Catherine Cortez Masto's Spending Priorities

Following a tight race with Republican Joe Heck, Catherine Cortez Masto won the open Senate seat in Nevada to succeed Harry Reid. Below is a look at some of the spending-related policies she featured on her campaign website. Three of her spending proposals would increase spending by a net of $22.6 billion over five years.

  • Equal Pay: “It is time for politicians in Washington to… pass real equal-pay-for-equal-work legislation.”

Cost per year: $3 million ($15 million over five years)

Notes: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of H.R. 1619/S. 862, the Paycheck Fairness Act that would enhance regulations pertaining to equal pay. The text of the bill authorizes $15 million for compliance training, a grant program for research, education, outreach, and negotiation skills training for girls and women. NTUF assumes the outlays would occur over five years.

  • Immigration Reform: “I support passing comprehensive immigration reform.”

Cost per year: $20.2 billion ($110 billion over 5 years)

Notes: In 2013, CBO estimated that the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 744) would provide additional funding for border security and provide a path to legal status for many current illegal aliens. Adding such a large number of people to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicaid would boost direct spending by $89 billion and discretionary spending by $12 billion over the first five years.

  • Military Aid: “We also need to directly arm and train the Iraqi Kurds to help combat ISIS, as well as increase targeted air strikes and continue supporting our allies in the region to root out terrorists.”

Cost per year: $2.4 billion (first-year cost)

Notes: In 2014, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments estimated, “On an annualized basis, the lower-intensity air operations could cost $2.4 to $3.8 billion per year, the higher-intensity air operations could cost $4.2 to $6.8 billion per year.” NTUF assumes she would support the lower-intensity air operations option for “targeted air strikes.”


Cortez Masto also offered some proposals (listed below) whose costs could not be determined due to lack of specificity.

  • Education Funding: “I will fight for more education funding because our kids cannot get a 21st Century education in an overcrowded classroom or a portable trailer. We need to make sure teachers have the tools they need for our kids to succeed.”

Notes: It is unclear what level of funding Cortez Masto would support.

  • Minimum Wage: “It is long past time for Congress to raise the minimum wage so working Americans can feed their families off the pay they earn.”

Notes: Cortez Masto supports a $12 an hour minimum wage. The CBO has analyzed the possibility of raising the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour and $10.10 an hour in 2014. It found that the $9.00 option would cost the economy 100,000 jobs, while the $10.10 option would cost the economy 500,000 jobs. It is unclear whether this would impact outlays for unemployment benefits or other welfare programs.

  • Renewable Energy Investment: “As U.S. Senator, I will work to ensure we are fully utilizing Nevada’s abundance of wind, solar, and geothermal energy resources and increase investments in renewable energy technology to create green jobs here in Nevada.”

Notes: It is unclear whether Cortez Masto would seek to increase investments in renewable energy technology through tax credits or new federal spending.

Cortez Masto’s agenda did not include any policies that would reduce spending. However, she did call to enact a “$1,000 tax cut for middle class families.” It is unclear if she was referring to income taxes or payroll taxes that fund programs like Social Security and Medicaid. NTUF recently released an analysis on the share of income tax paid by each income level. Research showed  that the wealthiest 25 percent of Americans pay 87 percent of income taxes. It is likely that her tax proposal, if enacted, would include “refundable” credits that can be claimed by eligible filers above and beyond their income tax liability. Although she proposed to “pay for” this proposal by increasing taxes on energy and corporations, the costs of these hikes would ultimately be passed onto consumers through higher prices for goods and services.