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Taxpayer's Tab Issue #27

November 12, 2012




Vol. 3 Issue 27 November 12, 2012

A Special Thank You to America's Veterans & Servicemembers

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation sends warm wishes and our deepest gratitude to all the current and retired members of America's Armed Forces. Their unwavering dedication to the defense of the Constitution and the American people helps secure the blessings of liberty. NTUF salutes the individuals who pledge their lives to the ideals of limited government, the rule of law, and preservation of the pursuit of happiness. The staff of NTUF staff also recognizes the families of those who are currently serving, were wounded while serving their country, or who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Not just today but throughout the year, consider volunteering for a veterans service organization, spending time with Members' families in need, and donating to groups that help improve the lives of veterans.

Photo Credit: U.S. Army

The New Senate: Where Will the Federal Budget Go in 2013?

The voters have spoken, and they seemed to be telling politicians, "Go back and try again." After the election, the makeup of the federal government remains largely the same as it was before the election. Now that the campaigning is over, Congress and the White House must refocus on the pressing issues that remain unresolved: the "fiscal cliff," the $16 trillion national debt, and the looming entitlement crisis.

The Senate will play a key role in the coming debates.  In most cases, any legislation will need the support of at least 60 Senators in order to be brought up for a vote, and this could prove difficult without compromise. The Upper Chamber has often been mired in partisan battles, and the majority party’s leadership has been criticized for failure to bring a budget to the floor since April of 2009.

Of the 33 seats that were contested in the 2012 election, 21 Senators were reelected to serve another six-year term. Twelve freshmen will be sworn in, six of whom will come from the House of Representatives. How could these changes in the Senate affect the federal budget’s outlook? Data from NTUF’s BillTally project can provide some clues.

Since 1991, NTUF's BillTally project has computed the legislative spending agendas of each Member of Congress by analyzing the costs – and savings – of the bills that they sponsor or cosponsor. Using BillTally data and other independent sources, NTUF also examined the spending platforms of the candidates in several key Senate races.

Table 1, below, shows the net spending agendas of those Senators who were reelected to Congress last Tuesday. The totals range from a budget cut of $327.4 billion to a budget hike of almost $1.04 trillion. Compared to the current fiscal year's outlays, the annualized reduction would represent a decrease of 8.7 percent, while the largest spending agenda would represent an increase of 27.6 percent.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) proposed the largest spending increase agenda. Most of the cost comes from his proposal to establish a single-payer health care system. The largest cutting agendas, led by Senator Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT), result from sponsorship of legislation to impose strict spending caps that would pare back outlays. They also include repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) which would reduce expenditures by nearly $64 billion a year.


Table 1. 112th Congress First Session Spending Agendas of Senators Reelected in 2012
(in Billions)
Net Agenda
New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island
West Virginia
Source: NTUF BillTally System

Table 2, below, shows the net spending agendas of the newly-elected freshmen Senators. As mentioned, six of the new Senators currently serve in the House. The figures represent sponsorship and cosponsorship activities in the First Session of the current Congress. Where available, the table includes the annualized cost estimate of the spending issues that the remaining newcomers featured during their campaigns.

For taxpayers in the 12 states that elected new Senators, a slightly different picture emerges based on a review of their spending agendas in the House or on the campaign trail. All but one of the Senators-Elect are on record for seeking spending increases at the federal level. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), elected from the House of Representatives, backed a spending agenda during the First Session of the current Congress to reduce outlays by $367.4 billion. The other new Senators moving up from the House supported spending increases ranging from $5.9 billion to $1.2 trillion. As in the case with Senator Sanders, this trillion-dollar agenda was due to Senator-Elect Tammy Baldwin’s (D-WI) sponsorship of legislation in the House to establish a single-payer health care program. NTUF also analyzed the proposals she featured during her campaign for the Senate and identified $1.16 trillion in new spending.

The campaign agendas of the three newcomers to Congress that NTUF analyzed, would increase outlays ranging from $100 million to $13.9 billion. Data is not available for Angus King (I-ME), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Table 2. Proposed Spending Agendas of Newly-Elected Senators in 2012
(in Billions)
Net Agenda
Angus King
Deb Fischer
New Mexico
North Dakota
Ted Cruz
1 Elected from the House of Representatives
2 No proposal cost data has been compiled
3 NTUF Senate campaign studies
4 Baldwin's Senate campaign highlighted $1.16 trillion in new spending
Source: NTUF BillTally System

The Democrats gained two seats in the Senate, but the partisan divide regarding the future direction of the budget remains as it was before the election:

  • Every Republican whose agenda is included, has backed net annual spending cuts ranging from $221.1 billion to $367.4 billion.
  • 21 of the 23 Democrats whose agendas are available, supported annual spending hikes ranging from $132 million to $1.24 trillion.
  • The two Democrats with agendas to reduce spending, Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Jon Tester (D-MT), were from states that voted for Governor Mitt Romney in the Presidential race, and were challenged by candidates who backed larger spending decreases in the House (Todd Akin (R-MO) and Dennis Rehberg (R-MT)). In the 111th Congress, McCaskill called for  a net spending increase of $7.8 billion while Tester supported an agenda to boost outlays by $34.4 billion.
  • Two Senators-Elect ran as Independents. Bernie Sanders (VT), who caucuses with the Democratic Party, would increase net outlays by $1.04 trillion annually. Angus King (ME) is newly elected.

While NTUF has not analyzed the platforms of the remaining three Senator-elects, their respective campaign websites provide some information about the issues they will pursue:

  • Ted Cruz's "Jobs and Growth Plan" includes calls to "repeal [PPACA]," "[c]ut the federal budget and reform entitlements," and "[p]ass a strong, balanced budget amendment." 
  • Deb Fischer says she, "will make the tough decisions necessary to dramatically reduce the size and scope of the federal government." She also supports repeal of PPACA and passing a Balanced Budget Amendment. 
  • Angus King's campaign has already removed all of the issue pages that were on its previous website, Previously, it had voiced support for withholding Senators' salaries if a budget is not passed, and reform of Medicare's fee-for-service payment system. His new site,, includes a pledge to work with both sides of the aisle.

NTUF will continue to track and report on the spending agendas of legislators in the House and Senate to give taxpayers the most complete picture of how Congress plans to address the challenges facing not only the nation's financial future but everyone's checkbook. With the help of taxpayers like you, NTUF can continue to deliver timely and vital research to Americans. 


Support NTUF and Receive a Special Gift!

Want to help NTUF pave the way to economic freedom? Consider making a tax-deductible contribution.

NTUF provides taxpayers, policymakers, and experts with timely research on government spending and the issues that make a difference in the lives of every American.

Help us keep a tab on Congress and, while supplies last, NTUF will send you a copy of our exclusive interview with Milton Friedman.

Make your tax-deductable contribution to NTUF today!

 We Want You!

NTUF is looking for winter and spring associate policy analysts to participate in our internship program. Associates assist with BillTally research and other policy projects. Academic credit is possible. Email questions to To apply visit our internship page. Join us and help keep a tab on Congress!

Missed an Issue?

Issue 26 - Nov 1
Candidate Studies Roundup

Issue 25 - Oct 25
Wisconsin Senate Campaign Proposal Studies

Issue 24 - Oct 4
Ohio Senate Campaign Proposal Studies

Issue 23 - Sept 13
Virginia Senate Campaign Proposal Studies

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

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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