Tomorrow, Sherrod Brown and Josh Mandel will face each other in a televised debate. The campaigns have made a lot of claims about their opinions but NTU Foundation took the plans supported by the candidates themselves. While the Senator and State Treasurer explain why they are the best man for the job, consider the facts:
Senator Sherrod Brown:
- Net Proposed Agenda: $6.195 billion
- Top Spending Increase Item: Modernize Schools, $6 billion annual cost
- Number of Spending Increase Proposals: 5
- Top Spending Decrease Item: Limit Wealthy Farmers from Receiving Farm Subsidies, $223 billion annual savings
- Number of Spending Decrease Proposals: 2
- If Scored, Unknown Cost Item Likely to Make Largest Impact: End the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a possible savings
- Number of Proposals Having Unknown Budgetary Effects: 8 (53% of total proposals)
State Treasurer Josh Mandel:
- Net Proposed Agenda: -$103.897 billion (savings)
- Top Spending Increase Item: Allow Health Insurance to be Sold Across State Lines, $65 million annual cost
- Number of Spending Increase Proposals: 3
- Top Spending Decrease Item: Repeal the Affordable Care Act,-$63.9 billion annual savings
- Number of Spending Decrease Proposals: 4
- If Scored, Unknown Cost Item Likely to Make Largest Impact: Tax System Reform (a flatter income tax), a possible savings
- Number of Proposals Having Unknown Budgetary Effects: 4 (36% of total proposals)
Similar to NTUF’s studies of the Virginia Senate race between George Allen and Tim Kaine, it was surprising how many of the proposals lacked specifics so that taxpayers would know exactly how budgets would change if Brown or Mandel were elected. Voters need to be informed exactly how candidates would affect the federal budget and not learn of or be surprised by proposals “along the way.” The first question of the debate should be “Taking all of your proposals into account, what would be the full budgetary effect of your platform, if elected?”
One issue, at least generally, is agreed upon by both of the frontrunners. Each candidate would institute some kind of spending limitation:
- Brown would freeze discretionary spending for five years. NTUF was unable to determine the savings because the Budget Control Act imposed caps to slow the growth of spending (as well as the pending sequestration across-the-board cuts) and so spending could actually increase. Additionally, Brown would support a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution but gave no details as to how it would work or if there would be any exceptions made in the event of a national emergency.
- A similar but more complex situation exists with Josh Mandel. He seeks to impose a freeze on non-defense discretionary spending and rollback discretionary spending to FY 2009 levels. Once again, the Budget Control Act’s caps and sequestration could result in spending increases. NTUF was able to score an overall spending cap of 20 percent of GDP (an annual savings of $37.35 billion) but it may be in flux when considering the two other proposals. Like Brown, Mandel would support a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution but does not describe how it be implemented or how it would work.
To study up on the Ohio Senate race and what both men bring to the table, check out NTUF’s release of the studies, which summarizes the totals and what the agendas could mean for the federal government. You can also look at NTUF’s line-by-line analysis of Sherrod Brown and Josh Mandel to see how the Foundation scored clearly defined items and why we could not determine the impact of others.
Podcast listeners can check out my summary of the study on Speaking of Taxpayers here.