$100 billion is actually much less than $1 trillion.
In a newly released advertisement for an anti-government group, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) makes a novel argument for why lawmakers should never raise taxes: He does not know were some of the government's money goes. To solve the $1 trillion annual budget deficit, he suggests, Congress could simply stop spending $100 billion in "unaccounted for" appropriations.
Unfortunately for him, $100 billion is quite a bit less than $1 trillion. Indeed, it is even smaller than $180 billion — the estimated amount of annual revenue that will be lost, thanks to the Trump tax cuts that Paul helped enact.
The video was posted on Wednesday by Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, a dark money conservative group that demands lawmakers pledge in writing they will never vote to raise taxes under any circumstances. Norquist once vowed to shrink government "to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."
Paul, who often opposes spending — even emergency aid for 9/11 first responders — because he is "against borrowing more money to pay for programs rather than setting priorities and cutting waste" — has backed massive tax cuts for the rich that have significantly inflated the annual budget deficit. He has also pushed for special tax cuts for Kentucky bourbon companies with no offsets and billions in funding for a border wall that Trump once promised would be paid for entirely by Mexico. Thanks to Paul and his GOP Senate colleagues, revenues have dropped significantly and the Trump annual deficit has swelled to over $1 trillion for the first time in history.
In the "Sen. Rand Paul Explains Why Every Elected Official Should Sign The Taxpayer Protection Pledge" video, the Kentucky Republican notes the "eternal fight, back and forth, between conservatives and liberals on whether or not we should raise taxes to try to balance the budget or try to diminish spending."
Paul then claims "there is $100 billion spent in our budget that's unaccounted for. We don't even know where it is spent." This would suggest that the Trump administration, which Paul passionately defends, is recklessly failing to account for its spending. But even if every penny of that $100 billion has been totally wasted and could have been saved, it would still not even make up for the $180 billion he voted to give away, mostly to corporations and the very rich.
Paul then argues that this $100 billion "points out that it's really not a tax problem, it's a spending problem," before concluding that "by holding firm on the tax issue, we should be able to address the spending issue."
When Paul was first elected to the Senate in 2010, federal spending was over $1 trillion less annually than it is today. By voting to cut taxes without any offsetting spending reductions, he has helped push both the annual deficit and cumulative national debt to historic highs.
Paul still tries to present himself as fighting for a balanced budget, but given his record and failed math, it is hard to believe many elected officials will be following his advice.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.