There’s still no free lunch
What we overlook so often in celebrating Independence Day is that the Founders’ anger with King George III’s government had as much to do with money as personal liberties. London was taking too much of our hard-earned cash. Dumping tea into Boston Harbor was all about taxation.
George III and Parliament would have loved the mindset of many modern Americans. All a candidate has to do is promise new freebies and he or she is guaranteed of millions of votes.
Trouble is, there is no free lunch. Someone has to pay for everything. Consider the costs of proposals by many candidates for president:
• Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, is the leading proponent of “Medicare for All.” Several of his competitors have jumped on the bandwagon. In addition to eliminating private insurance and, quite possibly, leading to health care rationing, “Medicare for All” would cost taxpayers between $2.7 trillion and $3.2 trillion a year.
The entire federal budget this year is about $4.7 trillion. Of that, by the way, only $3.6 trillion is covered by revenue. The remaining $1.1 trillion is borrowed money. More on that in a moment.
• Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, wants free college tuition and eliminating much of the student loan debt for those coping with it now. She pegs the cost of her idea at about $125 billion a year. Bear in mind no candidate in recorded history has ever been honest about the cost to taxpayers of a proposal.
• Some candidates, led by former technology entrepreneur Andrew Yang, think every American over 18 should receive a $1,000 check from the government every month. You don’t have to ask Yang about the cost. Just multiply the Census Bureau’s report that about 251 million Americans are 18 or over by $12,000. That’s $2.51 trillion a year. At least Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is more restrained. She wants to mail out checks totaling $200 billion a year.
• Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, has a “baby bond” proposal. Children in poor families would receive $1,000 federal bonds, with the money to be invested until they reach 18. One estimate of the cost to taxpayers is $60 billion a year.
• Then there’s the “Green New Deal,” of which there have been various manifestations. At the very least, it would eliminate all use of fossil fuels in the United States. The only sources of energy would be “alternatives” such as wind and solar power.
As you might imagine, estimates of the GND’s cost vary wildly — but they start at about $5.1 trillion a year. They go up to $9.3 trillion.
• In efforts to stand out from the crowd — and, of course, attract votes from new sources — various liberals have come up with a variety of other ideas. They range from Kirsten Gillibrand’s universal paid parental leave to the “slavery reparations” proposals espoused by some. All would cost taxpayers money, of course.
So let’s try to come up with a total. Take just “Medicare for All,” free college, monthly checks for everyone and the “Green New Deal.” The minimum cost of implementing them all would be about $8.3 trillion a year. A more likely reality would be the maximum: $12.9 trillion annually.
Again, the entire federal budget now is $4.7 trillion. Only $3.6 trillion of that is covered by revenue.
So, the liberals’ plans would require a combination of between $9.4 trillion and $14 trillion a year in new taxes or higher deficit spending.
Just for perspective, consider that $9.4 trillion is roughly $28,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States. That’s $84,000 for a family of three — in addition to what government is spending already.
By the way, the national debt already totals nearly $23 trillion. That’s about $181,000 for every taxpayer. Not everyone pays income taxes.
Again, King George III would have loved subjects who embraced government spending such as we have now.
Heck, had the Founders thought like modern candidates, we might still be British citizens.
Myer can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.