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$129 Billion Budget Impact Separates Braley, Ernst, Platforms in Iowa Senate Showdown

by Douglas Kellogg / /

(Alexandria, VA) – A new candidate agenda analysis from National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) reveals the hard numbers behind the campaign rhetoric in Iowa’s hotly contested Senate race between State Senator Joni Ernst and Representative Bruce Braley – finding a $128.9 billion annual difference between their agendas.

According to NTUF’s research, Joni Ernst has outlined policies that would combine to cut $87.1 billion from the federal budget; whereas her opponent Bruce Braley has described plans that would result in a spending increase of $41.9 billion.

All proposals that could have fiscal policy implications are considered in the analysis, though only those that can be accurately quantified are included in NTUF’s bottom-line agenda estimates. There were 17 statements or proposals whose costs could not be tallied out of 30 total that were examined.

The highlights of Iowa’s Senate candidates’ campaign proposals:

  • State Senator Ernst would accomplish the vast majority of her savings through reforms to healthcare spending – a total spending reduction of $67 billion. This includes Medical Malpractice Reform and repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”).
    • Ernst also found savings through her proposals to eliminate the IRS, -$11.3 billion, and terminate the Environmental Protection Agency, -$8.2 billion.
    • The State Senator’s most expensive policy, that could be quantified, was increasing border security along with a new guest-worker program which would cost $3.95 billion annually.
  • Representative Braley found most of his budget increases through his support for the House’s recent immigration reform bill, which would cost $19.5 billion, and student loan refinancing, $16.9 billion, each year.
    • Braley has also made statements indicating support for a new National Infrastructure Development Bank, which would cost $5 billion annually.
    • Braley has offered no proposals that could be calculated to reduce federal outlays. However, he supports allowing the government to negotiate on drug prices for Medicare, which would be intended to reduce costs.
  • Both candidates backed action against I.S.I.S., or I.S.I.L, the cost of which could not be quantified at this time. They also both spoke generally about less federal involvement in the administration of marijuana laws, which could in theory lead to savings in drug enforcement. 

“Our analysis shows a significant divide between State Senator Ernst and Representative Braley on how best to steer the federal budget,” said NTUF Research Manager Dan Barrett. “Despite a growing trend of candidates across the country being more vague than ever about their policy goals, in the Hawkeye State we found enough substance to calculate agendas that are strong indicators of what Iowa’s next Senator will aim to do in Washington.”


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