Nearly $100 Billion Separates Kaine's, Allen's Federal Budget Agendas, According to Analysis of Virginia Senate Hopefuls' Platforms


(Alexandria, VA) – Today, National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) released candidate studies revealing the bottom line net cost of all the campaign proposals being made by the two major candidates in Virginia’s U.S. Senate race. Former Governor Tim Kaine’s plans would add an estimated $1.28 billion to the federal budget; and former Senator George Allen seeks to cut $97.74 billion. Compared to the current fiscal year’s outlays, Kaine’s annualized average would represent an increase of .04 percent, while Allen’s would represent a decrease of 2.7 percent.

“During campaigns it can be difficult to decipher the rhetoric and assess what a candidate will really do once in office, and what the end result will be for taxpayers,” said NTUF Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady. “Our study can help citizens to understand the fiscal implications of the promises they keep hearing on the campaign trail.”

Here are the major fiscal proposals from these candidates’ agendas:

George Allen:

  • Repeal “Obamacare.” Allen’s vow to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act makes up the vast majority of his health care related budgetary reductions with $64 billion of savings in year one and $319 billion over five years.
  • Roll back discretionary spending to 2008 levels. This equates to $26.2 billion in savings, year one.
  • Prevent pay increases for Congress and federal employees. This could save as much as $3.5 billion in the first year alone.
  • Spend $2.7 billion on veterans programs. Allen seeks a number of measures related to veterans like efforts to clear up backlogged VA claims. His plan to provide concurrent benefits makes up the bulk of his proposed spending on this area at $13.5 billion over five years.

Tim Kaine:

  • Reform “No Child Left Behind.” The estimated $500 million cost of the main component of this proposal would provide federal cash for testing currently funded by the states.
  • Create an Infrastructure Bank. The current iteration of this concept would cost $302 million in its first year and $1.51 billion over five years.
  • Fund clean energy and smart grid technologies. Kaine’s proposal mirrors the CLEAN Act which awards grants for development of these technologies costing $120 million a year.
  • Boost spending on Technical Education. In particular this refers to the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. Kaine seeks additional funding of $141 million annually for this program.

Aside from $100 billion in contrasts, Kaine and Allen agree on one major cost saver: drilling for oil off the Virginia coast. Allen’s energy plan is much broader, including more exploration than just Virginia, and would save an estimated $298 million ($102 million through drilling expansion). Kaine’s plan only includes issuing new leases in Virginia. Legislation resembling his proposal would send 50 percent of funds from new leases to the U.S. Treasury, and 25 percent to the Commonwealth, though the exact cost is unknown.

For the study, NTUF gathered information from the campaigns and media coverage on any proposals by the two leading Virginia Senate contenders that could impact federal spending. Cost estimates for these items were verified against independent sources such as the Congressional Budget Office, and through NTUF’s BillTally system, which since 1991 has tracked all spending bills in Congress.

NTUF identified 24 items in Tim Kaine’s platform that could affect federal outlays, six of which would increase spending, none of which would decrease spending, and 18 of which could not be quantified with reasonable precision. George Allen’s agenda included two proposals to increase expenditures, 10 to lower them, and 16 with impacts that could not be pinpointed.

Brady noted that the large number of “cost unknown” items was due to lack of specificity in the candidates’ platforms. Allen, for example, pledged to “work with the states” in promoting science, math, engineering, and technology education,” without indicating whether he intended to expand the number or funding of federal programs in this area. Kaine made reference to reducing “waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid,” which has a potential for major savings; however, he did not provide details of the resources he would direct toward this initiative.

Brady concluded, “Like many residents across the country, Virginians will be inundated with crafty messaging about important issues in coming months, but they won’t necessarily hear about the numbers behind those words.  NTUF’s studies are designed to provide some fiscal sunlight amid the ‘fall squalls’ of campaign season.” 

Note: NTUF’s analysis of the Virginia candidates’ agendas is one of several the group is currently conducting. Contests are being selected on factors such as geographic diversity, political significance as rated by outside groups and analysts, and the level of specificity in the candidates’ platforms.

NTUF is the research and educational arm of the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union, a non-profit citizen group.