. . . The reviews of some of these economists, especially on Mr. Sanders’s health care plans, suggest that Mrs. Clinton could have been too conservative in their debate last week when she said his agenda in total would increase the size of the federal government by 40 percent. That level would surpass any government expansion since the buildup in World War II.The increase could exceed 50 percent, some experts suggest, based on an analysis by a respected health economist that Mr. Sanders’s single-payer health plan could cost twice what the senator, who represents Vermont, asserts, and on critics’ belief that his economic assumptions are overly optimistic.
The centerpiece of Sanders’s domestic agenda is a plan for single-payer health insurance. Sanders claims his plan would immediately produce trillions of dollars in savings through lower health-care costs — not merely bending the cost curve down, as Obamacare has done, but snapping it sharply in the other direction. Kenneth Thorpe, a respected liberal health economist at Emory University, has estimated that Sanders’s plan is “completely implausible.” The Sanders campaign has called Thorpe’s estimates a “complete hatchet job” and, as Sanders’s supporters are wont to do, implied that he is bought and paid for by his corporate masters.But the trillions of dollars in unspecified savings are not the only magic asterisk in Sanders’s plan. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budgetruns the numbers and finds that, even if you accept Sanders’s assumptions about his savings at face value, his plan would still fall several trillion dollars short of covering its expenses. The analysis also notes that Sanders would have to raise the top marginal tax rate to about 85 percent, which is above the level that economists Peter Diamond and Emmanuel Saez (who strongly support higher taxes on the rich) believe maximizes revenue. That is to say, Sanders would tax the rich at rates so high that even liberal economists suspect they would discourage work and raise less revenue than expected.