Almost every year for the last decade, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has rolled out a radical budget plan that few bother to take seriously. This year, it fell far short, just as it always does, though the circumstances were a little different.
It was two weeks ago when the Kentucky Republican first unveiled the latest iteration of his plan.
Today, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced his "Five Penny Plan" federal budget resolution that will balance within five years. Dr. Paul also plans to offer his Five Penny Plan as an amendment to any forthcoming budget resolution that is brought to the Senate floor.
Last week, as part of the debate over the Democratic budget plan, Paul introduced his own budget blueprint as an alternative and offered it as a proposed amendment. To no one's surprise, it failed in the face of unanimous opposition from the Democratic majority. Some of his GOP colleagues were unimpressed, too: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was "particularly emphatic" while voting no.
But this was not a 99-to-1 vote. On the contrary, as the dust settled last week, 28 Senate Republicans ended up voting for Rand Paul's budget plan.
When the Kentuckian first started pushing his radical plan, it used to pick up support from his most far-right allies, generating around 10 votes. By 2019, however, the Paul plan received 22 votes. Last week, that total reached 28 votes.
Circling back to our previous coverage, this isn't just a proposal that tinkers around the edges of federal spending. Rand Paul's goal is to eliminate a multi-trillion-dollar budget deficit in five years -- for reasons unknown -- without raising any taxes on anyone by any amount.
To achieve such a goal, the GOP senator would mandate enormous cuts to practically every aspect of federal operations, slashing hundreds of billions of dollars in federal investments every year, imposing austerity that would both hurt millions of Americans families and severely undermining the domestic economy.
And while that helps explain why Paul's budget plan was defeated, it doesn't change the fact that most of the Senate Republican conference voted for it. There are currently 50 GOP senators serving in the chamber, and 28 "yes" votes represent 56% of the conference.
Among the Republicans who voted for the radical blueprint are members of the Senate Republican leadership -- Florida's Rick Scott, South Dakota's John Thune, and Wyoming's John Barrasso -- as well as some members who are up for re-election next year, including Florida's Marco Rubio, Wisconsin's Ron Johnson, and Iowa's Chuck Grassley.
I realize, of course, that budget policy tends not to dominate election coverage. But if any of these Senate incumbents are prepared to defend their vote for a brutal and unnecessary budget plan, I'm eager to hear it.