Do the math another way: Annual federal spending has averaged between 20 and 21 percent of GDP for the past four decades. The Sanders spending-palooza would tack on another 10 percentage points, pushing total federal spending to at least 30 percent of GDP. Like, immediately. To place that number in context, the worried wonks over at the Congressional Budget Office are alarmed that federal spending is on trend to hit 25 percent of GDP by 2040.
Just as Republicans tend to be a bit fuzzy on how they would pay for their tax cuts, Sanders has yet to outline a plan to fully pay for his proposals. He’s mused about a 90 percent tax rate on the rich — but the 1 percent aren’t going to pay for everything Sanders wants. If you want to spend like Europe, you also need to tax like Europe, and that means a value-added tax, which Kenworthy concedes. “Adding a national consumption tax could get us halfway there and adjustments would take us the rest of the way,” he writes.
According to a study by a U.K. investment bank, the cumulative value of all European unicorns created since 2000 is less than half the value of Facebook. We cannot all be like the French or Scandinavians, as economists Daron Acemoglu, James Robinson, and Thierry Verdier have put it: “Their cuddly capitalism… depends in part on the knowledge spillovers” created by American competitive capitalism.