Bernie Sander’s vision for the role of government is Ayn Rand’s worst nightmare: an expansion of government programs that would make FDR’s New Deal of the 1930s look miniscule by comparison. It is “tax and spend” on steroids. After a generation of “trickle-down economics,” the ambitious $18 trillion budget Sanders proposes is sorely needed.  Yet, even though Sanders’ proposed budget is a very long way from becoming reality, it is already encountering stiff opposition from the right wing, and even raising a few eyebrows among Democrats.

Over eighty percent of Bernie’s proposed 10-year budget would go to universal health care, expansion of Social Security, reconstruction of the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, and tuition-free college for everyone. Sanders has also outlined a clear, step-by-step plan on how to pay for it all. Primarily, funding would involve a massive overhaul of the US tax code, placing the lion’s share of the burden on the top 2% of income earners. It would also raise corporate taxes and close loopholes that have enabled companies like Exxon-Mobil to avoid paying taxes altogether.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, even if Sanders were to win the White House, getting his 21st-Century New Deal would be virtually impossible. The paper predicts that the GOP will continue to be in control of the House of Representatives “for the foreseeable future,” and speculates that Sander’s proposals “would be too liberal for even some centrist Democrats.”

Not surprisingly, right-wing economists are already sounding the alarms about government spending. Their arguments are the same, tired old excuses we’ve all heard before: it will “stunt economic growth,” it will reduce “productivity,” etc., etc. and so forth. But even centrist Democrats are claiming there are limits to America’s resources. Senior Vice President Jim Kessler at Third Way, the “moderate” Democratic think tank, told WSJ reporter Laura Meckler that “You need to tamp on the brakes somewhere, but he [Sanders] doesn’t.”

Nonetheless, Sanders’ ideas – workable or not – are forcing all Presidential candidates to adopt more left-of-center positions. It’s also significant that the Wall Street Journal has covered Sander’s proposals in such detail – or, given the way the mainstream corporate media has been ignoring Sanders’ candidacy, covered it at all.

What this says is that Sanders and his positions are becoming increasingly relevant to American voters. They have endured a generation and more of “trickle-down” economics. That “rising tide” did not lift all boats – only a few gargantuan yachts. The rest have been sinking right and left.

US Americans are ready for real hope and change -and even the newspaper published by and for the Top 2% can no longer ignore it.

Below is the Wall Street Journal chart on Bernie’s proposed spending:

Bernie's Spending

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.