(Alexandria, VA) – California Senate candidates Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina talk a great deal about two competing visions for the federal budget, but how does the rhetoric affect the federal budget’s bottom line? According to a line-by-line analysis from the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), Boxer’s campaign platform, taken in its entirety, would increase annual federal spending by nearly $16 billion annually, while the agenda Fiorina outlined would reduce the federal budget by nearly $155 billion per year. However, both candidates have also made proposals whose costs or savings are impossible to calculate.
To view Boxer's spending analysis in its entirety, click here.
To view Fiorina's spending analysis in its entirety, click here.
“A political campaign is often described as a war of words, but when candidates debate policy, they’re often debating dollars,” said NTUF Policy Analyst and study author Dan Barrett. “By translating often confusing campaign rhetoric into fiscal terms, NTUF’s analysis helps citizens understand how these policy proposals will affect their wallets.”
In preparing his analysis, Barrett utilized campaign websites, transcripts of debates, and news sources to gather information on any proposals from the two leading California Senate race contenders that could impact the level of federal spending. He in turn verified cost estimates for these items against independent sources such as the Congressional Budget Office. He 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. Among the findings:
- Barbara Boxer’s campaign promises to date would increase annual federal spending by a net of $15.847 billion. NTUF identified 31 of Boxer’s proposals as affecting federal expenditures; ten would increase outlays, one would reduce them, and 20 have costs or savings that were impossible to accurately determine.
- Carly Fiorina’s platform would, in its entirety, produce a net annual savings of $154.796 billion in the federal budget. NTUF found 22 proposals she made with a spending effect: five to raise expenditures, five to lower them, and 12 without quantifiable estimates of costs or savings.
- Major items in Boxer’s fiscal platform include an estimated $6.840 billion to readjust Social Security benefits for police officers, $2.704 billion for service members to collect retirement and disability pay concurrently, and $1.334 billion for after-school programs.
- Significant features in Fiorina’s agenda are a freeze on some categories of non-entitlement spending (savings of $108.414 billion), applying unobligated “stimulus” funds to deficit reduction (as much as $40.0 billion), and a federal government pay freeze and employment reduction through attrition (savings of $5.5 billion).
- Both candidates had large proposals whose costs could not be readily tabulated. Boxer stated her support for new initiatives in transportation, biotech, and technical education, but does not sufficiently elaborate on the scope of their funding. Fiorina has pledged to repeal and replace the federal health care reform bill that became law earlier this year, but fails to provide enough specifics on the new elements for NTUF to determine costs or savings.
“Words like ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability’ are often heard on the campaign trail, but they’re not always seen in candidates’ fiscal policy platforms,” Barrett concluded. “When candidates discuss issues, NTUF’s analysis isn’t focused on poll numbers; it’s focused on the numbers that affect taxpayers’ pocketbooks.”
NTUF’s analysis of the California 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.
NTUF is the research and educational arm of the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union, a non-profit citizen group. Note: The line-by-line cost analysis of the California and other Senate candidates’ spending agendas, along with more information on BillTally, are available online at www.ntu.org.