Freebies for Everyone

The Iowa Caucus, the real start of the 2020 presidential primaries, is next week. Who’s favored to win? Sadly, as I write this, the smart money says it’s the candidate who’s promised Americans the most “free” stuff.

Six months ago, my staff and I tallied the candidates’ promises. All wanted to give away trillions — or more accurately, wanted government to tax you and spend your money on the candidates’ schemes.

At that point, Senator Kamala Harris led. Fortunately, her promises did not bring her sustained support, and she dropped out.

Unfortunately, now the other candidates are making even more promises.

So, it’s time for a new contest.

My new video ranks the current leading candidates by how much of your money they promise to spend. We divide the promises into four categories:


Joe Biden would make community college free, cut student loans in half, increase Pell Grants and modernize schools.

Added to his previous campaign promises, he’d increase federal spending by $157 billion per year.

Elizabeth Warren would spend much more. She wants government to “provide universal child care for every baby in this country age 0 to 5, universal pre-K for every child, raise the wages of every childcare worker and preschool teacher in America, provide for universal tuition-free college, put $50 billion into historically black colleges and universities… and cancel student loan debt for 95% of the people.”

She’d outspend Biden — but not Bernie Sanders.

Sanders would forgive all student loans — even for the rich. He also demands that government give everyone child care and pre-K.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg also promises free child care, more pay for teachers, more career education, free college and Pell Grants, plus the refinancing of student debt.

Good try, Pete, but Sanders “wins” in the education category, with nearly $300 billion in promises.


All the Democrats pretend they will do something useful about climate change. Biden would spend $170 billion per year, Buttigieg $150 billion to $200 billion and Warren $300 billion. Sanders “wins” this category, too, by promising more than $1 trillion.

Health Care

Even the “moderate,” Biden, now wants to “build out Obamacare” and to cover people here illegally.

So does Buttigieg — but he’d spend twice as much on it.

Warren complains the Buttigieg plan “costs so much less” than her plan. She’d spend $2 trillion a year.

Sanders is again the biggest spender. He’d spend $3 trillion of your money on his “Medicare for All” plan.


In this category, Biden, to his credit, plans no new spending.

But Buttigieg has been cranking out lots of new promises, like $45 billion for “affordable housing” and $27 billion to expand Social Security payments beyond what people paid in.

Warren would also spend more on “affordable housing” and give kids more food stamps.

Sanders “wins” again. He promises to guarantee everyone a job, provide “housing for all” and give more people food stamps.


Then there’s spending that doesn’t neatly fit into major categories, like Biden’s plans for new foreign aid for Central America, Sanders’ high-speed internet, Buttigieg’s expanding national service programs like the Peace Corps and Warren’s plan to force government to buy only American-made products.

Finally, we found a spending category that Sanders doesn’t win. With $130 billion in new plans, Biden wins the “miscellaneous” round.

And what about that incumbent Republican?

Donald Trump once talked about “cutting waste,” but government spending rose more than half a trillion dollars during his first three years.

Now Trump wants $267 billion in new spending for things like infrastructure and “access to high-quality, affordable childcare.”

At least Trump wants to spend less than the Democrats.

Biden and Buttigieg would double Trump’s increase. Warren would quadruple it. She’d increase spending by almost $3 trillion.

But Bernie Sanders blows them all out of the water, with nearly $5 trillion in proposed new spending!

“I’m not denying we’re going to spend a lot of money,” he admits.

He’ll probably win in Iowa next week. Whoever wins… taxpayers lose.

8 thoughts on “Freebies for Everyone

  1. If Trump can cut many of the out-dated, duplicate and useless programs that our tax dollars are NOW funding, we could help fund “infrastructure”. I don’t agree with “free childcare”….you make the decision to have kids, it’s up to YOU to care for them. And remember…it’s CONGRESS, not the President that SPENDS our taxes……
    Why can’t we set a budget based on the taxes that are taken in, and STICK to that amount?

  2. Politicians are all too quick to spend money that doesn’t already exist.
    How are they going to pay for all of this?
    You’d be absolutely correct if you said off of the backs of the American Taxpayers.
    What happens when those who are willing to work no longer can survive off of the meager earnings that they have left after additional taxation?
    They’ll simply join those who are unwilling to work in order to receive something for nothing, and who could blame them?
    They’d be no less better off and not have to work.
    Then, what happens when no one is willing to work in order to fund all of the freebies?
    We’ll be a Socialist Country where the government is taking care of everyone equally.
    At some point, there will be no way to sustain everyone, and then, we will be just like Venezuela and we’ll all be digging for scraps to eat out of the backs of garbage trucks.
    That’s exactly where the Democrats in Washington want us to be.
    They’ll be the rich and powerful, and the citizens will be cowering in their control for a scrap of bread.
    Sadly, some people, who are blinded by the lure of getting everything for free, refuse to believe that the Democrats have a Socialist plan for our country.

  3. Edward Bernays, “the father of public relations”, was a nephew of Sigmund Freud and used Freud’s insights in his public relations work. He said, “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. … In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons … who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
    This manipulation is used to convince the masses that the things that are good for them are bad, and the things that are bad for them are good. For example, we have been told for decades that tax cuts create economic growth. A look at economic data shows that this is not true, there is no correlation between tax rates and economic growth. However there is a strong correlation between top tax rates and the distribution of wealth, with far more wealth being funneled to the top 0.1% when tax rates are low. This occurs to the detriment of the masses that vote for those tax cuts. The top 0.1% includes the very people who are pulling the wires that control the public mind.
    Many people still believe that Republicans are conservative and fiscally responsible. When Ronald Reagan was elected the national debt as a percentage of GDP was at a 50 year low, yet he made an issue out of the debt anyway. He talked about how high a pile of one trillion dollar bills would be, and promised to pay down the debt. After he got elected he cut taxes and increased military spending. By the end of his administration the debt was nearly tripled, going from $1 trillion to $2.7 trillion. Later, George W. Bush inherited a budget surplus from Clinton and he said this: “We owe it to our children and our grandchildren to act now, and I hope you will join me to pay down $2 trillion in debt during the next 10 years. At the end of those 10 years, we will have paid down all the debt that is available to retire. That is more debt repaid more quickly than has ever been repaid by any nation at any time in history.” Instead he cut taxes, got us into a very expensive “war on terror”, and got us into the worst recession in 70 years. He doubled the national debt in 8 years instead of paying it off in 10. In 2016 Donald Trump promised to pay off the $20 trillion debt in 8 years. Instead he cut taxes and increased military spending. The debt is now $23.2 trillion and the deficit has gone from $600 billion to $1 trillion. The Reagan, Bush, and Trump budgets have been the most mismanaged in U.S. history with absolutely no effort made to balance revenue with spending. Yet a 2017 Gallup poll showed that 49% of Americans believe Republicans do a better job of dealing with the federal government debt. (In real life the deficit went UP under Reagan, Bush, and Trump and it went DOWN under Clinton and Obama.) This is another example of mental manipulation, or brainwashing.
    Now in his article “Freebies for Everyone” John Stossel is trying to pull your wires too, by trying to make Democrat proposed spending seem irresponsible. Let’s take a look at the biggest item, Bernie Sander’s “Medicare for All”. Bernie says it will cost $30-$40 trillion dollars over the next 10 years. John Stossel says Bernie wants to spend $3 trillion per year of your money. Wow, that sounds like a lot of money! Table 01 of the “National Health Expenditures and Selected Economic Indicators” shows total national health expenditures from 2011 to 2017 and projected spending from 2018 to 2027. The ten year projected spending from 2018 to 2027 is $47 trillion. That is how much is projected without Bernie’s “Medicare for all”, so we are already spending that much money. Bernie’s cost estimate is not unreasonable at all. The difference is that it will be paid for with taxes instead of insurance premiums. Maybe it will actually cost less than what we are currently spending, because it will eliminate the insurance companies that siphon off money without adding any value. We currently have the world’s most expensive health insurance (in terms of per capita spending) with the worst results among first world countries (in terms of life expectancy). Let’s fix it like other countries have done!
    We used to have tuition free college. For example the University of California and California State University systems were originally designed to be tuition free for state residents. Thanks to tax cuts the schools have been defunded and tuitions have gone up. The public mind has been manipulated into thinking that tuition free college is “pie in the sky” even though we had it when the nation was not as rich as it is now. Doesn’t it seem odd that the richer the country gets, the less we can afford? That’s because we have given those riches to the top 0.1% though tax cuts and deregulation.
    Climate change? The fossil fuel industry would like to pull your wires and make you think that we can’t afford to stop burning oil and coal. It will wreck the economy, they say. Remember when Newt Gingrich predicted that Clinton’s tax increase would wreck the economy, and instead the 90’s economy boomed? Yeah, like that. We know of no other planet we can live on. We really need to keep this one habitable.
    Like health care and college tuition, we as a nation are already paying for many of the things in the Democrat’s grab bag of goodies. It is nonsensical to suggest that we cannot afford them when we are already paying for them. It is just a better way to manage the costs.
    Bernie Sanders says he will raise the top tax rate and institute a wealth tax. That will provide much of the revenue to pay for his stuff. We did have a high top tax rate in the past, for instance the top tax rate in the 50’s was over 90%. Contrary to the wire puller’s assertions, the high top tax rate did not hurt economic growth, productivity, innovation, or jobs. In fact wages went up dramatically, and during the time taxes were high America developed the largest and richest middle class in world history. This was the golden age of the American worker. Western Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand did a similar thing and achieved a similar result. This has been tested and proven in many countries: high tax rates are good for the masses and low tax rates are bad for the masses. This is because high top tax rates put a cap on income and prevent the rich from taking a disproportionate share of the nation’s income like they usually do. Even if high tax rates didn’t generate the revenue to pay for Bernie’s “freebies” they would still be a very good thing for America’s middle class.

  4. I have some thoughts on the thoughts.
    Cindy Rose wonders, “Why can’t we set a budget based on the taxes that are taken in, and STICK to that amount?” The United States used to be like that. When the government wanted to spend more money on something, whether it was a war or Medicare, they felt obligated to raise taxes to pay for it. Since taxes are unpopular this served to restrain spending. Then Ronald Reagan uncoupled spending from tax revenue. His tax cuts and military spending were not paid for with other taxes or spending cuts, they were paid for with debt. Same thing with George W. Bush, his tax cuts and military spending were paid for with debt. His Medicare Part D was not funded with taxes or spending cuts. It was paid for with about $50 billion dollars per year in debt. Same thing with Donald Trump, his tax cuts and military spending are paid for with debt. How many times does this have to happen? It’s like falling for the “exploding cigar trick” over and over. If you voted for Donald Trump because you believed him when he said he would pay off the national debt, you got conned.
    Lisa trotted out the right’s favorite boogeyman, Venezuela. I could use that same logic. Haiti is a capitalist country, so therefore if you want capitalism you must want the United States to be like Haiti. Haiti is even worse than Venezuela, so why would you want to copy Haiti? Socialism is not one thing, different countries do it differently. The same with capitalism. The United States has had very different versions of capitalism. In the late 19th century there was the Gilded Age, laissez-faire, small government, and low tax version of capitalism. This was characterized by extreme wealth concentration, low wages, long working hours, a high poverty rate, and child labor (that is sort of like Haiti is today). Then from 1933 to 1981 we had the New Deal big government, high tax, regulated style of capitalism. This was characterized by higher wages, shorter working hours, employee benefits, and government “entitlement” programs. The New Deal style capitalism was by far the best for the general welfare of the citizens of this country. I think it is the best economic system ever devised. I am not a socialist, I am a New Dealer. I don’t know exactly what the “Democrats in Washington” want but I think they are mostly a bunch of pro-business neoliberals, similar to what Republicans were 50 years ago. They should be New Dealers like me if they actually want to something for their constituents. Even so, I don’t think there is a single Democrat that actually wants to make the United States like Venezuela. That is Republican B.S. (I do know what Republicans want. They want to return the United State to the Gilded Age. See the 60 Minutes interview with Grover Norquist on YouTube.)
    Gregorio D, thanks for reading my comments. It is hard to argue with your well-reasoned observations. I think you got me. Ouch!

    1. You make some excellent points. As a caveat, I’m a conservative in many ways. Liberal in others. And I like and respect John Stossel. I agree with him on a lot of things. As another caveat, I’m not an expert in economics, or much else. I attended college in California when tuition was free. I benefitted from it. I’m not going to say I was entitled to it. My brothers, for example, had to work full time and weren’t able to attend college. I suppose their tax dollars benefitted me.
      I believe in the free markets, hard work. However, I see a lot of the lobbyists and companies legally bribing politicians to get laws benefiting them passed. Both sides of the aisle seem to be in the pockets of big business. I’m very upset about student loan interest on government loans. I’m also very upset by what seems to be corruption in the pharmaceutical companies. Of course, I’m especially upset because this affects me. My son is a Type 1 diabetic. We have health insurance. He is aging out of it. Fortunately, he has health insurance through his college. I have paid out of pocket for a vial of Humalog insulin. It cost me $350. He takes Humalog and Lantus. A vial of Lantus is about $400. An appointment with his endocrinologist, without insurance, is $250. We looked into bare bones health insurance for him under California Care. It was around $250/mo with an $8,000 deductible. Middle class, working class and working poor diabetics without health insurance are going to die quick, terrible deaths without insulin. His insulin costs are much lower because of health insurance. I believe insulin has gone up about 500% over the past decade. It horrifies me that young people die because they ration their insulin. This isn’t that rare, especially when you have 26-year-old college students who aren’t able to afford their own health insurance. This isn’t an hysterical talking point. It’s crazy that people die of an easily treatable disease because they can’t buy insulin. It’s an autoimmune disease. Lifestyle changes won’t keep them alive. This is a first world country. The costs must be brought down. We took out Parent Plus federal student loans to help our kids. It was our choice. Still, the interest rate is high. I’ve been paying on a $13,000 loan for 10 years. At some point, they capitalized the interest. It added $4,000 to the loan. I pay almost $300/mo. I still owe $10,000 on this loan. My kids have similar loans, as does my husband They will never be paid off. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind here. You have made me want to research more. Even very liberal friends are worried that universal health care will bankrupt the country. I’m concerned about too much government control and too many regulations. It feels oppressive. I’m all for a balanced budget. I know a huge amount of our budget goes to defense. I think we are all concerned about being controlled by big government. An example, I went to public schools, as did my kids. In good neighborhoods. We didn’t get a good education. My husband went to Catholic schools. He did. It seems like the people at the top in politics are always the richest, regardless of the system. Is there a way to maintain our freedoms, including economic freedoms, and help reform healthcare? I’ve been in HMOs, when there seemed to be a disincentive to treat. I have in my mind, horrible VA hospitals expanded to the rest of us. I’ve been in a few. They’re awful. Also, I don’t know why federal student loans can’t be refinanced. The government is the one squeezing us. I think people are making good points about huge amounts of government waste. Our interest rate is like 8%. A savings account pays me 1%. Anyway. I guess I’ve rambled.

      1. Julie P.,
        Reaganomics has created this economic system where you and millions of others like you are going into debt trying to stay alive while Jeff Bezos buys a mansion in Beverly Hills for $165 million (that is just round-off error for his fortune). This is the “free market” and “economic freedom” system you say you believe in. In a “dog eat dog” free market capitalist system, the big dogs eat the little dogs. The big dogs are the billionaires. You are a little dog and you got eaten.
        During the Gilded Age the rich class knew that the capitalist system created widespread poverty (the poverty rate in 1899 was 80%). The rich class was OK with that, in fact they thought it showed that the system was working. They were social Darwinists. They thought the cream (themselves) rose to the top and unfit, inferior people fell to the bottom in the natural order of things.
        Capitalist health insurance companies are not concerned with public health or saving lives. There is not a cell in their spreadsheets for that. They are only concerned with maximizing their profits. That’s why, before Obamacare, they would try to rescind the policies of people who got cancer or other expensive disorders.
        Pharmaceutical companies do not care about saving lives any more than tobacco companies care about the lives of their customers. They only want to maximize their profits. Medicare Part D was a Republican entitlement expansion that was a huge give-away to the pharmaceutical industry. There were no taxes raised or spending cut to pay for it, it is paid for with at least $50 billion per year in debt (this is from the “fiscally responsible” party). It also prohibits Medicare from negotiating drug prices. This gives drug manufacturers an incentive to raise prices to astronomical levels, because Medicare is required by law to pay those prices. The congressman who pushed the bill through, Billy Tauzin, left government service soon afterward to become a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist for $2 million per year (at least 15 other people also involved in passing Medicare Part D also got industry jobs). Big Pharma spends a lot of money on lobbying and campaign contributions to get favorable patent laws and to defund and defang regulatory agencies that should be looking out for the public interest. This has allowed them to have monopoly pricing power. When you see high drug prices you are looking at pure corruption. Democrats have made several attempts to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices but Republicans always shoot them down.
        Trump has talked tough about drug companies, saying they are “getting away with murder” and promising to do something to cut prices. But after 3 years he has done nothing. I predict he will continue to talk tough and do nothing because of the money that the industry gives the GOP (they give it to Democrats too).
        Before 1981 American health care spending and life expectancy were similar to other first world countries. Then Reagan cut taxes and regulations, and health care in the United States started to go off the rails. We now have the most expensive and least effective (in terms of life expectancy) of all first world countries.
        You are right that the people at the top in politics are always the richest. It has been this was as long as there has been civilization. There is no such thing as a free market system. It is always rigged. Most of the time the rich people who are running the system rig it in their favor. In the United States during the New Deal era from 1933 to 1981 the system was rigged in favor of the wage earners. During that time the Great American Middle Class was created and thrived. Then we got conned out of it. The Reagan Revolution was a counter revolution by the rich against the New Deal and it rigged the system back in favor of the rich.
        John Stossel might be a nice person who is kind to animals, I don’t know. But he promotes a libertarian system that history shows would impoverish millions and kill at least tens of thousands of people.

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