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Republicans must be thinking: What are Democrats thinking? But just remember, four years ago, Democrats were thinking: What are Republicans thinking? Thinking what others are thinking can be bewildering. Even if it's not unthinkable.

Can Bernie Sanders win this nomination? You bet he can. Just as smarty-pants editorialists were telling Republicans that Donald Trump couldn't insult his way to the nomination in 2016--because he had no chance in the general election--the commentariat can be proven wrong. Again. And again. And again.

Those of us with nothing better to do might think ahead to the summer: Would the Democrats really nominate the only person who can't possibly beat Donald Trump? You bet they can. They did last time.

But why would they? Why nominate somebody not even a member of the party? Somebody who doesn't recoil from the word "socialist," but instead wraps himself in it? Somebody who honeymooned in the Soviet Union? Somebody who would scare off independent voters, Never Trumpers and many Democrats?

Blame the kids.

The Washington Post broke down New Hampshire's primary voters in a mid-week edition. What we saw was a lot interesting and a little terrifying.

Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) won the nation's first primary. And he did it with a lot of support from young people. In fact, he got 51 percent of voters ages 18-29. And whereas Mayor Pete did very well with those worried about climate change, and Amy Klobuchar did nearly as well with moderates, Uncle Bernie got a lot of support from folks who told pollsters that "income inequality" was their No. 1 issue.

The numbers say that 21 percent of the Democratic turnout claimed income inequality as their top issue. And more than a third of those voters cast ballots for Bernie Sanders.

Interesting. But what exactly is income inequality, what does Sen. Sanders say about it, and how practical are his solutions? For these answers we visited berniesanders.com.

There, you'll find many of Bernie Sanders' talking points. If you've watched a debate, you've heard most of them. The top 1 percent of Americans have become even more rich over the last 30 years, the bottom half of Americans have actually lost wealth--no specifics or links are provided on that--and all this has to change "for the sake of our democracy."

So . . . .

Bernie Sanders proposes a wealth tax. "An annual tax on the extreme wealth of the top 0.1 percent of U.S. households."

(And this would fix income inequality? What about those in the top 0.2 percent? Would they still keep their money?)

How would taxing a handful of billionaires--who'd pay their tax lawyers another few bucks to get around the new law--help anything? Would those making less money in America get checks in the mail?

Of course not.

"The revenue raised under this plan would be used to fund Bernie's affordable housing plan, universal child care, and would help fund Medicare for All."

So the cash taken from the rich wouldn't go to the poor, except that it first passes through the government. And the feds will decide how to spend it. After taking the house's share for administration.

More details from Bernie's wealth tax, as per his website:

"Under this plan, the wealth of billionaires would be cut in half over 15 years, which would substantially break up the concentration of wealth and power of this small privileged class."

Sticking it to billionaires seems to be a goal into itself. As if their numbers are a problem in this country, instead of a solution.

"In order to ensure that the wealthy are not able to evade the tax, the proposal includes a number of key enforcement policies. First, it would create a national wealth registry and significant additional third party reporting requirements."

Ah, more government workers. That's the ticket!

"Second, it includes an increase in IRS funding for enforcement and requires the IRS to perform an audit of 30 percent of wealth tax returns for those in the 1 percent bracket and a 100 percent audit rate for all billionaires. Third, the wealth tax includes a 40 percent exit tax on the net value of all assets under $1 billion and 60 percent over $1 billion for all wealthy individual seeking to expatriate to avoid the tax. Finally, the wealth tax proposal will include enhancements to the international tax enforcement and anti-money laundering regime including the strengthening of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act."

The IRS would get more power than it already has. In other words, stick 'em up.

This new wealth tax would raise $4.35 trillion over the next 10 years for the government to spend.

But, and there's always a but, the Urban Institute says that Medicare for All or a single-payer plan like it would cost $59 trillion over one decade, and new spending would total $34 trillion. (Yes, all those figures are trillions, not billions. We never thought we'd see the day.)

It appears to some of us that Bernie Sanders' plans, even if they prove workable, wouldn't cut income inequality, but just tax money away from billionaires to give to government to pay for only a fraction of what a never-never Bernie Sanders administration wants to spend. Then the young people of the United States could pay it back, with interest, over the next 60-70 years as the debt swells.

Is this really what 18- to 29-year-olds want?

Maybe they should rethink this. If for no other reason than their own good.

Editorial on 02/14/2020

Print Headline: Bernie's bros--and gals

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