Trump and Sanders are remarkably similar on fiscal issues

My greatest frustration with the rise of Donald Trump is the fact that his supporters have either overlooked or don’t care about policy details and political principles. Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan taught Americans about the damaging effects of government intervention and wasteful programs. They were anti-establishment, but they stood for something.

Out of fairness to Trump, I am not going to use this post to attack him for positions he has held in years past, even though they are worth looking at.

In 2015 alone, Trump has said things that could just as easily have been said by Bernie Sanders. I’m not even referring to their shared views on the economic effects of free immigration and free trade.

Small-government conservatives should be concerned about Trump’s current views on healthcare, college education, and entitlements.

On healthcare, Trump had this to say in September:

Scott Pelley: What’s your plan for Obamacare?

Donald Trump: Obamacare’s going to be repealed and replaced. Obamacare is a disaster if you look at what’s going on with premiums where they’re up 40, 50, 55 percent.

Scott Pelley: How do you fix it?

Donald Trump: There’s many different ways, by the way. Everybody’s got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say because a lot of times they say, “No, no, the lower 25 percent that can’t afford private. But–”

Scott Pelley: Universal health care.

Donald Trump: I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.

Scott Pelley: The uninsured person is going to be taken care of. How? How?

Donald Trump: They’re going to be taken care of. I would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people. And, you know what, if this is probably–

Scott Pelley: Make a deal? Who pays for it?

Donald Trump: —the government’s gonna pay for it. But we’re going to save so much money on the other side. But for the most it’s going to be a private plan and people are going to be able to go out and negotiate great plans with lots of different competition with lots of competitors with great companies and they can have their doctors, they can have plans, they can have everything.

Realize what Trump is saying here. He isn’t going to get rid of private insurance, but if you don’t purchase private insurance the government will insure you. This is very similar to the healthcare system of Canada. Remember, Trump said during the August debate that “as far as single payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland.” Essentially, Trump’s plan is the equivalent of a massive, national version of Medicaid expansion. And it puts us down the path to Bernie Sanders’ eventual goal: single-payer healthcare.

On college education, Trump had this to say in November:

The Republican presidential hopeful was asked what measures he would take, as president, to ensure middle-to-low income Americans are able to “pay their tuition [and] afford books while they’re going to school.”

“Well the only way you can do it is you have to start some governmental program and you have governmental programs right now,” Trump told the moderator during the forum, which was held at a local community college.

“They go, and they work, and they take loans, and they’re borrowed up, and they can’t breathe, and they get through college and the worst thing is, they go through that whole process and they don’t have any job,” the billionaire said, referring to the majority of undergraduates enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities.

He continued, “You know the one program that the U.S. makes a whole lot of money with is student loans, and that’s maybe the one program they shouldn’t be making money with.”

“So we’re going to have to start a program,” he said. “We’re going to do something very big with loans because you have to get these people going. They really feel down and out.”

Pressed on what he would do to solve the burgeoning student debt crisis, Trump said, “we’re going to do refinancing for people who have loans who literally can’t do anything.”

Again, Trump echoes Sanders. College costs are increasingly precisely because the government subsidizes student loans, but Trump doesn’t recognize that. His solution is a form of student loan forgiveness, which simply encourages more defaults and does nothing to control costs. Of course, the taxpayer bears the responsibility for paying.

Finally, on entitlements Trump had this to say in April:

“Whether it is we are going to cut Social Security, because that’s what they are saying,” he continued. “Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that. And it’s not fair to the people that have been paying in for years and now all of the sudden they want to be cut.”

Like Sanders, Trump’s solution to the looming entitlement crisis (120+ trillion in unfunded liabilities) is to ignore the structural cost issues with the programs. His solution, at least for Social Security is this:  “I want to take back money we are sending to other countries that want to kill us, and without increases, and we are not going to raise the Social Security age.” Sorry, but cutting foreign aid won’t come close to covering the costs.

His solution for Medicare? “First of all, you have tremendous fraud and abuse with Medicare and Medicaid…And we’re going to expand the economy. And we’re going to be a very strong country again. You’re going to be able to do it.” Again, this is a nonsensical answer. Fraud and abuse are trivial and cannot be measured, and growing the economy isn’t going to cut costs either.

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders both want more government spending on healthcare and college, and they both want to ignore the pending bankruptcy of the United States. They aren’t willing to do what it takes to balance the budget and reduce the debt. They don’t understand the free market, and they don’t understand the nature of government programs. Electing either one would be disastrous.