Florida Senate Candidate Agenda Analysis: Incumbent Senator Marco Rubio


Economy, Transportation, and Infrastructure

Child Tax Credit: “Reform the Tax Code to [t]reat [p]arents [f]airly by … creating a new $2,500 per child tax credit…” (source)

Cost per Year: $848 million ($4.24 billion over five years)

Notes: Rubio's plan would "consolidate and enhance" three existing child-related tax credits: the Child Tax Credit (CTC), the Dependent Care Credit, and the Adoption Tax Credit (ATC).

Two of these credits are "refundable" – meaning that they can be claimed by filers with no income tax liability. The CTC resulted in approximately $22 billion in outlays in 2015 and the ATC cost $29 million.

Currently, the CTC is set at $1,000. Rubio would raise it to $2,500 by folding in other credits.

President Obama's FY 2016 budget included a related proposal to increase the CTC to $3,000 and estimated that this would increase outlays by $5.088 billion over five years.The Budget notes the estimate reflects the interaction effect with the proposals to expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC), provide a second earner tax credit, and provide for automatic enrollment in individual retirement accounts (IRAs).

In the absence of an official estimate of the outlay effects resulting from Rubio's plan, the Administration's estimate was prorated to account for the smaller credit. The net cost would be $4.24 billion over five years.

Paid Leave: “Encouraging paid leave for new parents, caretakers of ailing loved ones, seriously ill employees, and military families, without harmful mandates, taxes, or costly new entitlements.” (source)

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear how Rubio intends to accomplish this objective. A cost estimate is indeterminate.


Education, Science, and Research

Degree Earnings Transparency: “When I am president, college applicants will also be provided with information about how much they can expect to earn with a major from a given school, allowing them to make an informed decision about whether the financial costs of their chosen degree will be worth it.” (source)

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear whether providing this information would be mandated to the educational institution and overseen by a federal agency (which could entail an administrative cost), or if there would be a new federal program created to facilitate the initiative.

Higher Education: “Rather than spend more to maintain the current flawed system, I will fix higher education by promoting choice, competition, greater access, and lower costs. … Chief among these reforms is my plan to fix accreditation, which is the process by which institutions become certified to provide degrees. … As president, I will establish a new, independent accrediting entity designed to welcome affordable and innovative education providers. This would transform higher education by exposing it to the market forces of choice and competition, which inevitably bring down prices for consumers. It would give rise to new ways of earning a degree or certification.” (source)

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: A cost estimate is indeterminate for the new entity, or for potential long-term savings. In addition, Rubio introduced S. 297, the Educational Opportunities Act in February of 2013, which would create a tax credit in return for donations toward scholarships for low-income students. The proposal would not impact spending.

Student Loans - Income-based Repayment: “As president, I will make payments automatically proportional to a graduate’s earnings, thus reducing the financial risks of pursuing a degree.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: Rubio is a cosponsor of S. 85, the Repay Act, a bill to establish a simplified income-based repayment plan for federal student loans. Senator Angus King (I-ME), a cosponsor of the bill, says the “legislation is estimated to save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade.” However, an official cost estimate is unavailable.

Energy and the Environment

Central Everglades Planning Project: “The single biggest thing we can do is to pass the Central Everglades Planning Project… I am 100% focused on the Water Resources Development Act bill—which will authorize the Central Everglades Planning Project.” (source)

Cost per Year: $100 million ($1 billion over 10 years)

Notes: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) included a cost for the Central Everglades Planning Project in an estimate for a larger bill, S. 2848 Water Resources Development Act of 2016, and reported that the Project will increase outlays by $1 billion. NTUF assumes funding for the Project would be spread out over ten years.

Energy Development: “Empower States and Tribes to Control Onshore Energy Development Within Their Borders[,] Rewrite the Obama Administration’s Flawed Five-Year Offshore Drilling Plan.” (source)

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear how this would be implemented.

Regulations - Repeal: “Repeal Burdensome Regulations on Farmers and Ranchers.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear if this would reduce administrative costs of the Environmental Protection Agency.


Government Reform

National Regulatory Budget: “Create a National Regulatory Budget to [l]imit the[p]ower of [u]nelected [r]egulators … .” (source)

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: Rubio introduced S. 2153 (113th Congress), the National Regulatory Budget Act of 2014, that would require Congress to draw up a “regulatory budget” to cap the amount of economic costs regulatory agencies could impose on the economy per year. Rubio also cosponsored similar legislation in the current Congress in the form of S.2982, the Article I Regulatory Budget Act of 2016. It is unclear whether there would be any administrative costs for either piece of legislation.

Tax Reform: “Overhaul the Tax Code and [c]ut [t]axes for [b]usiness of [a]ll [s]izes … .” (source)

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: This could reduce administrative and enforcements costs for the Internal Revenue Service, but a cost estimate is indeterminate.


National Defense and Foreign Affairs

Energy Security - Allies: “Bolster the Energy Security of U.S. Allies.” (source)

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear to what degree, or how Rubio would strengthen energy security for  American allies.


Health Care

Affordable Care Act - Repeal: “Marco is committed to ending the government takeover of our health care system and putting in place reforms that empower patients, not the federal government. … Repeal Obamacare.” (source)

Cost per Year: $-94.04 billion (-$470.2 billion over five years)

Notes: The CBO has not completed an analysis of all of the spending related to President Obama’s signature health care law. A January 2016 CBO estimate of repealing the Affordable Care Act showed that direct spending would be reduced by $470.2 billion over five years. There are potentially additional unreported discretionary savings.

Affordable Care Act - Replace: “Marco is committed to ending the government takeover of our health care system and putting in place reforms that empower patients, not the federal government.” (source)

Cost per Year: $8.002 billion ($40.01 billion over five years) (partial cost)

Notes: Partial Estimate. Rubio’s plan to replace Obamacare includes a refundable tax credit for individuals to purchase health insurance, high-risk pools for individuals with pre-existing conditions, the purchase of health insurance across state lines, and an expansion of health savings accounts.

  • Refundable Credits: "Expand access to affordable, quality health coverage by providing every American with an advanceable, refundable tax credit that can be used to purchase insurance and that increases every year.” (source)

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: The level of the credit and the outlay portion of Rubio’s proposed tax credit are unclear. Refundable tax credits are available to filers regardless of their income tax liability, which means that to the extent the value of the credit exceeds a filers’ liability, a portion of the credit is recorded in the budget as spending. The CBO forecasts that under the Affordable Care Act, premium subsidies to purchase health insurance through the exchanges will increase spending by $302 billion over the next five years and $711 billion over ten years (excluding $1 billion in 2016 for exchange grants). In addition, the current credit would reduce revenues by $48 billion over the next five years and $109 billion over ten years. A related, detailed proposal from the Center for Health and Economy (CHE) to replace the Affordable Care Act includes a refundable premium credit whose total cost (revenue loss and outlays combined) would be $572 billion over ten years.

  • High-Risk Pools: “Reform insurance regulations by putting protections in place to ensure those with pre-existing health conditions can get access to affordable coverage … .” (source)

Cost per Year: ($7.964 billion per year, $39.819 billion over five years)

Notes: It is unclear what specific level of funding Rubio would support. A related proposal has been drafted: CHE’s detailed plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The reforms included a proposal to re-establish federal funding for high-risk pools to help provide health insurance coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. Funding would start at $7.5 billion in the first year and increase by 3 percent annually.

  • Health Insurance across State Lines: “ … [A]llow individuals to purchase insurance in any state.” (source)

Cost per Year: ($38 million per year, $191 million over five years).

Notes: Related legislation was introduced in Congress that would allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines. Currently, a 1945 law permits states to regulate health insurance plans within their borders; there is an exemption for certain large employers.

CBO conducted a cost estimate for 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 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposal was reintroduced in the 114th Congress in the form of H.R. 543.

  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) & Health Savings Accounts (HSA): “Expand access to consumer-centered products like FSAs and HSAs that empower consumers and reduce taxes.” (source)

Cost per Year: (Indeterminate)

Notes: CHE’s plan would create a one-time $1,000 refundable credit for HSA enrollees. Refundable credits can be claimed regardless of a filer’s income tax liability and thus increase federal spending. CHE estimated this reform’s total cost (revenue loss and outlays combined) would cost $70 billion over ten years. An outlay estimate is unavailable.

Medicaid Block Grant: “Promote innovation in the Medicaid program by giving states a per-capita block grant, which preserves funding for Medicaid’s unique populations while freeing states from Washington mandates.” (source)

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: NTUF assumes that in the first year, Medicaid funding under a block grant would match the previous year’s funding level. The amount allotted to each state in subsequent years would depend on population growth.

Medicare - Premium Support: “To save Medicare, Marco supports reasonable reforms to the program without making any changes for those in retirement ... or those nearing retirement, including …  [e]nacting a premium-support system, giving seniors a generous amount with which to purchase health care, either from Medicare or a private provider of their choice.” (source)

Cost per Year: -$2.8 billion (-$14 billion over five years)

Notes: The CBO analyzed the effect on federal spending for two different types of premium support proposals: the second-lowest-bid option and the average-bid option, which differed in how the regional support level would be calculated, but each involved paying a portion of the cost of coverage from private insurers. The CBO estimate assumes that the proposals were to be implemented in 2018. If the proposal is only applied to new Medicare enrollees, the average-bid option would save $2.8 billion per year over the first five years of implementation. Using the second-lowest-bid option would save $8.2 billion per year. Savings would be significantly higher if the proposal was expanded to all Medicare beneficiaries.


Homeland Security and Law Enforcement

Border Cameras & Sensors: “Install $4 billion in new cameras and sensors on the border.” (source)

Cost per Year: $800 million ($4 billion over five years)

Border Patrol Agents: “Hire 20,000 new Border Patrol agents.” (source)

Cost per Year: $3 billion ($30 billion over ten years)

Notes: An amendment to S. 744, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, would have provided $30 billion over ten years to hire at least 19,200 new border patrol agents.

Deporting Criminal Illegal Immigrants: “Deport criminal illegal aliens.” (source)

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: Deportation of criminal aliens is handled by state and local law enforcement. It is unclear whether Rubio would support reimbursing states for the costs.

Entry/Exit Visa Tracking System: “Implement an entry-exit visa tracking system.” (source)

Cost per Year: $600 million (first-year cost)

Notes: Testimony presented before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2013 suggested that expanding existing biometric entry/exit systems at U.S. air and sea ports could cost between $400 million and $600 million in the first year. The testimony noted a $10 increase in current visa processing fees could cover some or all of the costs. NTUF's estimate reflects the maximum potential impact on federal spending.

E-Verify: “Implement a mandatory eVerify system.” (source)

Cost per Year: $127 million ($635 million over five years)

Notes: In 2013, CBO reported that a mandatory eVerify system would cost $635 million over five years.

Southern Border Wall: “Finish all 700 miles of walls on our southern border.” (source)

Cost per Year: $863 million ($4.3 billion over five years)

Notes: Border fence construction costs up to $6.5 million per mile. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 mandated the completion of 700 miles of double-layer fencing, but to date, just 36.3 miles meet this requirement. Building an additional 663.7 miles of layered fencing could cost $4.314 billion over five years.


Social Security

Retirement Age: “Marco supports… [g]radually increasing the retirement age to keep up with changes in life expectancy.” (source)

Cost per Year: $-3.5 billion ($-34.8 billion over ten years)

Notes: The CBO estimates that increasing the age of eligibility for Social Security benefits by two-month increments for six years would save $3.7 billion over five years, and $34.8 billion over ten years. The actual savings from Rubio’s proposal would depend on whether he advocates a faster step up rate or a slower one.

Retirement Earnings Test: “Marco supports… [a]bolishing the ‘Retirement Earnings Test… [and e]xempting seniors who wish to remain in the workforce from paying the Federal payroll tax.’” (source)

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: Rubio introduced legislation S. 767, the Let Seniors Work Act, in 2014, to eliminate the payroll tax for individuals who have reached the retirement age, and eliminate the “Retirement Earnings Test” which reduces a portion of Social Security benefits for those receiving Social Security benefits under the normal retirement age. A cost estimate is not available.

Social Security Benefit Calculation: “Marco supports… [r]eforming the method for calculating benefits, while strengthening the program for low-income seniors.” (source)

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear how Rubio intends to accomplish this proposal.