On a media tour to promote his book, "The Tea Party Goes to Washington," freshman Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., condemned current efforts by both parties in Congress to cut the deficit as a looming deadline quickly approaches for a government shutdown.
"You have to do much more. We're not even close," Paul told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday, saying even the $100 billion in House GOP-backed spending cuts to this year's budget would still dramatically increase the debt over 10 years, to the tune, Paul said, of $11 trillion.
The senator, a co-founder of the four-strong Senate Tea Party Caucus, flatly rejected a proposal by Senate Democrats on Tuesday to temporarily extend government funding beyond the current March 4 deadline, while lawmakers negotiate a compromise to avoid a shutdown. Paul said members must look at reforming entitlement programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, as well as trimming defense spending.
To that end, the senator said he intends, "in the next week or two," to introduce "a plan to reform Social Security where it will be solvent in perpetuity." The fiscal hawk Kentuckian said this can be done by linking the eligibility age to "longevity," which means raising the retirement age, a controversial move, though one endorsed last year by the president's own bipartisan fiscal commission and one that is likely, according to sources, to make it into major reform efforts being crafted by a bipartisan group of six senators who are poised to introduce their debt reduction plan in the coming weeks.
Paul said, "You will have to gradually do that. It's the only way you fix the entitlement programs."
But Paul is sure to run into a wall of opposition as he seeks this kind of reform. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he will "throw my legislative body" in front of any effort to touch the program for seniors and the disabled.