Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Politics of the Absurd

Senator Elizabeth Warren is going to use the proceeds of her “wealth tax” to eliminate all outstanding student debt, provide free college tuition for everybody, subsidize lodging costs while in college, and expand Pell grants. Other things too, but those are the big ones. It sounds lovely, if you’re a complete idiot.

The wealth tax is scheduled to bring in $2.75 trillion, but that’s in ten years (assuming that the tax is constitutional), so it’s actually $275 billion per year. What can actually be done with that?

Well, you can’t cancel all student debt very quickly, because it currently stands at $1.5 trillion. You would have to devote the entirety of the wealth tax revenue to that purpose for 5.45 years to pay off today’s outstanding student debt, during which time you could do nothing else with it.

Free college tuition for everybody? In-state tuition at state college averages $9970 per year, and there are roughly 20 million people in college at any one time. So providing college tuition, and only tuition, comes to $200 billion per year, or about 73% of the wealth tax revenue. Doesn’t leave room for much help with college housing costs, or the addition of a whole lot of Pell grants, does it?

Let’s see, $75 billion left, divided by 20 million college students… That comes to about $3750 annually per student for food and housing. Certainly not eating steak. Sorry, no additional Pell grants.

Not to mention that you can’t start doing it for more than five years because you’ve been paying off student loans all that time. Or, after those five years plus, are you still paying off more loans that were incurred while you were not providing free tuition because you were paying off outstanding loans instead?

There’s a few other problems with her program. She’s proposing to use a federal tax to pay for tuition at state universities and colleges. In addition to the items mentioned above, she has a long laundry list of programs she plans to fund with this wealth tax, including universal child care.

Probably $3 trillion per year worth of programs that she plans to fund with a tax that is something of a long shot to even be enacted, and that at best will bring in $2.75 trillion in ten years. This is politics of the absurd.

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