In January, the Progressive Policy Institute released an analysis of the costs of the leading Democrats’ policy proposals and found that democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) far-left policies were by far the most expensive, costing around $50 trillion over ten years, effectively doubling the size of the federal government.
The group, which describes itself as “radically pragmatic,” found that Sanders’ policies would cost taxpayers more than $15 trillion more over ten years than the next most radical Democratic candidate (Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s $35 trillion in proposals) and $42 trillion more than the third most expensive Democrat (former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s $7.6 trillion).
The progressive group’s relatively modest estimates on the costs of Sanders’ radical plans include:
- Medicare for All $24.4 trillion
- Green New Deal $16.3 trillion
- Child Care, Pre-K, and K-12 Education $2.2 trillion
- Higher Education and Debt Forgiveness $2.1 trillion
- Social Security and SSI Expansion $1.4 trillion
- Affordable Housing $850 billion
- Paid Family Leave $430 billion
- Other policies under $160 billion
The total offsets Sanders has proposed, even given optimistic assessments, amount to less than half of the more than $50 trillion he’s proposed in costs over 10 years, PPI found. His proposed offsets total $22.5 trillion and include potentially economy-devastating tax increases, including:
- 4% across-the-bard income tax increase
- 7.5% payroll tax increase (and a 12.4% increase above $250,000)
- $3.3 trillion wealth tax,
- 35% corporate income tax rate increase
IPP offers a summary of its assessment of Sanders’ cripplingly costly policies and his woefully inadequate proposed offsets:
Sanders has proposed just over $50 trillion in new spending, the largest component of which is his $24.4 trillion Medicare-for-All plan. Sanders embraces a suite of aggressive tax increases and lays out a broad “menu of options” to finance Medicare for All, but even if all of these policies were adopted, they would fall $25.3 trillion short of what Sanders has proposed in new spending. Another costly proposal is his $16.3 trillion “Green New Deal,” which includes a federal jobs guarantee that could seriously harm the economy by pulling workers away from gainful employment in the private sector while doing nothing to stem greenhouse-gas emissions. Sanders proposes more spending on higher education than his competitors, but the majority of it is for universal debt forgiveness that would give even high-income professionals a windfall without increasing the productivity of America’s workforce. Although Sanders proposes the biggest increase in dollars for public investment of any presidential candidate, it is fiscal fantasy to believe he could ever deliver on it given his non-investment spending priorities and failure to develop sufficient revenue proposals.
About $15 trillion behind Sanders in costs, according to PPI, is Warren, whose proposed policies would cost taxpayers about $35 trillion over ten years. Here’s PPI’s summary of the senator’s much-touted “plans” for various issues:
Warren has proposed $34.9 trillion of new spending to date – less than Sanders, but still nearly five times as much as the what the next highest-spending candidate (Buttigieg) proposes to spend. Her most-expensive initiatives include a $22.5 trillion Medicare-for-All framework, a $3.9 trillion plan to tackle climate change, and $3.6 trillion for investments in education and student-debt forgiveness. Warren also proposes to increase Social Security benefits by far more than any other candidate, including for wealthy retirees. She proposes more new spending for research and educating low-income students than any of her competitors, but these proposals are dwarfed by new consumption spending that by itself exceeds the total revenue raised from Warren’s proposed offsets. Given the large taxes on high-income people she has already embraced, Warren’s agenda leaves little room to raise enough taxes to close the $8.3 trillion gap between her proposed spending and revenue (let alone address existing fiscal needs) without breaking her commitment not to raise taxes on the middle class.
H/T John Sexton