Colorado U.S. Senatorial Candidate Spending Analysis – Cory Gardner

Total Net Spending Agenda: -$83.291 billion (savings)


Economy, Transportation, and Infrastructure: Unknown

A.  Simplify Regulations:

“Cory believes in … sensible regulations that everyone can understand.”

Cost: Unknown.

Note: Representative Gardner notes that he is a cosponsor of H.R. 367 (113th Congress), the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. The legislation passed the House, but has not been taken up by the Senate. According to a cost estimate by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for the bill, “[a]bout 85 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 cannot determine the budgetary effects of preventing all future major rules from going into effect, but we expect that enacting H.R. 367 would have effects on both direct spending and revenues. … Preventing some major rules from taking effect would result in costs to the federal government, while preventing others would result in savings. On net, CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 367 would have a significant effect on direct spending, but we cannot determine the magnitude or sign of those changes for any year or period of years.”


Energy, Agriculture, and the Environment: Unknown

A. Promote an “All-of-the-Above” Energy Strategy:

“Cory looks forward to promoting his long-standing support of an all-of-the-above energy strategy that creates jobs and moves Colorado forward.”

“Whether it’s wind, solar, oil, gas, biomass, or efficiency measures, Cory has always stood for Colorado jobs and a brighter future for our nation’s energy policy.”

“From wind power on the Eastern Plains, to the gas fields in Northern Colorado, to hydropower on the Western Slope - Colorado has distinguished itself as a leader in developing smart, affordable energy. I look forward to continuing to promote our abundant natural resources in the Senate.”

“We ought to make sure that domestic energy development can occur. If we allow more domestic energy development to occur, we will have more resources to go toward transportation.” (46:50)

Cost: Unknown.

Note: It is unclear how Representative Gardner would change federal spending associated with energy. In the 113th Congress, he is a cosponsor of four bills that would address some of his “all-of-the-above” approach; however, cost estimates are not currently available for any of these proposals:

  • Wind and Solar: H.R. 596, the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act of 2013, would streamline the permitting process for renewable energy projects on public lands. The bill would likely not significantly affect federal spending.
  • Oil, Gas, and Biomass: H.R. 2, the American Energy Solutions for Lower Costs and More American Jobs Act, would approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, reform the permitting process for natural gas pipelines, direct the President to conduct new exploration lease sales on the outer continental shelf, and establish a new biomass demonstration project framework for Indian tribes.
  • Energy Efficiency: H.R. 1659, the Federal Buildings Energy Savings Act of 2013, would direct each federal agency to implement plans to increase energy and water efficiency, paid for by private financing instead of appropriations. Representative Gardner has also cosponsored H.R. 540, the Energy Efficient Government Technology Act, which would require each agency to purchase and maintain energy-efficient information technologies, particularly in data centers.


Government Reform: -$16 million (savings)

A. Cut Duplicative Spending:

“We need to cut spending where it makes sense. … I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation that would make sure that we address those issues and cut duplicative spending.” (13:00)

Cost: -$14 million (first-year savings).

Source: Representative Gardner has introduced legislation to address duplicative spending:

  • H.R. 2250, the Spending Reduction Act (113th Congress). The bill would require the head of each executive agency to submit a plan to reduce duplication (based on annual duplicative program studies by the Government Accountability Office (GAO)), achieve savings, and enhance revenue within their jurisdiction.
  • H.Res. 160 (113th Congress), the Congressional Oversight to Start Taxpayer (COST) Savings Resolution. The Resolution would require House committees to conduct hearings regarding the GAO’s annual duplicative program studies, according to each committee’s jurisdiction. Because the resolution would not directly “cut duplicative spending,” NTUF is unable to determine a cost or savings estimate.

While these proposals could lead to a significant level of savings – in a 2014 report, the GAO identified 64 operations over 26 government missions and functions that cost $45 billion over five years in excess expenditures – the plans would be dependent on the findings of the studies each year as well as congressional action pursuant to any recommendations. NTUF is therefore unable to determine a cost or savings estimate.

Representative Gardner is also a cosponsor of a bill that would directly target one duplicative program: H.R. 1313 (113th Congress), a bill to amend the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act to repeal a duplicative program relating to inspection and grading of catfish. According to Farm Progress, the program costs $14 million annually.

B. Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC):

“… [W]e can expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, legislation that I have supported that has been introduced that lifted millions of people out of poverty.” (2:20)

Cost: Unknown.

Note: Representative Gardner has sponsored H.R. 5070 (113th Congress), the Earnings Advancement and Recovery Now (EARN) Act. The bill would increase penalties associated with committing fraud involving the EITC and require improvements to be made to prevent future improper payments. The bill also includes a non-binding “sense of Congress” that “any budgetary savings resulting from the reforms and improvements enacted by this Act with respect to the earned income tax credit should be dedicated to expanding the credit for working families eligible for the earned income tax credit.” A cost estimate is not currently available.

The federal government reported that it made $14.5 billion in improper payments related to the EITC in 2013. It is unlikely that the entirety of this amount would be recovered or prevented from being spent if H.R. 5070 was signed into law.

C. Improve Congressional Oversight and Transparency:

“I believe one of the primary responsibilities of Congress is oversight. That means keeping government accountable to the taxpayer, streamlining wasteful programs, and improving transparency.”

Cost: -$2 million (-$10 million over five years).

Note: Representative Gardner has cosponsored a number of bills to improve government efficiency in the 113th Congress:

  • Accountability: -$3 million (-$15 million over five years). Related legislation has been introduced in the form of H.R. 106, the Congressional Budget Accountability Act. The bill would require remaining amounts of House Members’ Representational Allowances (which pays for official office, travel, and staff expenses) to be deposited in the Treasury for deficit or debt reduction. NTUF determined the savings by comparing annual surpluses in House Allowance accounts.
  • Streamline Programs: Unknown. Included in H.R. 2250 (see “Cut Duplicative Spending” above); the bill would require plans for streamlining programs in addition to addressing duplicative activities.
  • Transparency: $1 million ($5 million over five years). Related legislation has been introduced in the form of H.R. 24, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2014. The bill would require the Federal Reserve System to make public certain financial audits, related to international transactions, and permit the Government Accountability Office to conduct additional oversight and analysis on a periodic basis. A CBO cost estimate is available.


Health Care: -$83.742 billion (savings)

A. Allow for Interstate Purchase of Health Insurance:

“[Cory] supports … the purchase of insurance across state lines … .”

Cost: $38 million ($191 million over five years).

Note: Related legislation was introduced in the form of H.R. 2355 (109th Congress), the Health Care Choice Act of 2005. The bill would provide for cooperative governing of individual insurance coverage offered in interstate commerce. At the time, CBO estimated that the bill would increase spending by $160 million over five years ($191 million, adjusted for inflation). It is unclear whether this cost estimate would be higher or lower today given that it was originally calculated prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposal was reintroduced in the 113th Congress in the form of H.R. 3607. Representative Gardner is not a cosponsor of the bill.

B. Enact Medical Malpractice Reform:

“[Cory] supports … badly needed tort reform to reduce medical costs … .”

Cost: -$3.38 billion (-$16.9 billion over five years).

Source: Related legislation was introduced in the form of H.R. 5 (112th Congress), the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011. A cost estimate is available in CBO’s report, Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2014 to 2023. Related legislation was introduced in the 113th Congress in the form of S. 44, the Medical Care Access Protection (MCAP) Act of 2013, and S. 1860, the Steps Toward Access and Reform (STAR) Act of 2013. Representative Gardner was a cosponsor of H.R. 5.

C. Increase Means Testing for Medicare:

“Here’s what we need to do for Medicare: … [W]e’ll … make sure that if [people] need more assistance they will get assistance but if they’re wealthier, they will get less assistance.” (22:05)

Cost: -$18 billion (-$90 billion over five years).

Note: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of S. 1198 (113th Congress), the Medicare Fair Share Act of 2013. The bill would increase Medicare premium payment requirements by ten percent for seniors with annual incomes above $85,000. The means-testing would pertain to Medicare Part B (physician visits) and Part D (prescription drug coverage). NTUF scored the bill based on a CBO estimate in its Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2014 to 2023.

D. Provide Choice for Medicare Plans:

“Here’s what we need to do for Medicare: we will make sure that people have the option to choose from existing Medicare plans or a plan that they like that might fit their needs even better.” (22:05)

Cost: Unknown.

Note: In the item “Restore Medicare Advantage Funding,” Representative Gardner proposes to restore funds for the Medicare Advantage program. It is unclear whether he is referring to additional reforms or options in the statement above.

E. Repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

“[Cory] supports legislation that repeals [the Affordable Care Act] … .”

Cost: -$75.7 billion (-$378.5 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. Several versions of bills to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were re-introduced in the 113th Congress, including H.R. 45 and S. 177.

Representative Gardner is a cosponsor of H.R. 3121 (113th Congress), the American Health Care Reform Act of 2013, which includes a repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care provisions of the Health Care and Education and Reconciliation Act of 2010. He was also a cosponsor of H.R. 2 in the 112th Congress.        

*This figure excludes the restoration of funding for Medicare Advantage, listed separately below.

F. Restore Medicare Advantage Funding:

“… I am somebody that is going to stand up and fight to make sure that those choices [Medicare Advantage plans] are available for people and that will restore funding to Medicare Advantage.”

Cost: $11.8 billion ($59 billion over five years).

Note: Medicare Advantage serves as an alternative to traditional Medicare plans. Insurance coverage is offered through a commercial preferred provider organization or a health maintenance organization, which would then receive fixed monthly payments from the federal government to provide certain services but would not process claims through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services system. As part of ACA, the Advantage program’s funding was reduced.

As mentioned above, Representative Gardner supports full repeal of the ACA. CBO’s cost estimate for H.R. 6079 (113th Congress), the Repeal Obamacare Act, included a restoration of Medicare Advantage funding.

G. Support High-Risk Pools:

“[Cory] supports legislation that … bolsters state high-risk pools to provide for those with pre-existing conditions … .”

Cost: $1.5 billion ($7.5 billion over five years).

Note: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of H.R. 4496 (113th Congress), the Covering People With Pre-Existing Conditions Act of 2014. The bill would offer federal funding to states to establish or expand high-risk insurance pools to provide coverage to individuals with uninsurable pre-existing conditions. The text of the bill authorizes $7.5 billion to be spent on high-risk pools over five years. Representative Gardner is the sponsor of the bill.

The ACA’s Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan provided $5 billion for such pools as a three year transitional program until the health care “exchanges” were operational.


Homeland Security and Law Enforcement: $342 million

A. Change Domestic Surveillance Policies:

“Cory believes the federal government’s national security apparatus also requires reform. … Cory believes the government has overstepped its bounds with regard to privacy and that reform is long overdue.”

Cost: Unknown.

Note: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of S. 1599 (113th Congress), the Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online Monitoring (USA FREEDOM) Act. The bill would limit domestic surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency, reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by making actions more transparent, and permit private companies to disclose their participation in surveillance programs. A cost estimate is not currently available. Representative Gardner is a cosponsor of the bill.

B. Secure the Border and Enact a Guest-Worker Program:

“I believe we should move forward with an immigration policy that prioritizes border security, and that includes a viable guest worker program that capitalizes on the benefits of legal immigration to this country.”

Cost: $342 million ($1.369 billion over four years).


  • Border Security: One of the only bills to broadly address border security has been introduced in the House is H.R. 15 (113th Congress), the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The bill would streamline and overhaul costs for the immigration system and increase border security and infrastructure. Using the CBO estimate, NTUF found that the bill would allocate additional funding for border-related administrative costs, double the number of Border Patrol agents (including their benefits, training, and forgiveness of student loans), and adjust fees and penalties that would offset some spending. Scored in a CBO estimate for S. 744 (the Senate companion bill), spending would total $18.4 billion over the first five years. (This figure does not include the immigration-related spending in the bill.) Representative Gardner is not a cosponsor of the bill and has not sponsored or cosponsored any other measures related to border security. It is unknown if Representative Gardner supports the border-related funding in H.R. 15.
  • Guest-Worker Program: $342 million ($1.369 billion over four years). CBO estimate for S. 2611 (109th Congress), the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006. Title VI would have established the Blue-Card Program for temporary agricultural workers. Tamper-proof cards were to be issued to individuals as a means of identification and proof of legally being in the United States. In 2006, CBO estimated that the guest-worker program would cost approximately $600 million over four years ($708 million, adjusted for inflation), the Blue-Card Program would cost $400 million over the same period ($472 million, adjusted for inflation), and $160 million in associated administrative costs ($189 million, adjusted for inflation).


Veterans: $125 million

A. Improve the Department of Veterans’ Affairs:

“[Cory] is committed to working with anyone willing to solve the mounting issues at the [Department of Veterans’ Affairs] and restore the high-quality care our nation’s veterans deserve.”

Cost: $125 million ($623 million over five years).

Source: Representative Gardner is a cosponsor of several bills in the 113th Congress that would provide assistance to veterans:

  • H.R. 3593, the VA Construction Assistance Act of 2014, which would employ special project managers to oversee the completion of three existing construction projects in Colorado, Florida, and Louisiana. A CBO cost estimate scored the bill as a $3 million increase over five years.
  • H.R. 4810, the Veteran Access to Care Act of 2014, which would, under certain conditions, permit veterans to receive medical care from outside the Department of Veterans Affairs. A CBO cost estimate projected that the bill would increase direct spending by $620 million over three years but did not include any other potential discretionary outlays.

Note: The omnibus appropriations bill passed into law in January, 2014 included an authorization of $294 million to help the Department of Veterans Affairs reduce the claims backlog, upgrade its information technology, and increase employee training.

In August, 2014, H.R. 3230, the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 was signed into law. The bill authorized staff increases at the Department of Veterans Affairs, expansion of new and existing medical facilities, the option of private medical care for some veterans, and in-state tuition using Post-9/11 GI Bill funds for qualifying veterans. CBO estimated that H.R. 3230 would increase spending by a net $12.6 billion over five years. Representative Gardner voted in favor of the bill.


Miscellaneous: Unknown

A. Protect Social Security:

“We must protect Social Security for future generations and we can do that by making sure that Washington, D.C. quits borrowing against the people who paid into Social Security. … I will protect the retirement of seniors across this country … .” (20:45)

Cost: Unknown.

Note: It is unclear what policies Representative Gardner would support to maintain or reform Social Security. Related legislation was introduced in the form of H.R. 2581 (112th Congress), the Social Security Check Guarantee Act of 2011, which guarantees that Social Security beneficiaries continue to receive payment checks, regardless of the public debt limit. Representative Gardner is a cosponsor of the bill. A cost estimate is not currently available.

According to The 2014 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimated that the Social Security system has a $10.6 trillion unfunded liability obligation that will come due over the next 75 years. This was a $1 trillion increase from the previous year’s report.


Fiscal Notes:

“[Cory] continues to work diligently with all members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation to ensure affected communities recover, including introducing a bill in April to provide tax relief to flood victims.”

“[The] Keystone [XL pipeline] should be built. … We need a Senator that stands up with the facts and most Coloradans.”

“In an era of record spending, debt, and deficits, Cory sees no reason why the federal government shouldn’t put in place a balanced budget requirement.”

“We need to make sure that we pass a Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment.” (12:50)