Fact check: Bernie Sanders' Claims About 2018 Deficit

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Bernie Sanders wrote a tweet on Oct. 15, 2018 about the impact of the Republican policies that led to $779 billion in the U.S. deficit, in which he claimed the following:

Bernie Sanders on Twitter

4 Republican policies led to a $779 billion deficit in 2018: – Bush Tax Cuts: $488 B – Trump Tax Cuts: $164 B – Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: $127 B – Defense increases since 9/11: $156 B Without tax cuts for the wealthy and endless wars we would’ve had a $156 billion SURPLUS.

Claim 1: 

“Bush Tax Cuts: $488 B”

Fact Check 1: 

It is unclear where the senator derives this $488 billion figure. Glenn Kessler, a Washington Post correspondent, writes that the Bush tax cuts are thought to have totaled $2.8 trillion but that “the true ‘cost’ to the Treasury may never be known.”

Claim 2: 

“Trump Tax Cuts: $164 B”

Fact Check 2: 

Estimates show the Trump tax cuts will add $1.5 trillion to the deficit. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is already talking about cutting Social Security and Medicare because of it.

 Claim 3:

Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: $127 B

Fact check 3:

Scholars Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes write in their piece “The Three Trillion Dollar War” that the figure lies closer to $4 trillion.

Claim 4:

“Defense increases since 9/11: $156 B”

Fact check 4:

Adding in the cost of the Patriot Act and large new bureaucracies such as Homeland Security, this too is likely severely under-estimated.

Claim 5: 

” Without tax cuts for the wealthy and endless wars we would’ve had a $156 billion SURPLUS.”


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