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Virginia U.S. Senatorial Candidate Spending Analysis – George Allen
September 11, 2012
Virginia U.S. Senatorial Candidate Spending Analysis – George Allen
Total Net Spending Agenda: -$97.738 billion (savings)
Education, Science, and Research: Unknown.
A. Extend the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program:
“George Allen will again be an advocate for school choice/vouchers for parents and schoolchildren in the District of Columbia and other areas where the federal government has educational jurisdiction.”
Note: The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program provides federal vouchers to certain D.C. students so they can attend private schools. The Obama Administration, which had originally advocated phasing out the program, recently reached an agreement with Members of Congress to expand enrollment this year. In 2011, the program, also known as the District of Columbia School Choice Incentive Program, received $17 million. The agreement would expand the program to an additional 85 students, at an additional cost of approximately $1 million. Related legislation has been introduced in the form of H.R. 471 (112th Congress), the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act. The bill would extend the program through 2016. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates this would cost $20 million annually. It is unclear whether Senator Allen would advocate for additional funding beyond this level.
B. Promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education:
“[I would] work with the states and private sector to encourage and promote science, math, engineering, and technology education.”
Note: According to the Congressional Research Service, “Analysts have identified between 105 and 252 STEM education programs or activities at 13 to 15 federal agencies. Annual federal appropriations for STEM education are typically in the range of $2.8 billion to $3.4 billion.” It is unclear whether Senator Allen would expand the number or funding of STEM programs.
Energy, Agriculture, and the Environment: -$400 million (savings)
A. Allow Offshore Drilling:
“I’m going to introduce a bill that will allow us in Virginia to produce oil and natural gas off our coast and then use those royalties for roads and transportation … .”
“[I would] end the de facto moratorium on production permits in the Gulf of Mexico … .”
“[I would] empower Virginia and other willing coastal States to take the initiative to safely explore the energy resources off their coasts and incentivize them by sharing the revenue.”
Cost: -$102 million (-$508 million over five years) (partial estimate).
B. Expand Onshore Energy Production:
“[I would] support onshore development, including shale natural gas and coal-bed methane. …
[I would] take advantage of onshore natural gas, oil and coal reserves in Alaska and throughout America, from the Appalachians to the West.”
Cost: -$298 million (-$1.49 billion over five years) (partial estimate).
C. Fund Clean-Coal Technology:
“[I would] encourage technologies that will continue to advance the use of coal to generate clean, affordable electricity as well as the proven technology of coal-to-liquid fuels.” http://www.georgeallen.com/blueprint-for-americas-comeback/blueprint-for-americas-comeback-part-2/
Note: It is unclear whether Senator Allen would utilize tax credits or direct federal spending to encourage clean coal technologies and coal-to-liquid fuels. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Fiscal Year 2013, Budget Request, page 47, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided the Clean Coal Power Initiative with $800 million in FY 2009-2010. No funds have been spent thereafter and no new funds are requested in the President’s FY 2013 Budget.
D. Increase Nuclear Energy Production:
“[I would] remove outdated regulatory barriers to allow the next generation of safer, more efficient advanced nuclear power. The federal government should allow spent nuclear fuel reprocessing and recycling, and safe production methods of nuclear power.” http://www.georgeallen.com/blueprint-for-americas-comeback/blueprint-for-americas-comeback-part-2/
Note: Due to the lack of specificity in Senator Allen’s proposal, it is unclear whether any administrative cost savings to the federal government would occur. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Fiscal Year 2013, Budget Request, page 43, the Department of Energy seeks $770.445 million in funding for FY 2013 on nuclear energy research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities.
Government Reform: -$35.970 billion (savings)
A. Cut Discretionary Spending:
“[My] Blueprint further takes aim at wasteful Washington spending [by] … help[ing] roll back federal spending to FY 2008 levels … .”
“Roll back discretionary spending to FY 2008 … .”
Cost: -$26.2 billion (first-year savings).
Source: Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2013, Historical Tables, Table 8.1: Outlays by Budget Enforcement Act Category: 1962-2017 and Table 8.7: Outlays for Discretionary Programs: 1962-2017.
Note: NTUF assumes Senator Allen would roll back non-defense, non-veteran discretionary spending.
B. Dispose of Excess Federal Properties:
“Sell unneeded and unused surplus federal property.”
Cost: -$620 million (-$3.1 billion over five years).
Source: Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Living Within Our Means and Investing in the Future: The President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction, September 2011, page 60.
Note: The Obama Administration has set forth its proposal for dealing with excess property in its FY 2012 budget and in draft legislation entitled the Civilian Property Realignment Act. However, CBO is skeptical that significant savings could be achieved in the short term (See “CBO Testified on Selling Federal Property,” http://www.cbo.gov/publication/42205). The agency believes that it could cost $420 million over five years to “identify and prepare property for sale or transfer.” CBO recommends that the federal government take steps to increase the proceeds from sales by providing clear incentives to agencies, exempting property from federal laws that impede sales, and be highly specific about which properties should be offered for sale. The OMB report notes that “CBO has not scored savings for similar proposals.” While CBO’s concerns are cautionary, OMB’s estimate reflects a reasonable assessment concerning the disposal of excess federal property in the near-term.
C. Eliminate Remaining American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Funds:
“… [E]liminate any and all remaining unspent stimulus funding.” http://www.georgeallen.com/blueprint-for-americas-comeback/blueprint-for-americas-comeback-part-3/
Note: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of H.R. 620 (112th Congress), the Recovering Excessive Stimulus Expenditures for Taxpayers (RESET) Act. The bill would rescind unobligated funds associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At the time of introduction of the bill (early 2011), its sponsors estimated there were approximately $7 billion of unobligated “stimulus” funds. It is unclear whether there will be any unobligated funds remaining in FY 2013.
D. Eliminate Wasteful Printing:
“… [R]ecognize we are in the Internet age and eliminate wasteful printing and publications across the federal government … .”
Cost: -$47 million (first-year savings).
Source: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of S. 178 (112th Congress), the Spending Reduction Act of 2011. Section 701 would require the Government Printing Office to reduce spending by half in FY 2013 and to spend no more than $860 million annually. The Republican Study Committee determined a savings estimate for the House version, H.R. 408.
E. Improve Government Efficiency:
“[I] embrace conservation, innovation, teleworking, and more efficient equipment and building designs to save money and waste less energy … . A good place to start conserving is the federal government.”
F. Prevent Federal Pay Raises:
“No automatic pay increases for Members of Congress or federal employees.” http://www.georgeallen.com/blueprint-for-americas-comeback/blueprint-for-americas-comeback-part-3/
“[My] Blueprint further takes aim at wasteful Washington spending with … a hiring freeze to stop the expansion of bureaucracy … .”
Cost: -$3.503 billion (first-year savings).
G. Reduce the Federal Vehicle Fleet:
“… [C]ut back the federal government’s fleet of vehicles and civilian aircraft and control to make certain those that remain in the fleet are used only for legitimate businesses purposes and when most cost-effective.”
Cost: -$600 million (first-year savings).
Source: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of H.R. 408 (112th Congress), the Spending Reduction Act of 2011. Section 704 would reduce the vehicle budget by 20 percent. The Progressive Policy Institute determined the estimate, which was included in the Republican Study Committee’s summary of H.R. 408.
H. Reform Federal Workforce Development:
“[I would] consolidate the dozens of overlapping, duplicative federal job-training and education programs and give states flexibility to innovate and manage to best train workers and educate school children.”
Cost: -$5 billion (first-year savings).
Source: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of S. 945 (112th Congress), a bill to save at least $5 billion by consolidating some duplicative and overlapping government programs.
Note: Senator Allen is referring to the findings of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report entitled Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue, March 2011. The report outlines GAO’s options for reducing spending on duplicate programs as well as other ways to reduce wasteful and fraudulent spending, and improve the collection of fees and revenues. Senator Coburn introduced S. 945 to save at least $5 billion by eliminating, consolidating, or streamlining government programs identified in the report. It is possible that efforts to reduce waste in the federal government would result in significant savings beyond the minimum level sought in the legislation.
I. Reform Welfare Programs:
“[My] Blueprint further takes aim at wasteful Washington spending with … [the] expansion of the successful welfare reform model to Medicaid and other welfare programs such as food stamps.”
“Free the States to be the laboratories of democracy our Founders intended. During George Allen’s service as Governor, Virginia took over the federal government’s bloated, initiative-sapping welfare program, transformed it to reflect Virginia values of work and individual responsibility, saved taxpayers money and put people on the path of leading independent, self-reliant lives. Other federal programs are ripe for similar transformation. …
Spending almost doubled between 2008 and 2010 for the food stamp program. Block granting food stamps to the States would allow integration with their welfare programs.”
Note: While the block-granting of programs back to the states could result in administrative cost reductions to the federal government, NTUF is unable to estimate possible savings due to the lack of specificity in Senator Allen’s proposal.
J. Require Impact Analyses for Regulations:
“[I would] require a ‘jobs and family impact analysis’ of all new proposed regulations before they go into effect. Require Congressional approval for any regulation with an economic impact greater than $100 million (REINS Act).”
Note: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of H.R. 10 (112th Congress), the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2011. According to CBO’s cost estimate for H.R. 10, “About 80 major rules have been issued per year, on average, over the past five years. Major rules vary greatly in their nature and scope. CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) cannot determine the budgetary effects of preventing all future major rules from going into effect, but we expect that enacting H.R. 10 would have effects on both direct spending and revenues.”
Health Care: -$63.835 billion (savings)
A. Block-Grant Medicaid:
“Transforming Medicaid into a block grant run by the State[s] could save approximately $95 billion a year while delivering more effective care.”
Note: While the block-granting of programs back to the states could result in cost administrative savings to the federal government, NTUF is unable to estimate possible cost reductions due to the lack of specificity in Senator Allen’s proposal.
B. Purchase Insurance Across State Lines:
“I think … [we should] allow small businesses to band together across state lines and have an opportunity to have a more affordable choice and more competition [for health insurance] … .”
Cost: $65 million ($326 million over five years).
Source: CBO cost estimate for H.R. 2355, the Health Care Choice Act of 2005 (109th Congress), a bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for cooperative governing of individual health insurance coverage offered in interstate commerce. CBO’s initial cost estimate has been adjusted for inflation. The bill was reintroduced in the 112th Congress in the form of H.R. 346.
C. Research Brain Injuries:
“Allen will … support research and proper treatment and diagnosis of blast-related traumatic brain injuries.”
Note: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of H.R. 4238 (112th Congress), the Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 2012. The bill would authorize, for certain programs, new funding to prevent, study, and treat brain injuries. The text authorizes $40 million in the first year. However, it is unclear whether Senator Allen would reauthorize or expand brain injury research funding.
D. Repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:
“[My] Blueprint reverses the excesses of the Obama Administration, including repealing Obamacare and replacing it with personal, affordable health-care opportunities.” http://www.georgeallen.com/blueprint-for-americas-comeback/
“Repeal Obamacare and replace it with portable, affordable health insurance, including options for personalized Health Savings Accounts.”
Cost: -$63.9 billion (-$319.5 billion over five years).
Source: Repealing “Obamacare”: A Look Beyond the Media’s Misguided Deficit Focus, National Taxpayers Union Foundation, Issue Brief 164, July 2012.
Note: NTUF’s estimate is based on CBO reports for H.R. 2 (112th Congress), the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, and H.R. 6079, the repeal of Obamacare Act. However, four other introduced bills would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and replace it with alternate reforms. Those bills are H.R. 364, the Common Sense Health Reforms Americans Actually Want Act; H.R. 371, the Health Care Choice Act of 2011; H.R. 397, the Reforms Americans Can Afford Act of 2011; and H.R. 408, the Spending Reduction Act of 2011.
Health Savings Accounts are personalized, non-taxable savings accounts for individuals’ health-related expenses. Unless the accounts were to be subsidized through “refundable” (i.e., in excess of actual tax liability) credits or a federal matching rate, there would be no effect on outlays. Budgetary agencies classify the refundable portion of tax credits as outlays. However, NTUF is unable to estimate any costs that might be associated with the accounts due to the lack of details in Senator Allen’s proposal.
Homeland Security and Law Enforcement: Unknown.
A. Secure the Borders:
“I strongly oppose rewarding illegal behavior through amnesty and believe our first priority needs to be securing our borders.”
Note: It is unclear what Senator Allen would propose to secure the borders.
For example, a 2009 report from the GAO lists the target length of the border fence to be 661 miles. A January 2012 update from Customs and Border Protection states that the agency has overseen the construction of 651 miles of pedestrian and vehicle fencing. Vehicle fencing was completed in January 2010. The last mile of pedestrian fencing was to be completed by April of this year. It is unclear whether Senator Allen would expand the fence to reach the initial target of 661 miles or extend it further along the 1,993-mile border. Costs would vary depending upon the type of fencing to be used. According to the GAO report, fencing completed by October 2008 cost an average of $3.9 million per mile for pedestrian fencing and $1.0 million per mile for vehicle fencing. The report further notes, “However, once contracts were awarded, the average per mile costs had increased to $6.5 million per mile for pedestrian fencing and $1.8 million per mile for vehicle fencing. Tactical infrastructure program officials said the per mile costs increased over time due to various factors, such as property acquisition costs incurred for these miles that were not a factor for many of the previous miles and costs for labor and materials increased.”
Source: GAO, Secure Border Initiative: Technology Deployment Delays Persist and the Impact of Border Fencing Has Not Been Assessed, September 2009.
United States Department of Homeland Security, “Southwest Border Fence Construction Progress,” January 2012.
National Defense and International Relations: Unknown.
A. Guarantee Servicemembers’ Voting Rights:
“[Allen] will work to continue and expand reforms that guarantee those who are fighting to protect our fundamental freedoms the opportunity to cast their vote and have it counted.” http://www.georgeallen.com/2011/11/compact-with-veterans/
Note: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of S. 3322 (112th Congress), the Servicemembers Protection Act of 2012. Title II of the bill would require improved reporting and availability of overseas absentee materials. A cost estimate is currently not available.
Veterans: $2.704 billion
A. Eliminate the Backlog of Veterans Administration (VA) Claims:
“[Allen] will work to eliminate the backlog of VA claims and to streamline the application and appeals process and take full advantage of technology to make the process faster and easier and less stressful and frustrating for veterans to navigate. … [H]e will work to ensure seamless operations between State and federal offices.”
Note: In FY 2011, a continuing appropriations bill provided an additional $448 million to the VA for claims processing. VA subsequently planned to use the money to hire outside contractors to assist with the backlog. It is unclear what additional steps and funding would be required to achieve Senator Allen’s goal.
B. Employ More Veterans:
“[Allen] supports efforts to help veterans transition from the military and match their skills and experience with the needs of private-sector and public-sector employers as well as a comprehensive workforce development initiative for veterans, with special emphasis on those with service disabilities and the scars of war.”
Note: Related legislation was introduced in the form of S. 3234 (111th Congress), the Veteran Employment Assistance Act of 2010. The bill would have reauthorized and expanded efforts to train and employ veterans. CBO estimated the bill would cost $707 million over five years. It is unclear what federal resources Senator Allen would dedicate to veteran employment.
C. Improve National Cemetery Administration:
“Allen will ensure that issues of poor management and neglect at Arlington National Cemetery – from mislabeled remains to archaic record-keeping – are corrected and that proper steps are in place at Arlington and all 131 of our National Cemeteries to ensure appropriate care and respect for the remains of fallen heroes entrusted to their keeping. He will insist that the United States government persevere to achieve the fullest possible accounting for all U.S. military personnel missing in action for our nation’s wars.”
Note: In March, 2012, Arlington National Cemetery started the process of digitizing its database of records, and it also “began a first-of-its-kind gravesite accountability process, which examined 259,978 graves front and back.” No data is available on whether or how this process has affected federal administrative costs.
D. Provide Concurrent Retirement Benefits:
“Allen will work to provide full concurrent receipt to all active duty and reserve component disabled retirees, regardless of disability rating or cause … .” http://www.georgeallen.com/2011/11/compact-with-veterans/
Cost: $2.704 billion ($13.518 billion over five years).
Source: Related legislation was introduced in the form of S. 333 (112th Congress), the Retired Pay Restoration Act. A CBO cost estimate is available for S. 546, a version of the bill introduced in the 111th Congress. http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/ftpdocs/103xx/doc10346/sprattltrretirementlegislation.pdf
Miscellaneous: -$237 million (savings)
A. Prohibit Funding for Abortion Organizations:
“George Allen… pledges to vote to prohibit any federal funding from going to organizations that operate Abortion clinics (not bona fide hospitals) such as Planned Parenthood.” http://www.georgeallen.com/virginia-values-for-washington/
Cost: -$237 million (first-year savings).
Note: According to Factcheck.org, Planned Parenthood received $70 million in Title X family planning funds and a total of $293 million in Medicaid funding in FY 2009. The Medicaid federal reimbursement rate to states averages 57 percent, resulting in potential revenues of $167 million for Planned Parenthood.
NTUF assumes Senator Allen would reduce Title X accounts proportionally to the cuts to Planned Parenthood, rather than seek to reprogram the funds elsewhere. If Senator Allen is seeking to reprogram the funds, there would be no cost savings.
B. Support Background Checks for Gun Purchases:
“I am for criminal records checks… from licensed firearms dealers…”
Note: It is unclear whether or how Senator Allen would change background checks made to purchase firearms.
“Ban earmarks until the federal government has a balanced budget. Then, require a two-thirds vote for any earmark going forward.”
“[My] Blueprint imposes the fiscal discipline of a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment on Washington, with Line-Item Veto authority, tax limitation, and taxpayer protection that limits spending to 19 percent of GDP.”
“[I would] end double taxation of business profits by adopting a territorial system of taxation.” http://www.georgeallen.com/blueprint-for-americas-comeback/blueprint-for-americas-comeback-part-1/
“There also ought to be taxpayer protections requiring a supermajority for tax increases… .”
“… [R]oot out the $50 billion a year Medicare wastes through improper and fraudulent payments and use Medicare savings for Medicare.”