Hillary Clinton’s Agenda – Senate Spending Spree

While Hillary Clinton’s most recent stint as Secretary of State seems to be the focal point of scrutiny as she launches her Presidential campaign, there is much taxpayers can learn about her policy proclivities from her time in the Senate.

Although Clinton served in public office for several years, she kicked off her campaign with a “listening tour”, to perhaps reset her perception among voters. To date, there are no policy agenda items on her official website. In speeches, she has so far laid out polices on a few areas including immigrationlaw enforcement, and civil rights that NTUF will cover in more detail in a future blog post.

A big question remains unaddressed: What budget related issues will Hillary Clinton feature in her candidacy?

That’s what NTU Foundation aims to answer in our project analyzing candidate fiscal agendas.

Since 2000, NTUF’s researchers have examined the net costs that would result from the proposals offered by those seeking the Presidency as well as candidates in key races for the Senate (recent studies are available here).

By going line-by-line through debate transcripts, speeches, and their websites, we have sought to calculate, to the extent that specifics are available, the net impact on federal spending that would result from their policies.

Furthermore, NTUF’s BillTally program can provide some insights into Hillary Clinton’s legislative agendas while serving in the Senate from 2001 to 2009.

BillTally is a unique cost accounting system that computes a “net annual agenda” for each Member of Congress (and has done so since 1991). The results are based on each Senator’s or Representative’s individual sponsorship or co-sponsorship of pending legislation, and provide an in-depth look at the fiscal behavior of lawmakers, free from the influence of committees, party leaders, and rules surrounding floor votes. All cost estimates for bills are obtained from third-party sources or are calculated from neutral data.

So what’s the bottom line for Hillary Clinton? During her time in the Senate, she proposed an average of $226 billion in new spending per Congress – sponsoring or cosponsoring 802 bills that would increase outlays over 8 years. 

Net Cost of Legislation Sponsored or Cosponsored by Senator Hillary Clinton (Dollar Figures in Millions)
CongressBills to IncreaseBills to DecreaseNet Spending Agenda# of Increase Bills# of Decrease Bills
Source: National Taxpayers Union Foundation’s BillTally Program

The table above shows the costs of the legislation backed by Clinton each year in the Senate. The dollar figures within each individual Congress exclude overlapping measures so that duplicate items are not double-counted.

  • In each Congress, Senator Clinton proposed far more new spending increases than decreases. On average, she supported $226.4 billion in new spending each year and $254 million in savings, for a net average of $226.1 billion in annual spending increase.
  • On average, for each dollar to reduce spending, Clinton proposed $892 in new spending in each Congress.
  • In the 107th Congress, Senator Clinton had no savings proposals on her legislative agenda. The most she sponsored was five in the 109th Congress for a total reduction of $381 million.
  • With the exception of the 107th Congress, Senator Clinton tended to support a larger net agenda to increase spending than the average Democrat Senator.
  • The most expensive bill she backed was S. 448 (108th Congress), the Leave No Child Behind Act of 2003, an omnibus bill pertaining to federal programs for children, including increases in spending on education, health care, paid leave, and child care. Annualized cost of $105.4 billion
  • Clinton also sponsored S. 280 (110th Congress), the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007, to establish a cap and trade system. Annualized cost of $53.3 billion.
  • By far the largest savings proposal she supported was S 2260 (109th Congress), the Patients Before Profits Act of 2006, to repeal the Medicare Advantage Stabilization Fund. Annualized savings of $467 million.

  • More information about BillTally is available here.
  • The list of bills with estimates sponsored or cosponsored by Senator Clinton is archived here.

This article is the first in a series. In the coming weeks, NTUF will examine the BillTally records of the other declared candidates as well as begin to track the candidates – in their own words.