Taxpayer's Tab Issue #39

Special Election Coverage of the Kansas Senate Race
Vol. 5 Issue 39, October 30, 2014

Platforms in Kansas Senate Showdown: $23 Billion Budget Impact Separates Orman, Roberts 

With only six days left until Election Day, many taxpayers are looking for clarity in political races across the country. Americans need a voice to cut through the campaign rhetoric and reveal the hard numbers behind the pledges and promises of candidates running for federal office.

For over ten years, NTU Foundation has been that voice -- but we need your help. Our research is intense and requires hundreds of man-hours as we delve into the federal budget, Congressional legislation, and the latest news that affects you every day. Your financial support will go a long way towards helping us continue our vital research and get Americans the information they need to make informed decisions on the future course of our nation. Donations are tax-deductible, so every dollar you give to NTU Foundation is a dollar you don’t have to give Uncle Sam.

The Kansas Senate Race

NTUF’s latest line-by-line analysis highlights the fiscal agendas in the neck-and-neck Kansas Senate race between incumbent Senator Pat Roberts and businessman Greg Orman. Our study found a $23 billion annual spending difference that separates the frontrunners.

Going line-by-line through both platforms, NTUF determined that Pat Roberts has outlined polices that would, on net, cut $17.8 billion from the federal budget, and Greg Orman has described plans that would lead to a spending increase of $4.8 billion.

All proposals made on the campaign trail – whether on candidates’ campaign websites or in public debates – that could have implications on spending are considered in the analysis. In many instances, candidates are vague or unclear regarding the specific details of their agenda items. Only those proposals that can be accurately quantified are included in the total agenda estimates. Out of 40 total proposals made between Roberts and Orman, 30 had unknown costs.

Representative Cory GardnerSenator Pat Roberts offered 15 platform items in his campaign agenda that could impact spending levels if he is reelected. While NTUF was unable to score nine of those proposals, six were matched to current legislation he has sponsored or cosponsored and budgetary data. The federal budget would shrink by $17.8 billion annually in the event the six scored policies are enacted.

Highlights include:

  • Spending Increases: Roberts would support exempting the military from across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, which would increase costs by $52.1 billion per year. He would also seek to spend additional tax dollars on securing the border ($3.7 billion, annually) and also for special needs education programs ($4.7 billion, annually).
  • Spending Reductions: His largest cut would come from repealing the Affordable Care Act (a $63.9 billion annual savings). In addition, Roberts advocates for replacing the current progressive income tax system with the Fair Tax, which would reduce outlays on tax enforcement and “refundable” credits (a $19.3 billion annual cut).
  • Among the unknown cost items, the largest potential fiscal impact could result from his proposal to “replenish” the Highway Trust Fund with “dedicated funds, for the long-term.” Spending from the Fund, currently around $45 billion, exceeds its revenues and it is projected to run deficits totaling $167 billion over the next ten years, which could require the government to provide additional appropriations from the general fund to keep it afloat.
Greg OrmanBusinessman Greg Orman has proposed 25 total budget-influencing measures, four of which would increase federal spending. The remaining 21 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 grow by $4.8 billion per year.

Other findings include:
  • Largest Spending Increase: Securing the border with additional personnel and infrastructure, a $3.7 billion yearly increase compared to current law.
  • Largest Spending Cut: Though a number of his proposals could reduce spending (such as relaxing regulations under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms for community and regional banks or ending Congressional pensions), NTUF could not definitively score them.
  • One of his measures that might have the largest budgetary impact, but was too broad to score, was his idea to simplify the Tax Code. The fiscal implications could mean billions in new costs or savings.
Both candidates back action to address the military sequestration budget cuts, promote more development in the renewable energy sector, simplify the tax system, and secure the border. They also spoke generally about improving the veteran support system, which would likely increase outlays.

“Our analysis shows a mixture of proposals from Senator Roberts that would ultimately lead to budgetary savings in large part due to supporting repeal of the Affordable Care Act,” said NTUF Research and Outreach Manager Dan Barrett. “Mr. Orman has spoken about a variety of policies, but did not offer enough concrete language for analysts to provide costs for most of his ideas.”
Learn more about NTU Foundation’s candidate spending analyses! So far, we have released studies on the frontrunners in the Iowa and Colorado Senate races. We have also posted snapshots of the Maine Senate contest between Shenna Bellows and Susan Collins. 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. 
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