I’ve seen plenty of commentators worried about Michael Bloomberg trying to buy the election. But the money Bloomberg has spent on his campaign is a rounding error compared to the new spending Bernie Sanders is promising his voters in the form of free tuition, free health care, etc. if he is elected. A group called the Progressive Policy Institute now estimates that Sanders has proposed an additional $53 trillion in new spending over the next ten years.
In January, the Progressive Policy Institute published comprehensive cost estimates of the proposals offered by each of the leading candidates for president before the Iowa Caucus. After incorporating new proposals that Sanders has released since the publication of our analysis and minor methodological updates, 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. Our estimate is, if anything, overly charitable to Sanders, as it accepts most of the Sanders campaign’s cost estimates outside of Medicare for All and assumes significant overlap in the costs of his proposed federal jobs guarantee and other spending proposals. Other analysts have estimated the total costs of Sanders’ proposals could be anywhere between $60 trillion and $100 trillion over 10 years.
Here’s a graphic showing where they came up with that number:
But last night during a CNN town hall event, Sanders produced a document which he claimed would outline how he planned to pay for all of this new spending. Here’s the moment from the event:
But the Progressive Policy Institute looked at Sanders’ “pay fors” and found they leave a $25 trillion dollar hole in the budget (over ten years).
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. But the revenue projections Sanders uses for his tax proposals are well outside the mainstream of what independent analysts at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Congressional Budget Office, Tax Policy Center, Penn Wharton Budget Model, and others have estimated. After reconciling Sanders’ latest list of pay-fors with these independent estimates, PPI concludes that even if Congress were to adopt every single revenue option Sanders has offered for consideration, it would fall almost $25 trillion short of his proposed spending increases over the next decade – leaving a gap nearly equal to the total value of all goods and services produced by the U.S. economy in one year.
Sanders wants voters to reward him for proposing a left-wing wishlist of spending increases and take him at his word that taxes on billionaires will pay for it, but the math just doesn’t add up. He has already embraced every tax increase on wealthy Americans imaginable and still comes up fourteen figures short.
It does seem like a fairly big miss. If the media sticks to this question it should eventually prove devastating for Sanders campaign. Just like AOC and Elizabeth Warren, he really can’t answer these questions. Just a couple of days ago Sanders told 60 Minutes he didn’t even know how much some of his own proposals would cost. But don’t worry, he assured Anderson Cooper, we have ways to pay for all of it.