The 5 Most Surprising Ideas in Rand Paul's Speech Today

April 7th 2015

Mike Vainisi

Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky is running for president. Here are the five most intriguing ideas from his announcement:

(For his position on the issues most important to young people, check out our explainer.)

1. End "unconstitutional" NSA surveillance

Talking about government surveillance and holding up an iPhone, Sen. Paul said, "The phone records of law abiding citizens are none of their damn business.” He followed up by saying that he would "immediately" end all unconstitutional surveillance of Americans "on day one" as president. Paul has been outspoken on the surveillance issue for awhile, introducing legislation last year that would have limited the NSA's bulk collection of phone data.

2. Term limits for members of Congress

Paul proposed installing term limits for members of Congress. Currently, only the presidency has term limits (two, four-year terms) while senators and members of the House of Representatives can be elected indefinitely. (Senators are elected to six-year terms, and representatives are elected to two-year terms.) Past legislation proposed by Paul would have limited both senators and representatives to 12 years. Today, the longest serving member of Congress is Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who has been in Congress for more than 50 years. At least 15 states, most notably California, have term limits for their legislators.

3. Give members of Congress more time to read bills

The senator promoted a measure he says will force members of Congress to "read the bills." Paul introduced a similar provision into the Senate last month that would change Senate rules to "provide sufficient time for legislation to be read before being considered" by the Senate. It would require all bills have a waiting period of one day for every 20 pages they include.

4. Economic promise zones to fix poor areas

Economic promise zones would target struggling, impoverished areas of America and attempt to resurrect them by investing federal dollars and lifting local regulations on business. This concept already exists -- President Obama unveiled five economic promise zones last year, and Sen. Paul is on-record supporting the action. Southeastern Kentucky, Paul's home state, is one of the five areas that is part of the existing program. Paul mentioned Detroit and Appalachia as two places that deserve similar attention.

5. Balanced Budget Amendment

Paul called for a Balanced Budget Amendment, which has long been a pet policy idea among fiscal conservatives. A Balanced Budget Amendment would require Congress to pass a deficit-free budget each year where spending does not exceed revenue. According to Politifact, two states have this type of balanced budget provision in their constitutions.

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