Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' extensive call for change in Washington consists of a wide variety of new programs that would cost at least $18 trillion over a decade, an amount that even concerns liberals, while creating the largest peacetime government expansion in modern times.
“Sen. Sanders’ agenda does cost money,” Warren Gunnels, Sanders' policy director, told The Wall Street Journal
, with the Vermont senator refusing a request for a direct interview. “If you look at the problems that are out there, it’s very reasonable.”
The Vermont senator says his agenda is needed to provide essential services for Americans, but the plans, which include $15 trillion for a healthcare program that covers all Americans, would also come with tax increases to collect up to $6.5 trillion over the same decade.
His plan and costs include:
- Medicare (single-payer healthcare plan): $15 trillion
- Social Security (increase benefits and bolster solvency): $1.2 trillion
- Infrastructure (Rebuild roads, bridges and airports): $1 trillion
- College Affordability (Tuition-free public schools and favorable loan refinancing): $750 billion
- Paid Leave Fund (Allow workers paid family and medical leave) $319 billion
- Bolster private pension funds (to prevent companies from cutting pensions): $29 billion
- Youth jobs initiative ($1 million jobs for disadvantaged youth): $5.5 billion
Gunnels said additional tax proposals would also be offered that could offset some or possibly all of the Medicare program. There is already a Democratic proposal in Congress to be funded with a new payroll tax on employers and workers, with the selling point that companies would no longer have to pay for employees' healthcare coverage.
Sanders' poll numbers
are climbing while frontrunner Hillary Clinton's are declining as the scandal surrounding her email grows, and the Independent Vermont senator, who openly admits he's a Socialist
, has been telling supporters that more government services and higher taxes are the way to tackle economic inequalities.
But even if Sanders does win the nomination and then the presidency, Republicans are likely to keep control of the House for some time, reports The Wall Street Journal, and many Democrats find that his plans are too far-left for them.
The program, should Sanders be elected, would bring federal spending to $68 trillion, raising it by about a third. In comparison, Clinton's proposed plans come to a more-modest $650 billion over $10 years, including a college-affordablity plan for $350 billion and one for childcare that would cost about $200 billion.
Gunnels said the Sanders campaign hasn't worked out all the details on his insurance plan, and that his version could even allow states to run their own single-payer systems.
Sanders' tax increases would come mainly for Americans who earn at least a quarter-million a year and for corporations, and include increases in capital gains, estate, and personal income taxes. He also sees a fee for financial transactions, including taxes for all stocks investment companies trade.
The spending would hurt long-term economic growth, said Kevin Hassett, an American Enterprise Institute analyst who has in the past advised GOP presidential candidates, calling the tax increases needed to fund Sanders' vision "massively catastrophic."
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