LAS VEGAS – In a city that celebrates American excess, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas on Monday released an economic plan to cut $1 trillion in spending by eliminating five federal departments and the Transportation Security Administration in addition to ending America’s combat missions abroad.
Paul’s plan comes out a week after he and his fellow Republican presidential candidates debated economic issues at Dartmouth College, and one day before the GOP hopefuls are set to debate again here, in a city that’s been particularly hard hit by the recession.
While draconian, the plan contains few surprises, given its author: a libertarian candidate who has long advocated for smaller government. Paul would immediately eliminate the departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Interior, and Education. War spending would be terminated. Most other departments' spending would be capped at 2006 levels.
Paul also proposes downsizing the federal workforce by 10 percent, cutting congressional pay and perks, and lowering his own salary as president from $400,000 a year to $39,336 – the median personal income of an American worker, according to his campaign.
“I have a personal conviction that this will not hurt anybody. You cut government spending and it goes back to you,” he promised a crowd of roughly 200 supporters who gathered in a conference room at the Venetian hotel to hear him unveil the plan.
Entitlement reform would occur through block granting welfare programs such as Medicaid to the states. Paul would preserve Social Security – he said at the press conference that other savings would allow for that – but would begin offering anyone under the age of 25 the chance to opt out of the government-run retirement program.
On the tax front, Paul would lower corporate tax rate to 15 percent, higher than some of his GOP presidential rivals propose. Herman Cain’s much-touted “9-9-9” plan, for example, would set the rate four percentage points lower. Paul would also extend the Bush-era tax cuts and end taxes on capital gains and dividends.
At the top of President Paul’s priority list: Repealing the health care law and the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law, both of which President Obama signed, as well as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which former president George W. Bush signed into law to combat corporate and accounting fraud. Paul also pledged to cancel all “onerous” regulations issued by executive order.
“We don’t need more regulations, we need more regulations on the government is what we really need,” Paul said.