Bernie Sanders’s empty socialist arguments get exposed by Bill Maher

Bernie Sanders’s empty socialist arguments get exposed by Bill Maher

Posted For: Layla Godey

by Brad Polumbo

HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher is one of the only left-leaning shows left on TV worth watching. While its host is undoubtedly a center-left liberal, he actually pushes back on the far Left’s extremes and hosts guests from across the spectrum. Yet Bill Maher’s liberal bona fides also allow him to secure major progressive guests who’d never go on conservative media and are used to only friendly interviews — and hilarity often ensues once they face even the slightest scrutiny.

“cancellation,” which really means having taxpayers pay off college graduates’ student loans. During his interview, Sanders’s arguments for this socialist bailout faced just modest pushback from Maher and quickly crumbled.

It didn’t get off to a great start.

“The Supreme Court is looking at Biden’s giveaway to people who [have student debt],” Maher started.

“Giveaway is your term … not my term,” Sanders interjected.

“Well, they have college debt, and we’re going to give them money,” Maher responded.

“We’re going to forgive debt,” the senator interrupted again.

“We’re arguing about the same thing,” Maher responded with bewilderment. “We’re giving the money away.”

Right from the get-go, Sanders couldn’t even be honest about what he’s actually advocating. Almost all student loan debt is owed to the federal government (aka federal taxpayers). If it is “forgiven,” then, as a matter of public finance, it’s not much different than taxpayers cutting a check to give to borrowers. Taxpayers are forced to absorb the financial loss from the forgiven debt and either pay more in taxes or be drowned in more government debt. Acknowledging this reality would undermine Sanders’s ideologically motivated advocacy, however, so the senator prefers to try to misdirect about what’s really going on instead.

Then, Maher confronts Sanders with some truth about the fact that many student debt borrowers are actually financially thriving and not in need of dire taxpayer relief. The host cites a survey showing many bailout recipients admit they’d spend the extra cash in their budget on vacation, clothes, drugs, alcohol, and more.

Sanders’s only response is to demand to know who the source is, hoping it’s Fox News or another right-leaning media outlet he can reflexively ignore and dismiss. When Maher replies that he’s citing NBC News, a left-leaning legacy media outlet, Sanders is momentarily left silent. (And, ironically, if anything, the poll probably underestimates the potential misuse of funds because that’s the kind of thing people are typically reluctant to admit to pollsters.)

When the senator realizes he can’t just dismiss the source, he pivots to whataboutism. Rather than defend giving hundreds of billions of working taxpayers’ money to relatively affluent college graduates who openly admit they’ll spend it on non-essentials, he changes the subject to the 2017 Republican tax cuts.

“Talk about giveaways … under Trump, the Congress voted for a trillion dollars for the richest people in this country and the largest corporations,” Sanders says. “That’s a giveaway.”

Generally, when someone changes the subject when presented with a criticism of their beliefs, that’s a good sign they don’t have an actual defense to offer. And in this case, the deflection is particularly weak. Sanders is conflating tax cuts — which let people keep more of their own money — with taxing away some people’s money and giving it to other people. That’s obviously apples to oranges.

In fact, in the entire segment, Sanders never really offers any actual substantive argument in favor of his socialist student debt bailout. Semantic misdirection and disingenuous whataboutism are all he can come up with. And that alone speaks volumes about the merits of his cause.

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