Study: Democratic-Socialist Policies Would Cost $42.5 Trillion in New Spending over Next Decade

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during an event to introduce the “Medicare for All Act of 2017” on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 13, 2017. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

The expansive brand of democratic socialism championed by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and his acolyte, New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, would require an immediate doubling of government expenditures, according to a cost analysis published by Vox on Tuesday.

The analysis, which relied solely on estimates provided by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and liberal sources, found that Sanders’s policies would increase government spending by $42.5 trillion over the next decade before rising to $218 trillion over the next three decades, according to its author, Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

If the ambitious socialist platform — which includes medicare-for-all, tuition-free higher education, and a government-guaranteed-jobs program — were immediately implemented, spending would accelerate to 40 percent of GDP before ultimately rising to 50 percent within 30 years, according to Riedl’s analysis. The massive spending increase would place the U.S. on track to eclipse most European nations in government expenditures as a proportion of GDP.

In order to pay for this dramatic government expansion, Riedl argues, Washington would be forced to implement a 37 percent increase on the current 15.3 percent payroll tax, an 87 percent national sales tax, and a 100 percent corporate tax, even if drastic military-spending cuts were simultaneously implemented.

According to Riedl, those massively burdensome new taxes would be required just to cover the cost of new spending; they would not address the $12 trillion deficit the CBO already expects to emerge over the next decade. Paying down the existing deficit would require another 15 percent increase on all existing income taxes.

In the wake of Sanders’s 2016 primary success and Hillary Clinton’s subsequent general-election loss, the Vermont senator’s left-wing platform has quickly developed a following among prominent Democrats. Possible 2020 presidential hopefuls Senators Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, for example, joined Sanders earlier this year in advocating medicare-for-all as a “human right.”

While the ideas underlying Democratic socialism have received a great deal of rhetorical backing in recent months — especially since Ocasio-Cortez unseated Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley in a shocking primary upset in late June — its champions have largely avoided digging into its costs.

In challenging the validity of a study released late last month that found the cost of Medicare-for-all to be unmanageable, Sanders’s office conceded that it had not performed a cost analysis of its own.

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