The White House Council of Economic Advisors released a report Tuesday warning about the rise of socialism in America. "Coincident with the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth, socialism is making a comeback in American political discourse," the report claims. "Detailed policy proposals from self-declared socialists are gaining support in Congress and among much of the electorate."
The CEA acknowledges that the progressive policies embraced by more and more Americans, such as Medicare for All, are hardly tantamount to the Marxist call to the seize the means of production. Yet, they nevertheless chronicle the humanitarian and economic failings of Soviet communism, Cuba under Fidel Castro, and Mao Zedong's China as cautionary tales.
"Their nondemocratic governments seized control of farming, promising to make food more abundant," they note. "The result was substantially less food production and tens of millions of deaths by starvation."
The report's authors also admit that since the US is not an agricultural economy, mass starvation is not a particularly likely outcome if progressive economic policies, like heavier taxation of extreme wealth, are implemented. Yet, in other parts of the report, they draw a parallel between progressive politicians and brutal 20th century dictators. Karl Marx is referenced 27 times over the course of the report.
"The Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who cited Marxism as the model for his country, described “the ruthless economic exploitation and political oppression of the peasants by the landlord class” (Cotterell 2011, chap. 6)." the report reminds readers. "Expressing similar concerns, current American senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have stated that “large corporations . . . exploit human misery and insecurity, and turn them into huge profits” and “giant corporations . . . exploit workers just to boost their own profits.”
The report also slams the Nordic model. "Although they are sometimes cited as more relevant socialist success stories, the experiences of the Nordic countries also support the conclusion that socialism reduces living standards."
The report's conclusion doubles down on the message that a blue wave fueled by a progressive economic agenda will reproduce the low living standards of some historic communist regimes.
"An open question for socialists is whether they recommend reducing living standards for poor and middle-income families if it serves the purpose of making the top 1 percent—or the bourgeoisie, or the kulaks, or the landlords, or the giant corporations—worse off too."
As Axios notes, the report closely hews to an Oct. 12 op-ed by President Trump in USA Today, which was widely derided as misleading and inaccurate, and should be seen as White House talking points rather than economic analysis.