Over the weekend, when Democratic (Socialist) frontrunner Bernie Sanders was asked how much all of his ambitious plans would cost if they were implemented, he gave the worst possible answer. Simply put, he didn’t know:
Anderson Cooper: Do you know how all– how much though? I mean, do you have a price tag for– for all of this?
Bernie Sanders: We do. I mean, you know, and– and– the price tag is– it will be substantially less than letting the current system go. I think it’s about $30 trillion.
Anderson Cooper: That’s just for Medicare for All, you’re talking about?
Bernie Sanders: That’s just Medicare for All, yes.
Anderson Cooper: Do you have– a price tag for all of these things?
Bernie Sanders: No, I don’t. We try to– no, you mentioned making public colleges and universities tuition free and cancelling all student debt, that’s correct. That’s what I want to do. We pay for that through a modest tax on Wall Street speculation.
Anderson Cooper: But you say you don’t know what the total price is, but you know how it’s gonna be paid for. How do you know it’s gonna be paid for if you don’t know how much the price is?
Bernie Sanders: Well, I can’t– you know, I can’t rattle off to you ever nickel and every dime. But we have accounted for– you– you talked about Medicare for All. We have options out there that will pay for it.
TL;DR: Bernie Sanders doesn’t even know how much his plans cost, let alone how to pay for them.
Even Elizabeth Warren attempted to explain how much her Medicare for all would cost. Of course, when she did, it basically sank her campaign because her numbers were pure fantasy, as are any numbers that Bernie Sanders would offer on his plan, which is why he won’t say how much he thinks his plans will cost or explain how they’ll be paid for other than “the rich will pay for it.”
The problem is, that’s not a viable answer. Even CNN’s Chris Cillizza said that Bernie’s inability to answer “strikes me as a potential weak spot if/when Sanders winds up as the Democratic nominee against President Donald Trump.”
According to Ron Brownstein, a CNN contributor, Bernie’s proposals would cost a whopping $60 trillion. “Sanders’ plan, though all of its costs cannot be precisely quantified, would increase government spending as a share of the economy far more than the New Deal under President Franklin Roosevelt, the Great Society under Lyndon Johnson, or the agenda proposed by any recent Democratic presidential nominee, including liberal George McGovern in 1972, according to a historical analysis shared with CNN by Larry Summers, the former chief White House economic adviser for Barack Obama and Treasury secretary for Bill Clinton,” he explained.
Cillizza notes that “there is no estimate from any credible budgeting service that suggests that the government would be able to bring in the sort of revenue needed to pay for that spending surge over the next decade.”
But Sanders does know that just having the rich “pay their fair share” won’t come close. He’s recently conceded that the middle class will pay more in taxes to help pay for his plans.
According to Cillizza, Sanders being the party’s nominee is going to be a huge problem for the Democrats, saying if “this election winds up being like virtually every other election in which people vote on who is going to let them keep more of their money — then Sanders (and Democrats by extension) have a big problem.”
I don’t agree with Cillizza often, but on this, we agree.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis