Yesterday, voters in the from Fort Myers to Marco Island in Florida elected Republican Curt Clawson as their replacement for Congressman Trey Radel (R-FL), who resigned in January. Curt Clawson received 67 percent of the vote with Democrat April Freeman receiving almost 30 percent. Now with the newest Member of the House of Representatives decided, taxpayers are still left with questions as to what measures Congressman-Elect Clawson will push for to change federal spending.
How might spending change with the addition of Curt Clawson to the House? It’s hard to tell. On Friday, I posted a breakdown of all of the potential budgetary measures that were proposed by the three front runners (including Libertarian Ray Netherwood). The line-by-line report took the candidates’ direct quotes and campaign materials and matched them with scored legislation and budgetary data. My conclusion: It was time for the campaigns to give Americans more details. I was only able to score two of Clawson’s proposals. Some were too broad to be directly linked with a price tag while others were unclear in exactly how they would reform a particular program or government activity. April Freeman and Ray Netherwood were not any clearer.
Now with the campaigns over with, Curt Clawson has the opportunity to clarify his positions.
What we know: Both of Clawson’s scored proposals would cut federal spending, combined by $395.8 billion for each of the next five years. One would be to cap the budget at 19 percent of GDP (-$331.9 billion) and the other would repeal the Affordable Care Act (-$63.9 billion).
What we don’t know: Quite a bit. Ten of his twelve policy items currently carry unknown budgetary changes. Here are three categories that do not necessarily include all of his proposals:
- Block Grants: He would seek to block grant both education and Medicaid funds to the states, which NTUF could not determine if he would then decrease spending or if the measures would serve to streamline funding pathways (both could mean administrative savings as programs are consolidated and fewer federal workers are needed to oversee the more direct system).
- Regulatory Approvals: Clawson talked at length about getting Congress more active in the regulatory approval process. There are currently three major bills that would attempt to accomplish this but the Congressional Budget Office is unable to score such measures. This is due to the conditional nature of which regulations would be kept, changed, or repealed once the procedural reforms are signed into law.
- Flood Insurance: He said that the federal government should keep its commitments made to those participating in the National Flood Insurance Program and not change “the deal” given to policyholders. It is difficult to tell whether Clawson is supporting recently passed legislation that extends current rates while the Federal Emergency Management Agency better determines their formulas and rate maps (a $900 million five-year cost to taxpayers) or if he seeks to make the existing rates permanent (and thereby increasing federal spending by at least the $900 million).
What all of this means: Without a more complete fiscal picture, it is difficult to know what to expect from the new Congressman. Many of his proposals would likely decrease federal expenditures but it is difficult to say whether or not possible new spending would be offset by those savings. The dollar-figures just are not there right now. Clawson has pledged to bring about pro-growth tax policy, spending restraint, and to reign in out-of-control government. In order to do so, he will need legislative measures, some of which will include spending changes.