The Impractical Impracticalness of Rand Paul

Zuma/<a href="http://zumapress.com/zpdtl.html?IMG=20101102_sha_su1_849.jpg&CNT=8">Billy Suratt</a>

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Between the Republicans’ pledge to return to Bush-era spending levels, Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) retreat from the party’s pledge to slash $100 billion, and the never-ending back and forth over cutting earmark and defense spending, the GOP is having a tough time turning its fiscal fever dreams into reality.

Enter The Paul.

Not to be upstaged by the White House and the President’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kent.) introduced a massive spending cut bill that slashes $500 billion from the federal budget in—wait for it—one year, reports Politico. Recently, Republicans pledged to roll spending back to 2008 levels, a commitment Paul supports. He sees his cuts as his own, not-so-little contribution to the spending solution.

Agencies, departments, and programs Paul wants to eliminate include:

• the Department of Housing and Urban Development

• Department of Energy

• Most of the Education Department (with the exception of Pell Grants for low income college students)

• The Consumer Product Safety Commission, Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the national endowments for the humanities and the arts

• All foreign aid

Paul’s budget also cuts funding for the federal court system and Agriculture Department by almost a third, while the FDA would suffer a 62% cut. Meanwhile, homeland security spending would be sliced almost in half.

And on defense spending:

Paul’s 12-page bill appears to state its defense cuts as a series of 10 percent reductions from President Barack Obama’s 2011 budget request—not yet fully enacted. But as described in accompanying material provided by the senator’s office, the end result would be about a 2.7 percent cut below 2010 levels—far more severe than anything envisioned by House Republicans. Most controversial could be a proposed $16 billion reduction from the overseas contingency funds provided for the military for the current fiscal year.

Paul’s communications director, Moira Bagley, told Politico that the senator is willing to extend his time horizon beyond 2011 in hopes of drumming up more support for his cuts. “He sees this as a way to begin the conversation,” she said. Meanwhile, a recent Gallup poll shows that over 60 percent of Americans oppose cuts to Medicare, Social Security and education funding. A majority, though, support spending less on foreign aid.

Paul appears to be entirely earnest about his bill. But it’s not clear that a huge package of unrealistic, controversial cuts will help the Republicans seem serious about their spending goals. In other words, if this is the best they can offer, they’re in trouble.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest