Fact-Checking Trump’s Claims That Democrats Are Radical Socialists

And Mr. Trump’s fellow Republicans have long advocated various government giveaways to corporations, which Mr. Sanders and others have deemed “corporate socialism.”

What Mr. Trump said

“There’s a rumor the Democrats are going to change the name of the party from the ‘Democrat Party’ to the ‘Socialist Party.’”

Putting aside the fact that it is called the Democratic Party and stipulating that it is impossible to disprove a rumor that Mr. Trump may or may not have heard, no, the Democrats are not changing their name to the Socialist Party. And there are few similarities between what Democrats are proposing and the types of outcomes Mr. Trump tries to link them to, especially when he invokes Venezuela and its economic and humanitarian crisis as a warning that socialism is a harbinger of catastrophe.

There are, of course, very different strains of socialism. To an immigrant from Cuba or Venezuela who fled countries with centrally planned economies and neighborhood spies who inform on dissenters to the government, socialism means a very different thing than to Mr. Sanders, who envisions a northern European-style social safety net that drastically increases public spending on health care, education and environmental protection.

On economic issues, Democrats in the United States are far to the right of the governing parties in most other western democracies.

Canada and Britain, for instance, have single-payer universal health care systems that are politically sacrosanct, even among their mainstream conservative parties. Northern European governments — Denmark, Norway and Sweden — subsidize far more of their citizens’ lives and tax income at far higher rates than have been proposed by Mr. Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist.

The Nordic countries — with their high tax rates and generous social benefits — are often cited as examples by Mr. Sanders and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez as models to emulate. Tax revenue made up more than 40 percent of the gross domestic product in Denmark, Sweden and Finland, for example, in 2017, compared with 27.1 percent for the United States. That revenue finances child care, basic and advanced education, health care and care for the countries’ older residents.

What Mr. Trump said

“You have some of these socialist wackos, they want to double and triple your taxes, and that won’t come close to paying for it.”

The slew of programs many Democratic candidates have supported — universal health care, affordable child care, and higher education and a higher minimum wage — are more accurately labeled proposals of social democrats rather than socialists, said Peter Dreier, a professor at Occidental College and scholar of the left.