In 2017, taxpayers forked over $3.32 trillion to the federal government — more than twice what they paid just 20 years before.
If you're wondering what that number looks, it's this: $3,320,000,000,000.
The government, of course, overspent again in 2017, shelling out at $3.982 trillion, creating a $666 billion budget deficit.
Now comes Sen. Bernie Sanders with a new plan to provide "Medicare For All," essentially a government-run health care program. Under the plan — heavily supported by the rising Democratic star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, running for a House seat from New York — every American would get health care for "free."
Guess how much "free" costs? Try $32.6 trillion over 10 years, according to a new study. That averages out to $3.26 trillion a year — almost exactly what the government took in last year. That's if the new plan took effect in 2022, according to a new study released Monday by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
"All U.S. residents would be covered with no copays and deductibles for medical services. The insurance industry would be relegated to a minor role," ABC News reported.
"Enacting something like 'Medicare for all' would be a transformative change in the size of the federal government," said Charles Blahous, the study's author. Blahous was a senior economic adviser to former President George W. Bush and a public trustee of Social Security and Medicare during the Obama administration.
With the cost of the "free" Medicare program nearly equal to the amount of tax revenue, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that Americans would have to pay roughly double what they pay now in taxes. But Blahous’ study found that even that wouldn't be enough. "A doubling of all currently projected federal individual and corporate income tax collections would be insufficient to finance the added federal costs of the plan," because the program's cost would grow rapidly.
Several 2020 hopefuls, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), support the plan, as does Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY) last month and quickly became one of the top voices in the party.
Sanders took issue with the study by the libertarian group, saying it receives some funding from the conservative Koch brothers.
"If every major country on earth can guarantee health care to all, and achieve better health outcomes, while spending substantially less per capita than we do, it is absurd for anyone to suggest that the United States cannot do the same," Sanders said in a statement. "This grossly misleading and biased report is the Koch brothers response to the growing support in our country for a 'Medicare for all' program."
But Kenneth Thorpe, a senior health policy adviser in the Clinton administration and a health policy professor at Emory University in Atlanta, said the Mercatus study is accurate.
"It's showing that if you are going to go in this direction, it's going to cost the federal government $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion a year in terms of spending," Thorpe said. "Even though people don't pay premiums, the tax increases are going to be enormous. There are going to be a lot of people who'll pay more in taxes than they save on premiums."