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.
It 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.
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.
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