Conservative lawmaker accuses former Biden economist of Marxism

A conservative lawmaker is accusing a former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden of being a Marxist.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) sent out a press release Wednesday claiming that Jared Bernstein, now a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, adhered to the Karl Marx’s principles.

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The foundation for his argument was a brief exchange the lawmaker had with Bernstein at hearing on the national debt held Tuesday by the House Financial Services Committee.

“If I utter the phrase to you, ‘From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs,’ do you look upon that generally favorably or generally unfavorably?” asked Mulvaney.

Bernstein, appearing as a witness, responded, “Generally favorably.”

Mulvaney said he had no further questions, and failed to identify during the hearing that the quote was on popularized by Marx, the founder of Communism.

In Wednesday’s release, Mulvaney’s office said Bernstein “admits to being Marxist,” and provided a copy of the exchange.

Bernstein told The Hill Wednesday that he did not recognize the quote as one made famous by Marx, and assumed Mulvaney was “asking for my views as to whether social policy should address families’ basic needs.”

Bernstein appeared alongside several budget experts Tuesday as the panel debated the issues and dangers posed by the nation’s growing debt.

“I’m simply not going to dignify the Congressman’s contention that I’m a Marxist,” he added.

A liberal economist, Bernstein has taught at several universities, and also served as deputy chief economist at the Labor Department under President Clinton.

At the hearing, Bernstein advocated for lawmakers to pursue fiscal policy that both cuts spending and increases revenue. He also noted that short-term deficits have fallen in recent years, and called on policymakers to pursue policies to support the lower and middle classes in the short term, while attacking structural debt by doing things like controlling rising medical costs.