The Costs of Proposals Offered in the Last Republican & Democratic Debates

The Republican candidates (minus Donald Trump?) will debate again tonight, below is an overview of what the Presidential hopefuls proposed in the last debate.

CandidateTotal Cost
per Year
($ Billions)
# of Increase ProposalsCost per Year of Increase Proposals# of Decrease ProposalsCost per Year of Savings Proposals ($ Billions)
Jeb Bush$53.91$53.90 
Ben Carson($10.6)0n/a1($10.6)
Chris Christie($6.5)1$33.91($40.3)
Ted CruzIndeterminate0n/a0n/a
John KasichIndeterminate0n/a0n/a
Marco Rubio($52.1)2$41.91($94.0)
Donald Trump$62.11$31.91($94.0)

Highlights of the analysis:

Defense Increases: Three candidates called to “rebuild the military.” Governor Bush proposes to repeal the automatic sequester cuts to increase military spending ($53.9 billion per year) while Governor Christie and Senator Rubio each would return defense spending to 2012 levels, an increase in annual spending by $33.9 billion over the Congressional Budget Office’s August 2015 baseline. (More information is available in our analysis of Rubio’s plan).

Infrastructure:  Donald Trump proposes a one-time 10 percent tax to encourage corporations to repatriate an estimated $2 trillion in earnings that are kept overseas because of the U.S.’s high corporate tax rate. Trump would use the tax receipts to increase spending on infrastructure ($31.9 billion per year).

Entitlements: Christie touted his entitlement reform plan, which he said would save $1 trillion over the long-term, assuming the reforms are maintained. NTUF was able to verify at least $202 billion in total savings over the first five years of implementation.

Health Care: Trump and Rubio each vowed to repeal Obamacare ($94 billion in annual savings). They each also said they would replace it. Rubio has offered a plan with a partial cost of $8 billion per year. Trump has said he would replace Obamacare with “something terrific” but has yet to provide details.

The candidates also made several proposals whose price is indeterminate due to lack of details. A detailed analysis of each proposal is available.

Advisory: Very little time has been spent in the debates discussing the federal government’s long-term budget imbalance. Now that the deficit forecast is even moredismal than previously thought, NTUF hopes the moderators will push the candidates to discuss how they would pay for their plans and how they would address the over-spending which will double the government’s net interest payments on the debt. As always, we will be live-tweeting the debate at @ntuf.

The Democratic Debate: By the Numbers

The Democrats also held a recent debate. The candidates offered a total of 18 proposals to increase outlays, zero to reduce spending, and 13 items whose cost is indeterminate. Below are highlights of the data. For more information, see the full analysis with the candidates’ proposals in their own words and details about the costs to taxpayers.

Hillary Clinton: In the December 19 debate, Clinton laid out proposals with an annual price of $38 billion. The cost of the agenda she detailed in the recent debate tops $125 billion, including comprehensive immigration reform, infrastructure grants, energy challenge grants, public funding of Congressional elections, and expanded child care funding. In addition she offered five policies whose cost is indeterminate.

Martin O’Malley: O’Malley also proposed more spending in the latest debate ($99 billion) compared to December ($80 billion). On his agenda: expanding federal paid “volunteer” programs, debt-free college, a clean electric grid program, comprehensive immigration reform, and four proposals with unknown costs, including a “new agenda for America’s cities” with unspecified spending hikes for transportation and housing.

Bernie Sanders: Sanders’ agenda topped $1.6 trillion, down from $1.8 trillion in the last debate, mainly because he revised his single-payer health care proposal and provided an official estimate for it at $1.38 trillion per year. He also outlined new spending for infrastructure, tuition-free college, and alternative energy, and listed four proposals whose cost is indeterminate.

The full report is available at