Sanders’ Spending Proposal Matches Size of National Debt, $18 Trillion, in 10 Years

Would be largest peacetime expansion of government in history

Bernie Sanders / AP


Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), a self-identified socialist, is proposing the largest peacetime expansion of government in history, backing $18 trillion in spending in one decade, according to a tally by the Wall Street Journal.

According to the U.S. Treasury, our current total public debt, including both debt held by the public and intragovernmental holdings, exceeds $18 trillion. Sanders’ new expenditures would match this amount in 10 years.

Sanders would dedicate most of this spending, $15 trillion, to a government-run single-payer health-care plan for all Americans. In addition, Sanders would spend $1.2 trillion on Social Security, $1 trillion to rebuild roads and bridges, $750 billion to make college more affordable, $319 billion for paid family and medical leave programs, $29 billion on private pension funds, $5.5 billion for a youth jobs initiative, and an unknown amount for a Pre-K program.

To do this, WSJ says Sanders would impose tax increases that would bring in $6.5 trillion over 10 years. These tax increases would not even cover half of the $18 trillion in spending he’s proposing in the same time frame.

"For many years, government spending has equaled about 20% of gross domestic product annually; his proposals would increase that to about 30% in their first year," states WSJ. "As a share of the economy, that would represent a bigger increase in government spending than the New Deal or Great Society and is surpassed in modern history only by the World War II military buildup."

Ali Meyer

Ali Meyer   Email Ali | Full Bio | RSS
Ali Meyer is a staff writer with the Washington Free Beacon covering economic issues that expose government waste, fraud, and abuse. Prior to the Free Beacon, she was a multimedia reporter with where her work appeared on outlets such as Drudge Report and Fox News. She also interned with the Heritage Foundation and Pacific Research Institute. Her Twitter handle is @DJAliMeyer, and her email address is

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