Secretary Clinton’s $50 Billion Rounding Error

Published February 29, 2016

In the last Democratic presidential candidate debate, Hillary Clinton claimed that the price tag for her proposals “is about $100 billion a year.” Sorry Madam Secretary, your estimate is off the mark.

According to a line-by-line analysis of Secretary Clinton’s (non-repeated) campaign promises offered in the previous debates, she had already proposed $135 billion in new yearly federal spending before she even took the stage that evening.

During the February 11th debate, Clinton offered several new proposals, including: a plan to “revitalize coal country,” a call to provide legal counsel for minors in immigration hearings, and three Social Security benefit expansions.

These new policies will add over $15 billion to the annual cost of her agenda, bringing the total running price tag to $150 billion.

In addition, Clinton has made 19 policy statements during the course of the debates that could also impact spending, but due to a lack of specificity, the cost estimates are indeterminate. For example, in the last debate, she promised to assist ex-offenders by emphasizing “education, jobs, and housing.” However it is unclear whether she would re-allocate and prioritize existing funding, or boost spending in these areas beyond what she has already offered in related proposals.

Senator Bernie Sanders offered one additional proposal in the February 11th debate, also to assist ex-offenders, but the estimate is indeterminate. Sanders’ agenda, as featured in the all of the debates to date, would increase outlays by over $1.7 trillion a year.

A detailed analysis of the new items featured in the last debate is available here.