Rand Paul the Omni-Hawk

To the extent that the battle over the FY 2016 budget resolution among Republican Members of Congress is being billed as a fight between defense hawks and fiscal hawks, let it be recorded Sen. Rand Paul has decided to side with both (per a report from Bloomberg Politics‘ Kathleen Miller):

Two senators who may vie for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination are pushing their colleagues to boost defense spending more than their party’s budget seeks—even though one of them, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, has made a name for himself by pressuring leaders to accept spending cuts.

Paul’s proposed amendment to the budget would increase defense spending by almost $190 billion over the next two years. It does so through six pages of additions and subtractions to the figures included in the Senate Republican budget approved by committee, which is now being debated by lawmakers.

“This amendment is in response to others in both chambers who are attempting to add to defense spending—some way more than Senator Paul’s amendment—without paying for it,” Doug Stafford, senior advisor to Paul, said in a written statement. Paul “believes national defense should be our priority. He also believes our debt is out of control….”

The amendment would offset the proposed defense increases by cutting funding from foreign aid, the National Science Foundation and climate change research, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

That’s in contrast to a proposal from Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who also may seek the Republican presidential nomination, who teamed up with Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas on their own amendment to increase defense spending. That proposal doesn’t specify any reductions.

I hope those progressives who have flirted with supporting Paul against Hillary Clinton, and/or who simply consider him the best of a bad lot of Republicans, are paying attention to this. Rand Paul the brave heretic against Republican defense orthodoxy, the brave voice objecting to mindless defense spending increases, seems to have gone away, replaced by this dude whose main difference from other Republicans in this area is his enthusiasm for offsetting domestic spending cuts in order to pursue a limited-government path.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.