Another chance to seek the return of fiscal sanity to the halls of Congress
© Greg Nash

Much is made of the deep divisions driving our politics today, but when I look around Capitol Hill, I still see plenty of unity - just on all the wrong things.

When it comes to war, debt, and spending, you’ll find more than enough bipartisan support for keeping the status quo going full steam ahead.


But if you suggest an idea that actually sticks to the promises you made to the voters who put you in charge of the government - one as “radical” as, say, balancing the budget - then you better prepare to be called every name under the sun.

Last month, I offered a simple plan. Cut one penny from every dollar of spending each year, which amounts to one percent of federal spending annually, and you can balance the government’s books in five years without touching Social Security. It even allowed Congress full flexibility on where to cut.

Ultimately, only 20 Republicans had the courage of their convictions to stand with me, while 29 others joined with Democrats in bipartisan opposition.

It’s this kind of consensus - maybe the media would pay more attention if we called it “collusion” - that produces legislation such as the budget-busting omnibus spending bill Congress passed in March. Both parties have become so flippant regarding spending that it seems like they pass these massive bills without many members ever reading a single page, if it’s what the party wants.

Further illustrating the bipartisan nature of the problem, the president’s authority to request cuts in unneeded spending - including funding that’s no longer even authorized - went unused under both George W. Bush and Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaLive coverage: Gillum clashes with DeSantis in Florida debate Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa Republicans bail on Coffman to invest in Miami seat MORE while spending spiraled further out of control.

But now, as he continues to flip the typical D.C. script, President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Gillum and DeSantis’s first debate GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Gorbachev calls Trump's withdrawal from arms treaty 'a mistake' MORE has broken that streak by proposing more than $15 billion in budget rescissions to Congress. 

I have teamed with my good friend and fellow fiscal conservative Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenators pledge action on Saudi journalist’s disappearance Bernie Sanders: US should pull out of war in Yemen if Saudis killed journalist Senators warn Trump that Saudi relationship is on the line MORE (R-Utah) and other senators to turn President Trump’s cuts into legislation that, thanks to the rules governing rescission requests, only needs a simple majority to pass the Senate. 

This means Republicans cannot fall back on the old “we need 60 votes” argument that is so often used to avoid fighting for conservative reforms.

Among other provisions, our Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act would save $4.3 billion (that’s been sitting around since 2011) from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, as well as $523 million in years-old, unobligated stimulus money from the same program that guaranteed the disastrous Solyndra loans. Wasn’t this supposed to stimulate the economy almost a decade ago? 

While I have some ideas on where we can cut in much higher numbers (such as the nearly $50 billion we spend annually in Afghanistan), I believe that, no matter how large or small the number, Republicans should work to reduce bloated government whenever and wherever we can. I am pleased the White House has promised that this is only the start of its rescission proposals.

Our national debt is over $21 trillion. Our borrowing averages out to more than a million dollars a minute, and we pay over $300 billion just in net interest on our debt. It has to stop now, or government will be too broke to do anyone any good, no matter if you stand on the left, the right, or somewhere in between.

President Trump has presented this Republican-led Congress with another opportunity to live up to its rhetoric, and I and other conservatives will force the issue this month.

May this mark the return of fiscal sanity to the halls of Congress. 

Paul is the junior senator from Kentucky.