In the brouhaha last week over Sen. Rand Paul's defense-spending amendment (with offsetting cuts), an interesting dynamic got a bit overlooked. And that is: Outside of the blatant trolling exercise of the budget-amendment process, when it came time to pass a budget resolution for 2016 and the next decade, the only GOP senators voting "no" were Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.
Both presidential aspirants—each of whom are vying to be the Tea Party/anti-establishment/fiscal-conservative champion—explained their votes in terms of fiscal responsibility. Projecting a balanced budget in 10 years, as the Senate blueprint did, was not enough. Among Paul's quotes:
"It is irresponsible and dangerous to continue to put America further into debt, even for something we need," Mr. Paul said on the Senate floor. "We need national defense, but we should pay for it." […]
"America does not project power from bankruptcy court. We need a strong national defense, but we should be honest with the American people and pay for it[.]" […]
"No one should be seeking increased funding for anything by increasing our debt," said Doug Stafford, a senior adviser to Mr. Paul.
The Texas senator stressed long-term entitlement reform:
[G]iven the gravity of the debt facing our children and grandchildren, I believe that Americans expect us to do more. We need meaningful entitlement reforms, without budget gimmicks, and I cannot support a budget that claims to balance in the year 2025 by utilizing revenue increases generated by Obamacare taxes.
For those of us who would like to cut government spending now, rather than shave off imagined trillions from 10-year projections of spending growth, the Cruz-Paul contest should provide some edifying moments. As I told the Washington Times, the two are already battling to see who can be "the biggest hard-ass on spending, period."More quotes from me:
"He is doing a dance there, where he is trying to make his brand of skepticism toward military spending and intervention [palatable] in the [context] of a GOP primary and at a moment where that electorate is more hawkish by a lot than it was 18 months ago," Mr. Welch said.
He said that Mr. Paul is "storing up ammo for the GOP debates" and wants to be able to say to his rivals that "your hawkishness is fiscally irresponsible."
Mr. Welch added it is a delicate balancing act for Mr. Paul, who is trying to broaden his appeal without losing the base of support that his father, Rep. Ron Paul, had during his presidential bids.
"He has to distance himself from his father's fan base, without distancing himself from his father's fan base — and everybody knows it," he said.