Sen. Rand Paul is almost as sharp a thorn in the side of the Republican Party as President Trump himself, and he has said that there’s no way he’s voting for the Senate GOP’s current budget proposal unless they cut billions in fat off the plan. In an interview with Politico on Tuesday, the libertarian senator from Kentucky said that he’d had discussions with Trump about the bloated budget and what he’d like to see trimmed.
First cut on the docket: $43 billion in war funding that goes over the caps Congress voted for six years ago.
“I’ve told them I’m a ‘yes’ if they’ll not exceed the budget caps,” Paul told Politico. “If leadership is unwilling to compromise with somebody who is concerned about the debt, then they deserve to lose.”
Paul says that the Republican leadership in the Senate has shown no flexibility on the issue, despite the fact that they have very little wiggle room when it comes to passing the budget. They can afford to lose Paul’s vote if they absolutely have to, but that will mean they need pretty much every other Republican to give the budget the thumbs-up. Considering the Senate’s voting record on important legislative issues so far this year, that is the kind of scenario that has to make Mitch McConnell sweat a little.
“These are the people who come to our caucus every day and say: ‘Oh the budget doesn’t matter, it’s just a vehicle to get to taxes,’” Paul said. “And yet when I ask for something they aren’t willing to do it.”
There are two different philosophies at play here – one in the Senate and one in the House. Under McConnell’s leadership, the budget proposal is all about the centerpiece: A major, $1.5 trillion tax cut that is aimed at getting the economy roaring again in the hopes that big growth will raise revenue to the point where major spending cuts are unnecessary. Under Ryan’s watchful eye in the House, we’re looking at the other side of the scenario. Republicans are trying to cut $200 billion in mandatory expenditures in the hopes of taming a federal behemoth that has grown out of all reasonable proportion.
The president, thus far, has been talking a language closer to McConnell’s. He wants the tax cuts without the spending cuts, and he thinks we’ll be able to magically avoid a deficit crisis with economic growth. That’s…probably not going to be possible. We need more Republicans like Paul to start talking sensible strategies to cut the budget and reduce the deficit, because there will come a day when our ballooning national debt is no longer a problem we can kick down the road. There’s no better chance to address this elephant in the room than right now, with Republicans in control of every major branch of government. Yes, it would be easier if they’d been able to get Obamacare off the books, but we have to tackle reality as it lies today.