How Would Elizabeth Warren Pay for Her Sweeping Policy Ideas?
Ms. Warren has proposed universal child care, increased spending on public schools, student debt cancellation and free college. She plans to pay for these proposals by creating a wealth tax on households worth over $50 million. How much revenue that tax would generate is a matter of debate.
Her climate change agenda includes plans on clean energy technology and reducing carbon emissions. She would cover much of the cost by creating a new tax on corporate profits and reversing tax cuts for wealthy people and big corporations in the 2017 Republican tax overhaul.
Ms. Warren would increase Social Security benefits by $200 a month, among other changes. To pay for her plan, she would raise investment and payroll taxes on high earners.
She wants to build more affordable housing. She would cover most of the cost by expanding the estate tax.
She has called for new spending in a variety of other areas, such as rural broadband and apprenticeship programs. Her plans to address the opioid crisis and election security and help minority-owned small businesses would be largely financed by eliminating a tax benefit for inherited assets.
Last week, Ms. Warren laid out her most expensive plan yet: creating “Medicare for all,” a government-run health insurance program. Her price tag relies on aggressive assumptions and is lower than several estimates from other experts.
Even still, that’s twice the estimated cost of her other proposals. Let’s take a closer look at how she would pay for it.
First, Ms. Warren would impose a new tax on employers that is similar to what they currently spend on their employees’ health care.
Some money would come from added revenue from existing taxes. Workers would no longer pay for health insurance premiums, so their take-home pay would rise, and they would pay taxes on that extra money. Ms. Warren also wants to strengthen tax enforcement to collect more taxes.
A significant amount would come from taxing the wealthy. For the top 1 percent of households, she would tax capital gains annually instead of when investments are sold, and raise the tax rate on those gains. She would also steepen her wealth tax on billionaires.
Ms. Warren would make changes to corporate taxation, such as raising taxes on companies that earn money in foreign countries. She would create a tax on financial transactions like stock trades and impose a new fee on big banks.
She is counting on passing an overhaul of immigration laws, which would be a momentous political achievement if it were to happen. That would generate revenue from additional taxes paid by immigrants.
Finally, she would cut military spending.
The total cost of Ms. Warren’s proposals over 10 years is greater than what the federal government is currently projected to spend on Social Security and Medicare combined over that time.
On paper, the revenue sources she has laid out would cover the approximate cost of her plans. But her math relies on assumptions that are far from assured, such as the extent to which the richest Americans would pay her wealth tax rather than dodge it.
The federal government is projected to spend about $58 trillion over the next decade. Ms. Warren would need to persuade Congress to approve her plans, a difficult feat for any one of her expansive proposals, let alone her entire agenda. If she succeeded, she would increase federal spending by roughly 50 percent.
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