Judd Gregg: Counting the costs of Democrats’ desires

Greg Nash

This may be beyond the Count of Sesame Street to count.

Even Big Bird with all his or her imagination could not conjure up all this counting for the Count to count.

The Democratic Party’s new cast of characters (some old, actually) seeking the nomination for president are putting a serious strain on the ability of even the most proficient prognosticators of predictive spending to keep up.

{mosads}Programmatic proposals with incredible price tags just keep coming.

The Democratic presidential primary participants seem to have dropped into a fantastical world of fiscal finance where there are no boundaries of cost or expense or largesse.

More programs, more constituencies to cater to, more spending in the name of the betterment of all — or at least for the betterment of those interest groups who seem most likely to vote in the Democratic primary.

Consider the following:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has proposed Medicare For All.

Interestingly, his idea has been endorsed by almost the entire Democratic establishment. Independent of the obvious problems with this approach, such as the massive rationing it would entail, is the cost.

It is estimated to have a price tag somewhere between $30 trillion and $40 trillion.

This year’s federal deficit will be approximately $1 trillion.

The total non-public debt of the federal government is now well over $22 trillion.

These are staggering amounts.

Now Bernie and his mimickers want to add a program that will have a price-tag 30 to 40 times greater than the present deficit, and which will easily double the national debt.

The Count will find it difficult to count all that up.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wants to make college free, for some.

If you come from a household making less than $100,000, you would get $50,000 of student loan forgiveness. 

Two- and four-year public colleges would eliminate tuition fees. Historically black colleges and universities would get $50 billion to spend as they please.

This bit of political purchasing power is estimated to cost $1.25 trillion over ten years.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has a plan to give $100 billion to people, primarily African-Americans, who want to buy a home.

If your annual family income is under $100,000 (or $125,000 in high cost areas) and you live in one of the  areas — usually majority-black — that were once ‘red-lined,’  you could get up to $25,000 to help with your down payment and closing costs on your home.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has proposed that anyone with a rental cost that exceeds 30 percent of their income will have the difference paid for by the government, a.k.a. with other people’s taxes.

It is estimated that 57 million people, including 17 million children, would be covered by this massive new subsidy program. The per person tax credit would average $4,800.

This gets really expensive. We will leave it to the Count to do the multiplication, but it is A LOT.

And these candidates have even more they want to offer.

Warren wants to create a program to pay for childcare. She is proposing spending $700 billion on this effort over 10 years.

Harris, not to be outbid by her colleague from Massachusetts, is calling for a teachers’ pay raise averaging $13,500 or 23 percent. It will cost $315 billion over 10 years.

Booker wants to give newborn babies in lower-income families a savings account. Each year, those children would get up to $2000 dollars until they reached age 18.

Hard for the Count to score this one but it could easily exceed a trillion dollars over ten years and trillions over its political, planned life.

And then there is the greatest Counter of all.

{mossecondads}The Green New Deal that has been embraced in part by almost everyone running for the Democratic nomination for president. Some estimates of its cost run to almost $100 trillion if fully implemented.

Not bad for starters.

After all, we are still over a year away from the actual election and counting — so to say.

At some point, some accountability would be nice. But none seems to be appearing on the horizon of this Democratic presidential nomination season.

If you total up all this planned spending, it seems that someone needs to ring up the Count on Sesame Street.

He needs to tell his audience of kids: “Look, you, the kids of today, will bear the burden of all this largesse with debt you will have to pay off tomorrow.”

The Count should tell his little followers: “I am a good counter but I cannot count that high. And I am sorry to inform you that these people who want to be president plan to spend your future today.”

Judd Gregg (R) is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.

Tags 2020 Democratic primary Bernie Sanders Cory Booker Elizabeth Warren Fiscal conservatism Government spending Social programs social safety net

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