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Can America Afford Bernie Sanders' Trillions of Dollars in New Spending and Taxes?

02-27-2020
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Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) has been steamrolling through the early Democratic primaries, talking about his plans like Medicare for All and forgiving college debt.

But critics argue Sanders is not realistically talking about the astronomical costs behind these plans and who's going to pay for them.

It will take trillions upon trillions of dollars to pay for all of the Vermont senator's campaign promises. Medicare for All is estimated by various groups at around $34 trillion over 10 years, and Sanders says the Green New Deal will cost $16.3 trillion over a decade as well. (I put this in since we refer to these measures a few graphs later, plus we need to give their costs).

Not all Democrats are on board with his ideas.

"I do not support Medicare for all," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

"I profoundly disagree with his solutions," echoed Tom Steyer.

Sanders says Medicare for All will save the country money in the long run, but he acknowledges it will be expensive.

"Well, I can't-- you know, I can't rattle off to you ever nickel and every dime. But we have accounted for-- you-- you talked about Medicare for All. We have options out there that will pay for it," Sanders told CBS's "60 Minutes."

And there's a lot to pay for. Sanders has several other proposals too.

In addition to Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, Sanders has a guaranteed housing plan he says will cost $2.5 trillion over 10 years.

And among other campaign promises he has made:

  • $2.2 trillion to make college free and cancel all student debt.
  • $1.5 trillion on universal childcare and pre-kindergarten.
  • $1.2 trillion for K-12 education spending and higher salaries for public school teachers.
  • $1 trillion for infrastructure

Add it all up and it comes to around $60 trillion in new spending over the next 10 years. That's would double the size of the federal government.

Critics other than his opponents, such as conservative economist Steve Moore of The Heritage Foundation, question whether some of Sanders' new spending programs like Medicare for All, would actually work for the people they're supposed to help.

"Medicare is running out of money. The worst thing you can do for seniors is then put millions and millions, potentially tens of millions more people, on Medicare, because the system is going to collapse," Moore explained. "This is one of the reasons that polls show that the two most opposed to Medicare for all are number one, senior citizens who depend on Medicare, and number two, union members who already have very good private health care plans, but would lose them under Medicare for All."

"Remember, under Medicare for All, it's not if you like your health care plan you get to keep it. This is, if you like your health care plan, we're moving you into a new system, and this is what makes Americans very nervous," he continued. 

One thing basically everyone agrees on - Sanders will need to raise and even create taxes to pay for his new plans.

And he has has a long list of new taxes from increasing the payroll tax paid by employees and businesses by 80 percent, repealing President Trump's tax cuts, a wealth tax, raising capital gains taxes on investments, plus cutting military spending, and far more.

Moore says that would be bad for the country.

"I think it would do severe damage to the US economy to add all of this spending, all of these regulations, and then tax rates that would go up 50, 60, 70% we haven't had tax rates like that since the Jimmy Carter years," he explained. 

And economists on both sides of the political aisle argue that Sanders' new taxes would not even come close to paying for all his policies.

"The math doesn't add up. If you take all of his taxes and add them up, it still doesn't pay for it," Moore noted. 

That means on top of all of his new extremely costly government programs, the Sanders plan would dramatically increase America's exploding $23 trillion national debt.

"You could see over the next 10 years a doubling or even a tripling of the national debt," Moore added.

Sanders's enormous spending plans haven't gotten much public attention yet. But that is likely to change as he wins more and more delegates in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. 

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