Denmark consistently ranks among the world’s happiest countries, but the Nordic nation is less than pleased with how it’s being portrayed in Washington. The White House Council of Economic Advisers highlighted the Scandinavian nation in a recent report called “The opportunity costs of Socialism.”
Grouping Scandinavian countries with economically devastated Venezuela, the 72-page document asserts that living standards in Nordic countries — Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden — to be “at least 15 percent lower than in the United States.”
Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen took to Facebook to challenge the notion, saying in a post on Monday that he would “participate at any time in a competition with the Americans on who has the best social model.” Denmark, he declared, “would win every time.”
“Yes, we pay a lot in tax… but we get so much again,” he added. “Our children can get an education — no matter who you are and where you come from. We can get to the hospital and get help if we get sick. Whether we have a special insurance or a lot of money in the bank. And if you become unemployed, run into problems or otherwise need a helping hand, then the community is ready to seize and help one back on the right track.”
Also objectionable to many Danes was the CEA noting that the cost of buying and owning a pickup truck in the U.S. is significantly lower than in Denmark, a pioneer in wind energy that has actively increased the costs of vehicles that consume lots of gas. The nation plans to prohibit the sale of new cars that run on fossil fuels by 2030.
A foreign policy spokesman for Denmark’s opposition party, the Social Democrats, called the White House report a “scare tactic” ahead of the U.S. midterms, telling state broadcaster DR that the report should be filed under “fake news.”
In a weekend column in the New York Times, economist Paul Krugman made the case that once Denmark’s universal health care, education and paid parental leave are factored in, “It’s likely that at least half the Nordic population are better off materially than their U.S. counterparts.”
As of 2016, average life expectancy in Denmark was nearly 81, compared with about 79 in the U.S., with universal coverage ensuring that all Danes have access to health care.
© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.