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Fiscal Snapshot of Ben Carson's Agenda: Big Cuts, but Several Unknowns

by Demian Brady, Michael Tasselmyer / /

Dr. Ben Carson is a retired pediatric neurosurgeon running for the GOP nomination for president in the 2016 election. Running as a political “outsider”, his numbers in the polls have surged since the first two televised debates, coming within just a few percentage points of (and in some cases surpassing) frontrunner Donald Trump’s.

Ahead of the next GOP debate on Wednesday, October 28, NTUF analyzed the policy statements Dr. Carson has made in the first two Republican debates as well as information from his campaign website & social media pages, and interviews & speeches he has given since officially declaring his candidacy.

To determine the potential impact on spending, we matched his proposals with budget data, news reports, and related legislation in Congress and in NTUF’s BillTally database of historical cost estimates.

In total, his campaign proposals would decrease outlays by $99.5 billion per year, but there are 10 items on his agenda whose costs are currently indeterminate.

Ben Carson’s Spending Proposals: Number & Annualized Cost of Policies
(Dollars in Millions)
Total Cost Per Year# of Increase ProposalsCost Per Year of Increase Proposals# of Decrease ProposalsCost Per Year of Savings Proposals# of Proposals with Indeterminate Costs
-$99,5015$6,4673-$105,96810
Note: This data is a snapshot of Ben Carson’s proposals as of October 22, 2015. Information subject to change as additional information or proposals becomes available.
  • Carson has offered five proposals that would increase outlays for a net cost of $6.5 billion per year.

  • Most of his increases are related to homeland security. Carson’s most expensive item is to “secure the border.” Based on related legislation, increasing the number of border agents and related homeland security improvements could cost up to $3.7 billion per year. He would also establish a guest worker program for agriculture that would entail an administrative cost of $102 million.

  • Carson’s three savings proposals would decrease outlays by a total of $105.97 billion per year.

  • His largest spending cuts result from repealing the Affordable Care Act, for annual savings to taxpayers of $94 billion. He would maintain protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions, which based on related legislation, could cost $2.5 billion per year. He also proposes the expand use of Health Savings Accounts, which could have a significant cost to the extent that Carson would provide subsidies to help low-income earners open accounts for themselves.

  • Other proposals with a potential but unknown costs include reforming the Veterans Administration, permitting veterans to seek health care at non-VA facilities, and improving support and transitional programs for soldiers and veterans.

A detailed report with Carson in his own words, and reference notes on the actual and potential costs of his proposals is available as a pdf.

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National Taxpayers Union Foundation is a nonpartisan research and educational organization dedicated to helping Americans of all ages understand how taxes, government spending, and regulations affect them. Through our timely information, analysis, and commentary, we’re empowering citizens to engage in important policy debates and hold officials accountable.

Our findings are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to aid or hinder the passage of legislation or as a comment on any Member’s or Candidate's fitness to serve.


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