(CNN) - Rand Paul, the Kentucky senator who was elected with strong support from the tea party, said Sunday the automatic cuts that would follow a super committee failure may be the only way for Congress to reach a debt-cutting deal.
“Automatic cuts (sequestration) are sort of like telling your children that, you know, if you don't clean up your mess, or else,” Paul said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Maybe we need the ‘or else’ because Congress isn't behaving the way they should be behaving. Maybe sequestration is our only way we will get any kind of cuts,” Paul said.
Paul said the major cuts to budget of the Department of Defense wouldn’t actually amount to spending cuts, only cuts in proposed expenditures.
“I think we need to be honest about it,” Paul said. “The interesting thing is there will be no cuts in military spending. This may surprise some people, but there will be no cuts in military spending because we're only cutting proposed increases. If we do nothing, military spending goes up 23% over 10 years. If we sequester the money, it will still go up 16%. So spending is still rising under any of these plans. In fact, if you look at both alternatives, spending is still going up. We're only cutting proposed increases in spending.”
Last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sent a letter to lawmakers describing the potential cuts as “devastating,” saying the impact would be substantial upon the armed services.
“These changes would break faith with those who maintain our military and seriously damage readiness,” Panetta wrote.
On Sunday, Paul downplayed Panetta’s forecast.
“That's an interpretation,” Paul said. “But what I can tell you … is that defense spending will go up $100 billion over 10 years even if we sequester $600 billion, because the curve of spending in our country is going up at about 7.5% a year. All spending goes up.”
Another consequence of not reaching a deficit reduction deal is the expiration of unemployment benefits by the end of the year. Paul said he couldn’t support extended those benefits unless they’re funded.
“If you want to extend unemployment benefits, they have to be paid for,” Paul said. “We have an unemployment program. We have a tax for it. It's paid for for 26 weeks. So the question is, do we want to borrow money from China to pay people not to work?”
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