Nicholas Harrington

About Nicholas Harrington

Nicholas Harrington is the Chief Political Analyst for The Big Smoke.

Approx Reading Time-11If Bernie Sanders can effectively utilise the Panama Papers, they could be the key to the front door of the White House.


A recent article revealed that lost taxation revenue, diverted through client firm Mossack Fonseca, might be enough to provide Americans with a universal basic income. This line of argument and way of interpreting the Panama Papers opens a Pandora’s box for (TBS president-elect) Bernie Sanders.

The most stinging criticism levelled against Bernie is that his proposals are un-fundable without significant tax hikes. It’s the systemic US resistance to these tax increases that supposedly make his policies untenable to an intractable Republican Congress. The essential attack levied against Sanders is: “your pie-in-the-sky plans for free college, free healthcare, free stuff in general, are naive and unrealistic. You can’t pay for it so you’ll never get any of them through either house!”

That’s the subliminal messaging of the Clinton campaign and certainly what the GOP nominee plans to shout from the rafters come Autumn.

In the last few days, Sanders has been toying with the notion of the Panama Papers as a useful campaign device by insinuating Clinton aided and abetted the operation when she voted for the Panama trade deal in 2011.

Rather than prod cattishly at the ball of yarn, Sanders should rip into it with the savage pride of a hungry savannah lion.

Sanders can argue (rightly or wrongly) that the rhetoric about un-fundable mandates is utter rubbish; that the Panama Papers prove sufficient money exists right now. Sanders can assert it’s not a question of any new taxes, it’s simply about enforcing the existing tax rate on the trillions of dollars currently siphoned offshore.

If Bernie makes the Panama Papers his issue, he can dovetail into everything else he has been talking about throughout his campaign. Why don’t you have free college? Panama Papers. Why don’t you have free healthcare? Panama Papers. Why don’t you have a minimum wage…?

Sanders can even use the scandal to prop up his genesis arguments against Wall Street greed, big banks, the one percent…the Panama Papers are Bernie’s golden goose – the skeleton key to every lock.

One of the most delicious parts of this strategy is that Sanders’ opponent can’t deny anything he says and can’t steal his messaging. Hillary can’t mimic Bernie’s position (as she has so often in the past) because on the issue of the Panama Papers, she may be party to the problem. But she also can’t refute any of his claims, without appearing to support the scandal.

If Bernie Sanders acts quickly, decisively and opportunistically, he can redraw the contours of the entire primary process by making the Panama Papers his own. He can appear prescient, resolute, pragmatic, visionary and magnanimous all at once. Not to mention presidential. Each time Sanders shouts “Panama Papers!”, Hillary Clinton must recede further and further into the background, unable to address, assume or refute anything he says.

Bernie – if you want to win this thing, grab the Panama Papers and run, Sanders, run!


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