Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., proposes to cap government spending in an amendment to the House-passed debt ceiling bill that resulted from negotiations between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
“Sixty percent of Americans say Congress should only raise the nation’s debt ceiling if it cuts spending at the same time,” Paul said in a written statement Thursday. “I would guess the Americans answering that poll meant real cuts in spending, not an annual increase of 1% above already bloated levels of COVID-19 spending.”
“Bold actions must be taken to defeat our mounting national debt,” the Kentucky Republican added, “and my conservative alternative to the Biden-McCarthy deal gives us a real opportunity to get our fiscal house in order.”
The amendment, called the Five Penny Plan of 2023, “places caps on total on-budget outlays that decrease by 5% each year which are enforceable by sequester,” Paul’s office said, and “does not touch Social Security and leaves Congress full discretion on which accounts to cut.”
According to the senator’s office, the plan would:
—Replace the House bill’s blanket two-year suspension of the debt ceiling with a $500 billion increase and replace caps on discretionary spending with caps on total on-budget spending.
—Reduce spending by $303 billion in the first year, decreasing budget outlays from $5.1 trillion to $4.8 trillion.
—Trigger automatic cuts through the process called sequestration if the government continues to spend at “excessive” levels.
—Cap total on-budget spending at levels necessary to balance the budget and, without making policy assumptions, direct Congress to make changes to achieve that objective.
Richard Stern, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, said Paul’s amendment provides “a responsible framework.” (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
“We must remember that the federal government already spends 1 in 4 dollars earned by Americans, and that every dollar spent by the government is a dollar taken from American families,” Stern told The Daily Signal in a written statement. “This plan lays out a responsible framework to balance the budget and ensure Americans can keep much more of the fruits of their labors.”
“It would ensure the long-term fiscal health of the federal budget and provides a similar fiscal framework to the annual Budget Blueprint that Heritage publishes—a framework that lives up to the promise of the American Dream,” he said.
Paul voiced his opposition to the Biden-McCarthy deal on the debt ceiling during a Thursday appearance on Fox News Channel.
“Well, you know, there’s nothing conservative about the Biden-McCarthy plan,” Paul said. “It allows unlimited borrowing for two years, beyond the next presidential election.”
“They can spend as much money as they can possibly spend, borrow as much money as they want. No limits on borrowing for two years. Nothing conservative about that,” Paul said. “Experts have estimated that they might borrow as much as $4 trillion in two years. That’s not conservative. Nothing they can say about it makes that amount of borrowing conservative.”
The House voted Wednesday night to pass the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 following weeks of negotiations between Republicans and Democrats.
The vote to pass the debt ceiling bill was 314-117. A total of 149 Republicans and 165 Democrats voted for the legislation, while 71 Republicans and 46 Democrats voted against it. Another four House members didn’t vote.
Heritage Action for America, the grassroots advocacy arm of The Heritage Foundation, opposed the legislation.
“This deal does not meet the moment, and it does not address the root problems that have led to nearly $32 trillion in national debt,” Heritage Action said in a written statement. “As members of Congress continue the fight to rein in Washington’s spending addiction and prevent the country’s fiscal ruin, we remain committed to finding solutions to once and for all bend the spending curve down.”
Following the House vote, the legislation heads to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where Biden has asked senators to vote yes.
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