Nordic economic systems would not work for America, expert says

Aug 24, 2023, 3:49 PM | Updated: 4:53 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers broke for their August recess this week with work on funding the gove...

FILE - The Capitol Dome and East Front of the of the House of Representatives is seen in Washington, Wednesday, April 19, 2023. This year's projected government budget deficit has jumped by $130 billion, due in part to a proposed change to student loan repayment plans and a series of bank rescues organized by federal regulators, the Congressional Budget Office said Friday.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Adopting Nordic economic policies would cause the United States to spend even more, according to Brian Reidl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. 

Reidl told Inside Sources that progressives who propose adopting Nordic economic policies rely on a caricature of what the countries actually do.

“They are portrayed as these tax-the-rich utopias where everything is free. Healthcare is free, family leave is free, benefits are free, infrastructure is free and everything is funded by taxing the rich,” said Reidl. 

Scandinavian tax structures

Nordic systems are not as generous as American progressives think, according to Reidl. 

The difference between the tax structure in America and Scandinavian countries lies in the middle class. Payroll taxes and value-added taxes, which are like national sales taxes, comprise 90% of additional tax revenues compared to the U.S. 

“They tax the middle class at rates not even close to anything in America,” said Reidl. Corporate capital gains and estate taxes are higher in the U.S. than in Scandinavia, which means the U.S. taxes the rich more. 

Payroll taxes in the U.S. is 15%. In Scandinavia, on average, that tax is 30%, or double. Value-added taxes are about 25% in Scandinavian countries, according to Reidl. Collecting tax revenues like those in Scandinavian countries would require raising payroll taxes and establishing a national sales tax. This would affect the middle class the most, according to Reidl. 

The U.S. outspends Scandinavian countries on certain functions, according to an article Reidl authored. Healthcare is the most expensive government function in the U.S.

Healthcare systems

Reidl also said the U.S. healthcare system is much bigger than Scandinavian systems. The U.S. has a bigger infrastructure — bigger hospitals, more technology and more drug research. 

“[Combining] Norweigan and Swedish generosity [with] American healthcare inefficiencies … you get the worst of both worlds,” Reidl said. Charging Scandinavian healthcare prices for a larger infrastructure would end up costing more, according to Reidl. 

“In these countries, their corporate taxes are lower than America. Their estate taxes are lower than America, their capital gains taxes are lower than America, and they got there because they … learned how destructive some of those high tax rates can be,” said Reidl. 

American system flawed

The case can be made that the American system has a lot of inefficiencies. Reidl thinks that there are certain upper-income taxes that can be raised without damaging growth and that loopholes can be closed to ensure corporations don’t escape paying taxes.

Additionally, Reidl thinks the U.S. healthcare system is “wildly inefficient” and needs to be reformed.

“Particularly the third-party payments that result in people not being very cost-conscious,” Reidl said. 

Related reading: 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Inside Sources


Curt Gresseth

Dow closes down more than 500 points

The Dow dropped more than 750 points before closing down 525 points as inflation numbers rose higher than economists were anticipating.

10 days ago

cellphone schools...

Curt Gresseth

Governor’s message to students: ‘hang up and learn’

Gov. Spencer Cox wants cellphones to be banned in Utah schools during instruction time.

1 month ago


Curt Gresseth

Romney and Moore look to tame $34 trillion U.S. debt

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, weighing in on the $34 trillion U.S. debt and what, if anything, can do about it.

1 month ago

Cooper Brannon, 8, watches his father, Austin, vote at the Salt Lake County Government Center in Sa...

Simone Seikaly

One more day to officially switch political parties in Utah

This voter switching date is important for anybody who wants to participate in the Republican caucus on March 5.

2 months ago

U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, center left, and Texas Department of Public Safety chief Steve McC...


Speaker Johnson demands hard-line policies during a border visit as Ukraine aid hangs in the balance

A congressional trip to Eagle Pass, Texas, follows demands for more hard-line immigration policies in exchange for Ukraine funding.

2 months ago

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Jon Batiste speak on stage during MTV's Mental Health Is ...

Mariah Maynes

A look into the surgeon general’s efforts against loneliness epidemic

Following the issuance of a public health warning about loneliness, the surgeon general has been visiting college campuses to promote social connection.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Nordic economic systems would not work for America, expert says