Democrats hoping to secure the presidency in 2020 are floating plans to guarantee a number of free services to Americans – but experts are now saying that no amount of taxing could pay for the total cost of those proposals.
According to a recent study from conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, the rich do not earn enough to fund progressive promises – ranging from Medicare for All to universal basic income.
“The reality is that progressive promises can only be funded by radical tax increases on the middle class, a dramatic increase in annual federal deficits and the national debt, or a combination of the two,” David Burton, a Heritage Foundation senior fellow in economic policy, wrote in the report.
Currently, federal spending figures for 2020 through 2029 sit at $57 trillion – or 22.5 percent of GDP. Taking into account progressive promises, federal spending could rise to between $105 trillion to $149 trillion during the same time period – to as much as nearly 59 percent of GDP.
Single-payer health insurance, alone, would increase federal spending by around $32 trillion over the course of a decade, while free college could cost between $1 trillion to $2 trillion. Other programs taken into consideration were guaranteed jobs/universal basic income and the Green New Deal.
Taking every dollar earned by people with incomes above $200,000 would not be enough to pay for the proposals that have been floated, the report found.
A flat tax rate of 100 percent on those with incomes of $1 million or more would not even raise enough to eliminate the current federal deficit.
Not all candidates, however, support each of the policies listed. Many of the 2020 candidates, for example, have different visions for reforming the health care system – with some offering a public buy-in option.
Democrats have drawn fire over plans to pay for their policies. Proposals have included raising taxes, largely targeting Wall Street (through financial transactions taxes) or the wealthy (through estate tax expansions or flat-out wealth taxes).
Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is one of the only candidates that has admitted that taxes on the middle class would have to rise in order to pay for his Medicare for All proposal – however, he noted that people would be saving more on health care expenditures.