(Bloomberg View) — Which presidential candidate would be the biggest budget-buster? Bernie Sanders, the welfare-state socialist? Hillary Clinton, the activist-government Democrat? Any of a passel of no-new-taxes Republicans? Nope. It’s the self-styled arch-conservative, Donald Trump.
The front-running Republican makes lavish promises to boost spending on immigration, the military, veterans and other causes while cutting taxes for the middle class and resisting proposals for offsetting savings.
He’s not one for offering lots of policy specifics and it may be too much to ask for a populist firebrand to exhibit fiscal responsibility. Still, Trump makes plenty of proposals. It’s fair to wonder how much they’d cost.
The most detailed Trump plank is on immigration, including plans to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and to erect a 1,900-mile wall along the Mexican border. Jeb Bush has said those would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Some analystssay that’s a conservative estimate.
Trump has also vowed to build up the U.S. military, charging that enemies know America “is getting weaker.” That’s big-ticket budgeting. He boasts he’ll exceedthe efforts of President Barack Obama and Senator John McCain to help veterans. In New Hampshire, he promisedto build “a full-service, first-class VA hospital.” Not cheap. Other early caucus or primary states probably can expect similar promises of largesse.
The money apparently won’t come from trimming entitlements. “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican, and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Trump insists.