Free Stuff or Freedom?

On March 11, 2019, President Donald Trump released his budget request for fiscal year 2020. Under his proposal, the federal budget would be a record $4.746 trillion. The U.S. government estimates it will receive $3.645 trillion in revenue. That creates a $1.101 trillion deficit for October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020.

These data points are not intended to be critical of the proposed budget for 2020, the data points are provided to share what the current budget looks like for the US Government, as well as the expected revenue the US Government plans to take in.  As you see, the current US Budget is approximately $4 trillion while current revenue is approximately $3.7 trillion.

Using the current US Budget estimates, we can use these numbers as we consider the planned policies and intent of the current democratic presidential candidates.  They are ALL promising a lot of free stuff for people, including those that do not pay any taxes in the United States, current and future.  Another example is the proposed Green New Deal, which is expected to cost in excess of $32 trillion over ten years, that amounts to $3.2 trillion per year, on top of the already existing budget requirement of approximately $4 trillion. If you think a $1.1 trillion deficit is tough to swallow, consider the potential budget problem if one of the potential democrats takes office.

Throughout history, civilizations have fallen for the alluring promise of free stuff—even when it comes at the cost of their freedom.

Recall the words of many Israelites who had just been delivered from four-hundred years of slavery in Egypt?

“The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Exodus 16:3 NASB).

They valued the free stuff in Egypt above the freedom God had miraculously given them. As America prepares for another political campaign season, voters are being courted with the alluring promises of free perks: “…a set of guaranteed payments of $1,000 per month, or $12,000 per year, to all U.S. citizens over the age of 18. Yes, that means you and everyone you know would get $1,000/month every month from the U.S. government, no questions asked.”

“…we will organize the American people around the concept that all people in this country have the right to health care…when I talk about health care being a human right, last time I heard that undocumented people are human beings as well.”

“All federal student loan borrowers would qualify for loan forgiveness.” But is a universal basic income really free? Definitely not.

“Doling out a Universal Basic Income of $12,000 a year to every American citizen would cost taxpayers $3.8 trillion…That’s roughly one-fifth of the nation’s entire annual economic production.”

For every American to get a “free” $12,000 per year from the government, every American would have to pay an additional $12,000 per year in taxes.

How about universal healthcare?

“‘Medicare for All’ is estimated to cost tens of trillions of dollars over a decade.” Americans would have to pay even higher taxes for “free” healthcare than they would for a “free” guaranteed income.  Senator Elizabeth Warren refuses to say how she will pay for this, refusing to state that she will raise income taxes. Bernie Sanders has been very transparent, on the other hand, stating that he intends to place a very dramatic tax against the wealthy.

And what’s the cost of forgiving student debt?

“Eliminating all student loan debt would cost somewhere around $1.6 trillion, though the exact cost is anyone’s guess. Sanders says that his plan, which includes making all public colleges in the U.S. free, would cost $2.2 trillion.”

And these figures do not include the Green New Deal’s estimated cost between $32 and $93 trillion (yep, TRILLION). How can Americans afford this free economic stuff? They can’t. They would have to say goodbye to their individual economic freedom and become slaves of the state—Biblically speaking, they would have to leave the freedom of the Promised Land to return to slavery in Egypt.

No matter what aspiring political leaders may promise, free benefits always come with strings (and more often chains) attached. Thomas Jefferson wisely warned: “If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.”

 

References:

Yang, A. (2019). What is universal basic income? Retrieved from https://www.yang2020.com/what-is-freedom-dividend-faq/

Rutz, D. (2019, June 21). Sanders: Medicare for All plan would ‘absolutely’ cover illegal immigrants. Retrived from https://freebeacon.com/politics/sanders-medicare-for-all-plan-would-absolutely-cover-illegal-immigrants/

Stratford, M. (2019, July 24). How Elizabeth Warren would cancel student loan debt. Retrieved from https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/24/elizabeth-warren-2020-student-loan-debt-1428361

Jaeger, M. (2018, July 12). Universal Basic Income would cost taxpayers $3.8T per year: study. Retrieved from https://nypost.com/2018/07/12/universal-basic-income-would-cost-taxpayers-3-8t-per-year-study/

Earl, J. (2019, January 28). How much would ‘Medicare for All’ cost? Democrats’ health care plan explained. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/politics/how-much-would-medicare-for-all-cost-democrats-health-care-plan-explained

Lombardo, C. (2019, July 10). Student debt forgiveness sounds good. What might happen if the government did it? Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2019/07/10/738506646/student-debt-forgiveness-sounds-good-what-might-happen-if-the-government-did-it

De Lea, B. (2019, July 30). How much AOC’s Green New Deal could cost the average American household. Retrieved from https://www.foxbusiness.com/economy/aoc-green-new-deal-cost-american-household

Jefferson, T. (1802, November 29). Letter to Thomas Cooper. Retrieved from https://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/wasting-labours-people-quotation

https://www.thebalance.com/u-s-federal-budget-breakdown-3305789, accessed 19 Oct 2019