The Cost of Donald Trump's Campaign Spending Agenda

May 19, 2016
Demian Brady
Donald Trump
Last updated November 7, 2016.

Each policy listed below includes Donald Trump’s proposal in his own words or as described on his campaign website, and the cost of the proposal based on the net change in spending. While there is insufficient information to determine a cost in some cases, related information is presented where possible to provide budgetary context.

An analysis of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign spending agenda is available here, and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson's agenda analysis is available here.

Economy, Transportation, & Infrastructure:

Infrastructure: “We have a great plan and we are going to rebuild our infrastructure.  … Well I would say at least double [Clinton’s infrastructure plan] numbers and you’re going to really need more than that.” (Source)

  • Cost per Year: $110 billion ($550 billion over five years)
  • Notes: In the January 14, 2016 Republican primary debate, Trump proposed to boost spending on infrastructure through a repatriation tax on corporate earnings. Trump’s tax plan, released last September, would incentivize businesses to repatriate some of their earnings by assessing a one-time 10 percent tax on such income. A similar 14 percent repatriation tax was included in President Obama’s FY 2016 budget proposal and is estimated to increase revenues by $268.1 billion over six years. At a 10 percent rate, the tax would raise $191.5 billion. NTUF had assumed that all of these revenues would be used to fund Trump’s infrastructure spending.
  • On August 2, 2016, Trump declared that he would at least double the $275 billion plan that Clinton has proposed for infrastructure. NTUF assumes this would supersede his original spending level, bringing his annual total to $110 billion.

Paid Maternity Leave: “The Trump plan will guarantee six weeks of paid maternity leave by amending the existing unemployment insurance (UI) that companies are required to carry. The benefit would apply only when employers don't offer paid maternity leave ... .” (source)

  • Cost per Year: $1.875 billion ($9.375 billion over five years)
  • Notes: The Trump campaign notes, “providing a temporary unemployment benefit for eight weeks through the UI system would cost $2.5 billion annually at an average benefit of $300 per week.” Based on that figure, providing a new benefit for six weeks would cost $1.875 billion per year. 

Education, Science, and Research:

Child Care Earned Income Tax Credits: “The plan will offer child care spending rebates to lower-income taxpayers through the existing Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This could mean almost $1,200 per year per eligible family.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: The EITC is a "refundable" credit that increases spending because it can be claimed by tax filers above and beyond their income tax liability. EITC benefits increased outlays of $60.1 billion in FY 2015 and reduced revenues by $6.6 billion. The new child care benefits would be based on the average cost of child care in the state of the eligible filer. A cost estimate for the new benefit is indeterminate.  There are 27.5 million filers, of which 6.3 million (23 percent) do not have qualifying children.

Space Policy Council: “We’re going to relaunch the national space policy council headed by the Vice President of the United States of America.” (source)

  • Cost Per Year: $2 million ($11 million over five years)
  • Note: The National Space Council within the Executive Office of the President oversaw space policy from 1989 to 1993 with a budget of approximately $1 million per year. Language to establish a related Council was included in H.R. 2687 (113th Congress), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2013. Section 712 of the bill would have created a NASA Advisory Council to review budget proposals and advise the President and Congress on space policy. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the creation of this council and its reporting duties would cost $11 million. NTUF assumes this funding would be spread over five years.

Energy and the Environment:

Energy Development: “ … [W]e will have at our disposal additional revenues from unleashing American energy.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: -$170 million (-$1.7 billion over ten years)
  • Notes: Touting the economic benefits that could result from expanding the development of energy, Trump cites a 2015 report from the Institute for Energy Research based on a 2012 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, Potential Budgetary Effects of Immediately Opening Most Federal Lands to Oil and Gas Leasing. CBO estimated that opening additional federal lands to oil and gas leasing would increase gross offsetting receipts over a ten-year period to the federal government by $5 billion from the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, with up to 90 percent going to Alaska. An additional $2 billion in offsetting receipts would come from areas including Outer Continental Shelf regions of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and additional onshore areas. In a separate report, CBO estimates that, on average, the state share of offshore receipts has been 40 percent from 2005 and 2014.

Government Reform:

Federal Workforce Attrition: “We can also reduce the size of the federal bureaucracy through responsible workforce attrition – that is, when employees retire, they can be replaced by a smaller number of new employees.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: -$3.74 billion (-18.7 billion over five years)
  • Notes: In 2013, the Congressional Budget Office produced a cost estimate for a related proposal to reduce the size of the federal workforce through attrition. For every three federal employees that retire, only one would be hired, for a savings of $18.7 billion over five years. A more recent estimate is unavailable.

Penny Plan: The 'Penny Plan' would reduce non-defense, non-safety net spending by one percent of the previous year’s total each year.”  (source)

  • Cost per Year: -$16 billion ($32 billion over two years)
  • Notes: Outlays in FY 2016 will total $1.068 trillion excluding net interest payments on the debt, defense, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Cutting this spending by 1 percent annually would reduce outlays relative to FY 2016 levels by $11 billion in the first year and a $21 billion in the second year.
  • Additional savings could be achieved in subsequent years, but given how Congress and the President frequently override budget controls, NTUF is skeptical that restraints will be adhered to over the long-term.
  • The possible savings could also be lower. This estimate assumes that Trump would only preserve Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid from one percent reductions. It is unclear if he would also set aside additional programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program ($14 billion in FY 2016), agriculture safety nets ($14 billion in FY 2016), or veterans’ income security benefits ($89 billion in FY 2016).

Regulation: “[O]n the first day of my term of office, my administration will immediately pursue … a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.” (source)

  • Cost per year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: Similar legislation was introduced in the 113th Congress as H.R. 2997, the One In, Two Out Act. The proposal would have prevented federal agencies from instituting a new rule without first repealing two other related rules. A cost estimate is indeterminate.

Tax Credit Payments to Illegal Immigrants: “[Tripling the number of ICE officers] will be funded by accepting the recommendation of the Inspector General for Tax Administration and eliminating tax credit payments to illegal immigrants.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: -$1.186 billion per year (-$5.929 billion over five years)
  • Notes: The 2011 report cited by Trump found that $4.2 billion in refundable credits were paid to individuals who were not authorized to work in the United States. These individuals were not eligible for Social Security numbers and so each were assigned an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number which enabled them to be eligible for the Child Tax Credit, a “refundable” credit that can be claimed regardless of a filer’s income tax liability. An early version of H.R. 3630 in the 112th Congress would have required that filers have a Social Security number in order to be eligible for the Child Tax Credit (the provision was not included in amended versions of the legislation). The Congressional Budget Office determined this would reduce outlays by $5.929 billion over the first five years of implementation.

Tax Gap: “I will ask that savings be accomplished through common sense reforms that eliminate government waste and budget gimmicks … . … [T]he amount of unpaid taxes is estimated to be as high as $385 billion.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: It is unclear how Trump would propose to collect unpaid taxes. Such efforts could require additional audits and increasing the budget of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For FY 2016, the IRS’s budget included $4.9 billion for enforcement.

Unauthorized Programs: “We can also stop funding programs that are not authorized in law. Congress spent $320 billion last year on 256 expired laws. Removing just 5 percent of that will reduce spending by almost $200 billion over 10 years.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: The CBO produces an annual report on expiring budget authorizations and unauthorized appropriations. In FY 2016, CBO identified“a total of $310 billion – about one-quarter of discretionary appropriations in that year – was provided for programs and activities whose explicit authorization of appropriations had expired and whose appropriations could be identified. More than half of those unauthorized appropriations were provided for programs whose explicit authorization expired more than a decade ago.” Any savings would depend on Congressional action.

Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program Integrity: “This cost [of establishing a paid maternity leave program] could be offset through changes in the existing UI system, such as by reducing the $5.6 billion per year in improper payments or implementing the proposals included in the administration’s FY 2017 budget regarding program integrity.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: Implementing the Administration's UI program integrity reforms could lead to budgetary savings, but a cost estimate is indeterminate.

Waste, Fraud, and Abuse: “Attack our debt and deficit by vigorously eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the Federal government, ending redundant government programs ... .” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: Trump has not indicated which duplicative programs he would eliminate. In April 2016, the Government Accountability Office identified 33 actions that Congress or the Executive Branch could take to address “fragmentation, overlap, or duplication in government missions such as defense, economic development, health, homeland security, and information technology.”


Health Care:

Affordable Care Act – Repeal: “Obamacare, we’re going to repeal it … .” (January 14, 2016 Republican Debate)

  • Cost per Year: -$94.04 billion (-$470.2 billion over five years)
  • Notes: The Congressional Budget Office has not completed an analysis of all of the spending related to President Obama’s signature health care law. A January 2016 CBO estimate of repealing the Affordable Care Act showed that direct spending would be reduced by $470.2 billion over five years. There are potentially additional unreported discretionary savings.

Health Savings Accounts: “Allow individuals to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: HSAs are permitted under current law. A comprehensive plan put forth by the Center for Health and Economy (CHE) in 2014 to repeal and replace the ACA included an option to create a one-time $1,000 “refundable” credit for HSA enrollees. Refundable credits can be claimed regardless of a filer’s income tax liability and thus increase federal spending. CHE estimated this reform would cost $70 billion over ten years, however Trump has not advocated for this refundable credit.

Importation of Prescription Drugs: “Remove barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: -$540 million ($-2.7 billion over five years)
  • Notes: In 2007, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that H.R. 380, the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act to permit the importation of prescription drugs would have reduced federal spending for prescription drugs by $5.4 billion over ten years. A more recent estimate is currently unavailable. While this may sound like a free trade proposal, this policy could have adverse impacts due to the fact that other countries have set price controls on medication. These controlled prices would essentially be imported, diverting resources from the development of new life-saving drugs.

Medicaid – Block Grant: “Block-grant Medicaid to the states.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: This option would allow states the opportunity to craft Medicaid plans to serve their population’s needs. NTUF assumes that existing funding levels ($401 billion in FY 2017) would be maintained initially and set to a standard formula for future years. However, it is unclear what level of funding Trump proposes for Medicaid over the long-term.

Mental Health: “ … [W]e need to reform our mental health programs and institutions in this country.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: Trump has not specified what reforms he would implement.

Price Transparency: “Require price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: The federal government and state legislatures have enacted measures with the intent to increase transparency and disclosure of pricing. It is unclear whether there would be an administrative cost related to this regulatory mandate.

Purchase Health Insurance across State Lines: “Modify existing law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines. As long as the plan purchased complies with state requirements, any vendor ought to be able to offer insurance in any state.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: $38 million ($191 million over five years)
  • Notes: Currently, a 1945 law permits the states to regulate health insurance plans within their borders; however there is an exemption for certain large employers. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) conducted a cost estimate for H.R. 2355 (109th Congress), the Health Care Choice Act of 2005. The bill would provide for cooperative governing of individual insurance coverage offered in interstate commerce. At the time, CBO estimated that the bill would increase spending by $160 million over five years ($191 million, adjusted for inflation). It is unclear whether this cost estimate would be higher or lower today given that it was originally calculated prior to the implementation of the ACA. The proposal was reintroduced in the 114th Congress as H.R. 543. However, Trump’s plan could be more restricted. He added, “As long as the plan purchased complies with state requirements, any vendor ought to be able to offer insurance in any state.” A state could continue to set limiting requirements on insurance plans originating outside of its border.


Homeland Security & Law Enforcement:

Birthright Citizenship: “End birthright citizenship.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: It is likely that this policy, along with the increased border security measures that Trump has proposed, would reduce welfare-related expenditures, but an estimate is indeterminate.

Border Security – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): “Triple the Number of ICE officers.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: $2.167 billion ($10.834 billion over five years)
  • Notes: In FY 2015 there were 7,539 full-time equivalents in Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Detention and Removal Operations division. Trump cites Congressional testimony stating that “only approximately 5,000 officers and agents within ICE perform the lion’s share of ICE’s immigration mission.” H.R. 2278, the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act (113th Congress) would have provided for the hiring of an additional 5,000 deportation officers, 700 support staff, and 60 trial attorneys at a cost of $5.4 billion over five years. NTUF doubled this figure to determine the cost of tripling the number of ICE officers.

Border Security – Southern Border Wall: “And I said we need to build a wall [along the border], and we need to build it quickly.” (August 8, 2015 Republican Debate)

  • Cost per Year: $2.52 billion per year ($12.6 billion over five years)
  • Notes: According to reports, 650 miles of fencing have been constructed along the southern border, 350 miles of which is pedestrian fencing. In 2009, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that vehicular fencing along the southwest border would cost about $1 million per mile on average while pedestrian fencing would cost about $3.9 million. The report also notes, “However, once contracts were awarded, the average per mile costs had increased to $6.5 million per mile for pedestrian fencing and $1.8 million per mile for vehicle fencing … the per mile costs increased over time due to various factors, such as property acquisition costs incurred for these miles that were not a factor for many of the previous miles and costs for labor and materials increased.”                                Based on that pedestrian-related figure, fencing the remaining 1,283 miles of border, could cost upwards of $8.3 billion. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 mandated the completion of 700 miles of double-layer fencing but to date just 36.3 miles meet this requirement. Building an additional 663.7 miles of layered fencing could add another $4.3 billion to the total cost.                                                                                                                                                                     It is unknown exactly how long it would take to complete fencing across the entire border and to what degree difficult terrain or negotiations with private landowners. These unknowns could increase costs from current projections. Between 2008 and 2010 a large portion of the pedestrian fencing project was completed, a rate of less than 75 miles per year. However, until more information becomes available from the candidate, NTUF assumes Trump will prioritize and expedite the construction in order to complete the project within five years.

Border Security – Southern Border Wall Financing: “Mexico must pay for the wall and, until they do, the United States will, among other things: impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages; increase fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats (and if necessary cancel them); increase fees on all border crossing cards – of which we issue about 1 million to Mexican nationals each year (a major source of visa overstays); increase fees on all NAFTA worker visas from Mexico (another major source of overstays); and increase fees at ports of entry to the United States from Mexico [Tariffs and foreign aid cuts are also options].” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: A cost estimate of the offsetting receipts is indeterminate.

E-Verify: “Nationwide e-verify.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: $127 million ($$635 million over five years)
  • Notes: In 2013, the Congressional Budget Office reported that a mandatory E-Verify system would cost $635 million over five years.

Immigration Enforcement and Deportation: “Mandatory return of all criminal aliens. … Illegal aliens apprehended crossing the border must be detained until they are sent home, no more catch-and-release.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: $2.882 billion ($14.412 billion over five years)
  • Notes: H.R. 2278, the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act of 2013, would have provided State Criminal Alien Assistance Program grants to state and local governments to cover the costs related to incarcerating undocumented aliens convicted or charged with certain crimes. The bill would permit states and localities to seek reimbursement from the Department of Homeland Security for transportation costs relating to deportable aliens, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) determined would eventually cost $2.5 billion per year. CBO estimates the total amount of grants to states would cost $14.412 billion over five years.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Crimes Committed with Guns: “We need to bring back and expand programs like Project Exile and get gang members and drug dealers off the street.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: According to Trump, Project Exile was program in Richmond, VA that “said that if a violent felon uses a gun to commit a crime, you will be prosecuted in federal court and go to prison for five years – no parole or early release.”  In 1997, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that a proposal to provide for increased mandatory minimum sentences for criminals possessing firearms would have cost $10 million over five years to accommodate more prisoners in federal facilities. However, a cost estimate for Trump’s proposal is indeterminate.

Restoring Community Safety Act: “I will work with Congress to introduce the following broader legislative measures … [including the] Restoring Community Safety Act. [The proposal] [r]educes surging crime, drugs and violence by creating a Task Force On Violent Crime and increasing funding for programs that train and assist local police; increases resources for federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars.” (source)

  • Cost per year: $70 million (first-year cost) (partial estimate)
  • Notes: It is unclear how much Trump’s Task Force on Violent Crime would cost to “train and assist local police.” NTUF assumes Trump would increase funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). The program received $212 million in FY 2016 and requested $282 million for FY 2017. NTUF assumes Trump would, at a minimum, support the Administration’s funding increase of $70 million. It is unclear what resources Trump would increase for federal law enforcement agencies.

Visa Tracking System: “Completion of a visa tracking system – required by law but blocked by lobbyists – will be necessary as well.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: $40 million ($120 million over three years)
  • Notes: H.R. 5005, the Homeland Security Act of 2002, authorized and directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to expand its Visa Security Program to each diplomatic and consular post at which visas are issued. A September 2014 report from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General showed that only 20 of 225 such visa-issuing posts had review units, and no expansion requests were pending. The Fiscal Year 2012 budget included $4.4 million to be spent over two years to expand the program, but ICE has yet to complete the expansions. H.R. 2278, the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act of 2013, would have provide $120 million over three years to expand the visa security program to designated overseas locations.


National Defense & Foreign Affairs:

Air Force – Aircraft: “Mr. Trump will build an Air Force of at least 1,200 fighter aircraft ... .” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: According to the Military Times, the Air Force’s 2016 fighter/attack inventory includes 1,971 aircraft. Of these, 1,141 are available for missions and the remaining are for training, research and development, and backup. The cost of adding 59 fighters would depend on the scheduled roll out of aircraft under current contracts, whether additional aircraft are procured, or the disposition of aircraft currently scheduled to be retired are restored. The Air Force spent $15.8 billion for aircraft procurement in 2016 and requested $13.9 billion for FY 2017.

Army – End Strength: “Mr. Trump will build an active Army of around 540,000 … .” (source)

  • Cost per Year: $6.389 billion ($38.333 billion over six years)
  • Notes: NTUF estimates that Trump would increase the Army’s end strength by 65,000 soldiers, and assumes it would be increased over a period of six years. This past March, the Army Times reported that the Army’s active duty force was comprised of around 479,000 soldiers and is budgeted to be drawn down to 475,000 by the end of Fiscal Year 2016 in September. The Department of Defense projects that the average cost per active-duty service member will increase by $1,500 per year, from $162,000 in 2016 to $168,000 in 2020.

Defense Sequester Repeal: “Mr. Trump will ask Congress to fully eliminate the defense sequester and will submit a new budget to rebuild our military as soon as he assumes office.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: $13.489 billion* ($53.955 billion over four years*)
  • Notes: Before Trump released a specific defense plan on September 7, NTUF had assumed that Trump would support repealing the sequester cuts. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s Final Sequestration Report for Fiscal Year 2016, the sequester for Fiscal Years 2018 through 2021 are scheduled to reduce defense spending by $53.955 billion.                                                                                                                                                       
  • * Because the annualized costs of Trump’s specific defense-related proposals exceed the annualized cost of repealing the defense sequester, this will not be counted as additional spending.

Islamic State: “You have to [bomb] the oil. You have to take the oil. And you have also [close the] back channels of banking.” (February 6, 2016 Republican Debate)

“We’re going to get rid of ISIS, and we’re going to get rid of them fast.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: In 2014, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments estimated the cost of possible campaign options against the Islamic State. Conducting higher-intensity air operations could cost up to $6.8 billion per year.

Marine Infantry Battalions: “Mr. Trump will build a Marine Corps based on 36 battalions … .” (source)

  • Cost per Year: $2.072 billion ($10.065 billion over five years)
  • Notes: The Marine Corps intends to field 24 active duty and eight reserve battalions through the next five years. The Congressional Budget Office reports that in FY 2016, the cost per battalion is $740 million. NTUF assumes that Trump would add four active battalions over the next five years. If Trump intends to increase the number of active battalions to from 24 to 36, the total cost would be significantly higher.

Missile Defense: “Mr. Trump will seek to develop a state of the art missile defense system.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: The Missile Defense Agency was appropriated $8.3 billion in FY 2016 and the President’s FY 2017 budget proposal requests an average of $7.5 billion per year through 2021. It is unclear what budget level Trump would propose in order to “develop a state of the art” system.

Navy – Increase Size of Fleet: “Mr. Trump will build a Navy approaching 350 surface ships and submarines … .” (source)

  • Cost per Year: $7.5 billion ($37.5 billion over five years)
  • Notes: In an op-ed published in the in the Wall Street Journal in January this year, Seth Cropsey of the Hudson Institute estimated that boosting the Navy’s fleet size to 350 ships would increase the shipbuilding budget by $7.5 billion per year through 2045. There would be additional costs to increase the number of active-duty service members that would depend on the scheduled roll out and type of ships to be added to the fleet.

Navy – Modernize Cruisers to Provide Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD): “Mr. Trump will modernize our nation’s naval cruisers to provide Ballistic Missile Defense capabilities.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: $28 million ($141 million over five years)
  • Notes: The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense is carried out by the Navy with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). According to the Congressional Research Service, “the number of BMD-capable Navy Aegis ships is scheduled to grow from 33 at the end of FY 2016 to 49 at the end of FY 2021.” In FY 2016, the MDA spent $1.86 billion on for Aegis BMD procurement and research and development, and projects to spend $9.437 billion over the next five years. NTUF assumes that Trump would, at a minimum, support these funding levels to increase spending by an average of $28 million per year.

Social Security:

Waste, Fraud, and Abuse: “I’m going to save Social Security. … You have tremendous waste, fraud and abuse. That we’re taking care of. That we’re taking care of. It’s tremendous. We have in Social Security right now thousands and thousands of people that are over 106 years old. Now, you know they don’t exist. They don’t exist. There’s tremendous waste, fraud and abuse, and we’re going to get it. But we’re not going to hurt the people who have been paying into Social Security their whole life and then all of a sudden they’re supposed to get less.” (February 13, 2016 Republican Debate)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: Trump has stated that he opposes any cuts to Social Security and also opposes raising the retirement age. In 2015 the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Trustees report projected that the annual cash-flow deficit for Old Age and Survivors Disability Insurance (OASDI) “will average about $76 billion between 2015 and 2018 before rising steeply as income growth slows … while the number of beneficiaries continues to grow at a substantially faster rate than the number of covered workers.”                                                                                                                                     In 2015, the Government Accountability Office estimated that the federal government issued $124.7 billion in improper payments, including $8.1 billion through SSA, $5.1 billion through the Supplemental Security Income program, and $3 billion through OASDI.                                                                                                                                                            Efforts to reduce improper payments through entitlement programs could be successful, but would require initial spending increases in order to claw back savings over the long-term. For example, in the latest budget, the SSA requested $1.8 billion for program integrity efforts to reduce improper payments that occur as a result of waste, fraud, and abuse. SSA estimates that proposed integrity reforms, such as conducting full medical continuing disability reviews, would yield from $3 to $8 over ten years for each $1 spent.



Education and Training: “The Trump Plan will ... [i]ncrease funding for job training and placement services (including incentives for companies hiring veterans), educational support and business loans.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: In FY 2016, the budget authorized a total of $14.314 billion for Veterans’ Readjustment Benefits including education, vocational rehabilitation, and employment benefits. Trump has not specified the level of funding increases he would support.

Mental Health: “The Trump Plan will ... [i]ncrease funding for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury and suicide prevention services to address our veterans’ invisible wounds.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: In FY 2016, the budget authorized a total of $5.436 billion for mental health care for veterans. Trump has not specified the level of funding increases he would support.

Modernization: “The VA has been promising to modernize for years without real results. The Trump plan will make it happen by accelerating and expanding investments in state of the art technology to deliver best-in-class care quickly and effectively. All veterans should be able to conveniently schedule appointments, communicate with their doctors, and view accurate wait times with the push of a button.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: In FY 2016, the budget authorized a total of $7.631 billion for the Veterans Administration’s Office of Information Technology. Trump has not specified the level of funding increases he would support.

Rural and Underserved Areas: “The Trump Administration will embed satellite VA clinics within hospitals and other care facilities in rural and other underserved areas.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: A cost estimate is indeterminate.

Veterans Health Care Choice Program: “Under a Trump Administration, all veterans eligible for VA health care can bring their veteran’s ID card to any doctor or care facility that accepts Medicare to get the care they need immediately. Our veterans have earned the freedom to choose better or more convenient care from the doctor and facility of their choice.” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: The existing $16 billion Choice Program permits eligible veterans to receive care in non-VA facilities. A cost estimate for Trump’s proposal is indeterminate.

Waste, Fraud, and Abuse: “… [T]here’s tremendous fraud, waste and abuse in the Veterans Administration and if I’m running things, that’s going to disappear.” (February 6, 2016 Republican Debate)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: There is insufficient information regarding the specifics of this proposal.

Women Veterans: “The Trump plan will expand VA services for female veterans … .” (source)

  • Cost per Year: Indeterminate
  • Notes: In FY 2016, the budget authorized a total of $474 million for gender-specific Women Veterans’ health care.
Demian Brady

Director of Research

Demian Brady is the Director of Research for the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. His responsibilities include producing commentaries and studies on fiscal issues, as well as managing NTUF's BillTally program (which tracks the impact of legislation on the size of the federal budget), State of the Union analysis, and more. Demian's research has been cited in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Times. In addition, he has written on a number of budget-related issues for both NTU and NTUF. Mr. Brady resided and worked in Columbus, Ohio before moving to Washington, DC in 1998. He earned an M.A. in Political Science from American University. He received a B.A. in Russian Area Studies from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. 

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