Is Rand Paul a U.S. Senate action hero?
It didn’t take Rand Paul long to become Captain America of the U.S. Senate. He’s tough-minded, strong-willed and he’s ready to battle the most dangerous titans on the political landscape, like Social Security and Medicare.
In fact, the Republican Tea Party favorite from Kentucky tells MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that a courageous and comprehensive plan for fixing America’s public finances will soon be on the march. And if all goes as planned, much may be accomplished before the start of this year’s Major League Baseball season.
“Within two to three weeks, I’m going to propose a fix for Social Security,” says Rand, son of Ron, who has already far surpassed the fiscal aims of the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill by proposing $500 billion in budget cuts.
“We’re going to fix the budget the first week. The second month, I’m going to fix Social Security and then the third month, we’re going to work on Medicare,” he adds, with tongue somewhat in cheek.
At the moment, his blueprint for Medicare still amounts to “a secret plan.” But on Social Security, we can expect what other Republicans are avoiding: an increase in the retirement age and means testing for wealthier beneficiaries.
Paul says the difference between him and other Republicans is that he’s “unafraid” of voter reaction: “If you talk frankly and speak boldly, you’ll get more people to vote for you.”
Another important difference is that his brave ambitious plans are unlikely to succeed at a time when congressional leaders seem increasingly unwilling to consider large-scale reductions. Look at it this way: the GOP’s bold campaign pledge to cut 2011 spending by $100 billion shrank first to about $50 billion and now to $32 billion.
So the senator can talk tough on spending without voters feeling the material effects of his fiscal high-mindedness.
Still, he makes an interesting point about his fellow Republicans as they strive in earnest to distinguish their deficit-cutting policies from those of President Barack Obama.
“If the president gets his way, over the next five years we add nearly $4 trillion worth of debt. If the Republicans get their way, we add $3 trillion worth of debt,” Paul says.
And he adds, perhaps with fans of mixed-metaphors in mind: “The Republican plan is better. But it’s still too little and we’re drowning under a mountain of debt.”
Reuters Photo Credits: Jason Reed (Captain America); Jonathan Ernst (Rand Paul); Kevin Lamarque (John Boehner and Mitch McConnell)
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