Bribing voters is illegal under federal law, but that hasn’t stopped candidates in the crowded Democratic presidential field from promising all manner of goodies in order to generate support for their White House dreams. They’re not directly offering a financial payment for a vote, of course, although some observers might understandably find the distinction hair-splittingly subtle.
At any rate, the Washington Free Beacon has done a public service by tallying all the Democratic spending wish lists. According to the analysis, by Charles Fain Lehman and David Rutz, “Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential nomination have promised more than $210 trillion in new spending.”
A number of that magnitude may be hard to digest. For some perspective, the federal budget for the current fiscal year is $4.407 trillion. In addition, the national debt recently roared past $22.022 trillion, nearly $67,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.
The Free Beacon notes that its overall number is understated because it didn’t include policy initiatives — such as Sen. Kamala Harris’s health care plan — for which there are no cost estimates. Instead, the publication relied on only the candidates’ estimated costs of their own proposals or on nonpartisan examinations of specific plans.
Not surprisingly, Bernie Sanders tops the list, going away. The Beacon reports he has so far vowed to implement various programs that would cost $36.1 trillion — and that was before the Vermont socialist unveiled his $16 trillion Green New Deal this week. Tech billionaire Andrew Yang gets the silver by hitting the $30 trillion mark, largely thanks to his plan to pay every American $12,000 a year for simply breathing.
Next comes Minnesota Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand ($10.8 trillion), followed by Joe Biden ($6.4 trillion), little-known John Delaney ($6 trillion), Beto O’Rourke ($5.5 trillion), Elizabeth Warren ($4.6 trillion), Jay Inslee ($3 trillion) and Julian Castro ($2.6 trillion). Tom Steyer rounds out the Top 10 at $2.2 trillion.
Some of these expenditures — particularly those involving climate change — are spread over 10 years or longer, but all would entrench expensive new entitlements into the federal government’s prolific spending machine.
Make no mistake, Republicans have also been complicit in the nation’s financial woes, talking about fiscal responsibility on the hustings but losing their nerve once they taste the trappings of Washington. President Donald Trump promised balanced budgets and to pay down the debt — which hasn’t happened. But those among the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates are piloting the listing ship of profligacy toward uncharted waters.
It’s worth noting that even punitive tax rates on the rich wouldn’t come close to paying for the proposed Democratic spending spree. Confiscating the earnings of every American with wages above $1 million would barely raise $800 billion, according to IRS data.
In other words, they’re coming for your bank account.