Special New Jersey Senate Election: NTUF Study Finds $101 Billion Difference Between Cory Booker's and Steve Lonegan's Platforms
Today, National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) released an analysis revealing the possible cost of the campaign proposals that have been made by the two major candidates in New Jersey's special Senate race. Newark Mayor Cory Booker's plans would add an estimated $33 billion to the federal budget, while former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan's proposals add up to $68.2 billion in cuts. Compared to current fiscal year outlay projections, Booker's annualized agenda would represent an increase of 0.92 percent, while Lonegan's would represent a decrease of 1.89 percent.
The race was scheduled in the wake of the death of five-term Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in June. Governor Chris Christie appointed New Jersey state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa to temporarily fill the vacant seat, and called for a special election to be held this Wednesday, October 16th to determine a replacement for the remainder of the term.
"Especially during short, special election campaigns, it can be difficult to boil down the rhetoric and assess what a candidate will really do once in office, and what the end result will be for taxpayers," said NTUF Research and Outreach Manager Dan Barrett. "Our line-by-line studies outlining each of the candidates' spending points can help citizens to understand the fiscal implications of the promises they keep hearing on the campaign trail."
Below are some of the major proposals from each of the candidates' agendas:
- Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Mayor Booker has voiced his support for the bill already passed in the Senate to overhaul the immigration system, at a possible new cost of $20.2 billion each year.
- Double Government Research: To fund additional government research projects, taxpayers would be obligated for $4.9 billion in new spending each year.
- Cut Oil and Gas Programs: Mayor Booker has proposed to eliminate the Ultra-deepwater Oil and Gas Research and Development Program, which would amount to a cut of $50 million over three years.
- Lower Prison Costs: The criminal justice system reforms and programs that Mayor Booker has supported could save as much as $12 million per year in lower prison operating costs.
- Repeal "Obamacare": Mayor Lonegan's proposal to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would save $64 billion in the first year and $319 billion over five years.
- Repeal Dodd-Frank: Rolling back additional Wall Street regulatory and oversight burdens passed in 2010 would amount to a $4.3 billion annual savings to taxpayers.
- Secure the Border: While Mayor Lonegan's pledge to increase border security was not specific enough to score, it could cost billions of dollars to complete a border fence or establish a "virtual border" with additional patrol agents and surveillance drones or cameras.
- Fix Social Security: Mayor Lonegan's plan to make personal accounts available to younger taxpayers could save or cost the government, depending on how the program would be phased in and how soon such a reform would take place.
For the study, NTUF gathered information from the campaigns and media coverage on any proposals by the two leading New Jersey Senate contenders that could impact federal spending. Cost estimates for these items were cross-referenced with scores from 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 58 items in Cory Booker's platform that could affect federal outlays: 20 of which would increase spending, three of which would decrease spending, and 35 of which could not be quantified with reasonable precision. Steve Lonegan's agenda included two proposals to decrease expenditures and ten that could not be pinpointed.
Both candidates had potentially large proposals with costs or savings that could not be readily tabulated. In particular, Mayor Booker has stated his support for increased spending on education and health care programs, but has not offered enough detail to estimate his plan’s cost. Lonegan pledged to "dismantle the IRS as we know it" and institute a number of other government reforms, but did not provide enough specifics for NTUF to determine any budgetary impact.
Barrett concluded, "Residents of New Jersey have been inundated with messages trumpeting freedom and equality on a multitude of issues, but they haven't necessarily heard about the numbers behind those words. NTUF's study is designed to shed some light, where possible, on the fiscal impact these candidates' agendas might have."
Break Down of Proposed Spending by the Two New Jersey Senatorial Frontrunners
(in millions of dollars and annualized)
Economy, Transportation, and Infrastructure
Education, Science, and Research
Energy, Agriculture, and the Environment
Homeland Security and Law Enforcement
National Defense and International Relations
|Source: NTUF BillTally System|
Since 2000, NTUF has been researching the proposed policies of candidates, using the information compiled through the BillTally project. In 2012, the Foundation covered Senate races in Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
NTUF is the research and educational arm of the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union, a non-profit citizen group. Note: The line-by-line cost analysis of the New Jersey Senate candidates’ spending agendas, along with more information on BillTally, are available online at www.ntu.org/ntuf.
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Cory Booker is the current Mayor of Newark, NJ and a former councilman for that city. He campaigned for then-Senator Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential race and was offered a position in the White House Office of Urban Affairs, which he declined.
Steve Lonegan is the former mayor of Bogota, NJ. He has twice run for Governor of New Jersey -- in 2005 and 2009 -- and was Director for that state's chapter of Americans for Prosperity from 2007 to 2013.
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