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Rand Paul: A Modest $500 Billion Proposal

Rand Paul
Wall Street Journal
Feb 7, 2011

After Republicans swept into office in 1994, Bill Clinton famously said in his State of the Union address that the era of big government was over. Nearly $10 trillion of federal debt later, the era of big government is at its zenith.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, this will be the third consecutive year in which the federal government is running a deficit near or greater than $1 trillion. The solution to the government’s fiscal crisis must begin by cutting spending in all areas, particularly in those that can be better run at the state or local level. Last month I introduced legislation to do just that. And though it seems extreme to some—containing over $500 billion in spending cuts enacted over one year—it is a necessary first step toward ending our fiscal crisis.

My proposal would first roll back almost all federal spending to 2008 levels, then initiate reductions at various levels nearly across the board. Cuts to the Departments of Agriculture and Transportation would create over $42 billion in savings each, while cuts to the Departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development would save about $50 billion each. Removing education from the federal government’s jurisdiction would create almost $80 billion in savings alone. Add to that my proposed reductions in international aid, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and other federal agencies, and we arrive at over $500 billion.

My proposal, not surprisingly, has been greeted skeptically in Washington, where serious spending cuts are a rarity. But it is a modest proposal when measured against the size of our mounting debt. It would keep 85% of our government funding in place and not touch Social Security or Medicare. But by reducing wasteful spending and shuttering departments that are beyond the constitutional role of the federal government, such as the Department of Education, we can cut nearly 40% of our projected deficit and at the same time remove thousands of big-government bureaucrats who stand in the way of efficiency.

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