Rand Paul, the newly elected firebrand Tea Party senator from Kentucky, is mounting a full-on attack on spending, targeting what he terms “corporate welfare” as well as taking direct aim at President Barack Obama’s clean-energy initiatives.
Paul, a Republican, says it’s vital to stick to the GOP campaign promises of deep, immediate cuts. He proposes $500 billion in spending reductions that he says won’t touch Social Security or Medicare.
Top of the list: Tens of billions in spending gone from the departments of education, agriculture, transportation, energy, and housing and urban development. He takes on international aid, Health and Human Services, homeland security, and other federal agencies, too.
“Consistently labeled for elimination, specifically by House Republicans during the 1990s, one of (the Department of) Commerce's main functions is delivering corporate welfare to American firms that can compete without it,” Paul writes in The New York Times.
“My proposal would scale back the Commerce Department's spending by 54 percent and eliminate corporate welfare.”
He singles out the Department of Energy as well, a pet project of Obama’s and often cited by the president as a potential source of new jobs in a country facing unemployment consistently above 9 percent.
“Nearly all forms of energy development here in the U.S. are subsidized by the federal government, from oil and coal to nuclear, wind, solar, and biofuels,” Paul writes. “These subsidies often go to research and companies that can survive without them. This drives up the cost of energy for all Americans, both as taxpayers and consumers.”
Not least is defense, where he says spending is up 67 percent since 2001, even after you subtract the cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Paul writes.
Most importantly, the Kentucky Republican contends, it’s time for Americans to face up to a simple fact: Nothing we do at the federal level now comes cost-free.
“Is any particular program, whatever its merits, worth borrowing billions of dollars from foreign nations to finance programs that could be administered better at the state and local level, or even taken over by the private sector?” Paul asks.
Paul’s call for a more serious debate on spending, one he seems to be issuing to both Republicans and Democrats, was echoed in press interviews with former Sen. Alan Simpson, the plain-speaking head of Obama’s deficit cutting commission.
Any plan to cut spending that leaves out military spending, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security is unserious on the face of it, Simpson said in televisions interviews over the weekend.
“If you have a career politician get up and say, 'I know we can get this done; we're going to get rid of all earmarks, all waste, fraud, and abuse, all foreign aid, Air Force one, all congressional pensions,' that's a sparrow's belch in the midst of a typhoon," Simpson told CNN's "State of the Union."
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