WASHINGTON -- The fight over tax cuts is just a sideshow to the real battle coming to Washington. Next week, lawmakers will begin the debate on raising the federal debt limit.
But fiscal conservatives say they won't consider such a move without major spending cuts.
One freshman lawmaker, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has some bold ideas on where to start trimming the budget. In an exclusive interview with CBN News, he suggested the U.S. could reap major savings by abolishing the Department of Education.
"I'd cut the Department of Education. I'd send it back to the states. There's no reason for a federal involvement," Paul said.
If Paul has his way, the cuts won't end there. He would also make significant cuts to the Departments of Energy, Agriculture, Housing and even military spending. Under his plan, nothing is considered "off limits."
"Unless we look at the whole breadth and the width of the government, we can't balance it," Paul reasoned.
Other freshmen in Congress are also calling for targeted cuts.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., told CBN News the Department of Justice should lose funding for failing to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
"The administration refuses to defend our Traditional Marriage Act, and we should be defunding the Justice Department if they're not willing to defend our laws," he said.
Deficit hawks are pushing for a balanced budget and want any negotiation on increasing the debt limit to include a plan to attack deficit spending - a position with which even some Democrats agree.
"I think it would be catastrophic to renege on our debt, but we got to have a long-term plan to deal with this," Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said.
Paul, who came to Capitol Hill sounding the alarm on the nation's out of control spending, says Washington lacks the will to make necessary cuts.
"Right now there's not enough of us in Washington to fix the system because the president opposes us on every turn and even all the Republicans aren't yet serious about cutting spending," he said.