Ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic debate in South Carolina, Bernie Sanders finally released a document explaining how he’ll come up with the money to fund the many wildly expensive programs he’s proposed over the course of his campaign. But while critics may be glad to see that Sanders is finally admitting that these programs will, actually, need to be paid for in one way or another, independent analysts say the fact sheet leaves much to be desired.
The document purports to explain how Sanders will raise the money needed to fund his most expensive policy proposals: Medicare-for-All, the Green New Deal, free college, universal housing, and so on. After months of brushing off questions about this very topic, the Sanders campaign apparently felt that Americans might actually like to know if the senator’s pie-in-the-sky promises are real or simply campaign nonsense.
The fact sheet lists each of his most expensive plans and provides an explanation next to each about how he’ll pay for them. For instance, he intends to pay for the Green New Deal by slashing Pentagon spending by $1.2 trillion, raising another 3 trillion by “making the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees, and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies,” and getting another $6.4 trillion from the “wholesale of energy produced by the regional Power Marketing Administrations.”
“After 2035,” his campaign predicts, “electricity will be virtually free, aside from operations and maintenance costs.”
Free college? He’ll pay for it with a “modest tax on Wall Street speculation.”
Housing for all? He’ll cover the costs with a “wealth tax on the top one-tenth of one percent – those who have a net worth of at least $32 million.”
Medicare for All? Well, here the campaign’s explanations get a bit muddy, as they assert that they’ll pay for it with a “menu of financing options that would more than pay for the Medicare for All legislation he has introduced.”
Sure sounds like raising Taxes for All to us.
In any event, Ben Ritz of the Progressive Policy Institute says that the fact sheet doesn’t come anywhere close to truly accounting for the trillions needed to pay for Sanders’ utopia.
“PPI concludes that Sanders has now proposed over $53 trillion of new spending over the next 10 years – an amount that would roughly double the size of the federal government,” Ritz wrote in Forbes. “Sanders’ proposed pay-fors don’t even come close to covering these costs. The document Sanders published last night, along with others released earlier in his campaign, claim to collectively raise less than $43 trillion in new revenue – meaning that he’s at least $10 trillion short.”
Ritz notes that PPI’s estimate is a conservative one; other independent analysts have estimated that Sanders’ plans will soar beyond $100 trillion, which would make his proposed revenue plan a joke, even if it were feasible.
In other words, get out your wallet: This one’s gonna hurt.