The Wall Street Journal's Attempt to Take Down Bernie Sanders Backfired

Bernie Sanders is leading Hillary Clinton in early primary states, and he's gaining on her in national polls.

And major media outlets are starting to treat Senator Sanders seriously, but not necessarily with complete honesty.

Take for example Laura Meckler's article in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week.

It was provocatively titled "Price Tag of Bernie Sanders's Proposals: $18 Trillion."

The article starts off by dismissing Sanders's campaign as a long-shot - and then goes on to call his proposals "the largest peacetime expansion of government in modern American history."

"In all" Meckler writes, "he backs at least $18 trillion in new spending over a decade… a sum that alarms conservatives and gives even many Democrats pause."

That estimate may give conservatives and corporate democrats pause, but the whole article should give any reader who can do simple arithmetic pause.

One red flag is that the click-bait headline makes it seem like the piece is talking about a one- or maybe two-term estimate of what Bernie's budgets might look like.

Or even more extreme - that just getting his proposals off the ground would take $18 trillion.

But the reality is that we're only looking at $1.8 trillion a year under Bernie's sweeping proposals.

But that's just a little editorial sleight of hand to drive traffic to their site right?

Well, not quite.

You see, the Wall Street Journal piece cited research by Gerald Friedman - a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

And there was just one small problem with their interpretation of his research. They blatantly omitted his conclusion.

But in the age of the information, major newspapers are rightfully under more scrutiny than ever.

Professor Friedman saw the Wall Street Journal's piece and responded in the Huffington Post with "An Open Letter to the Wall Street Journal on Its Bernie Sanders Hit Piece."

He writes that the Journal wasn't completely wrong: the program would involve spending 15 trillion dollars over a decade. But they left out the key detail: that it would actually save the country a total $5 trillion over those ten years.

We'd see those savings in reduced administrative waste, lower pharmaceutical and device prices, and by decreasing the rate of medical inflation.

Because the simple fact is: We - as a people - are going to spend that $15 trillion on healthcare anyway.

The difference is that under the current model, we pay that money to private insurance companies. And those private companies have much higher levels of administrative costs, fraud, and general waste than Medicare does.

Another difference is that the government would be negotiating drug prices - making drugs more affordable for everyone.

And who would see that $5 trillion in savings?

Businesses for one. Along with state and local governments. Because they wouldn't have to pay for their employees' insurance - who'd be covered by Medicare for All.

And individuals, like you and me, wouldn't have to worry about co-payments and deductibles. Or worse, finding that the "affordable plan" that we choose doesn't cover a necessary procedure.

You see, as Bruh1 points out over at DailyKos, The Wall Street Journal presented government spending in a fundamentally dishonest way.

Because what we spend can't be separated from what we'd save by going with different policies.

Take Bruh1's example of shopping for a car: "You don't buy a car by saying 'well it would cost me 10,000 here, but the same car would cost me 7000 there, so the price tag on the 7000 car is too expensive.' You say 'it save me 3000 to buy from the other guy.".

And that's the point - it's not 15 trillion dollars that Bernie's plan would cost the country - because we as a people will spend that amount - and more - on healthcare costs anyway.

It's 5 trillion dollars that we the people will save with Bernie's plan - and get back - by adopting an efficient - and affordable - single payer healthcare for all system.

And that would be good for everyone - and the economy as a whole.

Unfortunately The Wall Street Journal's analysis of Bernie's proposals isn't just another routine example of shoddy corporate journalism.

It's an example of how the corporate media tries to discredit and discard anyone who they can't control.

And that's not just bad news for our political process. It's also bad news for the Fourth Estate, which really should at least try to be honest in its critique of policy issues.


Alan Lunn's picture
Alan Lunn 7 years 36 weeks ago

Bernie's standing in the way of the intended neoliberal project for America and they've gotta take him down. Maybe more Americans are starting to get it.

RLTOWNSLEY's picture
RLTOWNSLEY 7 years 36 weeks ago

No big surprise when you consider that this Right Wing Attack is coming from an employee of a Rupert Murdock Company ! None of us should be surprised when we consider that all of our main stream media is now owned by Murdock and three other private Corporate behemoths ! So much for the so-called Liberal Media !

stopgap's picture
stopgap 7 years 36 weeks ago

Wall Street Journal: Fox News=same owner: same lies, different liars.

dianhow 7 years 36 weeks ago

Price tag of another GOP President is incaluable ! More wars, more enemies, more maiming, making more enemies, more control by billionaires, lobbyists, corps.. more eroding of womens right to birth control, health care, more gun deaths, lower quality education, defunding of mentally ill & disabled, more right wing anti middle class judges Sounds like a Horror Movie !!

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 36 weeks ago

It's hard to twist the truth... especially in the age of social media.

Willie W's picture
Willie W 7 years 36 weeks ago

No one I know reads the Wall Street Journal. Big news analysts kept saying Trump was done. Bernie should be pleased to be put in the same boat with him. More free publicity,

Michael Pearson's picture
Michael Pearson 7 years 36 weeks ago

About this, Robert Reich writes on Facebook...

I've had so many calls about an article appearing earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal -- charging that Bernie Sanders’s proposals would carry a “price tag” of $18 trillion over a 10-year period -- that it's necessary to respond.

The Journal's number is entirely bogus, designed to frighten the public. Please spread the truth:

(1) Bernie’s proposals would cost less than what we’d spend without them. Most of the “cost” the Journal comes up with—$15 trillion—would pay for opening Medicare to everyone. This would be cheaper than relying on our current system of for-profit private health insurers that charge you and me huge administrative costs, advertising, marketing, bloated executive salaries, and high pharmaceutical prices. (Gerald Friedman, an economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, estimates a Medicare-for-all system would actually save all of us $10 trillion over 10 years).

(2) The savings from Medicare-for-all would more than cover the costs of the rest of Bernie’s agenda—tuition-free education at public colleges, expanded Social Security benefits, improved infrastructure, and a fund to help cover paid family leave – and still leave us $2 trillion to cut federal deficits for the next ten years.

(3) Many of these other “costs" would also otherwise be paid by individuals and families -- for example, in college tuition and private insurance. So they shouldn't be considered added costs for the country as a whole, and may well save us money.

(4) Finally, Bernie’s proposed spending on education and infrastructure aren’t really “spending” at all, but investments in the nation’s future productivity. If we don’t make them, we’re all poorer.

That Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal would do this giant dump on Bernie, based on misinformation and distortion, confirms Bernie's status as the candidate willing to take on the moneyed interests that the Wall Street Journal represents.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 36 weeks ago

Price Tag of Bush/Cheney's Oil War for Profit....Seven Trillion!

Where's that headline???

charlieaa 7 years 36 weeks ago

Just one problem with this piece - or the header: ". . .Backfired." Thom, when I learn that WSJ and the others who parroted this crap have made public retractions where the rethugs do their reading/watching, THEN I'll believe it "backfired." Huff Post isn't paid any attention by the right.

RFord's picture
RFord 7 years 36 weeks ago

My eyes have been opened to what's going on with corporate media. Tonight Lester Holt on NBC reported that two people in the republican presidential debate talked about the videos of selling aborted fetus parts and that Planned Parent hood had said the videos were false but Lester Holt did not say that there is evidence that now proves that the videos were false and made up. I guess NBC didn't want to offend the conservative viewers that want to believe the videos are truthful by telling the actual truth. Omitting the truth is part of what corporate media does and to me that is lying. Sometimes they actually lie like when Scott Pelly said there were several thousand climate change protesters in New York last year. Several thousand? how many is that? Three to seven thousand? There were 300,000 protesters. Saying several was not only misleading it was lying and omitting the truth. When you listen to corporate media you should always listen to what they are not saying like when they said Hillary Clinton sent some e-mails that should have been classified they DID NOT say that she sent e-mails that WERE classified, By not saying that, so far, they had no reports of her actually sending classified e-mails , they wre misleading and that is lying. Keep your ears open and you will hear a lot of news that corporate media is not telling you.

agelbert's picture
agelbert 7 years 36 weeks ago

It's the old hit piece trick by Walls Street crooks and liars. Senator Sanders wants to free us from those parasites. They don't like it one bit. Good!

The Wall Street Journal is not credible because it never has the interests of, or the national security of, the people of the United States in mind. It simply uses those terms as a cover for the interests and the security of elite parasites.

dianhow 7 years 36 weeks ago

No one favors abortions Note to anti birth control GOP : Birth control stops abortions ! Corp for profit media does NOT tell the entire story so we can make an informed decision. 24 / 7 news cycle has been a detriment to our country . check out  / pbs news hour M_F 6 pm central Investigate other ( better ) news sources . Trump is outspoken but dangerous , he disrespects women, has a hot temper, and loves himself too much . Imagine Trump negotiating with foreign powers ! Likely would ' bomb them when he got peeved ...which is often . Trump can not take any criticism without 'going off'

mathboy's picture
mathboy 7 years 35 weeks ago

RFord, the next such protest should be held at the doors of the news organizations' doors in NYC. Block them from entering or leaving until they cover the issue.

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