Bernie Sanders’ Plan: $18 trillion and counting

UT Dallas_tex_orangeby Stan Veuger

Embracing Bernie Sanders shows how fiscally irresponsible Democrats have become.

bernie_sanders_2016_liberty_university_economic_plan_500x293Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-declared socialist from Vermont, is such a very special independent that the Democrat party doesn’t run candidates against him, that he caucuses with other Democrats in the Senate, and that he is now running for the Democrat nomination for president. And not just that: He is polling at over 20 percent among Democrats nationally, he is their front-runner in Iowa and New Hampshire, and he is on the rise.

The fact that Sanders is a senator, not a reality TV star, as well as an acceptable presidential candidate to large and growing segments of the Democrat base is a sign of how much the Democrat party has radicalized on certain issues over the past few years.

Take, for example, the domestic economic policy initiatives he supports. His fiscal irresponsibility, his desire to tax and spend, and his willingness to let the federal government control the economy are staggering, even when compared to other Democrats who have run for president in recent years.

He has called for new spending that (for now!) totals $18 trillion over the next 10 years. This massive sum is to be spent, among other things, on single-payer health care, an expansion of Social Security and a massive taxpayer-funded infrastructure program.

Under his plan, the federal government would directly control 30 percent of spending in the economy, compared to the 20 percent we have seen in recent decades. For a comparison, the European Union’s “federal” budget equals about 1 percent of the economy of its member states.

He has so far announced new taxes that are supposed to raise some $6.5 trillion over the 10-year window, with more to come. To put that number into perspective, Obamacare increased taxes by “only” about half a trillion dollars over a similar period. But even such an enormous package of tax increases would not be enough to avoid a future of disastrous deficits and a rapidly escalating federal debt burden, as his spending proposals exceed his proposed tax hikes by well more than $10 trillion.

What do the Republicans have on offer? To take one example, Governor Jeb! Bush’s tax plan reduces tax revenue by a little over $3 trillion if his streamlining of the system and his reduced rates did nothing to make the economy grow. Of course, a good chunk of that revenue loss will presumably be made up for by the additional revenue generated by the positive growth impact his plans is predicted to have. In addition, the spending cuts necessary to make up for the rest of revenue reduction would be extraordinarily modest in comparison to the Bern’s tax and spending hikes. Lower taxes and fiscal responsibility, what a contrast with the Progressive Porn Poet!

How do Sanders and his acolytes in the media defend his destructive policy proposals? They argue that these costs are exaggerated. Why are they exaggerated? Because, they say, there is no new spending: The money he wants the government to spend is simply money that consumers are spending right now. When Sanders takes half of your paycheck, that’s totally fine: You were going to buy stuff with your money, and now he’s buying stuff!

In the modern Democrat’s mind, that’s totally fine. After all, why would you need a choice from 23 underarm spray deodorants or 18 different types of sneakers if the Department of Health and Human Services can issue you a pair of Birkenstocks?

Stan Veuger is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of AEI Economic Perspectives.


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