Rand Paul's plan for $500 billion in cuts calls for shutting down parts or all of agencies

01/25/2011 08:24 PM

Following through with a campaign promise, freshman Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul proposed a bill to slash $500 billion in federal funds by cutting shuttering much of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the education department with the exception of the Pell grant program.

Paul’s bill, released by his office late Tuesday, reduces some federal departments to 2008 spending levels, calls for turning over services to state and local governments and privatizing other services.

Paul ran his 2010 campaign on a call for smaller government. He first pledged to immediately introduce a way to balance the federal budget, which is running about a a $1.4 trillion annual deficit. By the end of the campaign, he scaled back expectations to proposing $500 billion in cuts.

A copy of an overview of the bill that also includes Paul’s explanation for each proposed cut can be seen here. A copy of the bill can be seen here.

With Democrats in control of the U.S. Senate, Paul’s bill faces long odds in winning approval in that chamber.

His proposal ranges from small cuts to agencies, such as a 2% reduction in the U.S. Department of Labor, to eliminating the Department of Energy and Housing and Urban Development agency.

For Congress, Paul’s bill would cut $1.3 billion by reducing the legislative budget to 2008 spending levels. The plan also would eliminate the Government Printing Office, which, according to a release from Paul’s office, spends $30 million a year to print the “rarely read” Congressional Record. The cut represents 23% savings, Paul said.

For the judicial branch, $2.4 billion is cut — a 32% reduction.

But the majority of the cuts come from the executive branch departments. Here’s a department by department look at what Paul intends to cut:

Department of Agriculture:

  • Return spending for food stamps and farm and crop subsides to 2008 levels
  • Eliminate the Agricultural Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, because Paul said the agricultural industry can privately conduct research like other industries. Currently the top programs help conduct research and promote that research.
  • Eliminate the National Resources Conservation Services, because Paul said the issue of conservation is best left to the states.
  • Eliminate the Foreign Agricultural Service and reduce the Forest Service by 20% because Paul said “federal forests should be turned over to state or private interests” for use as timber, conservation or recreation.

  • Paul’s bill would eliminate the Department of Energy and would transfer some functions to the Department of Defense. Eliminating the department would save $44 million.
  • Cut Defense by $47.5 billion or 6.5% by selling unused bases and buildings overseas, turning over security in Iraq and Afghanistan to local forces and reducing the size of the military and civilian employment.
  • It also includes some of the proposed cuts Defense Secretary Robert Gates has proposed.
  • Transfer nuclear weapon procurement and disposal of nuclear waste from the Dept. of Energy to Dept. of Defense.

Homeland Security
  • The department created after the Sept. 11 attacks would see a $24 billion reduction (43%)
  • The Transportation Security Administration, largely tasked with airport security and screening, would be cut 40%. Paul is advocating for airports to switch to private security firms to do the screening, which would be overseen by federal officials.
  • Move the Coast Guard from Homeland Security to the Department of Defense and reduce their budget to 2008 spending levels

  • Paul’s bill advocates for a $78 billion cut, preserving only federal Pell grants while transferring all other services to the state and local level, something for which Paul consistently advocated during the campaign. It would mean an 83% cut to the department.

Health and Human Services/Housing and Urban Development

  • The bill would eliminate HUD, saving $53 billion
  • Health and Human Services Discretionary spending would be reduced by 26% or $26.5 billion
  • The bill does not touch Medicare or Medicaid when it comes to changes or cuts.
  • The Food and Drug Administration would be cut 62%
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cut 28%
  • The National Institute on Health, which performs high-level research on diseases, would be cut 37%.
  • Indian Health Services would be reduced 46 percent and the Health Resources and Services Administration reduced 34% by eliminating 1,645 free health clinics available to migrant workers.

  • $20 billion reduction (71%) by reducing the amount of foreign aid sent to other countries, which Paul said wasn’t effective and often is misused by countries receiving the money.
  • Justice Department back to 2008 levels, eliminate Office of Justice Programs, which helps local law enforcement with techniques, including “neighborhood watches.”

  • Cut the department by $5 billion, a 54% reduction.
  • Specifically reduce the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 36%.

  • Send spending back to 2008 levels, a $11 billion cut (78%).
  • Eliminate Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Reclamation
  • Reduce Land and Mineral Management 50 percent, U.S. Geological Survey 29 percent, National Park Service 42%.

Transportation/Corps of Engineers/EPA
  • Transportation would be cut 49% or $4.8 billion by cutting Amtrak subsides, setting the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration budgets at the gas tax receipts (projected $37 billion) and sending the rest of the department into 2008 levels.
  • Save $1.8 billion by combining all Army Corps of Engineer districts into one national district.
  • Cut the Environmental Protection Agency 29%, by $3.2 billion, in a simple reduction.

Paul’s bill also includes a 25 percent cut to NASA’s funding ($4.5 billion), the elimination of the International Assistance Program, a 62% cut to the National Science Foundation and a 22% cut to the Federal Communication Commission.

Paul also includes $2 billion in cuts by eliminating funding to the follow programs and by privatizing the Smithsonian Institute:

  • Affordable Housing Program
  • Commission on Fine Arts
  • Consumer Production Safety Commission
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which helps fund National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System)
  • National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for Humanities

Another part of Paul’s plan would generate more revenue by collecting owed taxes worth up to $3 billion.

Paul also called for a federal pay freeze, reducing federal travel, repealing the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage law, selling unused federal buildings and land and reducing the federal vehicle budget. And the proposal would end the Troubled Assistance and Recovery Program — known as TARP — that was set up in 2008 to bail out struggling  banks. That set of changes would bring in $43 billion in extra revenue, according to the bill’s estimates.

The least-affected department was the U.S. Department of Labor, which would take just a 2% hit, according to Paul’s bill. It allows for continued payment of unemployment benefits, although it warns about keeping the current limit of 99 weeks, by keeping the Employment and Training Administration.

The bill also would keep the Office of Mine Safety and Health, the Office of Worker’s Compsenation and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, without cutting any of those offices’ funding. But it does eliminate any remaining programs for a $2.8 billion cut.

-Reporting by Kenny Colston


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