By Garth Kant
It's a man-bites-dog story. It's about the world upside-down. It's about the most unexpected surprise ever. Like a lottery. It's about an American politician giving money back to the government!
It's U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who said he is setting an example for a federal government teetering on the edge of mandatory budget cuts.
He is giving money back – a lot of it. Well, a lot for most Americans.
The Courier-Journal out of Louisville reports the U.S. senator is returning $600,000 to the U.S. Treasury for this year. It was money that had been allocated to him to run his Senate office.
But the paper says he saved the money by watching the expenses for his office needs. For two years, Paul said, the amount returned totals $1.1 million.
"It's the only budget I control," he told a news conference in Louisville. "It's not enough, but it's a start."
According to the Courier-Journal, Paul said, "We are frugal from top to bottom."
He said he and his staff watch every purchase, and keep close track of expenses on travel, and also on "computers, paper, ink cartridges. Everything we buy."
The reported added that Paul believes he is being true to a campaign pledge to cut federal spending.
"It's not an enormous savings," he said. But he said it would add up if the federal government watched expenses as closely.
He also said he's introduce legislation to create bonuses for federal civil service employees based on what funds they save in their allocations.
He said Obama "seems to think the country can continue to borrow $50,000 per second" and "squeeze more money out of those who are working."
"The path we are on is not sustainable, but few in Congress or in this administration seem to recognize that their actions are endangering the prosperity of this great nation," he said. "Ronald Reagan said, government is not the answer to the problem, government is the problem."
But he said Obama's message is that "government is the solution: More government, more taxes, more debt."
He said when he was elected in 2010, "I thought I knew how bad it was in Washington."
"It is worse than I ever imagined. Congress is debating the wrong things. Every debate in Washington is about how much to increase spending – a little or a lot.
About how much to increase taxes – a little or a lot. The president does a big 'woe is me' over the $1.2 trillion sequester that he endorsed and signed into law. Some Republicans are joining him. Few people understand that the sequester doesn't even cut any spending. It just slows the rate of growth. Even with the sequester, government will grow over $7 trillion over the next decade.
"Only in Washington could an increase of $7 trillion in spending over a decade be called a cut."
He said the simple answer is for voters to demand a change in Washington, with the threat to members of Congress they may be sent home.
"I have seen the inner sanctum of Congress and believe me there is no monopoly on knowledge there. If they will not listen, if they will not balance the budget, then we should limit their terms. We are the party that adheres to the Constitution. We will not let the liberals tread on the Second Amendment! We will fight to defend the entire Bill of Rights from the right to trial by jury to the right to be free from unlawful searches. We will stand up against excessive government power wherever we see it. We cannot and will not allow any president to act as if he were a king," he said.
As you might guess, Paul hasn't exactly been quiet on the Washington scene.
He recently reprimanded New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for "not standing up for Second Amendment rights."
And he questioned the Obama administration's operations in Benghazi, and whether the four Americans were killed because the U.S. was running guns to the rebels in Syria.
He also has suggested an audit of the Federal Reserve.