Free stuff, Democratic Party style. By Paul Mirengoff. The big picture of the bidding wars going on in US politics, after decades of peace and prosperity:
A few days ago, Steve wrote an important and insightful piece called “The Genealogy of Free Stuff.” Citing a Wall Street Journal editorial, Steve stated that Elizabeth Warren’s agenda is so far beyond extravagant that “socialism” seems an inadequate adjective.
Steve offered two explanations for the leftward lurch he described. First, hard-left Democrats are convinced that anyone can beat President Trump, and thus see this as the time to go for broke (no pun originally intended). Second, Trump has abandoned fiscal restraint, and therefore Democrats need to offer ever more goodies to remain ahead in this department. …
How extravagant are the proposals of [the …] leading Democratic candidates? This Washington Post article provides the numbers:
A Washington Post review of the major spending proposals of the leading Democratic presidential candidates found 10-year costs ranging from about $4 trillion to more than $50 trillion. The annual federal budget now is about $4.5 trillion.
Even the most sparse of the 2020 plans dwarfs what successful Democrats pushed before. As she seized the Democratic nomination in 2016, Hillary Clinton proposed a 10-year agenda estimated at $1.45 trillion, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Hillary Clinton was a piker. Who knew?
The price tag for Sanders’s agenda tops $51 trillion over ten years, according to the Post. Warren’s agenda comes in at more than $30 trillion. Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden, alleged “moderates,” would spend $6.5 trillion and $4.1 trillion, respectively, in the broad categories of health care, housing, the environment, criminal justice, education, child care and other anti-poverty initiatives alone.
Further down the food chain, the picture is similar. For example, Andrew Yang’s universal basic income of $12,000 per year for every American adult would cost around $24 trillion over 10 years, according to the candidate’s own estimates. Yang also wants to hand out $100 to induce Americans to vote.
And let’s not forget the reparations favored by several Democratic candidates, including Warren (but not Sanders). The cost of this pure handout is not included in the $30 trillion-plus price tag for Warren’s agenda.
Trump refused to take the traditional Republican (Ryan) route of reforming entitlements. Democrats had feasted on this position for decades conjuring all kinds of horrors if reforms were enacted. Trump took this potent issue away from them. What to do? Expand the current entitlements! Once started, a bidding war developed and we have the Democratic candidate consensus on an impossible agenda. …
I believe Trump would not have won his thin majorities in the key states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan (and perhaps his larger margin in Florida) without his prominent campaign pledge not to touch Social Security and Medicare (a promise Ronald Reagan made in the 1984 campaign, after having been hammered very effectively on the issue during his first term; recall too how Bill Clinton made protecting Medicare and Social Security a key slogan of his 1996 re-election campaign)….
The only problem for a liberal today is to figure out why anything shouldn’t be free to everyone.
The main drawback to all that free stuff is the price tag. Can the left credibly convince their voters they can stick the bill to the other side? Or that spending (“investment”) creates so much wealth that we’re just silly duffers for not having thought of it before?