Kentucky’s junior senator, Republican Rand Paul, announced today that he would not be voting in favor of the debt ceiling compromise pending in the Senate. In an “open letter,” sent to the press and posted on his web page, he characterized the proposal with a paraphrased metaphor from fellow-senator Jim DeMint: “When you're speeding toward the edge of a cliff, you don't set the cruise control. You stop the car. The current deal to raise the debt ceiling doesn't stop us from going over the fiscal cliff. At best, it slows us from going over it at 80 mph to going over it at 60 mph.”
Sen. Paul complained of a lack of balance in the proposal: “This plan never balances. The President called for a ‘balanced approach.’ But the American people are calling for a balanced budget.” Complaining that the compromise deal does nothing to reduce the fiscal obligations of “Obamacare, TARP, trillion-dollar wars, and runaway entitlement spending.” He predicted that the legacy of these expenditures will be trillions of dollars in new debt.
The senator cited a number of specific problems with the proposal which cause him concern:
- The debt ceiling compromise adds at least $7 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years.
- The deal purports to "cut" $2.1 trillion, but the "cut" is from a baseline that adds $10 trillion to the debt.
- Even if all targets are met and the Super Committee wields its mandate, the best case scenario will be the addition of more than $7 trillion more in debt over the next 10 years.
- The Super Committee limits the constitutional check of the filibuster by expediting passage of bills with a simple majority.
- The schedule of proposed spending cuts is too slow. It is doubtful that planned cuts of $2.5 trillion over 10 years (that's an average of $250 billion per year) will ever be met if the first two years cuts are $20 billion and $50 billion.
Sen. Paul argued that “Credit rating agencies have clearly stated the type of so-called cuts envisioned in this plan will result in our AAA bond rating being downgraded,” and predicted that the only way to avoid this downgrading, and the resulting economic problems that stem from that, is for this bill to fail.
“This plan does not solve our problem,” concluded Sen. Paul. “Not even close. I cannot abide the destruction of our economy, therefore I vigorously oppose this deal and I urge my colleagues and the American people to do the same.”
What is a debt ceiling?