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Pricing the Proposals in the Democratic Debate

On Tuesday night, CNN hosted the first of six scheduled debates between the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination. While much of the focus was on frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the five-person field (all of whom have served in an elected office before) is only a third of the size of the Republican Party’s and offered each a chance to lay out their visions for America’s future. NTUF found that the policies they proposed during the primetime event would cost taxpayers trillions of dollars if enacted.

  • Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) proposed $1.06 trillion in net annual spending increases during the debate. He spoke for just over 28 minutes during the debate, an average of $41.7 billion in spending per minute.

  • Martin O’Malley’s two increase proposals, including a “cap and trade” carbon tax provision to fund clean energy and comprehensive immigration reform, would cost $77.5 billion per year.

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed seven policies that would increase federal spending and one that would decrease it, totaling a net annual cost of $51.6 billion per year.

  • The most expensive proposal of the night was Senator Sanders’ call for universal health care, which would cost $824 billion per year. He also reiterated his support for infrastructure improvements, which he has introduced as stand-alone legislation in Congress at a cost of $146 billion per year.

  • Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee was the only candidate who did not propose any quantifiable fiscal policies.

  • Clinton and Sanders proposed the only two policies that would have cut spending, calling for sentencing reform in the criminal justice system.

A detailed analysis of the complete debate is available in a PDF here.

Be sure to keep up with the latest research on the 2016 presidential race at NTUF’s Candidate Hub and by following us on Twitter (@NTUF).