And unsurprisingly, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul isn’t happy about it. In truth, Paul has become one of the most outspoken Republican advocates in the upper chamber for cutting military spending -- a position too many on the Right seem wholly uncomfortable with. But after studying Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) shell-shocking report last year exposing Washington's wasteful spending habits, Paul seems insistent that there are plenty of ways both Republicans and Democrats can come to together to reduce annual federal expenditures. And cutting military spending, he argues, is a good place to start:
To cut the budget, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is looking under the sea for solutions.
Paul said Thursday he would give President Barack Obama the power to cut the $5.2 million spent on what he called “goldfish studies” and other wasteful military spending as the country inches closer to March 1, when the $1.2 trillion cuts in federal spending over the next decade take effect.
“In the military they have $5.2 million they spent on goldfish — studying goldfish to see how democratic they were and if we could learn about democracy from goldfish. I would give the president the authority to go ahead and cut all $5 million in goldfish studies,” Paul said on Fox News.
In an era of trillion dollar-plus annual deficits, $5 million might not seem like a lot of money. But it’s a start. And because Paul recognizes that there are so many other government programs that are wasteful and serve no meaningful purpose, he wants to give the president more leeway to cut them:
“I would give him more authority if he’s willing to use it to cut off some of this nonsense, but I don’t really trust a lot of what’s going on when I see him putting local firemen and policemen behind them and saying, ‘Republicans are going to make them lose their job,’” Paul said.
He added: “The sequester was his idea — he signed it into law and he needs to take responsibility and he needs to act responsibly and we’ve given him a list of cuts he could do without laying off anybody.”
Senator Paul is right to be cautious, of course. The president’s hysterical reaction to the looming “sequestration” cuts was unseemly and misleading, in part because he sought to blame Republicans for the impending “crisis” when in fact it was his idea from the start. In any case, giving the president unilateral authority to cut defense spending (or other areas of government) raises an important question: if Republicans are more willing to put military cuts on the table -- as Paul believes we should -- would the president and his party be more willing to take a good, hard look at cutting ineffectual entitlement programs? Maybe.
Then again, according to National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar, the president “[has] avoided challenging his liberal base on any idea” that he knows they wouldn’t support.
So why would he want to start now?