Opinion

The Democrats' $100 Trillion Agenda Could Easily Tilt the Nation

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Posted: Mar 19, 2019 12:01 AM
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The Democrats' $100 Trillion Agenda Could Easily Tilt the Nation

Source: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Remember when Democrats complained that $5.7 billion for a border wall was too expensive? Well, that's chump change compared to what many of the congressional Democrats and nearly all of those 15 declared Democrats in the presidential race are now rallying behind.

The price tag isn't in the billions but in the tens of trillions. President Trump was attacked earlier this month by Democrats for a budget blueprint that would run fiscal deficits of 5 percent of GDP. That's too high, for sure, but count up the spending plans of Democrats and deficits could easily hit 20 to 30 percent of GDP and tilt the nation toward Greek and Puerto Rican-style bankruptcy.

Let's start to add it all up.

Start with "Medicare for All," the new health care anthem of the left. It is touted as a way to make medical services "free" for everyone. The cost to taxpayers? By some estimates, $32 trillion over the next decade, according to a study by the Mercatus Center. Medicare, just for the seniors it was designed to cover, is already projected to run deficits in the tens of trillions of dollars over the next four decades, according to the program's own Trustees.

Then there is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's "Green New Deal," which is supposed to turn America into an eco-friendly paradise and avert the apocalypse that Ocasio-Cortez claims will occur in just over a decade. At least four presidential candidates have endorsed some or all of that agenda.

Of course, the politicians pushing these plans remain suspiciously quiet whenever they're asked to explain exactly how much their pet projects will cost U.S. taxpayers and whether they're worth the investment. But thanks to public-policy watchdog groups, we have some preliminary estimates. According to one recent study by the American Action Forum, the "Low-carbon Electricity Grid" proposed in the Green New Deal will cost taxpayers $5.4 trillion over 10 years or $39,000 per household.

Similarly, a "Net Zero Emissions Transportation System," another part of the environmental proposal, could require as much as to $2.7 trillion or $20,000 per household, while "Guaranteed Green Housing" could cost an additional $4.2 trillion.

The Democrat-backed welfare programs in the Green New Deal are even more daunting. According to the study, "guaranteed jobs" and "universal health care" would together cost each American family as much as $582,000 or $80.6 trillion in total.

Then there is the loss of as many as 10 million jobs in the oil, gas and coal industries, which would add to welfare and unemployment benefit costs, let alone the severe financial hardship this would impose on millions of middle-class families whom Democrats once said they cared about.

Added together, these preliminary Democratic proposals are projected to cost about $92 trillion over 10 years.

But wait, there's more.

Another hot proposal on the left gaining momentum is called "universal basic income." Everybody gets a free check from the government. A key sponsor of this is U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination. This would give families making less than $100,000 a check of up to $6,000 from the government every year. "Americans are working harder than ever but stagnant wages mean they can't keep up with cost of living increases," Harris says.

Then there is the cost of "free" college tuition, another federal freebie supported by Democrats. That would add trillions more to the taxpayer tab over the next decade while further inflating the outrageous tuitions that universities already charge.

The $15-an-hour minimum wage would also impose new costs on government at every level.

Now the latest craze on the left is for "reparations" payments for slavery. Julian Castro and other presidential wannabes have endorsed this radical income redistribution scheme. A 2015 study by a professor at the University of Connecticut estimates that the cost of reparations would be between $5.9 and $14.2 trillion. These results were published in the Social Sciences Quarterly journal.

Add it all up and the estimated 10-year cost of creating the Democratic-socialist utopia envisioned by the likes of Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Bernie Sanders and other leaders of the Democratic Party reaches well north of $100 trillion.

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Who will be left to pay for the Democrats' America when everything is "free"? To the extent that any of the Democrats currently running for president has offered an answer to this question, they've invariably claimed that they would finance their schemes by levying punitive taxes on "the wealthy." But even if you took every penny of income from every millionaire and billionaire in America, it wouldn't even pay half the cost. Some say we will just put it on the federal credit card. President Obama took our national debt from $10 trillion to nearly $20 trillion, but that might be loose change compared to the new spending spree.

Ultimately, the burden of paying for this radical transformation of America would fall predominantly on the middle class, as usual. Just one example: Many Europeans pay gas taxes that are double what we pay in the United States. That's part of the tab for their green energy policies that Democrats are eager to bring here. Anyone want to pay $5 a gallon to fill up?

The Democrats balked at spending $5.7 billion to protect American communities by securing the border, but they're perfectly happy to mortgage our future by spending nearly 20,000 times that amount on their own utopian fantasies. We will all have everything we want, and our country will be bankrupt.

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy."