According to Time reporters Alex Rodgers and Zeke Miller, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul introduced a budget amendment on Wednesday, to increase military spending by 190 billion dollars over the next two years. The 16 percent increase proposed by the Kentucky Senator on Wednesday marks a stunning reversal from Senator Paul’s 2011 plan, which called for making cuts to the military budget.
Senator Paul’s 2011 proposal which he called the ”draw-down and restructuring of the Department of Defense”, distinguished him from many other Republicans as a true fiscal conservative, willing to make cuts even to budget “sacred cows” like the Pentagon.
Wednesday’s decision to increase the military budget continues Rand Paul’s trajectory away from his past ideology, towards advocating a more hawkish foreign policy. He was also one of the 47 Republican Senators to sign the Tom Cotton letter to Iran’s leaders.
Senator Paul is still committed to reducing other parts of the budget, even though he is no longer a fiscal conservative on defense spending. Senator Paul plans to offset the costs of the military increase by cutting $212 billion dollars in other areas. His proposal calls for reducing funding for aid to foreign governments and cutting spending for climate change research. In addition, it also calls for slashing the budgets of the EPA, HUD, and the Department of Education.
By proposing an amendment to increase military spending on Wednesday, the Kentucky Senator has abandoned his previous principles. He has signaled that as a presidential candidate, he intends to follow GOP orthodoxy and to get in line with all the other military hawks in the race.
While Rand Paul’s about face may help GOP donors take him more seriously as a presidential candidate, it also largely eliminates the rationale for his candidacy. What made Rand Paul a threat to perform well in the Republican primaries and caucuses, was that he was a “different kind of Republican” on military spending and civil liberties issues.
By drawing distinctions between himself and neo-conservatives on foreign policy, as well as social conservatives on domestic policy, Paul had the opportunity to attract young voters and Libertarians. Now he merely comes across as another right-wing political opportunist, willing to do the bidding of military contractors and pseudo-Patriots to further his own political ambitions.
By reinventing himself as a military hawk, Senator Paul has undermined the only compelling rationale for his candidacy. Now that he is just parroting the party line on military policy, he will fade into presidential campaign obscurity, offering nothing that sets him apart from the other Republican candidates.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.