Democrats’ freebie wish list: Proposals and price tags

As 2020 Democrats debate each other in Detroit this week, a couple of divides are emerging within the party, including how many services should be provided for free and to whom.

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Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, for example, drew fire on Tuesday night for saying he would provide health care to undocumented immigrants should he secure the presidency.

Opponents argued his Medicare-for-all vision would shut down hospitals and lead to an underfunded system.

Some of the frontrunners in the race – including Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren – have promised a number of free programs to Americans, including everything from health care to college education to complete student loan forgiveness.

Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney used his opening statement on Tuesday night to hit their “impossible promises,” which he believes would ultimately result in Trump’s reelection.

Just how much would these free services and programs cost? Here’s a look at estimates for some of the more popular proposals.

Student loan forgiveness

Both Sanders and Warren have unveiled proposals to partially, or completely, wipe out Americans’ student debt liabilities.

As of last month, outstanding student loan totals stood at nearly $1.6 trillion.

There are about 43 million borrowers with outstanding debt.

Eliminating all student debt could cost around $1.6 trillion – though the exact price tag is unknown at this point.

Free public college, too

Sanders’ plan to eliminate $1.6 trillion worth of student debt also calls for making U.S. public colleges tuition-free, which could cost $2.2 trillion.

He has said those costs could be covered by a tax levied on trades of stocks, bonds and derivatives. According to his office, that proposal would raise $2.4 trillion.

Warren’s student debt cancelation plan would also include free public college education – she estimates her overall education plan would cost $1.25 trillion. She said costs could be covered by her “ultra-millionaire tax.”

Medicare-for-all

While Democrats are divided on the best way to reform the U.S. health care system – a fact that was glaringly obvious on the debate stage on Tuesday – Warren and Sanders have called for a transition to a single-payer system that would eliminate the role of private insurance companies.

An estimate from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University has pegged the cost of Sanders’ bill, which Warren supports, at around $32 trillion.

Green New Deal

The climate change plan known as the Green New Deal – which calls for massive investments in climate-friendly infrastructure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 – could carry costs as high as $93 trillion over the course of 10 years.

A new study found that the average American household could be on the hook for anywhere between $70,000 and $100,000 during the first year of the plan’s implementation – with only slight reductions in the years that followed.

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$15 minimum wage

According to data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), raising the country’s federal minimum wage to $15 per hour would eliminate as many as 3.7 million jobs, while boosting wages for about 17 million people.