By SCOTT WONG
Freshman Sen. Rand Paul is making good on his promise to cut federal spending. The Kentucky Republican and tea-party favorite said Thursday he’s returning $500,000 to the U.S. Treasury — money from his operating budget that his office never spent.
The half million dollars represents about 16 percent of Paul’s annual budget. He contended no senator had returned as much to taxpayers, though at least two senators disputed that claim. An aide to Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said his office returned $636,036 in unspent money to the Treasury in Fiscal Year 2010 and another $503,161 in 2011.
“I ran to stop the reckless spending. And I ran to end the damaging process of elected officials acting as errand boys, competing to see who could bring back the biggest check and the most amount of pork,” Paul said at a news conference in Louisville, where he presented taxpayers with a massive mock check for $500,000.
“I hope this sets an example for the rest of government — at all levels,” he added. “We can carry out our duties in a fiscally responsible way. Government can be both smart and efficient. We are proving that — and trying to convince the rest of Washington.”
Paul is the son of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul and co-founded the Senate tea party caucus. As the younger Paul stumped for his father in Iowa and New Hampshire, there’s been plenty of speculation that Rand Paul could launch a presidential bid of his own in 2016.