The Math Problem That Could Sink the Bernie/AOC Agenda
By ALAN COLE
January 30, 2019 6:30 AM
The greatest constraint on the objectives of democratic socialists in Congress, such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders, may not be Republicans or even centrist Democrats, but rather two government institutions, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). JCT and CBO have developed sophisticated models of the U.S. economy and federal budget, and they use those models to help Congress understand the impact of its legislative proposals.
Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders have championed several policies that would greatly expand federal spending, such as implementing a single-payer health-care system and radically expanding the scope of environmental regulations. According to an Urban Institute analysis, the health-care plan alone would raise federal expenditures by $32 trillion over ten years. Though the CBO and JCT have not yet analyzed such policies — they usually wait until the plans are more developed — when they do, their analyses will find that the only way to finance such large increases in federal spending is through much higher taxes, a politically unpalatable result that will surely make headlines and produce difficulties for any nascent legislation.