(Alexandria, VA) -- Missouri Senate candidates Claire McCaskill and Jim Talent will be scrambling for votes down the final campaign stretch, but taxpayers can look to their platforms for real distinctions: that's the assessment of a study released today by the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), which found that over $40 billion separates the budget agendas of the candidates.
"Political platitudes and negative ads are everywhere during most campaigns, but voters still care about the bottom line, their tax dollars," said NTUF Policy Analyst and study author Demian Brady. "Voters now finally have hard data to evaluate the candidates' campaign stances on federal spending."
In preparing his analysis, Brady used the campaign websites of the two leading contenders in the Missouri U.S. Senate race to gather information on proposals that could impact federal spending. He then verified these items against independent sources like the Congressional Budget Office. Brady also cross-checked items through NTUF's BillTally system, which since 1991 has computed a net annual agenda for Members of Congress based on their sponsorship of bills. Among the findings:
- Claire McCaskill has offered a total of 36 separate proposals that would affect federal spending, 17 of which would raise federal outlays and 2 of which would reduce them: a bill to re-import prescription drugs from Canada that the government scores as a $220 million savings, and a bill to defund the federal Animal ID Program. If enacted simultaneously, these items would result in a net overall annual spending hike of $43.7 billion (17 provisions have an indeterminate price).
- Senator Jim Talent's agenda of 9 budget-related items constitutes a net yearly spending increase of $3.4 billion, driven by his backing of a border security bill that would increase federal outlays by $3.1 billion. Talent's blueprint also endorses offshore drilling, which would result in a savings of $84 million.
- Both candidates had agenda items whose cost could not be estimated but would be considerable. Talent for example, vaguely noted he is "supporting billions of dollars in funding increases for veterans [sic] health care." McCaskill advocates student loan relief for teachers who enter public schools, which could amount to tens of millions (or more) depending on the amount of abatement provided.
NTUF's analysis of the Missouri candidates' agendas is one of several the group is conducting. Contests are being selected on factors such as geographic diversity, political significance based on outside groups and analysts, and the specificity in the candidates' platforms.
"This study reveals that the different visions McCaskill and Talent have outlined over the size of the federal budget are indeed quantifiable," Brady concluded. "Missourians who are concerned about federal spending can now evaluate the candidates' priorities in terms of cold cash rather than hot air."
NTUF is the research and educational arm of the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union, a non-profit citizen group. Note: The line-by-line cost analysis of the Missouri Senate candidates' spending agendas, and more information on BillTally, are both available online at www.ntu.org.