Issues & Insights

Bernie Sanders: The $6 Trillion Man

One of the four leading Democrats running for president, Bernie Sanders announced this week that, if elected, he’ll spend $16.3 trillion over the next decade to decarbonize the economy. That’s a big number. But it’s only one of Sanders’ “bold” plans that, when added up, would more than double the size of the federal government.

The details of Sanders’ “Green New Deal” aren’t particularly important. Suffice it to say, the plan is stuffed to the brim with pie-in-the-sky assumptions and massive new government programs. The Democratic senator wants to spend $681 billion on a “vehicle trade-in program,” another $407 billion to replace school buses, $216 billion to replace every truck. That’s all on just one page of his Green New Deal plan.

All told, he wants to dump more than $16 trillion over 10 years on these and other boondoggles.

Incredible as it might seem, the Green New Deal isn’t even the biggest ticket item on Sanders’ agenda. That trophy goes to his Medicare for All plan, which clocks in at $32.6 trillion (which is a decidedly lowball estimate).

Then there’s Sanders’ plan for free college — $480 billion over the next decade — and canceling all outstanding college student loan debt. That adds up to another $2 trillion hit to taxpayers.

Sanders also proposes guaranteed government jobs. Cost estimates for this range from $32 billion a year to $543 billion a year. Of the four studies that have looked into it, the average cost works out to $3.5 trillion over 10 years.

Sanders still isn’t done. He also wants to expand Social Security benefits with a plan that would cost taxpayers $1.8 trillion over a decade.

So let’s do the math. Over 10 years, Sanders wants to spend: almost $33 trillion on Medicare for All, more than $16 trillion on a Green New Deal, $2 trillion on free college and debt forgiveness, $3.5 trillion on a jobs guarantee, and $1.8 trillion on new Social Security benefits. Add it all up, and it’s more than $5.6 trillion a year. Assuming that every one of these programs costs more than Sanders claims, the grand total would easily reach $6 trillion a year.

For those keeping score, that would more than double the size of the federal government, which this year will spend a total of $4.5 trillion.

Looked at more broadly, it would result in the federal government’s claim on the economy climbing to 48% of GDP. When you add in state and local government spending, total government share of GDP would top to 62%.

That would make the U.S. a far more socialist nation than Finland (where government spending accounts for 57% of GDP), Denmark (54.5%), Sweden (49.6%) or Norway (48.8%), and to the left of every other industrialized country.

And how would Sanders pay for all this? By repealing the Trump tax cuts? Making the rich pay their “fair share”? Taxing the uber rich at uber high rates? Dream on.

IRS data show that you could confiscate every single penny of income from every taxpayer making more than $200,000 and still not have nearly enough to pay for Sanders’ grandiose socialist vision.

In fact, you’d have to triple everyone’s federal income tax — as well as corporate income taxes — to cover Sanders’ plan. And that would still leave the country hurtling toward a debt crisis.

Mind you, none of this accounts for the economic costs of Sanders’ vast expansion of government regulations and mandates, nor the adverse impact of gargantuan tax hikes, socialized health care, the destruction of private insurance as well as the oil, gas and coal industries, the massive loss of investment capital, the disincentives to work, and so on.

To say this is economically reckless is giving Sanders too much credit. This would be economic suicide. So why aren’t his fellow Democrats calling Sanders out for the monstrosity that his campaign is proposing? Because their plans are hardly any better. At best, they tinker at the margins while accepting Sanders’ premise that an unprecedented expansion of government will cure the country’s ills.

Folks, this is your Democratic Party. Pray that none of them makes it to the White House.

— Written by John Merline

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  • The real purpose of Global Warming is to destroy our economy and thereby create hundreds of millions of poor desperate people who are susceptible to progressive fascist lies.

  • Seems like no one talks about what the rest of the world will be doing as we strangle our economy and nation.

  • Some facts, current health system costs more than medicare for all covers a lot less people.
    The price of nor having a green new deal will be more expensive – spending money on disaster relief.
    Also, we’re 37th in education. So, we might benefit from public college for all.

  • This article is using statistical lies and omission to push it’s narrative.
    Actually, over that same 10 year period, Medicare for all will save us $10 trillion. That study they’re using in this article, found that we currently spend more for healthcare, than we would if we had Medicare for all. But every conservative outlet just ignores that aspect of the data, talking about how much M4A costs, without telling the audience that we’re currently on track to spend much more!

  • Big plans for big problems. Insuring America and leading the world on Climate Change would be an accomplishment akin to landing on the moon. We need to think of these plans like that.

    And besides that, why is the author acting like Sanders’ plans will just be immediately approved by both houses of Congress. All governance is compromise and Bernie’s presidency and the subsequent congressionally-approved tax plan will be no different. Only thing that will be different is the people of America will actually have someone fighting for them.

    Finally, our taxes are already meteoric and that’s never going to change, no matter who is President. But it would be nice if taxes started going to help our own people and fix our own country, instead of destroying someone else’s.

  • I continue to watch, read, and listen to both the Democratic presidential pretenders and the main stream media pushing the leftward lurch. Each day brings yet another wild-eyed “idea” out into the light of day being “pitched” to the American voters.

    And each day I again ask, how can anyone possibly take this clown seriously, much less buy into such drivel?


  • Socialism has never worked and it never will. Prosperity is earned through hard work, not handed out for nothing. The federal deficit would sink the economy, both ours and the world’s. Margaret Thatcher said it best. “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” Sad that people even consider what these anti-American nutcases are proposing.

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