Debates 2020

Bloomberg Disses Sanders' Socialism: 'Other Countries Tried That. It Was Called Communism and It Just Didn't Work.'

Bloomberg says "We're not going to throw out capitalism"; Sanders isn't so sure.


Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had a rough debate tonight. It was made no easier by his defense of capitalism, which prompted audible boos from the audience and sharp rebukes from his more left-leaning opposition.

"It's ridiculous," said Bloomberg, criticizing Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I–Vt.) plan to require companies to give up to 20 percent of their stock to employees, who would also elect 45 percent of these companies' boards. "We're not going to throw out capitalism. We tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called communism and it just didn't work."

That last line prompted jeers and boos from the audience.

"Let's talk about democratic socialism, not communism. That's a cheap shot," said Sanders. The Vermont senator said he preferred Scandanavian-style socialism, specifically mentioning Denmark as a model.

"We are in many ways we are living in a socialist society—socialism for the very rich, rugged individualism for the very poor," Sanders continued, listing subsidies for luxury condos and health benefits paid to Wal-Mart workers as examples of government favoritism for the rich.

It only got more personal from there, with Bloomberg saying that the country's "best-known socialist" (a reference to Sanders) "is a millionaire with three houses" before pivoting to advocating higher taxes on the wealthy himself.

The moment encapsulated a debate that was high on animosity toward billionaires and capitalism in general, and toward Bloomberg in particular.

Bonus video: Sanders' espousal of democratic socialism comes after a long history of hard-left activism, including praise for communist dictators:


NEXT: Michael Bloomberg Utterly Destroyed Over Sexism Accusations

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  1. As long as my liberty is voted away by others, it’s okay. Democratic Fascism is probably fine as well.

  2. Bloomberg is "fiscally conservative and socially liberal" so the perfect Reason presidential candidate. I expect editor-emeritus Nick will write "the libertarian case for..." endorsement.
    If he goes independent/3rd party he should tap Bill Weld as veep to clinch it.

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by socially liberal. He’s socially statist. He wants to control what people put in their bodies and he’s anti civil liberties.

      He’s far from a libertarian candidate.

      1. We know, SIV is pointing out the intellectual gymnastics some Reason writers have gone through to try and justify how a libertarian case could be made to vote for the extreme statist that currently run the democratic party because Orange Man Bad.

        1. Reason doesn't like the two-party system and is against both (R) and (D). Which I think is a mistake, because that's the best way to keep libertarianism on the sidelines of American politics.

          So it's definitely against Bloomberg, and most (if not all) Bloomberg-related articles here have been negative so far. Though, as you point out, that doesn't make the outlet pro-Trump or pro-GOP.

          I'm a libertarian, and in the simplest "socially liberal / economically conservative" sense of the word. And the way I see the two parties is: an imperfect friend vs. a deadly enemy (GOP vs. Dems).

          Yeah, I wish Republicans would quit being so obsessed with abortion, would scrap those tariffs, would make the (politically difficult) move of massively cutting spending (including defense), and defund vice policing. But broadly speaking, and besides these issues, they're on my side, and I agree with 75% of what they stand for, vs. something like 10% for Dems. So the eventual choice isn't hard to make.

          1. I support a strong military but can support defense budget cuts if they ever actually addressed the problems but instead it is always the soldiers who end up being harmed well the actual institutional problems continue to grow.

        2. Not nearly as impressive as the gymnastics used to make the libertarian case for the extreme statist currently in the white house.

  3. I was assured Bloomberg has been destroyed.

  4. Pretty sure the Danes are a little weary of Bernie & Co. referring to Denmark as a socialist country, considering it routinely gets higher marks for economic freedom than the U.S.

      1. Everyone who knows Jeff, to him

        "inhale asbestos constantly"

          1. Wow Jeff, my socks are everywhere.

            Or maybe lots of people hate you.

            1. That was a decent misdirection attempt Jeff, but I don't use socks with Q in them. They stand out visually and people remember them.

      2. Yes, Denmark is not a socialist country. In many ways it is much more a capitalist country then the US.

    1. Yeah, I've been pointing that out for years. If you are going to call the Nordic Model "socialism" then you need to stop pitching it as an alternative/replacement for capitalism, since the Nordic Model requires a strong defense of capitalism to ensure there is enough income to tax to fund the social programs

      1. Even Marx himself admitted that the only way his pipe dream was even possible was first to admit that on its own, socialism can't produce enough stuff for everyone and therefore requires a period of robust capitalism first. It was a sequential imperative for Marx.

      2. But there goes the entire Bernie argument. After all, if Bernie says it and the Prime Minister of Denmark disagrees, [to steal a little from Hillary] WTF difference does it make at this point? For Berniebots, the issue is settled science.

    2. I vote that my Danish relatives build a fleet of longships and raid New England in retaliation for this continued intellectual dishonesty. Hell, I know several of my fellow Norse and Danish Americans who would be more than happy to join that modern day Grand Heathen Army.

  5. This CNN-orchestrated shitshow went wonderfully, didn't it? Things are looking up for Hillary!

  6. "We are in many ways we are living in a socialist society—socialism for the very rich, rugged individualism for the very poor,"

    What the fucking fuck????? Food stamps, medicaid, cash welfare, WIC,...

    1. The welfare cliff exists, except when it doesn't I guess.

    2. Unless you are a woman with kids, food stamps, medicaid, WIC, etc aren't readily available.

      1. There are other programs for the disabled, the "disabled" and the recently unemployed. Also, a lot of people who could be working are living off these programs by living with people who qualify for them. That's a big reason the money doesn't help as much as one would think.

      2. Yes, they are! If you're below a certain threshold of income, Medicaid IS available. More in states with Obamacare Medicaid expansion (where a majority of Americans already live). Same if you're a minor, disabled, pregnant, etc. And same for food stamps.

      3. And if you aren't a woman with kids or disabled, then get your ass out there and work. I have no sympathy for lazy people, those with no skills, those who have no redeemable employment qualities. If starvation was a real potential alternative, there would be far more people willing to work to avoid it.

    3. If I understand what Bernie was saying is that subsidies for the working poor are actually subsidies for the rich because it enables employers to keep wages down. It is a mad argument, but that seems to explain it.

      1. Sure, except it doesn't work in the real world. His theory moves on to suggest "a liveable wage" for everyone, and defines that as doubling the minimum wage, completely forgetting that his 'socialist utopia' Denmark doesn't have ANY minimum wage.

        It also completely ignores the reality that a Walmart greeter doesn't add "livable wage" value to the corporate bottom line, and thus would be eliminated with his policy. But in his world, better to be completely on the government dole than to be earning at least part of their wages in the private sector, as the former is far more likely to become a lifetime supporter of the nanny state.

        1. "...better to be completely on the government dole than to be earning at least part of their wages in the private sector..."

          Bingo! BINGO! If you're not worth 20 bucks (or whatever) per hour, you should just be on welfare. So sayeth the Friends of the Working Man.

    4. At one point of that diatribe he was saying Walmart employees on food stamps are an example of socialism... for the rich

      1. As if the taxes that pay for the food stamps weren't disproportionately paid by the rich.

  7. Bloomberg: fascism > socialism.

    1. While I hate both... there is some historical evidence that fascism was less deadly than socialism.

      Nazism (a particular brand of fascism) killed ~6M via the Holocaust. Italian fascism doesn't even register, nor does Spanish or Chilean fascism, on the grand scale.

      Socialism killed the most people nominally (both USSR and China beat Nazi Germany). But if we pro-rate for population, Cambodia takes the cake with the highest percentage of a population killed by the state.

      Yeah... fascism sucks... but if those are my only two choices I know my vote. I do NOT want Bloomberg to be POTUS... but if it HAS to be him or Bernie... I'll take Bloomberg. If it HAS to be a Dem or Trump, I'll take Trump. If I can pick anything... they can all jump off a cliff.

      1. What’s the difference between National Socialism and Communism?

        National Socialism killed millions for the Aryan race.

        Communism killed millions trying to feed them.

        We leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine which is scarier.

        1. Communism is an equal opportunity killer, so National Socialism is worse, because discrimination is bad

        2. Um... no. Millions died in Ukraine by forced starvation under Stalin. Lenin starved a whole city to prove a point. Mao outlawed the ownership of a rice pot to force the people to rely on the state for food which it did not have due to Mao's farming policies. Chinese people are recorded as having traded the body of their dead children for that of their neighbor's kids so as to avoid eating their own family. If that isn't starvation, as oppsed to "feeding them" then I don't know what is.

        3. Which one is scarier? The one that killed somewhere between 50 and 150 million, not the one that killed around 15 to 25 million (including ~6 million Jews and ~6 million others in concentration camps, and the war casualties). And certainly not the one that is now a thoroughly discredited ideology whose names are used as cuss words, but rather the one that idiots keep trying over and over.

      2. You're forgetting Congress and the courts. Just because a would be dictator is in office, that doesn't mean he can be effective in the current USA. There are still some checks on executive power. I think Congress would work more with Bloomberg than with Sanders. Sanders is so out there that he would just be spinning his wheels for 4 years, while Bloomberg would be making the compromises to "get things done". Mostly bad things.

        Just look at Trump. He would love to be dictator, but he can't, and he knows it, so he does what he can within the system.

        Honestly, I don't think he'd be that bad of a dictator, as dictators go. He's always been into trade and real estate, both of which suffer greatly under warmongers. He'd be insufferable and oppressive, but not openly murderous.

        1. Trump might love to be a dictator, but he's not going to imprison and murder Congress and the judiciary to get his way. Socialists have a long record of using terror, murder, and concentration camps to expand their power. When American leftists accuse Republicans of doing that, they are projecting what _they_ would do.

          Not that I expect it would work in a country with a tradition of freedom (however poorly observed) and more guns in private hands than people. But there's a pretty good chance they'd get enough of the cops to go along with the first steps that we would have to destroy our institutions to save them.

    2. First Fascism = Socialism, but to many people don't get that. Second, I am not sure how you can describe what Bernie and Elizabeth are peddling as anything but fascism. We will maintain private industry, but the government is going to control it. That is literally the textbook definition of Fascism.

      1. I agree they are both controlled economies. But the state reserving the right to control vs the state taking full dominion over the economy does have practical differences. The German economy was able to move out of the destitution under Wiemar. The Soviets couldn't feed their people in the long run. Spain under Franco didn't suffer as bad economically as the USSR or China.

        Again... both are undesirable but the burden of one is, relative to the other, easier to shoulder.

        1. Germany moved temporarily out of the destitution of the Wiemar republic, but wasn't able to maintain that momentum. This is one of the reasons Hitler decided to start a war before he had planned to. The economy was slowing.

        2. Well, no. At best your assertion says it's only better on the comeback trail, assuming there is a comeback. In the case of the US going this direction, not only would there be no country like the US to facilitate that comeback, we'd be the anchor, not the float. The Spanish Miracle was facilitated by the West and the rebuilding of Germany after both wars had strong western support. Conversely, the Russians still have not truly evolved out of communism with regard to privatization, and the west has certainly not gone in and performed any rescue operations. Even as of October 2017, Russian Minister for Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin told Reuters that "there are almost no fiscal reasons left for privatization", following an improving economy due to increased oil prices.

          Other huge differences exist between post Soviet Russia and Germany and Spain that make the comparison irrelevant. Additionally, Spain has certainly not recovered and remains in serious doubt with an unemployment rate hovering still in the 14% range despite an otherwise worldwide recovery. Which of course is why Obama stopped lionizing Spain's economy.

  8. "We're not going to throw out capitalism. We tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called communism and it just didn't work."

    That last line prompted jeers and boos from the audience.

    So Bloomberg is too moderate now? lol, the Democrats are f*cked

    1. The left understands that the C word is a non-starter. They like communism, they do not like being called communists.

      1. They don't like it.... yet. 10 years ago, they didn't like the word socialist either. 30 years ago they didn't like the word liberal. It's a matter of progression over time.

  9. listing subsidies for luxury condos and health benefits paid to Wal-Mart workers as examples of government favoritism for the rich.

    And Bernie secures his support with the niche of people who hate those snobby rich Wal-Mark workers who think they're so great with their fancy health benefits.

    1. How dare they earn more than minimum wage. The state said that was enough... to want more is greedy. We need to bring back the guillotine for those bourgeoisie bastards!

    2. I must say that I had much fun at huren wien

  10. According to Marxism, there has never been a Communist state. Communism was anarchic. Socialism was state control of the economy and managed the equalization of "stuff" from the capitalist system that comes before socialism... socialism is transitory from capitalist to communist. Every "Communist" country never got past the socialist stage. Maybe Communism works... they are right that it has never been tried at a national level (communes I suppose you could say are honest attempts at small scale). The reason it has never been tried is because of the inherent nature of socialism to be destructive, evil, and murderous. So sure... it may be disingenuous to call Bernie a "Communist"... but if that mean's he's OK with being a socialist I don't see that as a moral improvement for him but quite the opposite.

  11. Can someone other than Veronique (kudos for her article this morning) point out how much bullshit Sanders is pushing when he disingenuously claims he is following the Scandinavian model. No you are not because you don't support free enterprise, unhindered by burdensome taxes and regulations to support the welfare state you propose. Instead you support total government control of industry and a large welfare state. I might say the system you propose comes from a country just a little south of Scandinavia.

    1. He also refuses to admit what taxation looks like in those Scandinavian countries. Their tax rates on middle class people are far higher than ours, because they understand that's the only way to generate enough tax revenue to fund the social safety net.

      Their leftists at least understand math, ours steadfastly refuse to admit that someone has to pay for all this stuff and there aren't enough billionaires for that burden to fall exclusively on them.

      1. And despite the high taxes, Scandinavian countries are realizing they still can't afford those programs and are cutting back on them.

  12. The Democrat party is no place for capitalism.

  13. Minnie Mike, the boy on the box, is simply another Fraud like Barry Sotero, he cannot win and is unworthy of being President...His past is one big stain of hypocrisy, cover ups and a publication of bias and lies......Mike's employees co-operated on a book exposing his condescending manners, his proclivity for being one-way, a demanding, know it all, twit and a man of many insults...he may hate President Trump but he cannot hold a shred of truth about his own credibility and survive the debate......I don't worry about Bernie and the rest of the circus in their avoidance to disclaim communism, I worry about the DNCommunist party as a whole.........

  14. Driven by his fear of the progressive group-thinks of the Democrats, Michael Bloomberg, a successful capitalist, was unable to defend himself against the twitter of the progressive mob.

    The lineup for the debate came off looking like a bunch of high-school brats vying for the teacher's attention to give teach the answer to his question: Who is the biggest twerp on this stage?

    Progressives probably constitute 30-35% of Dems, but control the congressional caucuses and the agenda of the party. Theirs is a sure-fire formula for reelecting the Donald.

  15. For Sanders, "democratic socialism" is an oxymoron, you foxy moron. It is either democratic, OR socialism, but no polity can be BOTH.

    For Bloomie, sure, he doesn't want to throw away capitalism.... LIAR!!! He does, but HE wants to replace it with a monarchy, and HE wants to be the first Little King Mikey.

    SOrry, nitwit. We've seen your MO for far too long to be fooled again.

  16. how a libertarian case could be made to vote for the extreme statistic that currently run the democratic party because Orange Man Bad.

  17. Bernie wants companies to give 20% of their stock to their employees? That's incredibly ignorant, its not the companies stock to give, it already belongs to the stockholders.

    Did he ever here of the takings clause? Thats my retirement he's giving away.

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