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Beyond the Rhetoric: The Cost of Toomey’s & McGinty’s Policies in the PA Senate Race

by Demian Brady, Andrew Wilford / /

In a campaign season marked by fiery words rather than in-depth exploration of the issues, Katie McGinty and Pat Toomey certainly got into the spirit of things during the first candidate debate held last night for the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat. For taxpayers seeking more of a data-driven approach, NTUF scoured the campaign websites of the candidates to identify their spending plans. Our detailed, line-by-line analyses include each of the candidates' proposals -- in their own words -- with information on how much they could cost.

On his campaign site, Toomey has largely highlighted his record in the Senate, including support for a balanced budget.  As for what he specifically would do if re-elected, Toomey aims to reform the Tax Code and he would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with proposals that include permitting individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines and re-establishing high-risk pools to help states cover individuals with pre-existing conditions. Altogether his campaign platform would reduce spending by $89 billion per year.

Challenger Katie McGinty has laid out an agenda that would boost federal outlays by $121 billion per year, with new programs for infrastructure, workforce training; plus, she has vowed to give full support to Hillary Clinton's $500 billion tuition-free college program.

The (few) substantive spending-related issues of the debate were:

  • Energy: McGinty highlighted her support for spending on clean energy infrastructure. She still has not provided specifics on what investments she would like to see, thereby making a cost estimate indeterminate. Toomey reiterated his support for the coal and natural gas industries and termed clean energy tax breaks “crony capitalism,” but offered no spending-related proposals.

  • Healthcare: McGinty’s only proposal to change the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. While supporters hope that this will reduce outlays, the Congressional Budget Office has said that “the extent of savings would depend significantly on the details of legislative language,” and has therefore been unable to determine a cost estimate due to lack of clarity on whether any savings (over and above discounts already given to federal programs) would actually materialize. Toomey repeated his support for repealing the ACA (which would save $94.04 billion per year); other plans Toomey has supported to replace the ACA would have a net cost of $4.6 billion per year.

More detailed cost analyses of the spending plans are available here and here.

The Pennsylvania Senate race is one of several NTUF is analyzing to reveal the hard numbers behind the political promises. Additional reports are available here.