Taxpayer's Tab: New Study Finds $122 Billion Difference Between Colorado Senate Candidates Gardner, Udall

Special Election Coverage of the Colorado Senate Race
Vol. 5 Issue 38, October 23, 2014

New Study Finds $122 Billion Difference Between Colorado Senate Candidates Gardner, Udall 

Today, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) continued its efforts to educate taxpayers about the competitive Senate races across the country. A new NTUF candidate agenda analysis reveals the hard numbers behind the campaign rhetoric in Colorado’s hotly contested Senate race between Senator Mark Udall and Representative Cory Gardner – finding a $121.9 billion annual difference between their agendas.

Our line-by-line study found that Cory Gardner has outlined policies that would, on net, cut $83.29 billion from the federal budget; whereas his opponent, incumbent Senator Mark Udall, has described and supported plans that would result in a spending increase of $38.59 billion.

All proposals made on the campaign trail – whether on candidates’ campaign websites or in public debates – that could have fiscal policy implications are considered in the analysis, though only those that can be accurately quantified are included in NTUF’s bottom-line agenda estimates. Of the 31 total statements or proposals made between the two frontrunners, 15 had uncertain costs.

Representative Cory GardnerRepresentative Cory Gardner has proposed 16 total budget-influencing measures, of which five would decrease and five would increase federal spending. The remaining six of his measures were not specific enough to be scored. If he wins the election and his policies are enacted, taxpayers would see the federal budget shrink by $83.3 billion per year.

Highlights include:

  • Largest Spending Cut: Repeal the Affordable Care Act, an annual savings of $75.7 billion
  • Largest Spending Increase: Restore Medicare Advantage funding, a $11.8 billion yearly increase compared to current law
  • One of his measures that might have the largest budgetary impact, but was too broad to be scored, was his idea to "protect Social Security for future generations." The fiscal implications could mean billions in new costs or savings.
Senator Mark UdallSenator Mark Udall offered 15 platform items in his campaign agenda that could impact spending levels if he is reelected. While NTUF was unable to score nine proposals, six were matched to current legislation he has sponsored as well as budgetary data. The federal budget would grow by $38.6 billion annually in the event the six scored policies are enacted.

Other findings include:
  • Spending Reductions: Though a number of his proposals could reduce spending (such as adopting budget "approach" similar to the Simpson-Bowles plan), NTUF could not match them with budget figures
  • Largest Spending Increase: Comprehensive immigration reform, a cost of $20.2 billion per year
  • Among the unknown cost items, the largest possible fiscal impact is supporting an "all-of-the-above" energy policy, which could take the form of tax credits, loans, or grants for alternative and renewable energy producers. 
“Our analysis shows a significant divide between Senator Udall and Representative Gardner on how best to steer the federal budget,” said NTUF Research and Outreach Manager Dan Barrett. “Despite a growing trend of candidates across the country being more vague than ever about their policy goals, in the Centennial State we found enough substance to calculate agendas that are strong indicators of what Colorado’s next Senator will aim to do in Washington.”
For over ten years, NTU Foundation has scored the proposals of candidates running for federal office. Previously in 2014, we released a study on the two frontrunners in the Iowa Senate race, Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley. For more information on NTUF’s Candidate Studies, check out our special page and follow us on Twitter.

National Taxpayers Union Foundation is a nonpartisan research and educational organization dedicated to helping Americans of all ages understand how taxes, government spending, and regulations affect them. Through our timely information, analysis, and commentary, we’re empowering citizens to engage in important policy debates and hold officials accountable.

Our findings are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to aid or hinder the passage of legislation or as a comment on any Member’s or Candidate's fitness to serve.   Photo Credits: Wiki Commons