The U.S. Senate late Wednesday night passed a massive $ 2 trillion relief bill with the aim of propping up the economy, which has been largely shut down by the response to the coronavirus. The bill has been dubbed “the largest economic rescue package in U.S. history” or at least “in modern American history.”
And yet, if Sen. Bernie Sanders and other advocates of his “Medicare for all” approach were to have their way, we’d be spending the equivalent of this amount roughly every seven months forever.
The Sanders healthcare vision, which would in many ways go beyond what exists in socialist countries, promises to offer free medical, dental, vision, and long-term care — along with prescription drug coverage. There will be no premiums, copayments, or deductibles, he has promised.
The price tag would be $ 34 trillion over a decade, according to a study by the liberal Urban Institute. To be clear, that $ 34 trillion is not equally distributed over that period. As with most government programs, when factoring in population growth and inflation, spending would be lower in the early years and higher in the later years.
However, if for this exercise we put the average annual increase in federal spending at $ 3.4 trillion, that means under the Sanders approach, the nation would be spending an additional $ 1.98 trillion every seven months. If the final estimate of the relief package is a bit higher, then it may be closer to the eight-month cost of the Sanders plan ($ 2.27 trillion).
Put another way, the cost of the Sanders plan is about 17 times the cost of the current package. But instead of being a one-time emergency measure, it would be an ongoing commitment with no revenue stream that would cover the full cost.