(Alexandria, VA) – As Arizona Senate candidates Jim Pederson and Jon Kyl scramble for votes down the final campaign stretch, taxpayers can look to their platforms for real distinctions: that's the assessment of a study released today by the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), which found that roughly $87 billion separates the federal budget agendas of the candidates.
"Scripted debates and attack ads are everywhere during most campaigns, but voters still care about the bottom line, their tax dollars," said NTUF Policy Analyst and study author Elizabeth Terrell. "Voters now finally have hard data to evaluate the candidates' campaign stances on federal spending."
In preparing her analysis, Terrell used the campaign websites and news reports of the two leading contenders in the Arizona U.S. Senate race to gather information on proposals that could impact federal spending. She then verified these items against independent sources like the Congressional Budget Office. Terrell also cross-checked items through NTUF's BillTally system, which since 1991 has computed a net annual agenda for Members of Congress based on their sponsorship of bills. Among the findings:
- Jim Pederson has offered a total of 28 separate proposals that would affect federal spending, 20 of which would raise federal outlays and 2 of which would reduce them: a bill to re-import prescription drugs from Canada that the government scores as a $220 million savings, and over $1.4 billion in savings through a readjustment of oil and gas royalties. If enacted simultaneously, these items would result in a net overall annual spending hike of $87.6 billion (6 provisions have an indeterminate price).
- Senator Jon Kyl's agenda of 8 budget-related items constitutes a net yearly spending decrease of at least $143 million, driven by his support for medical malpractice reform that would result in $890 million of yearly taxpayer savings. Like Pederson, Kyl's blueprint has proposals whose cost cannot be identified (a total of 2), though Terrell notes only 3 of Kyl's 8 policies would drive outlays upward.
- Health care represented the largest spending category for Pederson, $37.7 billion or 43 percent of his total agenda. Kyl's largest category was homeland security, at $630 million.
NTUF's analysis of the Arizona candidates' agendas is one of several the group is conducting. Contests are being selected on factors such as geographic diversity, political significance based on outside groups and analysts, and the specificity in the candidates' platforms.
"This study shows that the different visions Pederson and Kyl have outlined over the size and scope of the future federal budget are in part measurable," Terrell concluded. "In addition to looking at past performance, Arizonans who are concerned about the federal deficit ought to study these results too, which can highlight other contrasts in dollars and cents between candidates."
NTUF is the research and educational arm of the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union, a non-profit citizen group. Note: The line-by-line cost analysis of the Arizona Senate candidates' spending agendas, and more information on BillTally, are both available online at www.ntu.org.