Foundation

The Republican Candidates' Spending Proposals in the February 6th Debate

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Jeb Bush

Net Change in Spending per Year: -$58.56 billion

Economy, Transportation, & Infrastructure:

Surface Transportation: “ … [I]n the Bush administration, we would shift transportation dollars back to the states.”

Cost per Year: -$17.82 billion (-$71.279 billion over four years)

Notes: Related legislation has been introduced in the 114th Congress as S. 1541 & H.R. 2716, the Transportation Empowerment Act. The bill would gradually reduce federal spending on highway programs and the federal gas tax to 3.7 cents per gallon by 2020.

The version of the bill in the 113th Congress, introduced as H.R. 3486 & S. 1702, specified reduced federal spending levels over the next several years. NTUF determined it would reduce federal spending, relative to levels authorized in the MAP-21 Act, by $71.3 billion between FY 2015 and 2018.

The version of the bill in the 114th Congress does not set overall spending limits, but specifies that in any year when the funding required for transportation projects exceeds the available level in the Highway Trust Fund those amounts would be reduced on a pro rata basis. In addition, it authorizes funding for “core highway programs.”

Although an official cost estimate of Bush’s exact proposal is unavailable, the estimate for the TEA in the 113th Congress is indicative of the reduced federal role in most surface transportation funding as responsibility is transferred to the states. There could be additional savings to the extent that the Department of Transportation is reduced in size.

Education, Science, & Research:

Department of Education: “[In the Bush administration, we would shift] … [e]ducation dollars, back to the states.”

Cost per Year: -$617 million (-$3.085 billion over five years)

Notes: The entire budget of the Department of Education (DoE) in FY 2015 was $103.3 billion, of which grant funding to the states totaled $71.3 billion. Based on Bush’s statement, NTUF assumes that he would convert existing funds to the states into block grants and reduce the size of the DoE’s bureaucracy. There are approximately 4,200 full-time equivalents (FTEs) employed at the Department of Education. Based on data available pertaining to the office of Program Administration, the average personnel, benefits, and non-personnel (including such items as travel, rent, mail, telephones, utilities, printing, IT, contractual services, equipment, supplies, and other departmental services) costs per FTE is $220,849. Based on this, total annual personnel and administrative costs could run upwards of approximately $926 million. NTUF assumes the workforce of the DoE would be drawn down to 10 percent of its current level over the next five years, saving $315 million in the first year and $834 million in the fifth year.

Energy & the Environment:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): “[In the Bush administration, we would shift] EPA delegated authority back to the states.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a budget of $8.1 billion in FY 2016 but it is unclear whether or to what extent that Bush would reduce the Agency’s budget.

Health Care:

Medicaid: “ … [W]e need to shift all of this power of healthcare … and allow governors to have the Medicaid plans so that they can create 21st century Medicaid insurance for people that are stuck in poverty.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: Bush has proposed that “states would present a plan to receive comprehensive and capped     allotments” for health care to replace multiple existing funding streams. States would have flexibility to design their own benefit programs. The campaign has not specified a funding level for the allotments.

Repeal Obamacare: “ … [Repeal] Obamacare … .”

Cost per Year: Cost per Year: -$94.04 billion (-$470.2 billion over five years)

Notes: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not completed an analysis of the full spending related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. A January 2016 CBO analysis of repealing the law showed that direct spending would be reduced by $470.2 billion over five years. There are potentially additional unreported discretionary savings. The allotments mentioned above would be used as one replacement option.

National Defense & Foreign Affairs:

Defense Sequester Repeal: “We need to eliminate the sequester which is devastating our military.”

Cost per Year: $53.917 billion per year ($215.669 billion over four years)

Note: Bush has called to eliminate the automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, for defense. Since FY 2017 will have already started before the next President assumes office, it is unclear whether or how much of the defense sequester for FY 2017 would be reduced. For Fiscal Years 2018-2021, the Congressional Budget Office reports that the total amount of defense sequestration will total $215.7 billion.

Intelligence: “What we need to do is make sure that we are kept safe by having intelligence capabilities, both human and technological intelligence capabilities far superior than what we have today.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: A cost estimate is indeterminate.

Procurement: “We also need to reform our [defense] procurement process. We need to make sure there are more men and women in uniform than people – than civilians in our Defense Department. There’s a lot of things that we need to reform to bring our defense capabilities into the 21st century ... .”

Veterans:

Veterans Health Care: “ … [W]e need to give veterans more choices [and create centers of excellence]. A veterans card to be able to go to a private provider will enhance the quality of the service inside the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: The existing $16 billion Choice Program permits eligible veterans to receive care in non-VA facilities. Bush would expand the program, stating, “Currently, only certain veterans are allowed to choose their doctor – those who can’t get an appointment within 30 days and those living 40 miles or more from a VA health facility. That number should be broadened and limitations to private access reduced. If a veteran wants to see a neighborhood physician, he or she has earned that choice. The VA must remain the guarantor of that choice and that care.” A cost estimate is indeterminate.

 

Ben Carson

Net Change in Spending per Year: Indeterminate

Health Care:

Health Empowerment Accounts (HEAs): “I have proposed a Health Empowerment Account system. Everybody gets a Health Empowerment Account the day they are born, they keep it until they die. They can pass it on. We pay for it with the same dollars that we pay for traditional health care with ... .”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: HEAs would be similar to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) which permit people to save money tax-free for medical expenses. HSAs reduce revenues to the federal government, but do not require outlays. For low-income earners, Carson would have the federal government “provide fixed-dollar support to the states, which must direct those funds to the individual HEAs of Medicaid recipients and their insurance premiums.” A formal cost estimate is unavailable, but the campaign states that “experts with whom we have consulted believe that in the first decade that HEAs are in effect … overall government health care spending will decrease by approximately $1.5 trillion.”

Veterans:

Support System: “I think what we should do is have an external support system for people once they volunteer [for the military] and it should follow them throughout their career, should follow them for three years, five years afterwards, a year before they get out, should be working on integrating them back into society ... .”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: There is insufficient information regarding the specifics of this proposal.

Veterans Health Care: “[Veterans] should have health empowerment accounts that are subsidized so they can go to any medical facility and be taken care of. They can go to a VA [facility] if they want to.”

            Cost per Year: Indeterminate

            Notes: There is insufficient information regarding the specifics of this proposal.

 

Chris Christie

Net Change in Spending per Year: N/A

Christie made no spending-related proposals during the debate.

 

Ted Cruz

Net Change in Spending per Year: -$87.598 billion

Government Reform:

Tax Reform: “ … I’m campaigning on ... adopting a simple flat tax to abolish the IRS.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: The Internal Revenue Service’s FY 2016 funding was projected to be $12 billion, including $2.2 billion for taxpayer services, $4.9 billion for enforcement, and $3.7 billion for operations support. Cruz has not indicated in detail what agency would take over administration of the Tax Code after the Internal Revenue Service is abolished. While there could be significant savings relative to the current tax law, the level of funding necessary to administer Cruz’s reformed Tax Code is indeterminate.

Health Care:

Health Insurance Portability: “ … [W]e will de-link health insurance from employment so that you don’t lose your health insurance when you lose your job, and that way health insurance can be personal, portable and affordable and we keep government from getting in between us and our doctors.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: Cruz mentioned two specific reforms (detailed below) in the debate pursuant to the goal: lifting the prohibition on selling health insurance across state lines and expanding Health Savings Accounts. It is unclear whether additional reforms would also be implemented.

Health Savings Accounts: “We’ll expand health savings accounts.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear if Cruz would expand this tax break to lower-income earners by making it a “refundable” credit, which can be claimed regardless of a filer’s income tax liability and could increase outlays. He has called for a flat 10 percent tax rate, but he would retain the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, both of which are refundable.

In 2014, the Center for Health and Economy analyzed an Obamacare replacement plan that included a subsidized health savings account option that included a one-time, refundable tax credit of $1,000, at a cost of $53 billion over five years.

Purchase Health Insurance Across State Lines: “ … [W]e’ll allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines that will drive down prices and expand the availability of low cost catastrophic insurance.”

Cost per Year: $38 million ($191 million over five years)

Notes: Related legislation was introduced in Congress that would allow for the purchase of health insurance across state lines. Currently, a 1945 law permits the states to regulate health insurance plans within their borders; however there is an exemption for certain large employers.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) conducted a cost estimate for H.R. 2355 (109th Congress), the Health Care Choice Act of 2005. The bill would provide for cooperative governing of individual insurance coverage offered in interstate commerce. At the time, CBO estimated that the bill would increase spending by $160 million over five years ($191 million, adjusted for inflation). It is unclear whether this cost estimate would be higher or lower today given that it was originally calculated prior to the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposal was reintroduced in the 114th Congress in the form of H.R. 543.

Repeal Obamacare: “If I’m elected president, we will repeal every word of Obamacare.”

Cost per Year: Cost per Year: -$94.04 billion (-$470.2 billion over five years)

Notes: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not completed an analysis of the full spending related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. A January 2016 CBO analysis of repealing the law showed that direct spending would be reduced by $470.2 billion over five years. There are potentially additional unreported discretionary savings.

Homeland Security & Law Enforcement:

Biometric Visa Tracking: “We’ll put in place a biometric exit-entry system on visas, because 40 percent of illegal immigration comes not over the border illegally, but people coming on visas and overstaying.”

  Cost per Year: $600 million (first-year cost)

Notes: Testimony presented before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2013 suggested that expanding existing biometric entry/exit systems at U.S. air and sea ports could cost between $400 million and $600 million in the first year. The testimony noted that a $10 increase in current visa processing fees could cover some or all of the costs. NTUF’s estimate reflects maximum potential impact on federal spending.

Border Patrol: “We’re going to triple the border patrol.”

  Cost per Year: $6 billion ($60 billion over ten years)

Notes: REVISED ESTIMATE. There are currently over 20 thousand border patrol agents. An amendment to S. 744, the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013, would have provided $30 billion over ten years to hire at least 19,200 new border patrol agents. NTUF doubled this figure to estimate an additional total of nearly 40 thousand new agents.

Border Security: “We’re going to increase four-fold, the fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, so that you have technology monitoring an attempted incursion to direct the boots on the ground where they’re occurring.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: A cost estimate is indeterminate.

Border Wall: “ … [W]e’re going to build a wall.”

  Cost per Year: $863 million ($4.314 billion over five years)

Notes: Border fence construction costs up to $6.5 million per mile. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 mandated the completion of 700 miles of double-layer fencing but to date just 36.3 miles meet this requirement. Building an additional 663.7 miles of layered fencing could $4.314 billion over five years.

Electric Grid Security: “We need to harden the [electric] grid to defend ourselves … .”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear what policies Cruz would implement pursuant to this goal. In 2008, the Congressional Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack issued a report with several recommendations for protecting the electric grid that, combined, would cost several billion dollars.

E-Verify: “We’re going to put in place a strong e-verify system in the workplace, so you can’t get a job without proving you are here legally.”

  Cost per Year: $127 million ($635 million over five years)

Notes: In 2013, the Congressional Budget Office reported that a mandatory E-Verify system would cost $635 million over five years.

Welfare for Illegal Immigrants: “ … [W]e will end welfare benefits for those here illegally.”

Cost per Year: -$1.186 billion (-$5.929 billion over five years)

Notes: A 2011 report by the Inspector General for Tax Administration found that $4.2 billion in refundable credits were paid to individuals who were not authorized to work in the United States. These individuals were not eligible for Social Security numbers and so each were assigned an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) which enabled them to be eligible for the Child Tax Credit, a “refundable” credit that can be claimed above and beyond a filer’s income tax liability.

An early version of H.R. 3630 in the 112th Congress would have required that filers have a Social Security number in order to be eligible for the Child Tax Credit. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) determined this would reduce outlays by $5.929 billion over five years.

National Defense & Foreign Affairs:

Islamic State: “We should use overwhelming force [to destroy the Islamic State], kill the enemy and then get the heck out. Don’t engage in nation-building but instead, allow our soldiers to do their jobs instead of risking their lives with politicians making it impossible to accomplish the objective.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: In 2014, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments estimated the cost of different campaign options against the Islamic State: “If operations expand significantly to include the deployment of 25,000 U.S. troops on the ground, as some have recommended, costs would likely reach $1.1 to $1.8 billion per month.”

Missile Defense - Homeland: “ … [W]e need missile defense to protect ourselves against North Korea.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: As noted below, Cruz called to put missile defense interceptors in South Korea. It is unclear whether he would also bolster missile defense in the Pacific Ocean (there is currently a station in Guam) or on the west coast of the United States. According to a media report, a single battery of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missile defense system would cost up to $1.25 billion for 48 interceptors.

Missile Defense - South Korea: “We ought to put missile defense interceptors in South Korea.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: The Pentagon announced in February that it plans to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missile defense system in South Korea. It is unclear to what degree this would increase defense outlays.

 

John Kasich

Net Change in Spending per Year: $18.663 billion

Economy, Transportation, & Infrastructure:

Regulation: “I can tell you this, in the first 100 days, I will have legislation to freeze federal regulations, have them reviewed by the Vice President … .”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: This policy could potentially lead to savings for administration and enforcement of regulations.

Government Reform:

Balanced Budget: “I can tell you this, in the first 100 days, I will have … a fiscal plan to balance the budget … .”

Cost per Year: N/A

Notes: Budget caps and freezes are important, and over the short term are effective at restraining federal spending. However, as recent history has shown, over the longer term, lawmakers seek ways to skirt or reverse the caps. In our candidate campaign analyses, NTU Foundation is looking for the candidates’ specific proposals to reform and reduce programmatic spending. In the debates, Kasich has offered several significant spending cuts with quantifiable savings. Kasich has also provided a “balanced budget outline“ with spending totals – excluding Social Security – for the eight years from FY 2018-2025. Kasich’s plans would set spending at $30.17 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office’s August 2015 baseline (which Kasich used as the baseline for his plan) forecast $31.7 trillion over that period. If Kasich’s reforms are implemented and maintained, spending would be $169 billion lower through FY 2021 relative to the CBO baseline. Kasich’s plan also would raise more revenues than forecast under CBO’s projection. By 2025, under Kasich’s budget outline, revenues would exceed on-budget spending by $3 billion. However, as noted, these figures exclude funds from the Social Security Trust Fund as well as net flows for the U.S. Postal Service. Under current law, these categories, classified as “off-budget”, will see a net deficit of $976 billion from FY 2018-2025, including a $261 billion gap in 2025.

Homeland Security & Law Enforcement:

Border Security: “I can tell you this, in the first 100 days, I will … get the border protected … . ... [W]e need to finish the border. It has to be completed.”

 Cost per Year: $863 million ($4.314 billion over five years)

Notes: Border fence construction costs up to $6.5 million per mile. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 mandated the completion of 700 miles of double-layer fencing, but to date just 36.3 miles meet this requirement. Building an additional 663.7 miles of layered fencing could $4.314 billion over five years. It is unclear what additional measures would be taken to “get the border protected.”

Immigration Reform: “And then for the 11.5 million that are here, if they have not committed a crime since they’ve been here, I believe they ought to pay some back taxes, pay a fine, never get on the path to citizenship, but get legalization.”

Cost per Year: $17.8 billion ($89 billion over five years)

Notes: In 2013, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 744) would provide additional funding for border security and, by providing a path to legal status for many current illegal aliens, make substantially more people eligible for entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicaid, boosting expenditures by $89 billion in direct spending. The legislation also would have increased discretionary spending by $12 billion over the first five years for security and administrative costs (excluded from the cost for Kasich’s proposal).

Social Security:

Social Security: “I can tell you this, in the first 100 days, I will … begin to fix Social Security … .”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: As noted above, details regarding Social Security reform are excluded from Kasich’s balanced budget  outline. Instead, he vowed to “lead a bipartisan effort to assemble the best ideas” to preserve the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund.

 

Marco Rubio

Net Change in Spending per Year: $38.491 billion

Homeland Security & Law Enforcement:

Biometric Visa Tracking: “ … [P]ut in place an entry-exit tracking system to prevent visa overstays.”

  Cost per Year: $600 million (first-year cost)

Notes: Testimony presented before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2013 suggested that expanding existing biometric entry/exit systems at U.S. air and sea ports could cost between $400 million and $600 million in the first year. The testimony noted that a $10 increase in current visa processing fees could cover some or all of the costs. NTUF’s estimate reflects maximum potential impact on federal spending.

Border Patrol: “ … [H]ire the 20,000 new border agents … .”

 Cost per Year: $3 billion ($30 billion over ten years)

Notes: An amendment to S. 744, the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013, would have provided $30 billion over ten years to hire at least 19,200 new border patrol agents.

Border Wall: “ … [F]inish the fencing and walls  … .”

 Cost per Year: $863 million ($4.314 billion over five years)

Notes: Border fence construction costs up to $6.5 million per mile. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 mandated the completion of 700 miles of double-layer fencing but to date just 36.3 miles meet this requirement. Building an additional 663.7 miles of layered fencing could cost as much as $4.314 billion over five years.

E-Verify: “ … [P]ut in place mandatory E-Verify … .”

  Cost per Year: $127 million ($635 million over five years)

Notes: In 2013, the Congressional Budget Office reported that a mandatory E-Verify system would cost $635 million over five years.

National Defense & Foreign Affairs:

Islamic State: “And I believe [the Islamic State needs] to be defeated on the ground, by a ground force, made up primarily of Sunni Arabs. That will need to be backed up with more U.S. special operation forces alongside them. And it will have to be backed up with increased air strikes. And we are going to have to strike them, not just in Iraq and in Syria, but in every other part of the world where they have now created hubs of operation. ... But it all begins by taking away their safe operating spaces with a ground force that a U.S.-led coalition takes on.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: In 2014, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments estimated the cost of possible campaign options against the Islamic State: higher-intensity air operations could cost up to $6.8 billion per year.

Military: “When I’m president, we are rebuilding the U.S. military.”

  Cost per Year: $33.901 billion ($101.703 billion over three years)

Notes: Rubio has proposed returning defense spending to 2012 levels. In 2012, total outlays for national defense stood at $677.852 billion (xls) and has decreased over the subsequent years. According to the August 2015 Congressional Budget Office outlook, defense outlays will be $592 billion in FY 2017, the first year that the next President is in office. CBO forecast total defense outlays of $2.43 trillion from 2017-2020. NTU Foundation assumes that Rubio would increase spending by $28.6 billion per year to get to the 2012 level in 2020. Relative to the CBO baseline, Rubio’s plan would increase defense spending by $101.7 billion over 3 years.

Veterans:

Veterans Health Care: “When I am president of the United States, veterans will be able to take their benefits to any hospital or doctor that they choose.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: The existing $16 billion Choice Program permits eligible veterans to receive care in non-VA facilities. A cost estimate for Rubio’s proposed expansion is indeterminate.

 

Donald Trump

Net Change in Spending per Year: -$94.04 billion

Health Care:

Repeal Obamacare: “We are going to repeal Obamacare.”

Cost per Year: -$94.04 billion (-$470.2 billion over five years)

Notes: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not completed an analysis of the full spending related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. A January 2016 CBO analysis of repealing the law showed that direct spending would be reduced by $470.2 billion over five years. There are potentially additional unreported discretionary savings.

Replace Obamacare: “We are going to replace Obamacare with something so much better.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: In previous debates, Trump has proposed to lift the prohibition on the sale of insurance across state lines, but he has not laid out a comprehensive replacement plan.

National Defense & Foreign Affairs:

Islamic State: “You have to [bomb] the oil. You have to take the oil. And you have also [close the] back channels of banking.”

Cost per Year: Notes: Indeterminate

Notes: In 2014, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments estimated the cost of possible campaign options against the Islamic State: higher-intensity air operations could cost up to $6.8 billion per year.

Military: “ ... I’ll build the military stronger, bigger … .”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: There is insufficient information regarding the specifics of this proposal.

Veterans:

Fraud, Waste, and Abuse: “ … [T]here’s tremendous fraud, waste and abuse in the Veterans Administration and if I’m running things, that’s going to disappear.”

Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: There is insufficient information regarding the specifics of this proposal.


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