Sen. Paul’s Budget Offered a Gentle Way to a Balance Budget and Failed

Recently U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) pushed the U.S. Senate to go on the record on fiscal responsibility with a vote on his “Penny Plan” balanced budget. Ultimately, 20 senators stood with Dr. Paul to get Congress’ spending under control, while 76 senators voted to continue trillion-dollar  deficits.

Republican Senators voting in favor of Paul’s proposal along with Paul, are Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Micheal Enzi (R-Wyoming), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), John Kennedy (R-Louisiana), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), James Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), and Pat Toomey  (R-Pennsylvania).

“[T]he 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. 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,” Dr. Paul said on the floor shortly before the  vote.

Introduced in April, Dr. Paul’s budget would have balanced within five years, without touching Social Security, by restoring spending to pre-Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 levels and utilizing the “Penny Plan.” His proposal also included instructions that would have paved the way for the expansion of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to help Americans more easily cover their health care  costs.

You can read Dr. Paul’s budget HERE, and you can find more information  below.

Dr. Rand Paul’s Balanced Budget  would:

•    Senator Paul’s budget simply states that for every on-budget dollar the federal government spent in FY18, excluding the BBA, it spend one penny less for the next five years (at which point balance is reached), with spending then growing at one percent  thereafter.

•    Reduces spending by $404.8B in FY19 and by $13.35T over 10 years relative to  baseline.

•    On total, spending still increases by 14.6 percent over the 10-year window. Only in Washington could a 14.6 percent increase be characterized as a  “cut.”

•    This budget balances without making any changes to Social  Security.

•    This budget makes no specific policy assumptions. All the savings are reflected in a new budget function – 930: New Efficiencies, Consolidations, and Other Savings. This budget sets a goal of balance and then calls on Congress to use the tools provided to make the changes in law needed to achieve that  objective.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of  2018

•    The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 raised the defense and non-defense discretionary spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 at a cost of nearly $300 billion.  With federal debt over $21 trillion, the negative impact of borrowing for this spending outweighs any benefit derived from  it.

Expands Health Savings  Accounts

•    Provides reconciliation instruction to reduce revenue by $18.6 billion to Senate Finance to allow for expanded  HSAs.

•    Expansion would allow patients to save for their entire out-of-pocket costs and use HSAs to pay premiums, while also widening eligible disbursements to include supplements, over-the-counter medicine, and other activities that promote wellness and reduce the overall cost of health  care.

Reconciliation and Budget Process  Reform

•    Provides reconciliation instructions to each committee with mandatory spending in its jurisdiction, as was the original purpose of reconciliation, ensuring every committee plays a part and has skin in the game. This is a departure from the recent practice of using reconciliation’s privileged process to “filibuster-proof” different policy priorities instead of bringing existing spending, revenue, and debt-limit laws in line with the budget resolution’s articulation of fiscal  priorities.

•    Raises the threshold of waiving budget points of order.  The Senate now operates on a 60-vote threshold to pass legislation, meaning that, under existing constructs, if the votes exist to pass a bill, they are also there to waive a budget point of order.  Raising the threshold says that fiscal responsibility needs to be taken seriously and have a higher standard – but not so high as to be unreasonably  onerous.

•    In years in which Congress does not adopt a budget, the spending totals of the corresponding year of the most recently passed budget would be enforced. This proposal also makes budget function totals enforceable. It recognizes that the existing budget functions are meant to serve as portfolios, and it calls on Congress to weigh objectives against each other instead of  programs.

•    Recommends several new points of order: against providing appropriations to a program not already authorized in law, as well as doing so in excess of authorized amounts; a surgical point of order against new duplication; and a point of order against any piece of legislation that contains funding subject to more than three 302(b)  allocations.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.