Sen.-elect Rand Paul sketched out on Sunday the broad strokes of his strategy for executing his signature campaign issue: bringing the federal budget into balance.
The Kentucky Republican, who has embraced the conservative tea party movement and proposed creating a tea party caucus in the Senate, was short on specifics but said he is open to cutting military spending, adding, “You have to look at” cutting entitlements as well. He said he “absolutely” would push for a balanced budget amendment or at the very least stronger pay-as-you-go rules.
“If you force legislators to balance … then they step up and they become legislators and find out where to cut,” Paul said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Paul added that he would work for compromise on cutting federal spending with Democrats, who managed in Tuesday’s midterm elections to hold on to the majority in the Senate. The Kentuckian also said he would push to freeze federal hiring, reduce the number of federal employees, and reclaim unspent funds from the economic stimulus and the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Paul said he would seek a seat on the Budget Committee so that he could “go through all of these numbers” and introduce a budget proposal in January that is fully offset. “I want there to be a Republican alternative — whether it wins or not — I want the Republican message to be one of balanced budgets,” he said.
Paul added that he would oppose raising the debt ceiling, which is expected to be voted on early next year. Republicans “need to send a strong message … that adding more debt is wrong,” he said.
When asked about Paul’s proposal on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Paul will have an opportunity to offer his ideas in the chamber.
McConnell, who supported Trey Grayson over Paul in Kentucky’s GOP primary, said he has not decided whether to support the elements of Paul’s proposal. “Some of those things I may well be for,” he said. “I may end up being for all of them. We’ll have to see.”
Sen. Jim DeMint, who backed candidates favored by the tea party movement against GOP establishment candidates in Senate primaries across the country, said Tuesday’s election results amount to a mandate to cut federal spending and reduce the deficit.
“People are rejecting in large numbers this rampage of government spending and takeover” that Democrats have initiated, the South Carolina Republican said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”