- The Washington Times - Friday, March 22, 2013

Sen. Rand Paul formally rolled out his 2014 budget blueprint on Friday, offering a combination of tax and spending proposals that he said would balance the federal budget in five years without raising taxes.

The freshman Kentucky Republican’s plan reshapes entitlement programs, abolishes four federal agencies and overhauls the federal tax code by establishing a 17-percent flat tax and eliminating taxes on capital gains, dividends and savings.

It also aims to put the nation’s the “large military complex of yesterday in check,” while calling on Congress to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the outer continental shelf to oil drilling, and to increase oil and gas development on federal lands.

“If we don’t make difficult choices today, we will be faced with even more difficult and painful choices down the road,” Mr. Paul said in his plan, which he called “A Clear Vision to Revitalize America.”

Mr. Paul is likely to run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, and he has repeatedly called on lawmakers to take serious steps to reduce the nation’s national debt, which stands at $16.7 trillion.

The spending proposal the freshman senator outlined Friday would put the nation on a path to a balanced budge five years faster than the plan that House Republicans adopted last week. The unveiling came as the Senate was debating a Democratic budget that would leave a major deficit even after 10 years.

The House Republican budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, would spend $3.5 trillion next year and $41.5 trillion over the next decade, compared with tax revenues of $3 trillion in 2014 and $40.2 trillion over 10 years.

Mr. Paul’s budget would spend $3.2 trillion next year and $37.6 trillion over ten years, compared tax revenues of $2.5 trillion in 2014 and $37.9 trillion over 10 years.

Mr. Paul’s budget allocated $526 billion for national defense in 2014 and $5.6 trillion for national defense over the next 10 years. The House GOP budget, meanwhile, sets aside $579 billion for national defense in 2014 and more than $6 trillion over the next 10 years.

Mr. Paul, as well as GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, and Mike Lee of Utah, joined Democrats Thursday in voting against the Ryan House budget — arguing that the plan did not go far enough in getting the nation’s fiscal house in order.

Mr. Paul’s plan abolishes the Departments of Energy, Education, Housing and Urban Development and Commerce, and privatizes the Transportation Security Authority.

It converts federal spending on Medicaid and the state health insurance programs to block grants to the states, and raises the retirement age of Social Security by “adopting longevity indexing for future generations.”

It also indexes Social Security so the benefits for low-income workers would grow faster than those with higher incomes, and allows seniors to receive the same Medicare benefits as members of Congress.

“The time has come for a change that will restore fiscal order in this country, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that this happens,” Mr. Paul said.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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