Government Spending

Taxpayers Lose When the Government Gives Out 'Free' Stuff

Never before have presidential candidates offered so many giveaways.


Never before have presidential candidates offered voters so much "free" stuff.

Kamala Harris wants you to "collect up to $500 a month."

Elizabeth Warren says, "We need to go tenfold in our research and development in green energy."

No one has tracked the cost of all of the promises. So my video team did!

Who will spend the most?

Here are the new spending proposals from the five most popular (according to candidates.

In my latest video, we break it down by category, education spending first:

Joe Biden wants to "triple the amount of money we spend for Title I schools" ($32 billion) to create "universal pre-K" ($26 billion), provide "free community college" ($6 billion per year), and double the number of psychologists and social workers in schools ($14 billion)—$78 billion total.

That's a lot, but much less than what Kamala Harris would spend.

She too wants to "make community college free" ($6 billion), but she'd add debt-free "four-year public college" ($80.1 billion), "increase government's investment in child care" dramatically ($60 billion), and "give the average public school teacher a $13,000 raise" ($31.5 billion) for a total of $177 billion.

Pete Buttigieg rarely says what his proposals would cost, but he at least seems to want to spend less than Harris.

He touts "free college for low- and middle-income students" and would give teachers more money. Assuming his plan is like Harris', that brings his education total to $87 billion.

Elizabeth Warren would spend much more.

"You'll be debt-free!" she tells students. Taxpayers, unfortunately, will be deeper in debt, since she would "forgive" most existing student debt and make public college tuition free ($125 billion).

She also wants a "Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act" ($70 billion).

These big-ticket items put her in first place so far.

But wait! Bernie Sanders would spend even more.

He'd completely "eliminate student debt," "make public colleges and universities tuition-free," and provide universal day care and pre-K. That totals $280 billion, so Sanders "wins" in education spending.

I assumed the self-described socialist would be the biggest spender, but he's got lots of competition! Let's look at health care spending.

Harris, Sanders, and Warren all propose "Medicare for All."

Sanders goes further, saying, "Under our plan, people go to any doctor they want." He admits it will cost between $3 trillion and $4 trillion per year, about what the government now spends on everything. How will he pay for that? Well, somehow the rich will pay. Or Martians. Somebody.

Sanders, Harris, and Warren all said they'd ban private health insurance—although Harris now says she'd let private companies sell "Medicare plans" that "adhere to strict Medicare requirements on costs and benefits." She also claims her "Medicare for All" will be cheaper than Sanders' version, but as of now there is no independently calculated cost.

When it comes to the environment, all Democratic candidates but Biden say they support the Green New Deal, which Republicans say would cost $93 trillion. For our ranking, I went with the lowest estimate we could find: An economist who likes the idea says it will cost around $500 billion a year.

Harris would increase welfare benefits and have the government pay your rent if it's over 30 percent of your income ($94 billion). On Friday she offered $75 billion to black colleges and minority entrepreneurs.

Warren wants to spend more ($50 billion) on housing.

Sanders would increase food stamps for kids ($10.8 billion), boost Social Security benefits ($19 billion), and guarantee everyone a government job ($158 billion), for a total of $187.8 billion.

President Donald Trump, who says America will never be a socialist country, hasn't been a responsible spender either.

Since he took office, spending increased about $500 billion per year. Trump did propose some cuts, but when Congress ignored his cuts and increased spending, he signed the bills anyway.

Now he says he'd spend even more: $200 billion a year for infrastructure, $8.6 billion for the border wall construction, $1.6 billion for more NASA funding, and on and on, for a total of $267 billion.

We can't afford it! The federal government is already $22 trillion in debt—$150,000 per taxpayer.

While Trump's $267 billion is bad, the Democrats' plans are worse. We counted $297 billion proposed by Biden, $690 billion from Buttigieg, $3.8 trillion from Warren, $4 trillion from Sanders, and $4.3 trillion from Harris. That would double what the entire federal government spends now.

Senator Harris "wins" the free stuff contest.

Taxpayers lose.



NEXT: The Puny Reality of Russian Election Meddling

Government Spending Election 2020 Bernie Sanders Elizabeth Warren Kamala Harris Joe Biden

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46 responses to “Taxpayers Lose When the Government Gives Out 'Free' Stuff

  1. It’s only money, plus, it’s our money to spend on us. Right?

  2. These people are evil.

    1. “These people are evil.”

      Tony (among others) seems to think I’m joking with the request that he go off and die where we can’t smell his sorry carcass: Nope.
      Tony (et al), are, of course, too intellectually limited to understand the results of that which they propose; ignorance of history, certainly, but also a stupidity stemming from a romantic view of humanity, certain that the wish this time is superior to the constant historical result. I’ll be more than happy to offer a list of titles; Tony (et all) haven’t read them, won’t and will whine that the authors are ‘icky’. (when asked specifically why Tony claimed Pipes was biased, I got crickets)
      I am not joking; the world would definitely be a better place it a diamond pipe opened under the platform of that ‘debate’;.


      1. I really prefer my genocidal Nazis to be somewhat educated, and you know they were in pretty good shape. I somehow doubt that’s the case for you.

    2. Evil is an understatement, actually.

  3. Classic Stossel! Great job!

    This sort of simple tally is important to put things in perspective.

    I’ll add this from the other side of the ledger: We’ve never been able to reliably take in more for the government than 20% of GDP. We are currently spending more than that. And with a GDP that might grow into $20 trillion in a year or two, spending 9 trillion per year (Harris plus inflation of existing entitlements and programs over time) should be an absolute non-starter.

    You can’t pay for that. You can’t even pay for what we have. But capturing over 40% of the nation’s output for government? Yeah…. that has a very Venezuela feel to it.

  4. I think governments should not share anythingfreely during the elections, because of which there is a deficit in the coming time.

  5. Goverments always do freely, make people cant trust them

  6. What’s even more amazing is they want open borders AND give everyone free stuff.

    1. Open borders with free stuff causes the downfall of the USA faster.

      That strategy makes sense in that context.

  7. Taxpayers Lose, But Crooked Politicians Win, When the Government Gives Out ‘Free’ Stuff
    There, fixed that headline for Reason.

  8. Definitely underestimating Mayor Pete’s spending. From his website.
    “Pete supports achieving Medicare for All through a pathway that helps improve people’s lives along the way while allowing the economy to adjust. He calls this “Medicare for All Who Want It.” This plan makes a Medicare-type public option available on the exchange and invites people to buy into it: if corporate insurers don’t lower costs to deliver something dramatically better than what is available today, competition will create the glide path toward Medicare for All.”

    Basically he wants to walk off the cliff rather than the others who want to jump.

  9. So, when in the upcoming election cycle is the time to shift all investments to something not coupled to the stock market?

  10. Trying to bribe the electorate out of the public treasury is all the Democrats have left to offer.

    1. The desperation on their part does seem to indicate that even Democrats leadership know its over for them.

      If Democrats cannot win big in election 2020, the GOP will likely amend the Constitution via an Article V Constitutional Convention and set back Socialism 100+ years.

  11. Medicare only covers 80% of the cost of a procedure.
    Medicare has NO annual cap on out of pocket spending.
    It sounds like these clowns are proposing the worst care possible, or maybe they really mean Veterans Administration care for all, but know that will never market very well.
    I would love to have a panel of people currently on Medicare discuss these proposals. I wonder why CNN didn’t do that before or after the “debates”?

    1. I think they are misleading people with the “Medicare for All” name.

      They want socialized medicine, but framing it in terms we are custom to hearing.

      Medicare has such great coverage you need to by another insurance plan. Seniors loved forking out the extra cash for drugs when they hit the doughnut hole in Part D.

  12. Democratic Party primary debates are the very essence of the PROMISE land. Kudos to them, offering cost-free paradise to all!

  13. After watching the first of this second democrat debate it appeared that each candidate was trying to by the nomination using taxpayer money. I will now have to watch to see if the second of the second democrat debate confirms my impressions of the first of the second.

    1. The taxpayer is largely adverse to tax increases. Best way for the dems to lose is to promote running a vacuum cleaner in the taxpayer’s pockets.

  14. Kamala Harris: As president, Kamala will invest in new technology to fortify America’s critical infrastructure, including by passing her Secure Elections Act to protect against foreign interference in our democracy. She’ll immediately re-enter the Paris Agreement and make climate cooperation a key diplomatic priority for the United States. And she’ll confront white supremacy by re-establishing the Domestic Terror Intelligence Unit and reversing President Trump’s cuts to programs designed to combat white nationalism.

    Under her plan, she’ll reverse President Trump’s trillion-dollar tax cut for big corporations and the top 1% and use that money to give a tax credit of up to $6,000 to working families each year.

    That’s just the start. To raise wages, Kamala will fight to empower unions, make a $15 minimum wage the national floor, and create stricter penalties for companies that cheat their workers.
    -Harris Campaign

  15. Bernie Sanders: Pass the For the 99.8 Percent Act to establish a progressive estate tax on multi-millionaire and billionaire inheritances.
    Eliminate offshore tax scams through the Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act.
    Tax Wall Street speculators through the Inclusive Prosperity Act.
    Scrap the income cap on Social Security payroll taxes through the Social Security Expansion Act so that millionaires and billionaires pay more into the system.
    End special tax breaks on capital gains and dividends for the top 1%.
    Substantially increase the top marginal tax rate on income above $10 million.

    Post offices would offer basic checking and savings accounts, debit cards, direct deposit, online banking services, and low-interest, small dollar loans.
    -Bernie Campaign

    Bernie Sanders has so much crap he wants to do and listed on his website, that I would stall reason’s servers if I posted it all.

  16. Elizabeth Warren: That includes an Ultra-Millionaire Tax on America’s 75,000 richest families -Warren Campaign

  17. Joe Biden: Raise taxes on capital gains.
    Raise taxes back to pre-Trump tax cuts.
    Massively expand ObamaCare and Medicare.
    Restore federal funding to Planned Parenthood.
    Government setting drug prices.
    Expand Social Security.
    Expand EITC to keep elderly people in the work force.
    Expand subsidies of Ethanol production.
    Expand taxpayer payouts for expanding broadband in rural areas.
    Create a White House “StrikeForce” to partner with rural communities to help them access federal funds.
    Expand federal funding of rural hospitals.
    …and much much more taxpayer spending.

  18. “”He’d completely “eliminate student debt,” “make public colleges and universities tuition-free,”””

    How do you eliminate student debt without eliminating or paying for non-public colleges?

  19. Politics is an ugly business to watch and presidential primary politics is the ugliest of all. This time four years ago Republicans were vying to see how many trillions in tax cuts they could promise. I’m gonna have to issue a Tigger Warning for what follows next, since a lot of commentators here lack the adult responsibility or basic math skills to understand promising tax cuts “paid for” with supply-side’s rainbow unicorns and magic purple pixie dust is promising – yes – “free stuff”

    And who promised the most free stuff? Well, that’s easy: Trump once got as high as 10 trillion dollars in tax cuts, while also promising trillions in new military spending and trillions in new infrastructure, as well as trillions in odds & ends. But it’s all good because he would cut the budget by 20% just by negotiating better deals. Everything would be free, and Mexico would pay for the wall !!! Right-types ate that shit up….

    And who promised the least free stuff in the last presidential campaign? Who treated voters most like an adult? Easy again : Hillary Clinton. Of course that’s been pretty consistent in all presidential campaigns post-Reagan. His biggest gift to his party was teaching them to lie on a Grand Old scale. GW Bush promised trillions in tax cuts, trillions in new military spending, a trillion in new drug benefits, and trillions to transition to private accounts vs Social Security.

    Now, I get the impression many Democrats also think we live in a post-math, post-common-sense, post-reality world. I see it as another indignity Trump has inflicted on American. Why should anyone bother with the cold hard facts when every other word from the POTUS is a crude lie?

    1. Tax cuts are “free stuff” only if you think our money belongs to the government.

      1. Some people really do think that. Well… not their money, of course, but your money does.

      2. How about the other stuff that was mentioned in the post?

        If you don’t believe we should ever tax anyone, you are an anarchist, which makes you a crazy person.

        Ledgers have a black side and a red side. The numbers don’t care which side they’re on. They don’t have a moral judgment on the matter. They’re just numbers.

        1. I didn’t read the whole post. I stopped after he said it the second time. And your post also assumes that my money belongs to the government, so I think the rest of it is bullshit.

          1. I prefer to think of it as belonging to the public, which it does if it is taken in taxes and delivered to the US treasury (or state or local coffers). It’s literally not your money if it’s taken as tax. You want to keep it, you might as well want to rob a liquor store. It’s not yours.

            If you think we shouldn’t have any public sector at all (necessitating taxes), then, to reiterate, you are a crazy anarchist. But at least you’d be morally consistent, unlike libertarians, for whom taxation is inherently evil only when it pays for stuff they don’t like.

      3. Tax cuts are “free stuff” if you don’t give a damn about deficits or the financial burden that debt places on the economy, your children, or your grandchildren. And as I noted above, there are plenty of people commenting here with child-grade responsibility who don’t give a damn indeed. It’s like I might say, “what right does that darn landlord demand the rent ?!? That’s MY money he wants.. MINE, MINE, MINE….”

        Of course I don’t say that because I’m an adult, unlike (say) R Mac and I’m Not Sure. But we can anticipate their response, can’t we? It’s not fair to blame us for the trillions in debt from the last tax cut we supported (unpaid-for, sold on transparently phony lies), or the trillions in debt from the current tax cut we supported (unpaid-for, sold on transparently phony lies), or the trillions in debt from the next tax cut we’ll support (unpaid-for, sold on transparently phony lies).

        You see, every once in a while we (R Mac and I’m Nor Sure) say something pious about spending, so all that debt has nothing to do us…… It’s all free !!!!

        Just like the Democrats you criticize, if you ditched the hypocrisy long enough to face the truth

        1. I can give a damn about deficits and still believe that my money is not the governments. Keeping my money is not free stuff. I work for my money. Try to think a little harder and you might get it. Also look up the word “free” in the dictionary.

          1. Sure, you “give a damn about deficits” – just as long as your “damn giving” doesn’t require any inconvenience or get in the way of a good time. Next trillion dollar tax cut up, your “damn giving” will be suddenly be nowhere found.

            Of course, you’ll probably “give a damn” again immediately afterwards. After all, “giving a damn” is extremely important to you – just as long as it’s empty talk.

            Who needs the Democrats for an example of someone who denies all responsibility, refuses to concede there are costs associated with actions, and never considers repercussions? We have you. No; I don’t need to look up “free” in the dictionary. However you might wanna look up “hypocrite” – and then go find a mirror……

            1. So you didn’t look up the definition of the word free. Or think harder. But feel free to keep typing lots of bullshit.

            2. Also your ninja vs paper tiger game is strong. Just please don’t fantasize anything sexual between yourself and this character of me you’ve invented as the ruler of said paper tigers.

  20. its only money…money makes many things ku-degree-results-2019

  21. Never before has a promise of free stuff from the government been more ludicrous than a big beautiful wall that will be paid for by Mexico.

    1. Your so upside down – Its actually humorous. Making the criminals (illegal immigrants) pay for the consequences/enforcement of their crime is a “free” hand out.. Is there some kind of pollution in your brain that makes you feel responsible for other peoples crimes or what?

  22. “Free stuff.”
    TRANSLATION: Paid by the taxpayers at outrageous prices.

  23. Student debt is running about $1.2 trillion.

    So when Stossel says Warren’s proposal to forgive most student debt and make public college tuition free would cost $125 billion or so, his math certainly doesn’t add up.

  24. Corporations have no problem taking free stuff from the government. Why is it that Amazon paid no taxes? Because the government offers Amazon and other businesses incentives to operate in major cities and hire us. Is that socialism? It is common sense. But when we want common sense measures to help ALL citizens, the very people at the top who are taking free stuff object to people on the bottom getting free stuff. Nothing is free. Not even the tax cuts the rich gave to themselves last year. The tax cut Cruz is demanding is also not free, but why are we not calling that socialism? We are reducing the taxes for some and increasing our national debt. This country is subsidizing the rich at the expense of the poor. At the end of the day someone will have to pay tax. Since it will be the little people, can we have something that we actually want?

    1. I can see why you might want education funding.

      Ignorance is a handicap, I get that.

  25. 60% of Americans earn less than $40k a year and can not afford to send their kids to college. There is no money at the bottom anymore. It has all floated up and nothing trickled back down. 40% of Americans earn less than $25,0000 a year. What can that buy? That amount of money barely pays the rent. Cars cost more than $25k.

    Today, there is an article in the Chicago paper that shows that rich people are relinquishing custody of their children to the guardianship office, so that their children can attend school for free. Doctors and lawyers can not afford to send their children to a state university. Something has to give. We don’t want to give “free” college, but what is the alternative? An ignorant society?

    Think about the fact that only 10% of Americans earn more than $90k. Health insurance for a family of four at my company costs $30k. How are the people at the bottom and in the middle supposed to pay these cost? The only way the 90% of Americans who earn less than $90k a year can afford anything is if it is given to them for free. If you don’t like free, then we need to have a serious conversation in this country about wages. It appears that American citizens are working for almost free and wages have not kept pace with the cost of basic human needs. American’s don’t want free, they NEED free.

  26. Democrats — Still trying to convince the world that big guns, dictation and robbery (so long as the almighty gov is doing the forcing) are the key to wealth and prosperity.

    Still lobbying to re-enact slavery I see. Funny how they paint there slave labor, force and dictation as “free”.

  27. ̳i̳ ̳m̳a̳k̳e̳ ̳u̳p̳ ̳t̳o̳ ̳$85h̳ ̳w̳o̳r̳k̳i̳n̳g̳ ̳f̳r̳o̳m̳ ̳h̳o̳m̳e̳. ̳m̳y̳ ̳s̳t̳o̳r̳y̳ ̳i̳s̳ ̳t̳h̳a̳t̳ ̳i̳ ̳q̳u̳i̳t̳ ̳w̳o̳r̳k̳i̳n̳g̳ ̳a̳t̳ ̳s̳h̳o̳p̳r̳i̳t̳e̳ ̳t̳o̳ ̳w̳o̳r̳k̳ ̳o̳n̳l̳i̳n̳e̳ ̳a̳n̳d̳ ̳w̳i̳t̳h̳ ̳a̳ ̳l̳i̳t̳t̳l̳e̳ ̳e̳f̳f̳o̳r̳t̳ ̳i̳ ̳e̳a̳s̳i̳l̳y̳ ̳b̳r̳i̳n̳g̳ ̳i̳n̳ ̳a̳r̳o̳u̳n̳d̳ ̳$45h̳ ̳t̳o̳ ̳$85h̳…h̳e̳r̳e̳s̳ ̳a̳ ̳g̳o̳o̳d̳ ̳e̳x̳a̳m̳p̳l̳e̳ ̳o̳f̳ ̳w̳h̳a̳t̳ ̳i̳’m̳ ̳d̳o̳i̳n̳g̳,……

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