Study Exposes Obama's "Net Spending Cutter" Claim as Misleading

(Alexandria, VA) -- As Presidential contenders Barack Obama and John McCain prepare to square off in tonight's third and final debate, new research by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) shows that Senator Obama's release of further details on his spending plan raises more questions than it answers. According to NTUF's analysis, Obama's recent claim that his proposals would result in a net cut in federal spending is dubious at best.

In NTUF Issue Brief 158, Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady compares Obama's statement with the Foundation's extensive research on the true cost of Presidential campaign promises. "Senator Obama can say he's cutting more than he's spending, but neutral cost estimates surrounding his agenda tell a different story," Brady said. "Obama's words don't match the reality of what he is proposing, unless you believe that raising spending only slightly less than raising taxes is actually a budget cut."

Brady continues, "Obama has now outlined 18 proposals, six of which have been verified with budget or other third-party sources, to cut spending for an annual savings of $91.7 billion. Most of these savings are the result of withdrawing troops from Iraq. Obama also claims unverifiable savings in seven areas for a total of $93.5 billion a year. The savings of the six remaining proposals are unknown. Even if the unverified savings were immediately realized, they would not come close to offsetting the cost of the new spending programs he has proposed, which total $383.7 billion. Subtracting the savings we were able to quantify still leaves a net increase in outlays of $292 billion -- and that doesn't include dozens of programs with unknown costs that Obama has supported. His plans would clearly result in an enormous increase in new government spending."

NTUF's latest analyses of Senator Obama's plans include cost calculations based on hard data for more than 200 proposals that would impact the federal budget -- many of which have unknown fiscal effects. NTUF assumed the most conservative estimates based on a variety of sources, including the candidate's own projections; summaries from the Congressional Budget Office, Congressional Research Service, and the White House Office of Management and Budget; and results from equivalent legislation from NTUF's BillTally cost-accounting system. NTUF has also researched the agendas of McCain, who would increase spending by $92.4 billion annually, and Libertarian candidate Bob Barr, who would reduce the yearly federal budget by $200.9 billion.

"Anybody who would raise annual outlays by more than 10 percent, or about $2,600 per household, cannot credibly tell the American people he's cutting more than he's spending," Brady concluded. "Neither Obama nor McCain has offered sufficient detail in their platforms to earn the title of 'net spending cutter.'"

NTUF is the nonpartisan research and educational arm of the National Taxpayers Union, a citizen group founded in 1969. Note: For the full text of NTUF Issue Brief 158 or more information on the candidate cost analysis project, visit