Jan 19, 2011
President Barack Obama will soon lay out his vision for federal spending when he releases his annual budget, setting in motion months of debate over the size and scope of government.
Rand Paul is doing the same thing.
The tea party hero is at the bottom of the Senate in seniority and was sworn in as Kentucky’s junior Republican senator only two weeks ago, but he’s about to unveil his own sweeping budget plan that would result in a $500 billion cut in just one year — about five times more than what the House GOP has promised to do.
It’s an unusual move — a rookie senator releasing his own version of the federal budget — but it says a lot about how Paul is trying to carve an unconventional identity in the stodgy Senate. As he tries to navigate Senate politics, Paul faces a key question: Will he use his national profile to paint himself as a conservative firebrand and perennial outsider, or will he work within the system and with senators across the ideological spectrum to settle for less ambitious deals?
So far, he’s showing signs he’ll do a little of both.