- The Washington Times - Friday, January 24, 2020

Pete Buttigieg is the only major Democratic presidential candidate whose health care plan doesn’t blow a hole in the federal budget, according to a new analysis Friday by a nonpartisan watchdog group.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says Mr. Buttigieg’s health plan would cost $2.85 trillion over 10 years, but thanks to his spending cuts and tax increases elsewhere, he would save $450 billion over 10 years, according to a “central” estimate. Using more optimistic numbers, he could save up to $1.4 trillion, and would leave $350 billion in deficits under a higher-cost model, CRFB said.

That pales in comparison to the “Medicare for All” proposal from Sen. Bernard Sanders, which CRFB says would total $30.6 trillion in costs. His tax increases and spending cuts don’t come close to covering that, leaving a $13.4 trillion deficit over a decade. It could be as bad as $19.5 trillion under the high-cost estimate, and $8.8 trillion under the low-cost estimate.

The price tag for Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan is actually higher than Mr. Sanders’ at $31.75 trillion, the analysis showed.

But Ms. Warren calls for bigger offsets, like tax increases, so her plan would leave $6.1 trillion in new deficits over 10 years under the central estimate and add $11.2 trillion to deficits under the high-cost estimate. It would save $1.2 trillion in the low-cost estimate.

The Massachusetts Democrat had supported Mr. Sanders on “Medicare for All,” but ended up releasing her own plan last year that aims to immediately expand Medicare-type coverage before completing a transition away from private insurance by her third year in office.

That transition plan is not reflected in the estimates and the analysis assumes her proposal is fully phased in by 2021, CRFB said.

Like Mr. Buttigieg, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden is pushing for a “public option” that would compete with private insurance plans.

Mr. Biden’s plan would cost an estimated $2.25 trillion, CRFB said. Factoring in offsets, it would add $800 billion to deficits in the central estimate, save $300 billion in the low-cost estimate, and add $1.3 trillion to deficits in the high-cost estimate.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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