White House issues 72-page report slamming 'socialism' as Trump blasts Democrats

  • The Trump administration released a 72-page manifesto articulating the ills of socialism Tuesday amid President Donald Trump's recent claims that his political opponents will turn the U.S. into "the next Venezuela" if they succeed in the upcoming midterm elections.
  • The report, published by the Council of Economic Advisers, which is led by Kevin Hassett, warns that "socialism is making a comeback in American political discourse," zeroing in on proposals to enact "Medicare for all" championed by progressive lawmakers.
  • The report comes after an op-ed by Trump in USA Today decrying government-run health-care proposals and before the midterm elections in November.
President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, October 9, 2018. 
Leah Millis | Reuters
President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, October 9, 2018. 

The Trump administration released a 72-page manifesto articulating the ills of socialism on Tuesday on the heels of President Donald Trump's recent claims that his political opponents will turn the U.S. into "the next Venezuela" if they succeed in the upcoming midterm elections.

The report published by the Council of Economic Advisers warns that "socialism is making a comeback in American political discourse," and zeroes in on proposals to enact "Medicare for all" championed by progressive lawmakers.

The report comes between an op-ed by Trump in USA Today decrying government-run health-care proposals — which included a series of claims that were subsequently torn apart by fact-checkers — and the midterm elections in November, where Democrats are favored in most generic ballot polls to reclaim a majority in the House of Representatives.

"It is not unusual for the White House to issue statements that reinforce the political themes the president's party is campaigning on before an election," said veteran election attorney Brett Kappel, a partner at Akerman. "But it is very unusual for the Council of Economic Advisers — a supposedly nonpartisan body of experts — to be used for this purpose," he said.

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning, the council's chairman, Kevin Hassett, said that "proposals on the table, like the Medicare for all proposal," are "very consistent with the design of socialism." He added that his role on the economic council "isn't to be a politician, it's to be an analyst."

Hassett did not reveal how much time and money were spent on the report.

The report, entitled "The Opportunity Costs of Socialism," does not directly attack Democratic politicians as political candidates, which could potentially be seen as a violation of the Hatch Act's restrictions on executive branch employees' political activities.

But it does refer numerous times to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a self-described democratic socialist who ran for president as a Democrat in 2016 and offered a sweeping health-care overhaul.

And under the heading "The Socialist Economic Narrative: Exploitation Corrected by Central Planning," the report associates Sanders and possible 2020 presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., with famous figures often considered icons of leftist politics and ideology: Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong.

"The socialist narrative names the oppressors of the vulnerable, such as the bourgeoisie (Marx), kulaks (Lenin), landlords (Mao), and giant corporations (Sanders and Warren)," the report says.

Representatives for Sanders and Warren did not immediately respond to CNBC's requests for comment.

The report also spends ample time diving into Venezuela's economic and social collapse in recent years, saying economic literature "suggests that replacing U.S. policies with highly socialist policies, such as Venezuela's, would reduce real GDP by at least 40 percent in the long run, or about $24,000 per year for the average person."

By raising the possibility of U.S. policies being replaced with "highly socialist" alternatives, the report echoes Trump's most recent rhetorical argument ahead of the midterms that Democrats will make America just like Venezuela if they take power.

Trump has made the claim against Florida Democrat Andrew Gillum, who is running against one of Trump's most vocal loyalists, Ron DeSantis, as well as GOP Sen. Ted Cruz's opponent in Texas, Beto O'Rourke. RealClearPolitics' recent polling rates the Gillum-DeSantis race a toss-up with Gillum holding a 4-point edge; O'Rourke, currently trailing Cruz in the polls, has set all-time fundraising records with his campaign.

After Trump claimed that Gillum's election would make Florida "another Venezuela," the Democratic candidate hit back.

— CNBC's Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.

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