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How Much Would A Bernie Sanders Presidency Cost? Spoiler Alert: A Lot

As we discussed earlier today in "How The GOP Establishment Hopes To Crush The Donald's Presidential Run," we explained what Trump’s remarkable poll numbers really mean: 

What is most amazing is that the "expert" punditry still has not realized that a vote for Trump is not a "vote for Trump" but a vote of protest against the broken system. 

If the current election cycle has taught us anything, it’s that voters may have finally woken up to the fact that a choice between alternating members of America’s political aristocracy is really no choice at all, and when you throw in the influence of powerful donors and lobbyists, a picture quickly emerges of a democracy that’s not truly a democracy. 

It’s this system - or, more accurately, it's America’s growing detestation with the system - that’s translated into a commanding lead for Trump over the GOP field. 

Trump isn’t the only person running who’s benefiting from America’s unwillingness to concede that the choice will once again be between a Bush and a Clinton. There’s also Bernie Sanders, the socialist Senator from Vermont whose unexpected ability to draw big crowds and appeal to large swaths of Democratic voters has blindsided Hillary Clinton who is now running dead even (or close to it) with Sanders in Iowa and New Hampshire.

But as is the case with a Trump presidency, a Sanders administration would look radically different from what Americans are used to seeing and although, as discussed above, the desire for real (as opposed to Obama-brand) “change” is what’s driving Trump and Sanders’ poll numbers, there’s an undeniable voice (sponsored by the political status quo) in America’s collective conscience whispering “be careful what you wish for.” In that context we present WSJ’s analysis of how much a Bernie Sanders presidency would cost. Spoiler alert: it’s a whole lot. 

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.

 


 

A campaign aide said additional tax proposals would be offered to offset the cost of some, and possibly all, of his health program. A Democratic proposal for such a “single-payer” health plan, now in Congress, would be funded in part through a new payroll tax on employers and workers, with the trade-off being that employers would no longer have to pay for or arrange their workers’ insurance.

 

For many years, government spending has equaled about 20% of gross domestic product annually; his 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.

 

By way of comparison, the 2009 economic stimulus program was estimated at $787 billion when it passed Congress, and President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cuts were estimated to cost the federal treasury $1.35 trillion over 10 years.

In other words, when it comes to government spending, this would be (literally) without peacetime precedent, so if voters excited about a Sanders presidency want something "different", this certainly qualifies.

But as the Journal goes on to note, "enacting his program would be difficult, if not impossible" considering political dynamics in Congress and indeed, it's not entirely clear that Sanders' proposals - when taken together - are realistic even if he could secure sufficient support from lawmakers. Of course the same can be said for some of what Donald Trump has proposed.

The takeaway, it would seem, is that if voters are serious about overturning the status quo in The White House, they need to be prepared to face the reality that both Trump and Sanders are set to push hard for agendas that will forever alter the country. The question is whether an American public that has for years been trained to accept a broken system in exchange for relative stability, will actually be able to muster the courage to vote for candidates that promise real change. And if voters can summon that courage, the question then becomes this: will Americans then be prepared to push for an overhaul of a legislative branch whose sheer inability to actually legislate anything will, in the absence of a public outcry, invariably serve to nullify whatever decision Americans make at the polls by making it impossible for the new President (be it a Trump or a Sanders) to fulfill his election mandate?