The proposal, which Paul unveiled in Las Vegas on Monday in advance of Tuesday’s Republican debate, is dramatic by any measure and goes well beyond what other Republican candidates are proposing.
It cuts $1 trillion in spending in one year, largely by ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, eliminates all foreign aid, and slashes five cabinet departments — Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Interior and Education.
The Texas congressman would also get rid of the Transportation Security Administration, which is part of the Homeland Security Department and was created after the 9/11 attacks, “returning responsibility for security to private property owners.” Spending in most other departments would be frozen.
The other proposals in Paul’s plan are more similar to current conservative thinking, including reducing the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, eliminating the estate tax and extending all the Bush tax cuts.
Paul would repeal President Obama’s health-care reform law, the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform overhaul, and the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley act, which increased corporate accounting oversight in the wake of the Enron scandal. He would make Social Security voluntary, turning welfare programs into block grants.
He would also end corporate subsidies — one of the few parts of this plan “Occupy Wall Street” types might like. Paul’s perennial concerns crop up — he would like to audit the Federal Reserve as well as enact “competing currency legislation,” which legalizes alternatives to the dollar including gold.
In a mostly symbolic populist gesture, Paul would give himself a salary of $39,336, “approximately equal to the median personal income of the American worker.” He would also cut congressional pay.
If these measures are implemented, Paul predicts a budget surplus by 2016.
It has to be said that Paul’s budget is mostly a wish-list. In the last Washington Post-ABC News poll, Paul came in at 11 percent, in fourth place. However, as we’ve written, there’s a ceiling on Paul’s intense support.
And, if did increase his support in the GOP primary, he would likely have to water down portions of the above platform in order to make himself more palatable to general election voters.
“Ron Paul is something of a spiritual leader in the GOP today. If he says we should eliminate five departments, that will strike a lot of Party faithful as appealing at a commonsense level,” said Republican strategist Ed Rogers. “The mainstream is less interested in confusing details than ever.”
If he did win the presidency, Paul has given little indication of how he would implement his unconventional ideas, saying only that he would use “the bully pulpit of the presidency, the power of the Veto, and, most importantly, the united voice of freedom-loving Americans” to enact his dramatic.
While the plan is fairly detailed on cuts, Paul does not explain how government functions eliminated under his plan would be handled by states or the private sector.
But small-government advocates argue that the proposals could advance and expand on the economic discussion already underway in the 2012 presidential race in a positive way.
“You have a lot of Republicans who talk about cutting spending in a general sense, but when they get pressed to name specifics they’re not very forthcoming,” said Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the libertarian CATO Institute. ”I’m hoping that at the very least this forces the other candidates to start to get more specific about what they would cut as well.”