by Daniel Gardner
Brand new Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has proposed cutting $500 billion over one year! IF - and it's a big IF - Paul's legislation is passed, we would still see more than $1 trillion deficit this year and probably another $1 trillion next year adding more than $2 trillion to our current $14.1 trillion debt.
Congress has imposed a $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and will vote in March or April whether to raise the ceiling so we can continue to borrow $4 of every $10 we spend.
The big question from the left and the right is what does Paul propose cutting? Paul proposes cutting the Department of Education saving $80 billion per year, noting our students are ranked lower in subjects like math and science than they were in 1979 when the Department was formed.
Paul's bill would "roll back almost all federal spending to 2008 levels, then initiate reductions at various levels nearly across the board." He proposes cutting $42 billion each from departments of Agriculture and Transportation, as well as $50 billion each from Energy, Housing, and Urban Development. Paul also proposes cutting Commerce Department 54-percent and "wasteful spending" in Defense.
Before we go further, let's note Paul's legislation cuts neither Social Security nor Medicare and leaves 85-percent of federal spending intact.
Some Progressives are completely baffled by proposed spending cuts, noting that Obama's 2009 trillion-dollar stimulus bill plus Treasury's more than $2 trillion injected stimulus "saved" America from utter economic disaster. They fear cuts will send us back into an economic tailspin and are proposing more "investments" to shore up our struggling economic recovery.
On the other hand conservative economists have argued government spending has actually weakened our economy as well as our standing in the world.
Technically, we are in a weak economic recovery. The American voters, in part charged up by TEA Parties across the nation, sent a strong message to Washington to cut spending. TEA Party candidates like Rand Paul are putting their careers where their rhetoric and supporters are.
Meanwhile, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is drafting a budget cutting $58 billion from current baseline spending. Critics on the left and the right are squealing that amount is $42 billion short of what Republicans originally pledged to cut ($100 billion).
Interesting to note that Mr. Obama and Nancy Pelosi's Democrats have created $1.48 trillion deficit this year and federal spending at 25-percent of GDP, both near record highs. So much for any hopes Progressives in Washington will ever cut deficits…or the rising national debt.
Sixteen years after President Clinton famously said, "The era of big government is over," we're $10 trillion deeper in debt! Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have ended the era of big government.
I applaud Rand Paul's initiative and his wherewithal to put something on the table. Cynical Progressives and skeptical pundits have wondered out loud whether TEA Party candidates could govern or make any impact in DC's business as usual. They are already making quite a significant impact.