New Jersey U.S. Senatorial Candidate Spending Analysis - Steve Lonegan


New Jersey U.S. Senatorial Candidate Spending Analysis – Steve Lonegan
Total Net Spending Agenda: -$68.2 billion (savings)

Economy, Transportation, and Infrastructure: -$4.3 billion (savings).

A. Repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act:

“Steve as Senator will continue his fight to repeal the Dodd-Frank Law that justifies future bailouts with intense job-killing regulations on the financial industry.”

Cost: -$4.3 billion (-$21.5 billion over five years).

Source: Statement by Douglas W. Elmendorf, Director, Congressional Budget Office (CBO), before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, March 30, 2011. A more recent cost estimate is unavailable.


Education, Science, and Research: Unknown

A. Encourage School Choice:

“[Steve] is a strong supporter of school voucher and tax credit ideas that put parents in charge of their children’s education.”

“No, I do not support using federal funds [for school vouchers] period.”

Cost: Unknown.

Note: It is unclear how Mayor Lonegan would change alternative school programs or if he would propose refundable credits (which result in outlays) for education.


Energy, Agriculture, and the Environment: Unknown

A. Prohibit Spending to Combat Global Warming:

“Steve rejects the notion that Americans should have to pay hundreds of even thousands of dollars each year to fight alleged ‘Global Warming.’”

Cost: Unknown.

Note: According to the Congressional Research Service, at least 18 U.S. government agencies currently receive funding to address global climate change. Since Fiscal Year 2008, that funding has totaled approximately $77 billion, with over two-thirds of that amount dedicated to energy technology development and deployment. The President’s 2014 budget request includes $11.6 billion for research, technology, and assistance programs related to climate change. It is unclear to what extent Mayor Lonegan would seek to eliminate or modify these programs.

Related legislation has been introduced in the form of H.R. 662 (113th Congress), which would prohibit United States contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. According to the sponsor, this action would save $10 million in FY 2014.


Government Reform: Unknown

A. Dismantle the Internal Revenue Service (IRS):

“I want to lead the effort to put an end and to dismantle the IRS as we know it.”

Cost: Unknown.

Note: According to the Internal Revenue Service budget, the agency received $11.8 billion in Congressional appropriations in Fiscal Year 2012. The President’s 2014 budget requests $12.9 billion to fund IRS initiatives. It is unclear to what extent and on what timetable Mayor Lonegan would reduce or eliminate IRS activities, as well as whether any new or existing agencies would perform some of the IRS’s functions.


B. Establish English as the National Language:

“Steve … wants to make English our official language.”

Cost: Unknown.

Note: Related legislation was introduced in the form of H.R. 1164 (112th Congress), the National Language Act of 2011. The bill would have established English as the official language of the U.S. Government. A cost estimate is not available.


C. Reform Social Security:

“I would be a big advocate in the near future for young people coming into the system to choose to either join the current system, which we should maintain, or to choose to be in their own personal Social Security account, which would be governed by the same rules as the current system.”

Cost: Unknown.

Note: Related legislation was introduced in the form of H.R. 1776 (109th Congress), the Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005, also referred to as the Ryan-Sununu plan. The Social Security Administration (SSA) released estimates of the effect of the Ryan-Sununu plan in 2004. SSA assumed the higher yields of personal accounts would result in more Americans opting out of the system in place, once the plan is implemented after two years. The plan called for federal funds to be used to bridge any gaps in the Social Security Trust Fund, resulting in a governmental transfer from the General Fund.

Other related legislation was introduced in the form of H.R.2889 (112th Congress), the Save Social Security Act, also referred to as the McCotter plan. SSA released estimates of the McCotter plan on the Social Security system in 2011. Because the measure requires budget neutrality, no governmental transfers of General Fund monies would occur in the first five years.

Transitioning to either system would likely require new spending to maintain the “legacy” system. It is unclear how Mayor Lonegan would address the transition.


D. Repeal the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (PATRIOT) Act of 2001:

“The PATRIOT Act should be repealed and then re-determined from the very beginning. ... Let’s sunset the PATRIOT Act and start all over again.”

Cost: Unknown.

Note: S. 990, the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011 (112th Congress) extended provisions including the ability of the government to obtain roving wiretaps and to conduct covert surveillance in certain cases through June 1, 2015. It is unclear whether repealing the Act would lead to any cost savings.


Health Care: -$63.9 billion (savings)

A. Repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

“Steve supports full ObamaCare Repeal and will use his power as a United States Senator to block funding and implementation of this dangerous proposal.”

Cost: -$63.9 billion (-$319.5 billion over five years).

Source: Repealing “Obamacare”: A Look Beyond the Media’s Misguided Deficit Focus, National Taxpayers Union Foundation, Issue Brief 164, July 2012.

Note: NTUF’s estimate is based on CBO reports for H.R. 2 (112th Congress), the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, and H.R. 6079, the repeal of Obamacare Act. Several versions of bills to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were re-introduced in the 113th Congress, including H.R. 45 and S. 177.


Homeland Security and Law Enforcement: Unknown

A. Create a Sponsored Immigration System:

“Steve believes we need to go back to the old system where immigrants were sponsored, and did not become a drain on taxpayers … .”

Cost: Unknown.

Note: The United States has various options for an immigrant to become a lawful permanent resident, including a sponsorship program whereby a current resident can petition for a relative, employee, or orphan to be admitted to the country. A sponsor is required to sign an affidavit of support. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “An affidavit of support is a document an individual signs to accept financial responsibility for another person, usually a relative, who is coming to the United States to live permanently. The person who signs the affidavit of support becomes the sponsor of the relative (or other individual) coming to live in the United States.” The affidavit is in effect until the individual becomes a citizen or has worked for 40 quarters. Since 1997, such affidavits have been legally enforceable. Immigrants must earn enough to support a household at 125 percent or more of the federal poverty level. Applicants are also generally not eligible for means-tested welfare programs and Social Security, though they are able to receive emergency Medicaid benefits and other state-provided medical care.


B. Deport Criminals:

“We need to deport illegal criminals.” (45:40)

Cost: Unknown.

Note: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of H.R. 2952 (112th Congress), the Immigration Backlog Reduction Act of 2011. The bill would expedite the removal of criminal and certain inadmissible arriving aliens. It is unclear if the bill would result in new administrative costs.


C. Secure the Border:

“We need … to secure the border.” (45:40)

Cost: Unknown.

Note: It is unclear what means Mayor Lonegan would employ to “secure the border” which may include expanding or reinforcing existing fencing, increasing the number of border patrol agents, and expanding use of "virtual fence" surveillance technology such as drones or cameras.


Miscellaneous: Unknown

A. Make Cuts in Welfare Programs:

“Steve … supports major cuts in government welfare programs created and expanded in recent years, most particularly … giveaways like free cell phones, 99-week unemployment handouts and welfare benefits that encourage people not to work and live off taxpayers.”

Cost: Unknown.

  • Free Cell Phones: Unknown. According to the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, the Federal Communications Commission oversees the Lifeline program, which, through the Universal Service Fund, subsidizes eligible subscribers’ telecommunications plans by as much as $10 per month. In 2012, the program was funded at $2.2 billion. It is unclear through Mayor Lonegan’s statement whether he would abolish the program altogether or simply reduce subsidy amounts.
  • 99-Week Unemployment Benefits: Unknown. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Unemployment Insurance is primarily a state-funded program, with additional federal benefits available through Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits for those who qualify. Since 2008, extensions of emergency unemployment benefits have made some long-term jobless individuals eligible for benefits for as long as 99 weeks. The Emergency Unemployment Program is set to expire at the end of 2013.
  • Other Benefits: NTUF is unable to determine how Mayor Lonegan’s proposal may affect federal outlays due to a lack of specificity. However, numerous pieces of legislation have been introduced in the 113th Congress that would generate savings in the Medicaid, Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, Food Stamp, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and other benefit programs.


Fiscal Notes:

“I am proud to sign Americans for Prosperity’s No Climate Tax Pledge … .”

“I will not vote to raise the debt ceiling.” (12:00)

Note: Once the federal debt ceiling is reached, and in the absence of budgetary reforms, the government would have to prioritize its spending obligations based on the day-to-day inflow of revenues and receipts. In the event that the United States exceeds the current borrowing limit without having implemented spending or tax reforms it is likely that interest rates on government borrowing would increase and values of bonds would decrease. However, NTUF’s BillTally methodology does not account for changes in government debt interest. Any budgetary changes would be dependent on future legislative action, the nature of which is not clear through Mayor Lonegan's statement.

“[I] call upon you as the Inspector General for Tax Administration to begin immediately the process of conducting a full and complete audit of IRS practices concerning the deliberate targeting of existing conservative public policy organizations.”

Note: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of H.R. 2389 (113th Congress), a bill to require the Inspector General for Tax Administration to audit the Internal Revenue Service. According to NTUF’s BillTally system, this legislation has been classified as “no-cost” because its immediate impact on outlays cannot be quantified. However, some savings from administrative efficiencies resulting from such an audit could occur.