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Kleeb Would Boost Budget by $19.9 Billion, Johanns by $6.2 Billion, Study of Candidates' Platforms Shows

by Pete Sepp / /

(Alexandria, Va.) -- As Senate candidates Scott Kleeb (D) and Mike Johanns (R) continue to woo voters in the final campaign stretch, a study released today by the nonpartisan National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) offers a methodical way for Nebraskans to put price tags on the promises both office-seekers have made.

"Especially in the final weeks before Election Day, citizens are bombarded with information about candidates and their positions on issues," NTUF Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady said. "Our studies provide concrete data that highlights differences between the spending priorities of Kleeb and Johanns. Nearly $14 billion separate their annual spending agendas."

In preparing the study, NTUF reviewed the candidates' campaign Web sites and news reports to find any proposals that would impact the federal budget. Cost estimates come from a variety of independent sources, including Congressional Budget Office reports and data from NTUF's BillTally cost-accounting system, which since 1991 has computed a net annual agenda for each Member of Congress based on their sponsorship of bills. Among the findings:

  • Kleeb has offered 49 proposals that would affect federal spending -- 13 of which would increase annual outlays and 36 of which have unknown fiscal effects -- for a net annual spending hike of $19.9 billion. None of his platform items would decrease federal spending.
  • Former Agriculture Secretary Johanns has offered 32 budget-related items -- eight of which would increase annual federal spending, two of which would decrease it, and 22 of which have unknown costs -- for a net annual spending hike of $6.2 billion.
  • Among Kleeb's biggest proposals are an expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program, which would boost federal outlays by $7.5 billion each year, and an education program geared toward math and science, which would increase annual spending by $5.4 billion.
  • Johanns's largest item involves special education funding, which would cost $5.4 billion each year. Two of his proposals would reduce annual outlays: reforming farm subsidies ($169 million in yearly savings) and leasing areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil production ($600 million in yearly savings).

The Nebraska Senate race is one of several that NTUF is analyzing, including Colorado and New Mexico. Contests were selected on factors such as geographic diversity, perceived political significance, and the specificity in the candidates' platforms. NTUF is the research arm of the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union, nonprofit, nonpartisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels. Note: The full candidate studies are available at www.ntu.org.

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NTUF's Fiscal Analysis of Select 2008 Senate Races