Watch CBSN Live

Rand Paul: Cut Entitlements, Defense Budget

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

WASHINGTON -- Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul said in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday that the House GOP's budget proposal is "too little, it's not enough, it's too timid, and we must be more bold."

"They're talking about cutting $35 billion," the Tea Party-backed freshman said. "We spend $35 billion in five days. We add $35 billion to the debt in nine days. It's not enough and we will not avoid financial ruin in our country if we do not think more boldly."

Paul's proposal is to cut $500 billion from the budget.  He said both Democrats and Republicans need to accept that deep cuts need to be made to balance the budget, stating that the "looming debt crisis" is "worse than you can imagine." He said the Department of Education should be cut, leaving education to the states, and that entitlement reform was necessary, including raising the Social Security retirement age. His suggestion that people be allowed to opt out of Social Security was met with a standing ovation from many in the audience.

The 2012 GOP Presidential Field: Strengths and Weaknesses for the Top Contenders

Paul elicited what he later acknowledged was a "mixed response" - cheers mixed with boos - when he said "We will have to look long and hard at the military budget," however.

"The most important thing that our government does is our national defense, absolutely," he said. "But you cannot say that the doubling of the military budget in the last ten years has all been spent wisely and there's not any waste in it."

Paul also complained that the government was wrongly using the commerce clause in the Constitution to justify big government programs like the health care law. He said court tests of the law are about "whether or not we believe our government should be constrained by the Constitution."

(Check back soon for Hotsheet's interview with Paul following the speech.) 

Donald Trump: Ron Paul Can't Win
NRA's Wayne LaPierre: "Government Policies Are Getting us Killed"
Santorum Blasts Obama for Siding with Egyptian Protesters
McConnell: We'll Keeping Fighting Health Care Law Whether It's Popular or Not
Read All of Hotsheet's Reports from CPAC

Brian Montopoli is a senior political reporter for You can read more of his posts here.