Congress has a spending problem, much like the rest of the federal government. Most elected politicians are fine with pushing their pet projects and making heavy promises without concern for the overall financial condition of the nation. But there are a handful of politicians who will make difficult positions and stick to them, one of them being the son of former Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) announced that he will not vote an end-of-year spending bill that adds to the deficit. In a tweet, the Senator stated he could not in good conscience vote to add to the $20 trillion debt. He went on to say he made a promise to the people of Kentucky to oppose this kind of reckless spending and intended to stand by it.
It’s unlikely that Senator Paul will be able to get a majority of Senators to stand up against deficit spending, as government shutdown generally hurts the credibility of politicians. While it may be in the best interests of the taxpayer to try to stop a worsening fiscal situation, government shutdowns have bad optics.
Senator Paul previously voted for the Senate tax bill, which would added an estimated trillion dollars to the deficit over ten years.
The tax bill vote was justified by numerous members of Congress, including Senator Paul, because of the tax cuts. As Senator Paul would go onto say, people keeping more of their money is never the problem. This is the real difference between the tax legislation and a deficit-adding end-of-year spending bill.
Taxpayers should be keeping more of their money for a number of reasons. From a philosophical standpoint, the money is theirs. From an economic standpoint, they know better uses for their money than wasteful government bureaucrats. From a social standpoint, their families and communities rely on it. Cutting taxes so they can keep more of their money is not a problem. If tax cuts result in adding to the deficit, it’s because Congress failed to cut runaway spending.
Thus, the problem is the spending habits of the federal government, not the American taxpayer.
Senator Paul goes onto say that Congress should “obey the rules, stop the deficit spending and shrink government.” Given that each member of Congress takes an oath to uphold the United States Constitution, this shouldn’t be a difficult task.
As of now, Congress has until December 22nd to pass a bill to keep the government functioning as it should. President Donald Trump signed a stopgap bill last week to help in the short term, but Congress has yet to introduce a longterm funding fix.
Will Congress cave and add to the deficit? With each passing day, it becomes more likely. There is less time for serious negotiation and more pressure to get things done. This creates desperation to get things done, which in turn breaks down the demands of various members of Congress. Paul will likely hold firm, but he will be one of the very few. It’s become increasingly clear we could use more like him serving in the United States Senate.