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Taxpayer's Tab Issue #24

October 4, 2012




Vol. 3 Issue 24 October 4, 2012

Line-by-Line Analysis of Brown, Mandel Campaign Platforms Shows $110 Billion Difference in Federal Budget Plans

(Alexandria, VA) – Ohio Senate candidates Sherrod Brown and Josh Mandel continue to stress their policy differences on the campaign trail, but how do their words translate to dollars, and do they have any stances in common? According to a line-by-line analysis from the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), Brown's campaign platform, taken in its entirety, would increase annual federal spending by over $6 billion annually, while the agenda Mandel outlined would reduce the federal budget by nearly $104 billion per year. However, Brown and Mandel also made proposals whose costs or savings are impossible to calculate – including "spending freezes" both of them offered that cannot be reconciled with current law.



"Candidates make many promises to taxpayers in the course of a campaign, but the actual impact on the federal budget often gets lost in the rhetoric," said NTUF Director of Research Demian Brady, who co-authored the report with NTUF Research and Outreach Manager Dan Barrett. "NTUF's cost analysis can help citizens sort through the soft words and get to the hard questions about where Senate hopefuls would take fiscal policy." Among the findings:

  • Sherrod Brown's campaign promises to date would increase annual federal spending by a net of $6.2 billion. NTUF identified 15 of Brown's proposals as affecting federal expenditures; five would increase outlays, two would reduce them, and eight have costs or savings that were impossible to accurately determine.
  • Major items on Brown's agenda include $6 billion in annual spending for "better classrooms" and a "comfortable learning environment," stemming from legislation he has introduced in Congress. He also advocates limits on federal subsidies to wealthy farmers, for a savings of $223 million a year.
  • Josh Mandel's platform would, in its entirety, produce a net annual savings of $103.9 billion. NTUF found 11 proposals he made with a spending effect: three to raise expenditures, four to lower them, and four without quantifiable estimates of costs or savings.
  • Mandel's single largest budget increase was $65 million annually, connected to a plan allowing purchases of health insurance across state lines. On the other end of the scale, Mandel seeks repeal of the 2010 health care law, scored for a reduction in spending of $63.9 billion each year. He would also seek to cap total federal outlays as a percentage of GDP. A phased-in version of this cap could reduce spending by an additional $34.4 billion annually.

One challenge NTUF researchers found was that nearly half Brown's and Mandel's proposals likely have some fiscal impact, but owing to a lack of specificity in their plans, they could not be estimated with reasonable accuracy. Even seemingly straightforward campaign planks proved to be complex on closer examination. Mandel and Brown offered related versions of a freeze on federal discretionary outlays without explaining how they would interact with the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011. Because the BCA already provided for spending caps and further budget reductions through a "sequester" mechanism, Brown's and Mandel's "freeze" proposals could, under certain circumstances, actually increase outlays.

"As the Brown and Mandel spending-freeze plans demonstrate, a closer look at the planks of candidates' platforms can reveal more than a few knotholes," Brady concluded. "Our analysis can help citizens evaluate how these policies would alter the federal budget ... and help them identify places where the blueprints remain unclear."

In preparing their analysis, Brady and Barrett utilized campaign websites, transcripts of debates, and news sources to gather information on any proposals from the two leading Ohio Senate race contenders that could impact the level of federal spending. They in turn verified cost estimates for these items against independent sources such as the Congressional Budget Office. They also cross-checked items through NTUF's BillTally system, which since 1991 has computed agenda costs for each Member of Congress based on their sponsorship of bills.

NTUF's analysis of the Ohio's candidates' agendas is one of several the group is currently conducting. Contests are being selected on factors such as geographic diversity, political significance as rated by outside groups and analysts, and the level of specificity in the candidates' platforms. Check out NTUF's analysis of the Virginia Senate contest here.

Break Down of Proposed Spending by the Two Ohio Senatorial Frontrunners
(in millions of dollars)
Proposal Category
Economy, Transportation, and Infrastructure
Education, Science, and Research
Energy, Agriculture, and the Environment
Government Reform
Health Care
Homeland Security and Law Enforcement
National Security and International Relations
Source: NTUF Ohio U.S. Senatorial Candidate Spending Analyses of Sherrod Brown and Josh Mandel, BillTally System

Photo Credit: Dayton Business Journal


NTUF In The News

The research NTUF conducted on the Virginia Senate race has been making headlines across the country. U.S. News & World Report mentioned how George Allen and Tim Kaine "share one bipartisan trait: support for responsible petroleum development off the Virginia coast." The article was later reposted in part by World Wide News Watch.

Taking the results of the Virginia Senate data to a broader audience in the Beltway, NTUF Research and Outreach Manager Dan Barrett detailed the candidates' spending agendas and their, at times, lack of details, in the Washington Examiner.

The US Daily Review highlighted the major fiscal proposals from Allen's and Kaine's campaigns.

A Virginia organization, the Arlington County Taxpayer Association, looked at the Senate race from a local perspective, encouraging taxpayers to "study the details of NTUF's analysis so that you are more informed about the positions of the two candidates."

 NTUF On The Air

NTUF Director of Research Demian Brady appeared on Speaking of Taxpayers and discussed the details surrounding the Virginia Senate race and how their proposed agendas would affect the federal budget. Listen to the podcast here!

Missed an Issue?

Issue 23 - Sept 13
Virginia Senate Campaign Proposal Studies

Issue 22 - Aug 23
BillTally Update & "No Cost" Bills

Issue 21 - Aug 10
Milton Friedman Celebration

Issue 20 - Aug 2
Project Rebuild Act

Issue 19 - July 26
How Much Would "Obamacare" Repeal Save?

About NTUF

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation is a research and educational organization dedicated solely to helping citizens of all generations understand how tax policies, spending programs, and regulations at all levels affect them now and in the future. Through NTUF's timely information, analysis, and commentary, we're empowering citizens to actively engage in the fiscal policy debate and hold public officials accountable every day.

NTUF is a 501(c)(3) research and education organization. Donations are deductible for personal income tax purposes. Please make a donation today to help further NTUF's mission of research and education!

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to aid or hinder the passage of any legislation or as a comment on any Member's fitness to serve.



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