If you believe that our $18 trillion in debt is nothing to worry about, then you'll love candidate Bernie Sanders' proposed economic programs. An article in today's Wall Street Journal put the pricetag at about $18 trillion.
To borrow from the late Everett Dirksen, you add $18 trillion here and another $18 trillion there, and pretty soon, you're talking about a debt that is even more unsustainable than what we have now. The Journal reports:
Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose liberal call to action has propelled his long-shot presidential campaign, is proposing an array of new programs that would amount to the largest peacetime expansion of government in modern American history.
In all, he backs at least $18 trillion in new spending over a decade, according to a tally by The Wall Street Journal, a sum that alarms conservatives and gives even many Democrats pause. Mr. Sanders sees the money as going to essential government services at a time of increasing strain on the middle class.
His agenda includes an estimated $15 trillion for a government-run health-care program that covers every American, plus large sums to rebuild roads and bridges, expand Social Security and make tuition free at public colleges.
To pay for it, Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent running for the Democratic nomination, has so far detailed tax increases that could bring in as much as $6.5 trillion over 10 years, according to his staff. . . .
For many years, government spending has equaled about 20% of gross domestic product annually; [Sanders'] proposals would increase that to about 30% in their first year. As a share of the economy, that would represent a bigger increase in government spending than the New Deal or Great Society and is surpassed in modern history only by the World War II military buildup.
If government spending is supposed to help American workers, why are they faring less well now after four years of Obama spending than during most of the Bush years? What is so amazing about progressive politicians who claim to hate income inequality is that the advocate more of the same kinds of programs that have increased income inequality over the last six years. And has Sanders noticed that the middle class has shrunken rather than expanded and flourished in the Obama years?
Not surprisingly, Sanders took advantage of being at Liberty University, alma mater to many evangelicals, to call paid maternity leave a "family value." We're all in favor of paid maternity leave, a valuable opportunity to be with a newborn, but we also recognize that some businesses would be financially able to do less hiring and might even not stay afloat if the government set their paid leave policies. But for Sanders and others who share his views, it seems to be the rhetorical points, not the actual outcomes, that appeal.
I wasn't going to mention Sanders' political proposals because the self-proclaimed socialist still looks like very much of a long shot for the presidency. But if the U.K.'s Labour Party can elect the very radical Jeremy Corbyn as its leader, then maybe it is time to start paying attention to Sanders.