Every Republican candidate hoping to take on President Barack Obama says he or she has a plan to get America back on track. But when it comes to offering specifics, most are coy and evasive.
Given the country’s precarious budget situation — a national debt just shy of $15 trillion and unfunded liabilities for entitlements totaling over $62 trillion — this hardly is the time for GOP hopefuls to ride the status quo or talk generalities.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), never one to beat around the bush about fiscal matters, has unveiled a new plan the other candidates should carefully study, at least as a starting point for debating meaningful spending cuts.
Candidates for the presidency have in the past talked about careful spending cuts, using a scalpel instead of a hatchet to cut the fat and waste out of the federal budget. But the “Plan to Restore America” offered by Paul shows he is seriously prepared to take on government waste in Washington and balance the budget before the end of his first term.
The need for aggressive action is understandable. Congress continues spending much more than it takes in, saddling future generations with a mountain of debt, even if at a slightly lower rate than in the recent past. And insofar as raising taxes is not a solution to our fiscal problems, the answer must be to work to slay the fiscal leviathan that has been rapidly growing in Washington.
Paul is proposing $1 trillion in specific and immediate spending cuts in his first year in the White House — cuts that would come in part from the elimination of the Transportation Security Administration and five cabinet-level departments, including the Department of Education. A President Paul would also trim the federal workforce by 10% (leaving in place 90 percent of that workforce) and press Congress to lower spending for most of the remaining departments to FY 2006 levels.
Paul also would seek to eliminate many of the obstacles that are discouraging businesses from hiring, including burdensome regulations. And in keeping with a familiar and laudable theme from House Republicans, Paul calls for repeal of President Obama’s health care reform law — known as “Obamacare.”
On taxes, Paul says he would press Congress to lower the corporate income tax rate from 35%, the second-highest in the world, to 15%. Such a move would, according to Paul, encourage businesses that have left the United States for friendlier tax climates abroad to return home to invest their dollars, which would create jobs and reinvigorate the economy.
Republican-friendly talking heads, such as Rush Limbaugh, are offering at least some encouragement for Paul — and in so doing, providing a degree of cover for other candidates to step forward with more explicit proposed cuts of their own. While recently discussing the budget deficits run up under Obama with a caller on his show, for example, Limbaugh noted favorably that Paul’s plan included “genuine, big spending cuts” of the sort necessary to get the country back on track.
Some in the GOP still will legitimately criticize Paul’s views in a number of areas. And with regard to his latest economic plan, one cannot forget Ross Perot’s truism that “the devil is in the details.” But for now, Ron Paul is the only candidate who is getting to the crux of the matter and proposing significant and specific solutions to end the continuing and disastrous assault on American taxpayers. It would behoove his Republican colleagues to come up with their own detailed and bold plans to truly cut federal spending, which — if unchecked — will doom our economic future.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He provides regular commentary to Daily Caller readers.