It's being discussed again… To be perfectly clear: Denmark is NOT a socialist state. #Denmark is a democratic modern welfare state with a liberal and open market economy. Read More: https://t.co/7IYIIulHD8 #DenmarkinUSA #Nordics #business #Traders pic.twitter.com/TMO5Md9nPy
— Denmark in USA ?? (@DenmarkinUSA) October 24, 2018
US President Donald Trump addresses reporters at Andrews Air Force Base on Saturday. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP/Ritzau Scanpix
The report, released by President Donald Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers ahead of the US midterm elections, makes the case that the Nordic nations are not the “success stories” they seem.
“Although they are sometimes cited as more relevant socialist success stories, the experiences of the Nordic countries also support the conclusion that socialism reduces living standards,” the report reads.
“Living standards in the Nordic countries are at least 15 percent lower than in the United States,” it claims.
The Trump-backed report also makes the claim that “by some measures, even poor American households have better living standards than the average person living in a Nordic country.”
While the report can perhaps best be seen as a domestic political tactic as Americans prepare to go to the polls on November 6th, its claims about the Nordic nations did not go unnoticed in Denmark. Danish politicians from the ruling Liberals (Venstre) party, the opposition Social Democrats and the far-left Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) all slammed the report.
“[The Republicans] are attempting to drive home the point that if [American voters] want to follow the Democrats, who are closer to Denmark than the Republicans are, the world will end,” Michael Aastrup Jensen of Venstre told broadcaster DR. “But even though Donald Trump is attempting a scare campaign, it doesn’t make us shake in our boots here [in Denmark]. To the contrary, it makes us laugh.”
Nick Hækkerup of the Social Democrats also had harsh words for the White House’s conclusions on the Nordic economies.
“This is a scare campaign. They are presenting misleading facts and misusing them to paint a picture that does not match reality. That report is not worth the paper it is written on,” he told DR.
Hækkerup, who has held a number of ministerial positions, then used one of Trump’s favourite go-to phrases.
“It’s deeply concerning that the White House is spreading what can best be described as fake news,” he said.
Hækkerup, who himself has held a number of ministerial positions in previous administrations, said Denmark’s current leaders need to call out their American counterparts.
“The authorities in the US are downright wrong and therefore we need our foreign minister to speak out and say that this simply isn’t true,” he said. “This needs to happen face-to-face with the White House. Either the prime minister or the foreign minister needs to reach out to their contacts in Washington and express that this simply is not a fair characterization of our country.”
The only official Danish response to the report thus far has come from the Embassy of Denmark in the US, which took to social media to repeat that “Denmark is NOT a socialist state” and to provide a number of statistics meant to counter the White House message.
Jensen, of the ruling Ventre party, indicated that Danish officials would likely bring up the report with the Americans.
“I do not doubt for a second that when our ambassadors next meet with their counterparts in the American government, we will make it clear that we deeply, deeply disagree with the entire report,” he said.
Eva Flyvholm of Enhedslisten agreed that the Danish foreign minister, Anders Samuelsen, should “go in and confront this.” She criticised the 72-page report for failing to address the high levels of inequality in the United States.
“If you compare the Danish and American societies, I am absolutely not in doubt that it is better for regular people to live in Denmark than in the US,” she told DR.
“Socialism is a dirty word”
This is not the first time that Danish politicians have aggressively pushed back against the way the American right-wing has portrayed Denmark and its supposed “socialism”. In August, Finance Minister Kristian Jensen and others slammed a Fox Business segment that compared Denmark to Venezuela as “completely detached from fact.”
Jacob Kirkegaard, an economist and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington D.C., said that the American right wants to puncture holes in the left’s often too-rosy image of Denmark.
“Socialism is a dirty word in the US and the goal [of the Economic Advisers report, ed.] is to give Republican activists some messaging that they can use with voters,” he told DR.
Kirkegaard said that the report’s conclusions aren’t necessarily incorrect, but they are “without context and politically tendentious”.