If a President Bernard Sanders got his way, taxpayers could be on the hook for a staggering $97.5 trillion in new spending over the next decade, according to an analysis Tuesday of the White House hopeful’s plans.
Perhaps more striking, about half of the U.S. workforce would end up working for the government in order to carry out Mr. Sanders’ expansive government programs, said Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who crunched the numbers on Mr. Sanders’ agenda.
More than 16 million private-sector health care workers would be nationalized under “Medicare for All,” and Mr. Sanders’ proposal to create a job guarantee would federalize 45 million others, more than tripling the current rate of government employees, Mr. Riedl figures.
The $97.5 trillion price tag includes Medicare for All and the universal government-run health care program Mr. Sanders pioneered, as well as the costs of his jobs plan, free college tuition and forgiveness of student loans, a plan to combat climate change, expansion of Social Security, a public housing scheme, infrastructure and public education.
“This unprecedented outlay would more than double the size of the federal government,” said Mr. Riedl, adding that Mr. Sanders would have the U.S. leapfrog even the European social democracies that Mr. Sanders often cites by having government spending account for about 70% of gross domestic product. By contrast, government spending in Finland, the highest in Europe, stands at 57%.
Mr. Riedl released the numbers just hours before Mr. Sanders and fellow Democratic presidential candidates were to take the stage in Ohio for a primary season debate.
Mr. Sanders does call for tax increases but would find only about $23 trillion over the budget window, leaving the federal government deep in a hole, Mr. Riedl said.
Mr. Sanders has brushed aside complaints about the cost of his plans. He said he expects Americans to happily open their wallets to higher taxes to pay for his health care vision. He also predicted their savings through government-sponsored health care would more than offset the higher taxes they would pay to cover costs of the program.