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As the GOP presidential race narrows and approaches Super Tuesday on March 6 — the date when 10 states hold their primaries — the remaining four candidates are all claiming to be in favor of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and cutting spending, while criticizing the Obama administration’s spending and deficits. All but one candidate, however — Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) — has a plan to actually reduce the national debt, adding another reason why Paul is the most principled candidate and represents the greatest threat to President Barack Obama’s reelection.

According to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Paul is the only candidate whose plans would actually begin to decrease the national debt. The policies of Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, or another term for Obama would likely push the national debt close to 100% of GDP in the next decade, with Gingrich stealing the show at an estimated 114% increase in debt compared to GDP via his budget plan.

Although the rest of the GOP field offers lip service to issues grassroots conservatives like to hear, the reason Paul is the only candidate who would reduce the national debt is due to his willingness to scale back military spending overseas and his understanding that cutting taxes means little if you don’t cut spending as well. Debt is a tax that future generations have to pay, either through higher direct taxes, inflating the money supply, or more borrowing.

But even though Paul’s policies would likely put a dent in the national debt, the Committee noted that under President Ron Paul, the national debt would still be approximately 76% of GDP. Even with $1 trillion in cuts and a balanced budget in the third year of a Paul administration, the national debt — and the accompanying interest — would still be unsustainable.

But deficits and debt actually represent a small fraction of the financial mess the U.S. government is in. According to a study by the Cato Institute, “If one considers the
unfunded liabilities of programs such as Medicare and Social Security, the true national debt could run as high as $119.5 trillion.” That’s almost $400,000 per person and more than double the GDP of every country combined.

This is why the Paul campaign attracts so many young people; most of us understand that Social Security and Medicare won’t be there for us when we get old. He often mentions a plan that would allow anyone under 25 to “opt-out” of the entitlement system and the taxes used to fund them, take care of those who currently rely on federal programs by slashing overseas military spending, and changing how we view the role of government.

Other than Paul, every other candidate promises more unsustainable spending, promises, and the status quo. Even in the 1980s, Paul was issuing the same warning about unconstitutional government spending and speaking out against President Ronald Reagan’s huge increases in federal spending and deficits that were in the billions. Now that they are in the trillions, Paul’s message is needed more than ever.

Photo Credit: Jayel Aheram