Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was hoping his Republican colleagues would be embarrassed by their vote to jack up federal spending earlier this year and support his plan to phase in a balanced budget. Few were.
Paul got 20 other Republican senators on Thursday — less than half of the Senate GOP caucus — to vote for his “penny plan,” which would balance the federal budget over five years by cutting spending except for Social Security by 1 percent every year. No Democrats back the proposal.
“The bottom line is whether the debt is threatening our national security, whether it’s threatening the security and the economic foundation of our country, and I think without question it is,” Paul said on the Senate floor. “This vote is a litmus test for conservatives. Are you a conservative? Do you think we can cut one penny out of every dollar? I think it is a conservative notion that we have long said we are for. Now it’s time to step up to the plate and actually vote what you say you stand for.”
Thirteen of the senators who voted “yes” on Thursday also voted with Paul against the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending deal in February to hike expenditures and eliminate caps that had slowed the growth of discretionary spending.
[lz_table title=”These GOPers Opposed Balanced Budget” source=”U.S. Senate”]Senators who voted against Sen. Rand Paul’s “penny” plan
Richard Burr,North Carolina
Shelley M. Capito,West Virginia
Lindsey Graham,South Carolina
John Hoeven,North Dakota
Mike Rounds,South Dakota
John Thune,South Dakota
Thom Tillis,North Carolina
A number of conservative groups counted Thursday’s vote as a “key vote” in ratings of lawmakers. They expressed disgust at the overwhelming vote against the budget.
“Republicans only care about budget deficits when they’re in the minority,” said Jason Pye, vice president of legislative affairs at FreedomWorks.
Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self Governance, agreed, saying, “There are very few sane people willing to have a rational discussion about fiscal responsibility … It’s obscene. These guys are pigs in slop.”
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Paul’s plan would have reduced spending by $404.8 billion in the fiscal year that starts October 1. After the budget balanced in five years, spending would be held to 1 percent increases per year, resulting in a budget that was 14.6 percent bigger in 10 years that it is now.
Paul’s proposal also would have expanded Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to let Americans save money, tax-free, for medical expenses.
Republican defense hawks often cite Pentagon needs as justification for rejecting budget-balancing proposals.
“People back home aren’t buying that,” said Pye. “This budget gave people a chance to redeem themselves. Unfortunately, they didn’t.”
Added Meckler: “It’s a joke. It’s false.”
Even though Paul’s bid failed, it did pick up the support of some senators who voted for the spending bill in February, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas). The others were Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).
Pye noted that Paul also got more votes than he did for a similar proposal last year.
“It suggests some Republicans feel bad about voting for higher spending and debt,” he said. “I’ll take it.”