“If you eliminated the entire Pentagon, every single thing — planes, ship, troop, the buildings, everything, satellites — it would pay for a total of four months [of Medicare-for-all].”
— Former vice president Joe Biden
How to cover the cost of Medicare-for-all has dominated the Democratic debates. At an estimated $30 trillion cost over 10 years, the plan, as outlined in a bill by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that is supported by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), comes with a hefty price tag.
To illustrate the high cost, Biden said that eliminating the U.S. defense budget would pay for four months of Medicare-for-all. It’s unclear how he did his math, and his campaign did not immediately provide a breakdown.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates $7 trillion in defense spending from 2019 to 2028. That’s about one-fifth of the cost of Medicare-for-all over 10 years. It suggests that — all else being equal — defunding the military would cover two years, not four months, of the cost of Medicare-for-all. But with such a sweeping and intricate plan, it’s difficult to devise a solid estimate, and it’s unlikely that defunding the military completely would ever come to pass.