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Health Care Spending Increasing Amidst Uncertainty
Posted By: Michael Tasselmyer - 06/24/14

For the first time in five years, the rate of growth in healthcare spending is projected to increase from the previous year. Those are the findings in a new report from major consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which forecasts a 6.8 percent growth in health industry spending in 2015. But what does that mean for consumers and taxpayers?

According to the PwC report, several key factors will contribute to more healthcare spending in 2015:

  • Better economic conditions. Although the economic recovery has been slow, the report projects that increased consumer confidence will lead to more Americans seeking medical treatment in the next year.
  • Higher costs for specialty treatments. Specialty drugs and treatment options aren't getting any cheaper in the short term, but the report notes that development of these technologies could result in long run savings.
  • Large-scale mergers and acquisitions. As larger hospitals consolidate and buy other hospitals and smaller practices, costs increase in two ways. There are the logistical and technical costs associated with hospital mergers, including investments in new IT services and data integration; these costs are usually passed on to the patient. Acquisitions of smaller physician practices also means higher costs for patients, since hospitals are able to charge insurance providers higher rates than in-house physicians.

Importantly, the report attributes a significant portion of new healthcare spending to newly-insured Americans who qualified for coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and will be shopping for coverage options. Next year also happens to be the deadline by which state-run insurance exchanges must become self-sufficient according to the law, but as health spending and enrollment in ACA plans is projected to grow, many states aren't sure how they'll pay those bills.

As Sarah Kliff at Vox.com notes, the federal government has already issued $4.6 billion in taxpayer-funded grants to help states launch their own insurance marketplaces. At least 15 of the 17 states that opted to run their own exchanges have indicated that they will continue to do so in 2015, and in light of considerable uncertainty about how much it'll take to finance them, that could mean either:

  • continued reliance on federal grant money;
  • charging insurers a fee to sell plans through the exchanges (which presumably would be passed on to the consumer);
  • millions of dollars in new appropriations from state governments; or
  • some combination of those three options.

Regardless of which path states choose to take, significant spending will be required to keep up with increasing healthcare costs. As the PwC report notes:

"A stronger economy and millions of newly insured Americans mean an uptick in spending growth for healthcare organizations. That may be a welcome respite from recent years of budgetary pressure. But the fact that health spending continues to outpace GDP underscores the need for a renewed focus on productivity, efficiency, and, ultimately, delivering better value for purchasers."
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Government Spending Gone Wild: California’s Record Setting Budget
Posted By: Melodie Bowler - 06/24/14

California legislators and Governor Jerry Brown just approved the state’s largest budget to date at $156.3 billion, continuing the Golden State’s affinity for out-of-control spending. The budget plan, which goes into effect on July 1st, includes funding for greater preschool access, increasing welfare grants, and expanding public health care. Despite the looming $74 billion unfunded teachers’ pension liability, lawmakers even included plenty of funding for the high-speed railway.

In 2008, Californians voted in favor of Proposition 1A, approving borrowing over $9 billion to fund a high-speed railway that could take a train from Los Angeles to San Francisco in only 2 hours and 40 minutes. The ballot measure was backed by 8,000 words of legislation, now under close scrutiny. Last November, a Sacramento judge ruled that the state agency was not in compliance with the strict language of the proposition. With those funds tied up in court, the recent budget allots 25 percent of profits from the state’s cap and trade program for construction.

The budget sets the general fund, which pays for most of California’s expenditures, at $108 billion, a major 9.6 percent boost over last year. Income taxes supplied 67 percent of the general fund for fiscal year 2012-2013, and the latest budget relies on the income and sales tax increases from a November 2012 ballot initiative. These increases expire after seven and four years, respectively, which will likely leave legislators scrambling for new revenue to maintain the state’s reckless spending.

California is oft noted for its fiscal troubles, having one of the worst credit ratings of all of the states, second to Illinois. Some of these difficulties stem from not saving during times of expansion to prepare for future recessions. In an effort to change, the legislature has deferred to voters the final decision on the California Rainy Day Budget Stabilization Fund Act. If passed, the proposition would require the state’s controller to deposit 1.5 percent of general fund and capital gains revenues into the Budget Stabilization Account (BSA) when they exceed 8 percent of the general fund.

This savings plan could improve California’s credit rating, but first, the state must pay down its debt. The proposition would also require that starting in 2015 and lasting until 2030, 50 percent of BSA revenues be used to pay outstanding fiscal obligations. While this might be a step in the right direction, based on current projections of general fund revenues and California’s debts, it will take decades for the state to pay its obligations and the BSA will grow at a glacial pace. With high-speed rail construction estimated to cost $68 billion and last until 2029, it’s clear that California legislators should reassess priorities and focus on maintaining financial solvency. This will require taking bolder steps toward reining in state spending and imposing real fiscal discipline in Sacramento.

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Steve Forbes on Fiat Monetary Systems
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 06/24/14

New Steve Forbes BookIf you’ve ever felt intimidated by the complexities of U.S. monetary policy and the financial system, you’re not alone.  According to Steve Forbes, CEO of Forbes, Inc. and two-time candidate for Republican nominee, even neurophysicists and engineers are often perplexed by our country’s monetary system due to confusion propagated by the Federal Reserve.  In his new book, Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy – and What We Can Do About It, Forbes and coauthor Elizabeth Ames try to remove the veil of confusion surrounding the U.S. monetary system, assessing the Fed’s role in the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent declining economic growth rates.  The book, which has received praise from prominent policy experts, Ph.Ds., and CEOs, argues that fiat money and Fed interventionism have greatly weakened the U.S. monetary system and financial market.  The authors suggest a return to the gold standard as a solution to this potentially disastrous problem that threatens the well-being of American citizens and the entire global economy.  

Forbes explained the premise of his argument for a stable currency that is convertible to gold at a book forum hosted by the Cato Institute.  He claimed that the government has a responsibility to “provide sound money” that is “unchanging in its value,” citing the Constitution and U.S. Monetary Commission of 1876, respectively.  According to Forbes, a stable currency leads to less uncertainty, resulting in more economic freedom and prosperity.  Conversely, fiat money, which is based entirely on trust in the government, increases uncertainty and the size of government, ultimately leading to economic volatility.  The Fed’s ability to manipulate interest rates (which some economists refer to as “the price of money”) undermines that trust and disrupts communication in financial markets by corrupting price signals.  For example, when the Fed lowers the Federal Funds Rate, it encourages risk-taking in unproductive entrepreneurial activities that waste resources and would not occur in a freer financial system.  In contrast, artificially high rates inhibit productive investments, preventing future economic growth.  This economic loss is difficult to grasp because it is impossible to miss products, technologies, and services that do not exist in present society.  To illustrate his point, Forbes asked the audience to imagine a world without Apple products.  If you didn’t get the picture before, it quickly became apparent.  Forbes claimed that if the monetary system hadn’t been taken off the gold standard in 1971, the U.S. economy would be fifty percent larger than it is today.

Forbes’s coauthor Elizabeth Ames further explained how a fiat monetary system is a danger to democratic society and should be a bipartisan concern.  As the Fed continuously increases the money supply and inflation skyrockets, the value of the dollar decreases, eroding citizens’ savings.  A monetary system in which the currency is not fixed to a commodity can be arbitrarily increased, which effectively levies a tax on everyone.  The link between effort and reward is severed as inflation destroys the wealth of citizens on fixed incomes, and artificially low rates benefit borrowers in the financial sector. Ames posited that while this pattern has widespread financial ramifications, it also impacts society on a social level, citing research that shows inflation has a stronger connection to crime than unemployment. Although the current fiat monetary system should be a matter of bipartisan concern, the monetary expansion that has occurred over the last forty years has actually led to increased political polarization and dissension in society.

After presenting their case against fiat monetary policy, Forbes and Ames provide a solution to our monetary woes, suggesting a return to the gold standard.  They believe tying the dollar to gold will restore the trust and communication in the financial market that has been destroyed by unstable currency.  They suggested gold is the ideal commodity to represent monetary value because it is flexible to maintain market needs, rare (but not too rare), convertible, durable, malleable, easy to transport, and maintains its intrinsic value, and argued that fixing the dollar to gold should be codified into law as an act of Congress.  In their view, the measure would not result in a restriction of the money supply’s ability to expand, but rather a monetary system in which the supply of money accurately reflects the value of goods and services produced in society. 

Forbes, who serves on the Boards of Directors for the National Taxpayers Union, has been a long-time supporter of comprehensive tax system reform.  He has called for a move towards a simple, flat-rate income tax system.  As our economy continues to suffer in the aftermath of the financial crisis, Forbes’s proposal to return to the gold standard offers policymakers a potential solution to the nation’s monetary troubles.      

Thanks to Kelly Hastings for writing this summary.

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Profiles in Liberty: Steve Adams
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 06/23/14

NTUF tries to school interns with the skills they need to succeed. During their time at NTUF Headquarters, research interns are given the title of Associate Policy Analysts and conduct much of the same research as full-time staffers. Through the months of reading legislation, conversing with personnel, and getting used to working in an office environment, we aim to help them excel, regardless of whether they end up in public policy.

NTUF Research Intern Steve Adams

Steve Adams is one of our Associate Policy Analysts. He grew up in Varina, Virginia, and attends Hampden-Sydney College. Entering college as a Physics major, he plans to graduate next year with a BA in Government. In previous summers, Steve worked as a rental car sales associate and has taken advantage of many internships; last summer he had the privilege of interning in the Congressional Office of Representative Robert Hurt, who represents Virginia’s Fifth District.

What has interested you most about living in the DC area?

SA: Growing up in a very rural town and attending college in a rural area, I haven’t had very much exposure to the “city life.” My experience over the past two and half weeks - though it has been a bit of an adjustment - has revealed to me why many folks find urban life so intriguing and desirable. There are definitely more things to do. Furthermore, the idea that so many important things are going on just a block or two away from my apartment is incredible. I can be sitting in my room simply watching baseball on TV and four blocks away, President Obama is sitting in the Oval Office making crucial decisions that dictate the future of our nation. It’s very humbling.

When you’re not at the office, what do you like to do for fun?

SA: I’ve been fortunate, and have made several solid friendships with my fellow interns at NTUF. If I’m not spending time with them, I’m spending time with the many college friends who are working in the DC area. Though I’m not from around here, I’m fortunate enough to know quite a few people that are living in northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. 

What is one honor you have received in which you took great pride?

SA: I received a nomination to attend the United States Naval Academy. Unfortunately, because of my colorblindness, I was unable to attend. But, the honor of being deemed suitable and worthy to attend one of the greatest institutions of higher education in the world will always mean something to me.

Who is your political hero?

SA: For some time, Alexander Hamilton has been a political hero of mine. Born out of wedlock as a very poor, mixed race child in the Caribbean, Alexander Hamilton had many hardships to overcome. Despite his socioeconomic status, he rose to become one of the prominent political leaders of the 18th century and one of our key founding fathers. Were it not for his contributions to the Federalist Papers, there’s a reasonable chance that the Constitution would not have been ratified. His economic policies as the Secretary of the Treasury helped a struggling American economy recover from a severe depression in the 1780s, and his view of the power of the executive as outlined in the Pacificus Papers revolutionized the role of the executive branch in a way that (in my opinion) contributed to the success of the U.S. in both its early years and throughout its entire existence. 

How did you become interested in politics?

SA: I wasn’t interested in politics until I took an AP Government class in 12th grade. My teacher, Mr. Boggs, was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about politics, and his class developed my interest in the subject. It was because of that class that I changed my college major from Physics to Government, and the rest is history. 

What are your career aspirations?

SA: My career goals, like everything, are still developing. Though I’ve always dreamed of pursuing a career in public office, the changing political climate has me second-guessing that aspiration. Nevertheless, I want to be involved in Congressional affairs and/or public policy in some way or another. NTUF is the perfect organization to prepare me for this, as my responsibilities expose me to the actions of Congress, the inner workings of public policy, and the importance of tax reform. 

What is a standard day at NTUF like for you?

SA: I grab a stack of proposed bills and begin researching. My research beings by looking through the text of the bill itself. Every now and then a bill will specify the amount of money that would be appropriated to fund a project or action. If it does not, however, I check the Congressional Budget Office for a spending estimate on the bill, but finding a CBO estimate is like finding a six-leaf clover. After that, the next step is typically contacting the sponsor’s office to see if they have an approximation of the spending or savings that would occur if the bill is enacted.

What have you learned while at NTUF that has most interested you?

SA: Undoubtedly, the most interesting thing that I have learned is how difficult it can be to figure out how much bills cost. Sometimes bills are so complicated that even the legislators who propose them and their staff know little about their cost.

What is the most interesting bill which you have researched?

SA: The most interesting bill I have researched thus far has been a sunset act. The bill would establish a commission to review federal agencies to see if they are being efficient and effective, as well as to see if there is still a public need for the agency. The commission would then be able to abolish agencies where they determine that a public need no longer exists.

Stay tuned for an interview with Jihun Han. Be sure to check out our previous interview with Research Intern Daniel Simmons.

Interested in learning about the other interns working for the Foundation this summer? Want to help the NTUF interns? Check out this post.

Thanks to Catherine Fitzhugh for developing the Profiles in Liberty series and interviewing our interns.

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Spain Looks to Cut Taxes; IRS Commissioner Refuses to Apologize for Lost Emails; McCarthy Says to Let Ex-Im Bank Expire? – Late Edition, June 23
Posted By: Jihun Han - 06/23/14

Today's Taxpayer News! 

Spain has proposed massive tax cuts in a country that is still recovering from a double-dip recession. The reforms would also widen the tax base. Reuters has the latest!

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen appeared in front of the House Ways and Means Committee to explain the lost IRS emails related to the Tea Party targeting investigation, refusing to apologize... Politico has the breakdown of the hearing!

House Majority Leader-elect Kevin McCarthy won't support reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which is set to expire in September. The bank puts taxpayers potentially on the hook for billions of dollars in loans for foreign buyers. 

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Net Neutrality Take-Down with Seton Motley of Less Government - Speaking of Taxpayers, June 20
Posted By: Douglas Kellogg - 06/23/14

Perhaps you've seen HBO's John Oliver rant about net neutrality, or heard some talking head going on about it? Less Government's Seton Motley joins the podcast to take-down wrong-headed arguments in favor of this misguided set of regulations. Pete & Doug break down the latest taxpayer news; and the Outrage of the Week!

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Latest Taxpayer's Tab: Taxpayer-Funded Stock Options?
Posted By: Michael Tasselmyer - 06/22/14

Taxpayer's Tab Update

An employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) is a type of benefit program that gives workers the chance to own stock in the companies they work for. The idea is that employee ownership better aligns shareholders' interests with workers' incentives -- since an ESOP rewards both groups for better stock performance. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wants more companies to offer these benefits, and recently introduced legislation, known as the United States Employee Ownership Bank Act, that would offer public funding to help more businesses start their own ESOP programs. The bill authorizes $500 million in new financing to create a fund within the Treasury that would do just that.

NTUF analyzed the bill's background and what it could mean for taxpayers in the latest edition of The Taxpayer's Tab. This week's edition also features:

  • Most Expensive: Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced legislation that would fund research and development of carbon capture and storage technology. The Carbon Capture and Sequestration Deployment Act of 2014 offers $20 billion in guaranteed loans, and could cost taxpayers $984 million over the next five years.
  • Most Friended: The Veterans Affairs scandal has renewed debate over how vets access the medical care they're promised, and Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL) has introduced legislation that would allow them to more easily seek treatment at non-VA medical centers. The Veteran Access to Care Act of 2014 gained 158 cosponsors, and according to Congressional Budget Office estimates would cost at least $620 million over the next three years. 
  • Intern Spotlight: Foundation Associates Sam Jordan and Gordon Miller are featured in the latest installments of "Profiles in Liberty," which will spotlight the work our interns are doing this summer.

For more details on these bills and what else NTUF's been up to, check out The Tab online.

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Profiles in Liberty: Daniel Simmons
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 06/21/14

NTUF takes a holistic approach to help educate the next generation of policy experts.  We give our interns the chance to improve upon their policy and communication skills, but we also want them to hone their critical thinking skills so they can analyze their own political beliefs.They are encouraged to sit in onhearings on Capitol Hill, attend seminars about how to make the best use of their time in Washington, D.C., and NTUF hosts lunch discussions where we consider some of today’spressing political issues and the differing perspectives in public policy.

NTUF Research Intern Daniel Simmons

One intern who especially enjoys our lunch discussions is Daniel Simmons.  Daniel lives in Houston, Texas with his wife and three kids. He went to the University of Houston, where he worked towards a BA in Communications.  After graduating, he founded Pressure Washing America.  Daniel is quite proud of how his business has grown over the past five years.  Last year, he returned to the University of Houston in Victoria, where he is seeking his MBA.  This summer, Daniel moved his family to Washington, D.C. so that, while he is working, his kids can have a hands-on history lesson as they explore the city.

What has been your favorite part of living in the DC area?

DS: Sight-seeing.  I have been to the Capitol Building, seen the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, visited Mount Vernon, and toured the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. 

Who are your heroes?

DS: I really admire my dad.  He raised three kids on his own.  I also admire Milton Friedman.  Not only do I agree with his work as an economist, he made difficult-to-understand economic principles palatable and accessible to many people.

How did you become interested in politics?

DS: I enjoy listening to Michael Berry, a radio show host based in Houston, TX, and this spiraled into an ever-growing interest in politics.

What have you learned while working at NTUF that has been most interesting to you?

DS: I find the sheer volume of bills that are introduced into Congress to be very interesting.  Before coming to NTUF and working on the BillTally project, I had no concept of the number of bills which are introduced, and I didn’t understand how little a percentage of these bills will actually become law.

What obstacles to success do you feel that you have worked to overcome while at NTUF?

DS:  When I first arrived at NTUF, I was daunted by the length of the U.S. Code; trying to find and understand the section of the Code that each bill is trying to amend was difficult.  But, with experience, this has become easier.

Why did you choose to work at NTUF?

DS: I am very interested in the out-of-control spending of the federal government, and I feel that, by working at NTUF, I will gain insight into how our government uses our money and why expenditures keep increasing year after year. 

What has been the most interesting bill which you have researched?

DS: I researched a bill that would repeal a section of the Affordable Care Act.  This bill was interesting because it gave me more insight into one of the many facets of the Affordable Care Act, namely that insurance companies could be bailed out with tax dollars.  It also surprisedme that Congress would have to pass a bill in order to determine whether or not taxpayers would support these possible bailouts. 

Do you have any advice for future interns?

DS: Learn as much as you can during your time at your organization.  While it may not seem like it, your time there will go fast, and the people you are working for have a vast amount of knowledge.  Take advantage of this, and try and learn as much as possible from them.  Also, in D.C., there are so many informative political events. If you are able, attend several of these.  Having an internship is a great opportunity, so don’t let it go to waste!

Stay tuned for an interview with Steve Adams coming out in a few days.  Be sure to check out the previous interview with Research Intern Gordon Miller.

Interested in learning about the other interns working for the Foundation this summer? Want to help the NTUF interns? Check out this post.

Thanks to Catherine Fitzhugh for developing the Profiles in Liberty series and interviewing our interns.

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Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act Moves Ahead
Posted By: Michael Liguori - 06/20/14

Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA), and there is plenty of reason for the American taxpayer to get excited. Congress has previously held a temporary moratorium on Internet access taxes. This bill sets that moratorium in stone, ensuring that burdensome state and local taxes don’t create a fiscal hurdle for engaging in the one of the fastest-growing, most productive parts of our economy and culture. Taxes on a resource like the Internet are not only a tax on free speech and communication, but a tax on an educational and economic resource that all Americans can access.

NTU Vice President of Government Affairs, Brandon Arnold recently wrote a letter to Congress in support of this admirable piece of legislation:

Any nation seeking to remain technologically and economically competitive should not punish the very citizens who are reaching out into the digital realm, especially by levying charges that are unlikely to have anything to do with bettering Internet service. Taxpayers need long-term protection from state and local authorities seeking to add taxes to the various routes consumers use to access the Internet, and this bill would provide such safeguards.

NTU urges lawmakers to bring PITFA to the House floor for a full vote immediately, as removing the uncertainty of Internet taxation would create a boon for both consumers and investors. However, it is important that other unrelated tax bills aren’t tacked on. One particularly concerning piece of legislation that has been lurking in the shadows is the Marketplace Fairness Act. This bill  would allow states governments to collect sales taxes from out-of-state businesses. This would increase costs for businesses, prices for consumers, and allow states to discriminate between one online business and another. In a commentary piece, NTU’s Nan Swift debunks some of the worst myths about this harmful piece of legislation.

National Taxpayers Union supports laws that encourage free enterprise and minimize unnecessary government burdens. PITFA is an excellent step toward this ideal, and we hope that legislators vote “yes” and a clean bill and avoid potential pitfalls, like the disastrous Marketplace Fairness Act.

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Florida’s 19th Special House Election: A Budgetary Guide
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 06/20/14

In what some are calling a quiet election, there’s still a lot to be said. Though the challenges of taking drug tests have largely been replaced with who can help create the most jobs in the next five months, before the next election for the same office, Florida residents are asking the same questions of candidates as they did in Florida’s other recent special House election: What will you do in Washington, D.C.? Especially in the wake of their last Congressman, Trey Radel, who resigned after being arrested for possession of cocaine.

In just a couple of short months, three front runners have emerged to battle for the 19th District’s seat: businessman Curt Clawson (R), businesswoman and former political activist April Freeman (D), and former health worker Ray Netherwood (L). Each candidate offers different general solutions to America’s fiscal ills but details have yet to come out about how each would actually change the federal budget. However, by using a methodology similar to National Taxpayers Union Foundation’s (NTUF) BillTally project, taxpayers can see where the candidates stand on at least some of the spending issues. For this brief study, we took direct quotes and campaign materials of candidates and matched them with budget and legislative data to see exactly what the differences and similarities are.

Similar to the New Jersey Special Senate and Florida’s 13th Special House elections, details were few and far between. Even with the campaigns releasing economic plans and platform summaries, we’re still left asking what will they do if elected as the House of Representative’s newest member?

Check out the entire line-by-line analysis of all three candidates. As with NTUF’s other BillTally and campaign studies, only changes in current spending are recorded (similar to the Congressional Budget Office). The reports do not include changes in revenues or costs outside the federal government. Below are summaries of each candidates’ proposals.

Curt Clawson (R) has proposed two (out of 12) quantifiable policies that NTUF was able to score. Combined, they would decrease annual spending by $395.8 billion. The largest budget-influencing item that he supports would cap federal expenditures at 19 percent of GDP, which would be implemented using the “Penny Plan,” which would cut spending by one percent each year as long as the budget is not balanced.

  • Block Grant Education Funds to States: Unknown
  • Continue Federal Flood Insurance Rates: Unknown
  • Create a Budget Cutting Committee: Unknown
  • Freeze Federal Employment: Unknown
  • Limit Federal Spending: $331.9 billion (savings)
  • Require Congressional Approval for Major Regulations: Unknown
  • Block Grant Medicaid Funds to States: Unknown
  • Eliminate Government Health Care Bureaucrats: Unknown
  • Protect Health Insurance Access for those with Pre-Existing Conditions: Unknown
  • Provide for Health Care Plans and Accounts: Unknown
  • Repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: $63.9 billion
  • Restore Medicaid Advantage Funding: Unknown

April Freeman (D) has two (out of 12) policy items that NTUF could fiscally score. Together, they would increase spending by $20.203 billion each year for the next five years. Her largest quantifiable proposal would overhaul the immigration system.

  • Ensure Wage Equality: $3 million
  • Support Domestic Industries: Unknown
  • Support Teachers: Unknown
  • Ban Hydraulic Fracturing: Unknown
  • Expand Alternative Energy Sources: Unknown
  • Fully Fund Water Infrastructure Improvements: Unknown
  • Fight Human Trafficking: Unknown
  • Pass Immigration Reform: $20.2 billion
  • Protect Citizens’ Privacy: Unknown
  • Secure the Border: Unknown
  • Normalize Relations with Cuba: Unknown
  • Ensure Veterans’ Benefits: Unknown

Ray Netherwood (L) had one proposal that NTUF could identify. It would be to replace the current income-based tax system with a national sales tax, known as the Fair Tax. The measure would cut an average $19 billion in federal outlays for each of the next five years.

Normally, there would be some overlap between the candidates’ platforms. In the other Florida Special Election, the front runners supported increasing current spending by $180 million per year to delay a scheduled rate increase for the National Flood Insurance Program. That was not the case in this House race, although the three candidates were not asked similar questions when interviewed by the same source.

What does this mean for taxpayers and residents of the 19th District? It’s time for the campaigns to give Americans more details. While candidates are asking Floridians for their vote, taxpayers are asking for the roadmap of each candidate’s path to reach a better and expanding economy. As highlighted above and in the full report, the absence of budgetary facts and figures opens the possibility that all of the candidates could have much larger or smaller spending aspirations in mind. Clawson, Freeman, or Netherwood need only clarify their intentions with dollar figures to help complete this report and help educate Americans on important and pressing issues that we’re all facing.

Note: National Taxpayers Union Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Our research efforts are intended only to educate Americans on how their tax dollars are being or will be spent by those in office, seeking office, or in appointed positions. For more information on NTUF go here.

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