Rand Paul ratchets his proposed spending cuts down to $200B

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has ratcheted down his proposal to cut $500 billion from the federal budget for fiscal year 2011.

Paul on Tuesday introduced an amendment on the Senate floor to cut $200 billion over the next six-and-a-half months.

Paul said a House-passed proposal to cut $61 billion from the budget “doesn’t touch the problem.”

“Sixty one billion dollars in cuts sounds like a lot of money. But you know what? We’re increasing spending by $700 billion. And now we’re going to nibble away at $61 billion,” he said on the Senate floor.

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Paul said “you can't even see without a magnifying glass” the $6 billion in cuts Senate Democrats included in a spending package last week.

Paul has come down from the $500 billion in spending cuts he called for at the beginning of the year. That plan would have kept 85 percent of federal spending in place and would have not cut Social Security or Medicare, according to Paul’s office.

The senator touted his initial plan in a Wall Street Journal op-ed as a “modest $500 billion proposal.”

“It is a modest proposal when measured against the size of our mounting debt,” he wrote.

Paul’s latest proposal would reduce most federal discretionary spending to fiscal-year 2008 levels and reduce funding for the Departments of Energy, Education, Housing and Urban Development by 50 percent.

His amendment would cut military spending by 5 percent or 30 billion but not reduce funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Paul offered it to small business legislation the Senate is debating this week on the Senate floor.

An aide to Paul said the senator wanted to see if he could attract more support by offering different levels of cuts.

The aide said Paul wanted to pitch “various levels to engage interest to see how much people are willing to cut.”

“You’ll see the $500 billion proposal again,” said the aide. “We’re definitely not abandoning it.”