It’s not often late night television makes headlines, but last Bill Maher certainly did. The namesake of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” hosted Democratic presidential candidate and confessed socialist, Bernie Sanders. Most expected a friendly interview, but the outspoken Maher surprised everyone when he pushed the Vermont Senator on how the country could afford key planks of his platform.
Maher invited Sanders into his home, only to slide the dagger with ease in front of a national television audience. It was glorious to watch Sanders wriggle at the end of Maher’s proverbial blade.
When Sanders sat down across from Maher, the host told him he wanted “to help” his campaign by explaining socialism to Americans. “They hear socialist and they think herpes, Bernie!”
While the interview started on a light, Maher proceeded to do that opposite of helping Bernie, by pushing him on specifics about his plan. The senator tried to offer responses, but Maher continued to push, drawing out logical facts that prove the nation could never afford a Sanders’s platform.
First, Bernie laid out the summary of his plan with rosy rhetoric.
“Do the American people agree that public colleges and universities should be tuition-free, as they are in many other countries? Do the American people agree that the largest corporations and the wealthiest people, who today are doing phenomenally well while the middle-class shrinks, do people believe they should have to pay more in taxes? The American people say yes.”
But Maher didn’t swallow that pill. In what must have shocked his liberal viewers, Maher challenged Sanders, asserting there was no way to pay for his utopia, even if they were to tax the rich.
“The tax revenue that we would get just from taxing the people who I think your fans think you’re talking about, the people who own a yacht, does not come close to covering what you want to pay for,” said Maher.
“Not true. Not true,” a clearly-thrown Sanders fired back. “What I’m saying is there have been articles out there that have been really unfair and wrong. For example, what they are suggesting is that if we move to a Medicare-for-all single-payer program, which guarantees healthcare to all people, it would cost a lot of money. That’s true. But what they forget to tell you is it would be much more cost-effective than this dysfunctional system we have right now, which is the most expensive per capita on earth.”
Maher wasn’t letting him off, he continued to push.
“But it couldn’t even work in your home state of Vermont!” the host said. “They were going to institute it, and the governor said it’s going to cost too much money. We just can’t do it. It would be the entire budget. That’s true.”
“No… Well, it’s not…,” Sanders stammered, obviously caught off guard. “I’m not the governor from the state of Vermont, I’m the senator from the state of Vermont…”
Oh thank you, Bill. It is so lovely to be here among fellow liberals. Hey, why are you holding a knife?
Sanders then actually asked Maher to explain why he felt universal healthcare wouldn’t work and Maher actually obliged him.
“Because they control both ends of it,” Maher explained. “If you’re saying that the government is going to pick up the tab but not make the insurance companies, the hospitals, and the doctors not gouge people, then we are going to break the budget. It has to work both ways. So you’re going to make the hospitals do that? Because that is socialism.”
Sanders look completed shocked and unprepared to defend himself on a show he assumed would be friendly territory.
“The United States is the only major country on earth that allows private insurance companies to make huge profits on the healthcare system,” Sanders scoffed, relying on his usual rhetoric. “The function of healthcare should be to provide quality care for all people, not to make huge profits for the drug companies and insurance companies. So, here is my point: We are spending more per capita on healthcare than any major country on earth, our healthcare outcomes are not particularly good, and I believe that healthcare should be a right of all people.”
But Maher continued to probe Sanders on specifics.
Maher asked how Sanders could increase Social Security.
“And you know how we do that? We pay for it. We say that somebody who’s making $10 million should not end up paying the same amount as someone making $118,000. Lift the cap. We can extend and expand social security.”
“You also want free college,” Maher added.
“We do. Not free college—free tuition at public colleges and universities. You know how we pay for that? Through a tax on Wall Street speculation.”
“So you’re saying we can pay for all of this without raising anybody’s taxes but the 1 percent?” Bill asked in disbelief.
“We may have to go down a little bit lower than that—but not much lower. And what people have to understand is right now people can’t afford to send their kids to college, and people are graduating school deeply in debt. Do I think we should join Germany and many other countries and encourage young people to get the education that they need, and make the country stronger? I sure do.”
We may need to go down a little bit lower….
The truth is Bernie Sanders could never find a way to make his plans work because they are completely unfeasible and divorced from any fiscal considerations of a country already $18 trillion in debt. And that’s not even examining the fact that even if we could pay for them, they would disastrous consequences on our economy.
It took liberal Bill Maher to expose what conservative and libertarian pundits have been saying about Bernie all along.