My column today observes that the most fiscally conservative presidential candidate left standing is … Hillary Clinton. Really!
That’s not because anyone expects her to whittle down the federal debt. She probably wouldn’t. She is, however, the sole candidate left whose economic plans are not expected to increase the federal debt by trillions of dollars, according to analyses of the net fiscal impact of the candidates’ proposals from the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
To give you a better picture of the stark contrast between Clinton’s fiscal plans and those of the other candidates, take a look at the following charts. They all show projections for the ratio of debt to the size of the economy over the next decade.
You’ll see that one of these things is not like the others.
Here is the projected trajectory under Clinton:
Here it is under Bernie Sanders:
And under Ted Cruz:
Finally, here’s Donald Trump:
No estimates are available for John Kasich’s proposals because he’s been too thin on details. Given that his tax plan seems to resemble Jeb Bush’s, it would likely add trillions to the debt, too.
To get these plans to not blow up deficits, the candidates would need the economy to grow at ludicrous speed. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that to pay for their plans, Sanders would require sustained, real annual economic growth of between 3.1 percent and 4.9 percent; Cruz, about 6.8 percent; and Trump, about 7.7 percent to 9 percent.
GDP is actually expected to growth at a real average rate of about 2.1 percent. (Clinton has sufficiently high tax increases and other offsets to cover the full costs of her plan under this modest 2.1 percent GDP growth forecast, which means that unlike the other candidates, she doesn’t need a supercharged economic expansion to get her numbers to add up.)