Kudos to Rand Paul for seeking to bring fiscal sanity to Washington

Kudos to Rand Paul for seeking to bring fiscal sanity to Washington
© Greg Nash

Will the federal government ever stop spending money it does not have? That is the question being asked by anyone who watched the Senate vote this week on the budget plan offered by Republican Senator Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Senators demand Trump explain decision to deploy troops amid Iran tensions Senators demand Trump explain decision to deploy troops amid Iran tensions MORE of Kentucky. It is a plan that leads to a balanced budget in just five years, by implementing a miniscule two cents on the dollar spending reduction. In unfortunate Washington fashion, the bill garnered just 22 votes.

His budget takes the “perfectly reasonable to anyone who lives outside the beltway” position that anyone in charge of anything can find a way, if pressed, to do the job at hand for 98 percent of what was budgeted and, consequently, that the federal agencies managed by federal bureaucrats could find a way to do their jobs even if forced to make do with spending two cents on the dollar less next year than they did this year.

As Paul demonstrates, if the federal government actually spent 2 percent less next year than it did this year, and did this for five years in a row, we would have a balanced budget for the first time in two decades, and we could then begin the task of paying down our $22 trillion debt.

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That is because his budget calls for actual spending reductions, rather than typical faux spending cuts. In Washington, if you spend $1,000 this year and plan to spend $1,100 next year, but then change your mind and decide to spend $1,050 next year, you call it a $50 spending cut and brag to anyone who listens about your fiscal discipline, even though you are actually spending more money next year than this year.

The rest of the country knows that is crazy talk. Where the taxpayers who fund the federal government live, that $1,050 spending level next year would be written up as a spending increase rather than a spending cut. The rest of the country calls people who insist otherwise liars or fools. The real eye opener on this issue is Washington spends so much money every year that even if we were only to save two cents on the dollar every year for 10 years, we would save about $13 trillion over the decade.

The good news is that support for the budget introduced by Paul grew from 21 votes last year to 22 votes this year. Even better news is that of the seven new members of the Senate Republican caucus since the vote last year, three of them voted in favor of the plan, which is the opposite manner of the senators they replaced. These are Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Braun of Indiana, and Mitt Romney of Utah.

The bad news is that the remaining four new members of the Senate Republican caucus voted no, replicating the votes of the senators they replaced. These are Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Martha McSally of Arizona, and Rick Scott of Florida. What was the point of their campaign work to replace the former senators?

Something tells me the voters of North Dakota, who replaced Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, wish Cramer had voted for the budget introduced by Paul. The same goes for the voters of Florida, who replaced Democrat Bill Nelson with Scott, and the voters of Missouri, who replaced Democrat Claire McCaskill with Hawley. Those voters wanted to reverse the big spending voting patterns set by Heitkamp, Nelson, and McCaskill.

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Interestingly, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, who is strongly supports the “penny plan” and voted for the budget introduced by Paul last year, chose to vote against the measure this week. Republican Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who voted against the budget last year, may be trying to disarm his primary challenger by voting for it this year.

Kudos to Paul for not just talking the talk, but for walking the walk. He should be commended for pressing his Republican colleagues to live up to the campaign promises they all made to balance the budget. By doing the hard work of actually showing the federal government can reach a balanced budget if discipline is properly exercised, and then working with the Senate Republican leadership to get a floor vote on the measure, he proves his constituents were right when they sent him to Washington with the faithful belief that he would fight to restore fiscal discipline.

Jenny Beth Martin is the honorary chairman of Tea Party Patriots Action.