Pricing the Proposals in the Democratic Debate

October 15, 2015
Demian Brady
Democratic Debate Analysis

On Tuesday night, CNN hosted the first of six scheduled debates between the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination. While much of the focus was on frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the five-person field (all of whom have served in an elected office before) is only a third of the size of the Republican Party’s and offered each a chance to lay out their visions for America’s future. NTUF found that the policies theyproposed during the primetime event would cost taxpayers trillions of dollars if enacted.

Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) proposed $1.06 trillion in net annual spending increases during the debate. He spoke for just over 28 minutes during the debate, an average of $41.7 billion in spending per minute.

Martin O’Malley’s two increase proposals, including a “cap and trade” carbon tax provision to fund clean energy and comprehensive immigration reform, would cost $77.5 billion per year.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed seven policies that would increase federal spending and one that would decrease it, totaling a net annual cost of $51.6 billion per year.

The most expensive proposal of the night was Senator Sanders’ call for universal health care, which would cost $824 billion per year. He also reiterated his support for infrastructure improvements, which he has introduced as stand-alone legislation in Congress at a cost of $146 billion per year.

Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee was the only candidate who did not propose any quantifiable fiscal policies.

Clinton and Sanders proposed the only two policies that would have cut spending, calling for sentencing reform in the criminal justice system.

A detailed analysis of the complete debate is available in a PDF here.

Be sure to keep up with the latest research on the 2016 presidential race at NTUF’sCandidate Hub and by following us on Twitter (@NTUF).

Demian Brady

Director of Research

Demian Brady is the Director of Research for the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. His responsibilities include producing commentaries and studies on fiscal issues, as well as managing NTUF's BillTally program (which tracks the impact of legislation on the size of the federal budget), State of the Union analysis, and more. Demian's research has been cited in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Times. In addition, he has written on a number of budget-related issues for both NTU and NTUF. Mr. Brady resided and worked in Columbus, Ohio before moving to Washington, DC in 1998. He earned an M.A. in Political Science from American University. He received a B.A. in Russian Area Studies from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. 

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