America Might Be Ready for Democratic Socialism. It’s Not Ready for the Bill.

Vox August 7, 2018


Single-payer health care, a jobs guarantee, and free college would require massive tax hikes. There’s no way around it.

Democratic socialism is having a moment. Sen. Bernie Sanders mobilized millions of voters during the 2016 campaign, nominally as a Democrat but with many self-professed socialists in his bandwagon. And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will likely bring her own brand of socialism to Congress next year, having knocked off New York Rep. Joe Crowley in a primary.

However, the democratic socialist agenda will face resistance not only from other lawmakers but from basic math. Their promises, which include free college, a single-payer health care system, guaranteed jobs, and more, would require astonishingly high expenditures that would cause the federal deficit to skyrocket. Once the costs become clear, most mainstream politicians and voters will surely balk. Making big promises is one thing; paying for them is another.

Adding up the proposals, using nonpartisan and left-leaning sources

Let’s add up the cost of the popular far-left proposals, something very few breathless discussions of the democratic-socialism trend do.

Last week, the Mercatus Center, a libertarian-leaning center at George Mason University, estimated that Sanders’s Medicare-for-all plan would cost the government $32 trillion over the next decade, setting off an intense debate. But we can do this budget exercise using only figures from nonpartisan and even left-leaning groups.

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