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Maine Senate Candidate Bellows Proposes $1 Trillion Increase Agenda

by Dan Barrett / /

Continuing our special Election 2014 coverage, NTU Foundation compiled the spending and savings proposals of Shenna Bellows (D) who is campaigning for Maine’s U.S. Senate seat. Using the same methodology as our studies for the Iowa and Colorado Senate races, we were able to determine that federal spending would increase by a net $1.38 trillion annually if Bellows’ agenda was introduced and enacted in the 114th Congress.

Tomorrow, NTUF’s Policy Analyst, Michael Tasselmyer, will review the agenda of the incumbent in the Maine race, Senator Susan Collins (R).

First, some background on Shenna Bellows. She graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in international politics and economics. While in college, she studied abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica. After graduating, she was a researcher for two years at an economic consulting firm, specializing in antitrust, regulatory, and legal analysis. Bellows then served in the Peace Corps for two years, helping to develop a micro-credit lending program in Panama. Returning to the U.S., she was a Program Associate at Community IMPACT! in Nashville, Tennessee and then began work at the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington D.C. before becoming the Executive Director of the ACLU of Maine in 2005. She has since stepped down from that position to run for Senate.

Next, a bit about how NTUF determines the spending agendas of federal candidates and legislators. NTUF’s analysis is conducted using data from the BillTally project, which is the nation’s only comprehensive system that scores nearly every bill as introduced in Congress for changes in spending greater than $1 million. We consider how legislation would affect budget outlays, disregarding revenues or other economic effects (tax revenue tends to be more difficult to reliably project, and is highly dependent on macroeconomic trends). Those estimates are used to assign a dollar figure to each candidate’s campaign talking points, if and when they closely resemble existing legislation scored in the BillTally database.

Now, onto the findings of Shenna Bellows’ agenda in NTUF’s special Election 2014 snapshot:

Proposals

  • Number of Increase Proposals: 12
  • Number of Decrease Proposals: 1
  • Number of Unknown-Cost Proposals: 34
  • Total Number of Proposals: 47

Here is breakdown of each of Bellows’ proposals as they appear in our line-by-line analysis:

  • Enforce Labeling Requirements for Foods Containing Genetically Modified Organisms: Unknown
  • Expand Broadband Internet Access: Unknown
  • Expand Heating Assistance Programs: Unknown
  • Expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Food Assistance Programs: $2.223 billion
  • Help Small Business Development: Unknown
  • Increase Financial Sector Regulations: Unknown
  • Mandate Paid Sick Leave: Unknown
  • Provide Job Training to the Elderly: Unknown
  • Spend More on Transportation Infrastructure: Unknown
  • Extend Emergency Unemployment Benefits: $12.84 billion
  • Support Intergenerational Engagement Programs: Unknown
  • Vote for the Paycheck Fairness Act: $3 million
  • Build New School Buildings: Unknown
  • Establish Universal Prekindergarten: $5.1 billion
  • Fully Fund Public Schools: Unknown
  • Hire Additional Teachers: Unknown
  • Allow Refinancing of College Student Loans: $16.9 billion
  • Oppose School Vouchers: -$19 million (savings)
  • Oppose Teaching Requirements: Unknown
  • Institute a New Permitting Process: Unknown
  • Invest in Alternative Energy Technologies: Unknown
  • Limit Carbon Emissions: Unknown
  • Protect Against Unsafe Products: Unknown
  • Require a Full Environmental Review of the KeyStone XL Pipeline: Unknown
  • Support Sustainable and Organic Local Agriculture: Unknown
  • Change the Focus of Drug Abuse Response: Unknown
  • Increase Funding for Long-Term Elderly Care: Unknown
  • Negotiate Medicare and Medicaid Drug Prices: Unknown
  • Provide Universal Healthcare Coverage: $1.342 trillion
  • Expand Background Checks for Gun Ownership: $189 million
  • Expand Voter Protections: $262 million
  • Legalize Marijuana: Unknown
  • Pass the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act: $2 million
  • Prevent Sexual Violence on College Campuses: $2 million
  • Reduce Police Militarization: Unknown
  • Reestablish Campaign Finance Limits: $850 million
  • Repeal the USA PATRIOT Act: Unknown
  • Require the National Security Agency to Secure Warrants Before Accessing Electronic Communications: Unknown
  • Support Criminal Justice Reform: Unknown
  • Impose New Trade Requirements: Unknown
  • Improve Veteran Outreach Programs: Unknown
  • Pass New Caregiver Leave Policies: Unknown
  • Provide Full TRICARE Benefits: Unknown
  • Ensure Cost-of-Living Increases for Social Security: Unknown
  • Expand Social Security Benefits for Survivors and Divorcees: Unknown
  • Make Saving for Retirement Easier: Unknown
  • Support Same-Sex Marriage: $8 million

Taking the 13 scored budget-influencing items into account, we are able to see how Shenna Bellows would change federal spending if elected to the U.S. Senate:

  • Budgetary Impact (dollars are annualized)
  • Gross Spending Increase: $1.38 trillion
  • Gross Spending Decrease: $19 million
  • Net Proposed Spending Agenda: $1.38 trillion
  • Change in the Projected FY 2015 Budget Deficit ($469 billion): +194.3%

To help taxpayers get a full picture of Bellows’ agenda, I have five questions for her:

  • Regarding your statement that “we need to invest in roads, bridges, rail and a modern public transportation system,” do you have a spending target that you would add to the $45 billion being spent in FY 2014 through the Highway Trust Fund?
  • By how much would you advocate to increase federal spending to fully fund public schools?
  • According to your campaign website, you think “we should invest in renewable energy.” Through what means do you propose to invest tax dollars into alternative energy sources? Currently, there are tax credits, loans, loan guarantees, and grants available to a variety of energy producers.
  • In addition to supporting the Administration’s proposal to regulate carbon emissions through the Environmental Protection Agency, would your support further measures in the form of a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system?
  • To help make it easier for families to save for retirement, what specific actions would you support? NTUF included mentions of the President’s proposed “myRA” accounts and matching individual retirement account contributions with federal funds.