $527 billion will be coming their way. The logic being that it will save on energy cost if there are central distribution centers for food consumption.
- Fire departments and emergency first responders better heed the National Transportation Board’s warnings on the dangers of responding to an electric car crash. The voltage shock as well as the notorious battery chemicals can cause deaths or serious injuries. The Sanders plan is to give $2.1 trillion to trade-in fossil fuel vehicles for EV’s.
My take-away is that the grant-disbursing agency required under the Bernie Plan will dwarf the that of the Pentagon.
What Bernie should have done was send out, once a week, one page from his The Green New Deal so to remain competitive with the Trump Weekly Media Play Book.
Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington, Vermont.