Debate over “Cut, Cap, and Balance” Continues

Sen. Rand Paul often jokes about the effect his political differences with his father will have on which table he is permitted to sit at when the Paul family gathers. Rand is clearly very much Ron Paul’s son, as they tend to agree completely on most issues; but there is one disagreement that you won’t hear either Paul laughing about: how to handle America’s debt ceiling crisis.

Although the elder Paul has had much more time to prove his fidelity to the Constitution and his desire to seriously reduce the size of the federal government, young Rand is quickly proving his dedication to the same goals and principles. So it is no surprise that both Pauls agree that something must be done to cut spending and ease the threat of the looming financial catastrophe, and it must be done soon. Where they disagree is on what constitutes an acceptable means of achieving these goals.

After more than two decades in office, Ron Paul has never voted to raise the debt ceiling and vows that he never will. Despite his sympathies for the objectives of proponents of the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, Rep. Paul simply couldn’t support the bill in its current language. Ron Paul was one of nine House Republicans to vote against this Act — it passed 234 to 190.
Criticizing the bill on the House floor, the Congressman said:

It purports to eventually balance the budget without cutting military spending, Social Security, or Medicare.  This is impossible.  These three budget items already cost nearly $1 trillion apiece annually.  This means we can cut every other area of federal spending to zero and still have a $3 trillion budget.  Since annual federal tax revenues almost certainly will not exceed $2.5 trillion for several years, this Act cannot balance the budget under any plausible scenario.

In another statement, Rep. Paul said “The Cut, Cap, and Balance act would add $2.4 trillion of new debt to our gargantuan $14.4 trillion debt.  Cut, Cap, and Balance would also only cut $111 billion from this year’s budget, allowing a deficit of nearly $1.5 trillion.  This is far from […] ‘substantial’ cuts.”

Sen. Rand Paul, although admittedly not happy about allowing the nation to go any further into debt, seems to have taken the position that a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution must be passed, and if allowing the debt ceiling to be raised one more time will persuade his colleagues to pass such an amendment, it is a concession worth making. Following the passage of the bill in the house, Sen. Paul praised House Members for their decision, stating that the bill is a step “toward a solution.” To anyone who is concerned that Sen. Paul might be bending too much on this issue, it is worth keeping the previous quote in mind. It is a step toward a solution to our debt problem, not the solution itself.  But what if he is being too compromising? And will a balanced budget amendment and spending cap based on GDP solve problems without creating too much incentive to raise taxes or further manipulate GDP figures? Only time will tell.

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