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What the Second Virginia Senate Debate Means for Taxpayers

by Dan Barrett / /

Once again, George Allen and Tim Kaine joined in a debate over who would be the best man for the job as Virginia’s next Senator. NTUF released line-by-line studies on how the candidates’ platforms would change federal spending but the candidates in the debate featured a few new proposals as well as reiterating policies that each have supported since they began their campaigns. George Allen’s study. Tim Kaine’s Study. NTUF Summary. VA Senate Race Key Points.

Note: The studies linked above and the items below are related to spending and do not include revenue items such as tax increases or cuts. These points are intended to help educate taxpayers on the important decision they will make on November 6th and is not an endorsement of either candidate. Costs are annualized.

Energy

George Allen and Tim Kaine did not announce any new policies that did not appear in NTUF’s studies.

Government Reform

Specifying his opposition to the pending $54.5 billion sequestration military cuts and supporting tax system reform were Allen’s key points in the debate. He did not specify how or whether the sequestration cuts would be offset. He also did not go into detail on his tax system proposals, the goal of which would be to reduce taxes on businesses and to pay for the reform by allowing for fewer deductions and credits. It is unclear which credits would be eliminated. Study Cost: -$35.970 billion (savings), unchanged

Kaine aimed at labor-related reforms such as passing paycheck equity and new family medical leave measures. The Paycheck Fairness Act was scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as a $15 million increase for enhanced enforcement of equal pay requirements. The Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act has not been scored by CBO or NTUF. Study Cost: Unknown, Change: $15 million

Health Care

One of the more contentious issues between Allen and Kaine, health care policy would receive attention from both men in different ways.

Allen said he would repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with policies including, allow 26 year olds to remain on their parents’ policies, permit insurers to sell plans across state lines, and encourage the use of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). All of these measures were included in NTUF’s study but the HSA proposal was not able to be scored. The Accounts are personalized, non-taxable savings accounts for individuals’ health-related expenses but they can be funded in different ways, such as through “refundable” credits provided by the government, a matching system in which the government equals individual or employer contributions up to a certain amount, or the government would not be involved at all, leaving the individual to contribute exclusively to their HSA. Study Cost: -$63.835 billion (savings), unchanged

Kaine, who is against repealing the Affordable Care Act, highlighted one new and repeated a previously tallied proposal for the government’s role in health care. The new item is a possible reform of Medicare Part D, which provides prescription drugs to seniors. It is unclear whether he is calling for a complete overhaul of the program or if he would change the program if he was able to negotiate for lower drug prices. The government spent $47.687 billion on Part D in FY 2012. Recorded in NTUF’s study, he would seek to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription prices with drug companies in order to save tax dollars. NTUF was unable to determine a cost because groups like the CBO have not released estimates on such policies and may be conditional on market conditions at that time. Both proposals, as the rest of his health care items, were not scored in the study. Cost: Unknown, unchanged

Immigration

The candidates said they support some form of comprehensive immigration reform but, besides some small details, they did not offer a plan to taxpayers. They both called for visa reform to allow the best students to remain in the country as well as allow tourists to easily vacation in the US. While the increased tax base may improve the government’s revenue shortfall, reforming the visa system would likely not cost a significant amount of money but details on exactly how the different visas would be reformed and whether it would require new infrastructure, such as improved computer systems, are not available. Study Cost: Unknown, unchanged

George Allen said he supports an improved guest worker program to supply the labor for jobs that Americans don’t want. The Blue Card Program, proposed in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, would have established a temporary program for agricultural workers. Proposal Cost: $45 million

Tim Kaine continues to support the DREAM Act, as listed in the NTUF study, which would grant conditional nonimmigrant status and extend certain benefits to illegal aliens. CBO scored the bill in the 111th Congress. Other than the DREAM Act, NTUF was unable to determine the budgetary effects of Kaine’s immigration-related proposals on account of a lack of specifics. Study Cost: $50 million, unchanged

Both candidates have said they would secure the border but neither have specified how.

Foreign Policy

Both Allen and Kaine said they support military action against those responsible for the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The Al Qaeda terrorist organization has been alleged as being involved and instigating the attack that led to the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other State Department employees. No plan has been released as to what the U.S. State Department or military intends to do, aside from conducting an investigation into the incident. Without a plan, NTUF is unable to determine how much it would cost.* Study Cost: Unknown, unchanged

However, Allen said he would vote against giving foreign aid to Egypt if they could not guarantee the safety of American officials. According to Forbes, the US gives $1.5 billion to Egypt each year, making it the fourth largest recipient of American aid money. Proposal Cost: -$1.5 billion (savings)

Misc.

Tim Kaine would vote for the DISCLOSE Act, which would require additional campaign-spending information to be reported to the Federal Election Commission and to the public. CBO estimated the bill would cost $2 million per year. Study Cost: Unknown, Change: $2 million

Check out the entire hour-long debate here:

* One of the reasons military actions are difficult to financially score is because of how the Defense Department’s budget is organized. The salaries of soldiers, weapons projects, and the general operation of bases is outlined in the budget but military actions are not. This is why the Iraq and Afghanistan “Overseas Contingency Operations” are separate budgetary items that have, in the past, been off-budget. Funding is generally provided through supplemental appropriations.