Not to be outdone by Herman Cain's 9-9-9 fiscal plan which has captured the imagination of many Republican voters, fellow GOP presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul has introduced his own big idea, $1 trillion in federal spending cuts in the first year of his presidency and the elimination of five executive-branch departments and the Transportation Security Administration.
"Our debt is too big, our government is too big. We have to recognize how serious the problem is," Paul said at a Las Vegas news conference Monday, the day before a Republican presidential debate was to take place in the same city.
"The other candidates have not offered this. I think they don't think it's very serious. They think we can just tinker around the edges. But I think the American people are ready for some honest thinking and some honest reforms.
A lot of people would say this is pretty extreme, pretty excessive. But I go back to say we have had extreme spending, extremism in the growth of our government. And it's time now that we say we have to cut."
Many Republicans have long advocated pulling the plug on the Education Department.
But Paul, a libertarian congressman from Texas would go much further, ending not just that department but Commerce, Interior, Energy and HUD departments.
According to his website, he's also proposing:
... Abolishing the Transportation Security Administration and returning responsibility for security to private property owners, abolishing corporate subsidies, stopping foreign aid, ending foreign wars, and returning most other spending to 2006 levels.
Furthermore, Paul is promising to balance the federal budget in the third year of his presidency.
And that's not all. He would block grant Medicaid to the states, reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent and even take as a presidential salary only $39,226 which he says is roughly the median income of the American worker.
Paul said he would protect seniors on Social Security and veterans programs. But, on the other hand, he said he would give workers 25 years and younger the chance to exit Social Security.
He would more than halve the corporate tax rate to 15 percent and permanently extend all the Bush-era tax cuts. In addition, he would repeal the Affordable Care Act, as well as the Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley financial reform laws. He would also undo a host of regulations.
And in an element likely to appeal to neo-isolationists, Paul says he would end all foreign aid. Such aid is only one percent of federal spending but a constant target of some conservatives.
Paul's plan, coming as it did on the eve of the presidential debate, could drive some of the discussion in his direction while cutting into Cain's appeal to Tea Party voters.
Cain's plan has come under increasing criticism recently as ever more analysts say it would result in higher taxes for lower and middle-income tax payers.
While Paul is likely to get a fresh blast of attention from many Republican voters intrigued by what is indisputably a bold idea, he's also likely to face serious criticisms, too. His cuts are of the size and speed to be alarming to many people.
Meanwhile, allowing younger workers to opt out of the Social Security program is the sort of move that many experts have warned would make it harder to sustain that program.
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