The hardest thing to watch during the Senate’s confirmation hearings (other than Rick Perry eating his own words about the Department of Energy) has been the clip of Senator Bernie Sanders telling Representative Tom Price that our society is not compassionate.
“No we are not a compassionate society,” Sanders insisted, as Price began to answer his question about whether or not health care is a right. Sanders continued:
In terms of our relationship to poor and working people, our record is worse than virtually any other country on earth. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on earth, and half of our senior, older workers have nothing set aside for retirement. So I don’t think, compared to other countries, we are particularly compassionate.
Yes, he actually said that.
Sanders believes that the government ought to do more, and that’s a legitimate political agenda. But opining, based on a faulty claim about childhood poverty, that American society writ-large is not “particularly compassionate” shows terrible judgment.
There are so many entitlements available to low-income Americans. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has a budget in the billions, offering credits for childcare and financial assistance to help the poor pay for housing. Medicare and Medicaid also, somehow, find their funds ever-increasing. The CBO reports that, despite a general decrease in federal budget outlays in FY 2017’s first quarter, Medicare and Medicaid spending increased by a combined 11%, or $12 billion. Not to mention, every state also has public assistance programs, covering things like giving children free lunch at school or subsidizing health and dental insurance.
These examples are just the government programs, funded by tax dollars! Americans privately gave an estimated $373.25 billion to charities, an increase from 2014.
We must call out Senator Sanders for his fallacy. Because the feds don’t fund healthcare for each citizen, in his view, America is not compassionate. In my view, a country whose government borrows and distributes money indiscriminately, among its own citizens and the rest of the world, qualifies as compassionate. In fact, it could be labeled, in many cases, destructively and wastefully compassionate.