Independent analysis raises questions about how Bernie Sanders would pay for his proposals: report
With Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and others having discontinued their presidential campaigns, it is obvious that the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee will be one of two people: former Vice President Joe Biden or Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders has made it clear that if Biden is ultimately the nominee, he will campaign for him aggressively, but the Vermont senator has also made it clear that he considers himself a much stronger candidate from a liberal/progressive standpoint. NBC News reporters Heidi Przybyla and Benjy Sarlin, in a post-Super Tuesday article, analyze Sanders’ proposals with the help of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) — and discuss how much those proposals might cost taxpayers.
Przybyla and Sarlin asked for the CRFB’s perspective on how Sanders would fund “proposed new federal programs to overhaul the nation’s health care system, tackle climate change and wipe away student debt,” among other things.
“Based on the calculations provided NBC News, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found it would take an additional across-the-board 15% to 20% tax on wages or income to fully fund Sanders’ proposals over ten years,” Przybyla and Sarlin report. “This is on top of the 10% increase already baked into Sanders’ proposals.”
Marc Goldwein, senior vice president of the CRFB, told NBC News’ that he finds it “commendable” how up-front Sanders has been about funding his proposals — but said that the figures the senator has offered “only appear to cover three-fifths of the spending they are supposed to pay for."
Goldwein told NBC News, “Covering this gap would require the equivalent of more than doubling all payroll taxes or issuing more debt than the country has accumulated over its entire 244-year history.”
According to Przybyla and Sarlin, Sanders’ main budgetary “shortfall” has to do with his Medicare-for-all proposal — which Biden opposes, proposing an aggressive expansion of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare, instead. Funding a Medicare-for-all plan, they report, would “require far more federal spending than all of his other proposals” and “leave a $13 trillion hole in the federal budget,” according to the CRFB.
Goldwein told NBC News that although he hasn’t “run all the numbers” on Biden’s health care proposals, “it doesn’t appear his plan will be more than a couple trillion short” of what he has proposed to fund them.
Reading Przybyla and Sarlin’s article, it is important to keep some things in mind. First, the federal deficit in the U.S. has gone through the roof under President Donald Trump: according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the deficit will pass $1 trillion in 2020. So if any of Trump’s supporters describe him as a staunch fiscal conservative or a budget hawk, they’re lying.
Second, the United States’ privatized health care system — even with the reforms of Obamacare, which Trump has undermined — is a mess. Millions of Americans still lack health insurance, and medical bankruptcies are still a painful fact of life for many Americans.
Przybyla and Sarlin note, “The U.S. spends 18% of its gross domestic product on health care, compared with other advanced western nations like Germany, which spends 11%.”
Finally, Sanders has demonstrated — during his many years in the Senate — that he is a pragmatist, not the rigid ideologue his critics portray him as being. Sanders has demonstrated that he is quite willing to work out compromises with centrist Democrats as well as with some Republicans when it comes to getting things done.