Erika Johnsen
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While it is, of course, politically expedient for the tea-party rockstar to practice fiscal austerity in every available sphere, his personal commitment and consistency are still pretty darn cool. Sen. Paul isn't the first senator to return such a chunk of change to the Treasury, and he might be setting himself up for a tricky precedent; but by actively demonstrating how efficient and judicious he can be with his own office's budget, cutting non-necessities and waste instead of determinedly using every penny (and more) alloted him, I don't think anyone could accuse him of hypocrisy.

The Kentucky Republican and tea-party favorite said Thursday he’s returning $500,000 to the U.S. Treasury — money from his operating budget that his office never spent.

The half million dollars represents about 16 percent of Paul’s annual budget. ...

“I ran to stop the reckless spending. And I ran to end the damaging process of elected officials acting as errand boys, competing to see who could bring back the biggest check and the most amount of pork,” Paul said at a news conference in Louisville, where he presented taxpayers with a massive mock check for $500,000.

“I hope this sets an example for the rest of government — at all levels,” he added. “We can carry out our duties in a fiscally responsible way. Government can be both smart and efficient. We are proving that — and trying to convince the rest of Washington.”

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Erika Johnsen

Erika Johnsen is a Web Editor for Townhall.com and Townhall Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @erikajohnsen.