Real costs of 'new deals' puts 'land of the free' at risk

Real costs of 'new deals' puts 'land of the free' at risk
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More than 50 years ago, my parents immigrated to the United States. They came here, as do so many, to escape the poverty, corruption and discrimination endemic to their native country in search of an education, opportunity and religious liberty.

They could have chosen a country with more robust social welfare programs. They chose the United States, not because they were seeking an easy life, but because they wanted to live in freedom and experience for themselves the opportunities our country cherishes and defends.

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With no money or pedigree, they worked hard, earned college degrees, secured meaningful professional careers, bought a home, raised a family of five children and, in short, achieved the American Dream. They weren’t alone. Through hard work, grit and unbending determination, generation after generation of Americans have secured success for themselves and their families.

Millions of immigrants just like them have raised themselves up into the middle class. Most immigrants, like my parents, come to America desperate to innovate, compete and succeed — hallmarks that make our nation strong. 

There are some, however, who think the government needs to intervene. They want all of us to cede unprecedented authority to government in every aspect of our lives, based on the specious idea that they know better than we how we all should live.

The proposed Green New Deal is such a scheme. Those who support it seek to bring our travel, housing, banking, health care — indeed, the entire economy — under strict federal control. The free market is evil, they say. The only solution these “democratic socialists” can offer would guarantee income even for those “unwilling to work.”

These programs would in reality cripple our economy. America cannot afford them, even in the best of times. The progressive Urban Institute, for example, estimates the proposed “Medicare-for-all” plan would cost a staggering $32 trillion over 10 years. Others estimate the costs would be even higher.

The high-tax, anti-free-market philosophy poses real-life dangers to those most in need. Just days ago, in the wake of opposition from anti-corporate progressives, Amazon pulled out of a plan to bring a second headquarters to New York City. The progressives who opposed it called it a corporate subsidy and said it would cost too much. What they missed, aside from the fact there is no pot of money lying around that would have been used on the project that can be reallocated to social service, is the cost to the community that won’t be getting an estimated 25,000 new jobs that bring with them untold billions in economic growth and opportunities.

Indeed, the majority of New York residents, including most African American and Hispanic residents, support the headquarters. Now it’s gone, and these residents-those most desperate to secure meaningful employment, tragically lose that opportunity.

Recognizing these significant costs, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to call on 2020 Democrats to reject money from drug, health insurance industries The hidden connection between immigration and health care: Our long-term care crisis Harris tops Biden in California 2020 poll MORE (I-Vt.) admits “there will be pain.” He and others have proposed significant tax increases on Americans, including taking the top marginal rate back up to 90 percent. Yet, according to the Office of Management and Budget, the top 20 percent of income earners already pay 95 percent of taxes. The burden on the middle class is in the “single digits,” according to the OMB.

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As Margaret Thatcher lamented, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” Increased taxation, especially at punitive and confiscatory levels, stifles investment, crushes growth and destroys jobs.  

The high-tax, anti-free-market philosophy poses real-life dangers to those most in need. Just days ago, in the wake of opposition from anti-corporate progressives, Amazon pulled out of a plan to bring a second headquarters to New York City. The progressives who opposed it called it a corporate subsidy and said it would cost too much. What they missed, aside from the fact there is a pot of money lying around that would have been used on the project that can be reallocated to social service, is the cost to the community that won’t be getting an estimated 25,000 new jobs that bring with them untold billions in economic growth and opportunities.

The triumphalism of those who think they prevailed is disturbing. One prominent freshman lawmaker crowed that “everyday New Yorkers and their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.” Yes, and at what cost?

Where are ambitious, hard-working and striving Americans who eschew a government-mandated, taxpayer-supported “guaranteed income” to turn if their dreams, like my parents’, is to secure employment, a meaningful career and, crucially, self-determination? What signal do we send to the risk-takers, the innovators and those who courageously struggle to succeed, when we punish prosperity and vilify success? Is a guaranteed government income while doing nothing really better for the mind, body and soul than a job?

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free,” Ronald Reagan famously said. It’s easy for politicians to call for generous free health care, free college tuition, free housing and a guaranteed minimum income. These proposals have real costs, both financial and to the very fabric of our free society, and it is the height of irresponsibility when those who advocate for them pretend they don’t.

The free market isn’t perfect. As in any competitive system, there are indeed winners and losers. Yet, as history has borne out, no other system has lifted more people from poverty and into prosperity. No other system has fostered the level of innovation, of job-creation and of growth as free-market economies.

Freedom isn’t genetically passed on. The siren’s call of utopian command-and-control, government-mandated “fairness,” no matter how tempting, must be resisted. In doing so, we’ll preserve liberty, prosperity and the American Dream for the next generation to come.

Suhail A. Khan is a Washington, D.C.-based attorney who served on Capitol Hill as a staffer for former Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.) and as a legal counsel and transportation adviser in the administration of George W. Bush. Follow him on Twitter @Suhail_A_Khan.