Foundation

Policy Proposals in the January 28th Republican Presidential Debate: Impact on Spending

by Demian Brady / /

Jeb Bush

Net Change in Spending per Year: $71.717 Billion

Homeland Security & Law Enforcement:

 Path to Legal Status: “We should have a path to legal status for the 12 million people that are here illegally.”

Cost per Year: $17.8 billion ($89 billion over five years)

Notes: In 2013, Bush supported the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, S. 744, and urged the House to pass it. In additional to boosting funding for border security, the legislation provided a path to legal status for many current illegal aliens, making substantially more people eligible for entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, and health insurance exchange subsidies. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that this would increase direct spending by $89 billion over five years.

Bush has stated that his plan “requires individuals to pass a thorough criminal background check, pay fines, pay taxes, learn English, obtain a provisional work permit and work, not receive federal government assistance, and over an extended period of time earn legal status.” While the duration of the “extended period” is unclear, many components of Bush’s plans overlap with provisions included in the legislation passed by the Senate. NTUF assumes that the individuals would become eligible for federal benefits once they have attained legal status, as in S. 744. Due to the unavailability at this time of a cost estimate specifically tailored to Bush’s plan, the estimate for S. 744 is used to show the potential impact of Bush’s “path to legalization” proposal (CBO also estimates that tax receipts would increase as the legal workforce expanded). This estimate does not include the border security funding in the bill. 

CORRECTION: Bush made proposals related to this in earlier debates, and NTUF incorrectly attributed his “path to legal status” as a “path to citizenship.”

National Defense & Foreign Affairs:

Islamic State: “The caliphate of ISIS has to be destroyed, which means we need to arm directly to Kurds, imbed our troops with the Iraqi military, re engage with the Sunni tribal leaders. Have a no fly zone in Syria and create safe zones to deal with the refugees. But, more importantly, to train a Sunni-led force in Syria to take out ISIS with our support ... ground and air.”

 Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear whether Bush would intend to pay for this with the defense increases he has proposed (see below) or whether he would maintain the separate funding mechanism for operations in and around the Middle East known as the Overseas Contingency Operation. In 2014, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments estimated the cost of different campaign options against the Islamic State: higher-intensity air operations could cost up to $6.8 billion per year and deployment of a larger ground contingent could drive annual costs as high as $13 to $22 billion.

Military: “As President I will restore and rebuild our military … .”

Cost per Year: $53.917 billion per year ($215.669 billion over four years)

Note: Bush has called to eliminate the automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, for defense. Since FY 2017 will have already started before the next President assumes office, it is unclear whether or how much of the defense sequester for FY 2017 would be reduced. For Fiscal Years 2018-2021, the CBO reports that the total amount of defense sequestration will total $215.7 billion.

Veterans:

Department of Veterans Affairs: “ … [B]ut first duty of the next president of the United States is to fix the mess at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: Bush has laid out a number of reforms for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including holding employees accountable, expanding whistleblower protections, and modernizing technology and software systems. The VA spent just under $4 billion on medical information and technology in FY 2015 and has long faced challenges regarding its information technology systems. Modernization costs could be significant, but an estimate is indeterminate. Bush states that, “‘We don’t have the money’ is not an acceptable answer when it comes to providing choice and care to veterans. This is a problem of priorities, not funding.” He also proposes to cut “excess administrators” to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.

Choice Card Program: “ … [W]e’ll give veterans a choice card so that they don’t have to travel hours and hours to get care if they want to go to their private provider.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: The existing $16 billion Choice Program permits eligible veterans to receive care in non-VA facilities. Bush would expand the program, stating, “Currently, only certain veterans are allowed to choose their doctor – those who can’t get an appointment within 30 days and those living 40 miles or more from a VA health facility. That number should be broadened and limitations to private access reduced. If a veteran wants to see a neighborhood physician, he or she has earned that choice. The VA must remain the guarantor of that choice and that care.” A cost estimate is indeterminate.

 

Ben Carson

Net Change in Spending per Year: $780 Million

National Defense & Foreign Affairs:

Armored Brigades in Baltic: “I think we need to put in some armored brigades [in the Baltic region].”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: A cost estimate is indeterminate and would depend on the size of the force and the logistics involved. In 2010, the Army’s plan estimated to remove “two heavy brigade combat teams, a corps headquarters, and various combat support and service support units” from Europe would have saved $2 billion over ten years. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed that analysis and noted additional factors that could impact the ultimate amount.

Missile Defense in Eastern Europe: “I think we ought to put in our missile defense system [in the Baltic region].”

Cost per Year: $780 million ($3.9 billion over five years)

Notes: In the 2009 Budget, the George W. Bush Administration requested $3.9 billion to establish interceptors in Poland. Later that year, the incoming Obama Administration announced that the plan would be scrapped. CBO also estimated the costs of expanding and operating an integrated missile defense system in Europe, could cost as much as $15.11 billion over 20 years (after adjusting for inflation).

 

Chris Christie

Net Change in Spending per Year: Indeterminate

National Defense & Foreign Affairs:

Islamic State: “… I will take on ISIS … . … We need to bring together our European and our Sunni Arab allies, and we need to develop a strategy together to take on ISIS every place that it is around the world, so that together, all of us can take ISIS out, destroy it ... .”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: A cost estimate for Christie’s plan is indeterminate.

In 2014, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment analyzed a range of policy options and their potential impact on spending:

The cost of U.S. military operations against ISIL through September 24 is likely between $780 and $930 million. The cost of future operations depends primarily on how long operations continue, the intensity of air operations, and whether additional ground forces are deployed beyond what is already planned. Assuming a moderate level of air operations and 2,000 deployed ground forces, the costs would likely run between $200 and $320 million per month. If air operations are conducted at a higher pace and 5,000 ground forces are deployed, the costs would be between $350 and $570 million per month. If operations expand significantly to include the deployment of 25,000 U.S. troops on the ground, as some have recommended, costs would likely reach $1.1 to $1.8 billion per month. On an annualized basis, the lower-intensity air operations could cost $2.4 to $3.8 billion per year, the higher-intensity air operations could cost $4.2 to $6.8 billion per year, and deployment of a larger ground contingent could drive annual costs as high as $13 to $22 billion.

 

Ted Cruz

Net Change in Spending per Year: -$17.381 Billion                                   

Health Care:

Repeal Obamacare:

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

Notes: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not completed an analysis of the full spending related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). A January 2016 CBO analysis of repealing the law showed that direct spending would be reduced by $470.2 billion over five years. There are potentially additional unreported discretionary savings.

Purchase Health Insurance Across State Lines: “ … [W]e should allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines.”

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

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

The Congressional Budget Office 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. The proposal was reintroduced in the 114th Congress in the form of H.R. 543.

Health Savings Accounts: “ … [W]e should expand health savings accounts so people can save in a tax-advantaged way for more routine healthcare needs.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear if Cruz would expand this tax break to lower-income earners by making it a “refundable” credit, which can be claimed regardless of a filer’s income tax liability and could increase outlays. He has called for a flat 10 percent tax rate, but he would retain the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, both of which are refundable.

In 2014, the Center for Health and Economy analyzed an Obamacare replacement plan that included a subsidized health savings account option that included a one-time, refundable tax credit of $1,000, at a cost of $53 billion over five years.

Health Insurance Portability: “ … [W]e should work to de-link health insurance from employment so if you lose your job, your health insurance goes with you and it is personal, portable and affordable.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear what specific policies would be implemented.

Homeland Security & Law Enforcement:

Border Security: “I have a detailed immigration plan … . We can build the fence. We can triple the border patrol.”

Cost per Year: $3.26 billion ($16.3 billion over five years)

Notes: Cruz detailed an immigration plan that includes the items above as well as proposals to: increase aerial surveillance and other technology along the border and finish the biometric tracking system at our nation’s ports of entry. While an official cost estimate is not available for Cruz’s proposals, the items – excluding building the fence – overlap with the homeland and border security provisions included in S. 744 in 2013 that amounted to $12 billion in discretionary spending over the first five years.

Building the fence would add another $4.3 billion over five years to the total. He has stated that, “There should be 700 miles of double-layer fencing built along our southern border.” 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 add another $4.3 billion to the total cost. In 2009, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that vehicular fencing along the southwest border would cost about $1 million per mile on average, while pedestrian fencing would cost about $3.9 million. The report also notes, “However, once contracts were awarded, the average per mile costs had increased to $6.5 million per mile for pedestrian fencing and $1.8 million per mile for vehicle fencing … the per mile costs increased over time due to various factors, such as property acquisition costs incurred for these miles that were not a factor for many of the previous miles and costs for labor and materials increased.”

NTUF assumes Cruz will prioritize and expedite the construction in order to complete the project within five years.

Welfare for Illegal Immigrants: “We can end sanctuary cities by cutting off funding to them. We can end welfare for those here illegally.”

Cost per Year: -$1.186 billion (-$5.929 billion over five years)

Notes: Cruz is a cosponsor of S. 1814 (114th Congress), the Stop Sanctuary Cities Act, that would limit certain federal funding for sanctuary cities. The funding would be reallocated to compliant jurisdictions so there would be no net change in spending as a result of the proposal.

A 2011 Treasury Department report found that $4.2 billion in refundable credits were paid to individuals who were not authorized to work in the United States. These individuals were not eligible for Social Security numbers and so each were assigned an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) which enabled them to be eligible for the Child Tax Credit, a “refundable” credit that can be claimed above and beyond a filer’s income tax liability.

As introduced, H.R. 3630 (112th Congress) would have required that filers have a Social Security number in order to be eligible for the Child Tax Credit. The Congressional Budget Office determined this would reduce outlays by $5.929 billion over five years. (The bill eventually became law but this provision was not included in the final version of the text.)

National Defense & Foreign Affairs:

Islamic State: “I will fight terrorism, go after ISIS, hunt them down wherever they are, and utterly and completely destroy ISIS.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear whether Cruz would intend to pay for this with the defense increases he has proposed (see below) or whether he would maintain the separate funding mechanism for operations in and around the Middle East known as the Overseas Contingency Operation. In 2014, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments estimated the cost of different campaign options against the Islamic State: higher-intensity air operations could cost up to $6.8 billion per year and deployment of a larger ground contingent could drive annual costs as high as $13 to $22 billion.

Military: “We need to rebuild the military … .”

Cost per Year: $74.547 billion ($149.094 billion over two years)

Notes: Although Senator Cruz has not specified what budgetary resources this proposal would entail, he has supported related legislation. In March 2015, he voted in favor of Amendment 423 to the budget resolution. The Amendment would have increased defense outlays for Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 over 2015 levels by a total of $149.094 billion, or, $74.5 billion per year.

 

John Kasich

Net Change in Spending per Year: $25.57 Billion

Health Care:

Mental Health: “The time has come to stop ignoring the mentally ill in this country and begin to treat them and get them on their feet, along with, of course, with treating the drug-addicted.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear what policies he would implement.

National Defense & Foreign Affairs:

Islamic State: “We want to destroy ISIS, it has to be in the air and on the ground. It has to be with our friends in the Arab world and our friends in Europe, the coalition that we had when we went to the first Gulf War.”

Cost per Year: N/A

Notes:  Kasich would pay for this with the defense increases he has proposed (see below).

Military: “ … [T]he Pentagon must be reformed so we get what we need for our men and women in uniform.”

Cost per Year: $25.75 billion ($103 billion over four years)

Notes: Kasich has proposed a defense plan whose provisions include: defeating the Islamic State, rebuilding the military, and reforming the Pentagon bureaucracy and procurement process. Under the August 2015 Congressional Budget Office forecast, defense spending would reach $592 billion in FY 2017 and would total $5.23 trillion from FY 2018-2025. Kasich proposed defense spending levels from FY 2018-2025 at a total cost of $5.31 trillion. Through FY 2021, Kasich’s plan would increase outlays relative to CBO’s forecast by a total of $103 billion. Outside of the five-year budget window, Kasich’s defense spending levels are lower than CBO’s outlook by a total of $32 billion.

 

Rand Paul

Net Change in Spending per Year: -$75 Million

Homeland Security & Law Enforcement:

Sentencing Reform: “I’ve been a leader in Congress on trying to bring about criminal justice reform.”

Cost per Year: -$75 million ($-376 million over five years)

Notes: Senator Paul is a cosponsor of S. 502, the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015, which would reduce prison sentences for certain non-violent drug-related offenses. The CBO scored a previous version of the bill in 2014 and found that it would reduce federal spending by $376 million over five years.

Government Reform:

Balanced Budget: “ … I … will look at all spending. And that’s the only way we’ll ever balance our budget.”

Cost per Year: N/A

Notes: Budget caps and freezes are important, and over the short term are effective at restraining federal spending. However, as recent history has shown, over the long term, lawmakers seek ways to skirt or reverse the caps. In our candidate campaign analyses, NTU Foundation is tracking the candidates’ specific proposals to reform and reduce programmatic spending.

In a previous debate, Paul noted that he has put forth three different balanced budgets and specifically mentioned support for 1 percent across-the-board cuts to balance the budget over five years, which would reduce outlays relative to the CBO’s August 2015 outlook by $2.32 trillion. A five-year forecast of revenues under Paul’s tax reform plan is currently unavailable.

 

Marco Rubio

Net Change in Spending per Year: $37.161 Billion

Homeland Security & Law Enforcement:

Border Security & Immigration Reform: “We’ll hire 20,000 new border agents instead of 20,000 new IRS agents. We will finish the 700 miles of fencing and walls our nation needs. We’ll have mandatory E-verify, a mandatory entry/exit tracking system and until all of that is in place and all of that is working and we can prove to the people of this country that illegal immigration is under control, nothing else is going to happen. ...  ... [W]e have a legal immigration system that’s outdated, it’s primarily based on whether you have family members living here. In the 21st century, it has to be more of a merit-based system, and that is why our legal immigration system is in need of modernization.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: While an official cost estimate is not available for Rubio’s proposals, the items – excluding building the fence – overlap with the homeland and border security provisions included in S. 744 in 2013 (of which he was a sponsor) that amounted to $12 billion in discretionary spending over the first five years.

Building the fence would add another $4.3 billion over five years to the total. 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 add another $4.3 billion to the total cost. In 2009, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that vehicular fencing along the southwest border would cost about $1 million per mile on average while pedestrian fencing would cost about $3.9 million. The report also notes, “However, once contracts were awarded, the average per mile costs had increased to $6.5 million per mile for pedestrian fencing and $1.8 million per mile for vehicle fencing … the per mile costs increased over time due to various factors, such as property acquisition costs incurred for these miles that were not a factor for many of the previous miles and costs for labor and materials increased.”

NTUF assumes Rubio will prioritize and expedite the construction in order to complete the project within five years.

National Defense & Foreign Affairs:

Intelligence: “ … [W]hen I’m [P]resident we are going to rebuild our intelligence capabilities.”

            Cost per Year: Indeterminate

            Notes: Intelligence funding data is classified and it is unclear what level Rubio would support.

Military: “When I’m President, we are rebuilding the U.S. military … .”

            Cost per Year: $33.901 billion ($101.703 billion over three years)

Notes: Rubio has proposed returning defense spending to 2012 levels. In 2012, total outlays for national defense stood at $677.852 billion (xls) and have decreased over the subsequent years. According to the August 2015 Congressional Budget Office outlook, defense outlays will be $592 billion in FY 2017, the first year that the next President is in office. CBO forecast total defense outlays of $2.43 trillion from 2017-2020. NTU Foundation assumes that Rubio would increase spending by $28.6 billion per year to get to the 2012 level in 2020. Relative to CBO’s projected baseline, Relative to the CBO baseline, Rubio’s plan would increase defense spending by $101.7 billion over 3 years.

 

Research and Analysis by:

Demian S. Brady, Director of Research

NTUF is the research affiliate of the National Taxpayers Union, a non-profit taxpayer advocacy group founded in 1969. Note: For additional analyses of Presidential candidates’ spending agendas, visit www.ntu.org/foundation.


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