Sweden, Finland, Norway are not the ‘socialist’ havens Ocasio-Cortez touted on 60 Minutes

by WorldTribune Staff, January 8, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview on 60 Minutes that her brand of economic socialism is modeled after Sweden, Finland, and Norway, rather than Venezuela or Cuba.

If that’s the case, the New York Democrat and darling of the major media “would have to abandon almost her entire economic agenda and embrace free-market economic policies. Because that’s what those countries have been doing,” Investor’s Business Daily noted in a Jan. 7 editorial.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on 60 Minutes

“While she wants to shove the U.S. toward big-government socialism, the countries she cites have been largely moving in the opposite direction – cutting taxes, reining in government benefits and freeing up their economies,” the editorial said.

During the interview, Ocasio-Cortez was asked: “When people hear the word socialism, they think Soviet Union, Cuba, Venezuela. Is that what you have in mind?”

The newly-minted congress member responded: “Of course not. What we have in mind — and what of my — and my policies most closely resemble what we see in the U.K., in Norway, in Finland, in Sweden.”

Via that answer, the editorial said, Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Social Security privatization, minimum wage repeal and corporate tax cuts, hardly the policy positions of a socialist.

Ocasio-Cortez says she supports the expansion of Social Security benefits and “there’s no question” she opposes privatizing the program, the editorial notes.

Yet, two of the nations she touted as models of socialist policies “have partially privatized their social security programs to save taxpayer money and provide better retirements for their citizens,” the editorial noted.

Sweden partially privatized its social security program in the mid-1990s. Great Britain began partially privatizing its public pension program in the late 1950s. In both countries, workers can invest a portion of their payroll taxes in individual, private accounts.

Ocasio-Cortez has also called for a $15 federal minimum wage and the creation of a “federal jobs guarantee.”

Sweden and Norway have no minimum wage laws. Finland’s minimum wage is 83 percent lower than the current U.S. minimum. The UK’s minimum wage is higher than the U.S., but nowhere near the $15 minimum Ocasio-Cortez and other leftist Democrats are pushing.

“And none of these countries would dream of something as radical as a ‘federal jobs guarantee,’ ” the editorial noted. “Finland, in fact, just abandoned its experiment in a related idea called ‘universal basic income’ because of its costs and its adverse economic impacts.”

Ocasio-Cortez has also called for the federal corporate tax rate to be increased from 21 percent to 28 percent.

The corporate income tax rate in the UK is 19 percent. In Finland, it’s 20 percent. The rate is 22 percent in Sweden and 23 percent in Norway.

According to the Tax Foundation, when you count state corporate income taxes, the average tax on corporate profits in the U.S. is currently 25.7 percent.

“So instead of calling for a hike, Ocasio-Cortez should be calling for further cuts in the corporate tax rate to bring them in line with her ‘socialist’ role models,” the editorial said.

Ocasio-Cortez’s “Medicare for all” plan would also be a “radical departure” from those countries. While the UK, Sweden, Finland and Norway “guarantee” health care, most still rely on some form of private insurance or out-of-pocket spending to cover a significant portion of the bills.

Under Ocasio-Cortez’s plan, the government would pay 100 percent of health care costs (the only thing it wouldn’t cover is cosmetic surgery).

In Finland, private payers cover 20 percent of the nation’s health costs, in Norway it’s 15 percent and in Sweden it’s 16 percent. In the UK, it’s 21 percent, according to data from the OECD.

“What’s more, in every country but Sweden, the share of health costs paid by the government has been declining in recent years,” the editorial noted.

The editorial noted some other “inconvenient facts about these so-called socialist paradises that Ocasio-Cortez would never endorse”:

  • Sweden, Norway and Finland are among the least diverse nations in the world. Out of a list of 159 countries ranked by ethnic and cultural diversity, Sweden, Norway and Finland rank in the bottom fifth. The U.S. ranks 85.
  • Sweden has a school choice program, in effect since 1992, that lets parents take vouchers to public or private schools.

“If Ocasio-Cortez wants to deregulate the economy, privatize Social Security, eliminate the minimum wage, and start cutting taxes, we’re all for it,” the editorial said.

“If not, then she’s misleading the public about what kind of country she and her fellow leftists envision the U.S. becoming.”

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