How Does Bernie Sanders plan to pay for all this free stuff?

This post is rebroadcast from Berniementum and can be found here

Bernie supporters know that all this “free” stuff isn’t really free. Someone has to pay somehow. But is it true that all this “free” stuff means higher taxes? If you came here with serious questions, here are your answers. (You can skip to the conclusions at the end or read it all).

Bernie’s Campaign released a handy dandy chart on how his plans will be paid for and the revenue they are expected to bring in. Feel free to use the information there in conjunction of this blog post.

Tuition-Free College

Tuesday, May 19, 2015, Sanders introduced legislation to help make public 4-year colleges and universities tuition free, called the “College for All Act.” You can view a newsroom article here, summary of the bill here, and the full bill here.

The bill would provide $47 billion a year to states to reduce college tuition and fees:

“Today, total tuition at public colleges and universities amounts to about $70 billion per year. Under the College for All Act, the federal government would cover 67% of this cost, while the states would be responsible for the remaining 33% of the cost.” (bill summary)

The College for All Act also proposes to cut student loan interest rates in half, expand student work-study programs, and create a pilot program to eliminate a student’s need to apply for financial aid every year.

Funding for this legislation would come from a 0.5% tax on stock trades, a 0.1% tax on bonds, and a 0.005% tax on derivatives. “It has been estimated that this provision could raise hundreds of billions a year.”

Universal Health care

Monday, December 9, 2013, Sanders introduced legislation to provide health care to every American through a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system, called the “American Health Security Act.” You can view a newsroom article here, a summary of the bill here, and the full bill here.

The bill would establish a state-based health security program (and it looks like states can choose to opt out). The bill would also establish various organizations to develop procedures, evaluate quality, and perform research.

The bill would provide comprehensive health benefits (starting on page 17 of the bill) including preventative and long-term care. And as such, would eliminate health benefits under the Social Security Act (Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance), the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and TRICARE. It would also repeal health insurance coverage and exchange provisions under the Affordable Care Act.

Funding for this bill (starting pg 166) would be paid by a 6.7% payroll tax on employers a, 2.2% – 5.2% income tax on employees (dependent on income bracket from less than $200k a year to over $600k a year), an 5.4% tax on modified adjusted gross income exceeding $1 million, and a .02% tax on securities transactions.

It is also worth noting that with all the programs Bernie bill would eliminate, the costs of those programs would essentially transfer to Bernie’s health program, providing additional funding.

Bernie released official details on his health care plan including saving and taxes.

Green Energy Initiatives


Thursday, February 14, 2013, Sanders introduced legislation, along with Barbara Boxer, in a two part proposal on Climate change, called the “Climate Protection Act” and the “Sustainable Energy Act.” You can view a press release here and summary of the proposal here. You can view the first bill here and the second here.

The bill proposes weatherizing 1 million homes per year (creating jobs and saving households on energy usage and costs), tripling the budget for ARPA-E, creating a Sustainable Technologies Finance Program to invest in green energy initiatives, investing in domestic manufacturing, funding $1 billion a year in worker training, and creating a family Clean Energy Rebate Program.

Funding for this proposal would be paid on $20 carbon tax per ton of carbon emissions, rising by 5.6% per year over 10 years.

“This fee would apply to only 2,869 of the largest fossil fuel polluters, covering about 85 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Congressional Research Service. The Congressional Budget Office estimates this step alone could raise $1.2 trillion in revenue over ten years and reduce greenhouse gas emissions approximately 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.” (bill summary)

Imported fuels would be charged the same carbon fee, unless the exporting country has a similar climate program and already charges a fee on carbon. The bill would also end fossil fuel subsidies. From this, “approximately $300 billion would go to debt reduction over ten years” (summary).

Sanders also introduced a bill on Tuesday, July 7, 2015 to make solar energy more accessible to low income families, called the “Low Income Solar Act.” This bill would cost $3 billion spanning from 2016 to 2030. You can view a news article here, summary of the bill here, and the full bill here.

Funding: This proposal gives the Secretary of Energy authorization to allocate an amount of funds ($200 million) each year from the Department of Energy for 15 years to provide low-income families with grants or loans (no more than 50% can loans, and they must meet certain eligibility requirements) to install solar panels on their homes.

Job Creation


Tuesday, January 27, 2015, Sanders introduced legislation to create 13 million jobs, called the “Rebuild America Act.” You can view a press release here, a summary of the bill here, and the full bill here.

The bill proposes to spend $1.6 trillion on rebuilding America’s roads, bridges, railways, airports, waterways, ports, national parks, and electric grids from 2015 to 2022. Funding for this proposal appears to come in the establishment of a National Infrastructure Development Bank to give out loans.

Thursday, June 4, 2015, Sanders, along with Jon Conyers, introduced legislation to create jobs for youth, called the “Employ Young Americans Now Act.” You can view a press release of the bill here, a summary of the bill here, and the full bill here.

The bill proposes $4 billion in grants to state and local government to promote job growth and offer services such as transportation or child care to help eliminate barriers to participating in jobs. An additional $1.5 billion would go to local areas to promote jobs for low-income or disadvantaged youths. Funding for this bill seems to come from an allocation of funds within the U.S. Treasury.

Minimum Wage Increase


Wednesday, July 22, 2015, Sanders introduced a bill to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour over a period of five years, called the “Pay Workers a Living Wage Act.” You can view the press release here, the summary here, and the full bill here.

This bill proposes the follow wage adjustments:

+ Minimum wage – $9 in 2016, $10.50 in 2017, $12.00 in 2018, $13.50 in 2019, and $15 in 2020.
+ Tipped min wage – $3.15 in 2016, then increased $1.50 each year until matching standard minimum.
+ Youth min wage – can be no less than $3.00 less the standard minimum.

Business are expected to adjust their finances to cover this cost.


Bernie Sanders also has proposals to reduce the deficit. These include:

+ End offshore tax havens
+ Establish .03% tax on Wall Street speculators
+ End tax breaks and subsides for big oil, gas, and coal companies
+ Establish as estate tax on inherited wealth over more than $3.5 million
+ Tax capital gains and dividends the same as work
+ Repeal 2001 and 2003 Bush tax breaks for the top two percent
+ Establish a currency manipulation fee on China and other countries
+ Reduce unnecessary spending at the Pentagon
+ Require Medicare to negotiate for drug prices
+ End mass incarceration (costs billions of dollars a year)


None of Bernie’s proposals will raise taxes for average Americans, except for the health care bill. I don’t know many people who make more than $200,000 a year. So consider that 2.2% income tax alongside what comes out of your paycheck for your employer’s health insurance and what an average visit to the doctor’s office costs (and then imagine what it costs for x-rays and surgery and things of that nature, and heaven forbid you have a medical emergency). Is 2.2% really that high? I’ve been told Briton pays 10%.

The top 2% of Americans will have some higher taxes. Taxes and fees will go up on large oil, coal, and fossil fuels companies. And Wall Street has a minuscule tax on its transactions.

When someone asks you how Bernie plans for pay for things, give them this article. And when someone tells you electing Bernie Sanders means higher taxes or increasing the deficit, tell them they’re wrong.


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