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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills on Tuesday offered his support to a plan to cut foreign aid to one-tenth of its current size, greatly reduce farm subsidies, means-test for Social Security benefits and eliminate most federal funding for the Drug Enforcement Agency's "War on Drugs."
"My goal would be to work toward zero subsidies, zero foreign aid," Bills said. For now, the state representative from Rosemount said, he'd like foreign aid -- now at $50 billion -- cut to $5 billion, with more than half of that going to Israel. He would end farm subsidies to corporations and better-off farmers.
Expounding on his policy views in detail for the first time since winning his party's endorsement, Bills said he would work to end the U.S. departments of education, energy, commerce and housing and urban development.
His positions won him the backing of Texas Rep. Ron Paul, which helped him get the party endorsement this month. They also draw sharp contrasts with not only the incumbent, Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, but also many Republicans in the Senate.
Saying the Senate has neglected to put forward a budget plan, Bills said he supports the budget plan proposed by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
"I'll be running on the 'Platform to Revitalize America,'" Bills said, moments after he officially filed his paperwork to run. "It's a discussion that needs to go forward."
Proponents of the plan say it would balance the federal budget in five years, in large measure by slashing government spending and rolling budgets for many agencies and programs back to pre-2008 levels.
Among the provisions in the Rand Paul plan: Eliminate the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance program, cut the National Park Service by 30 percent, eliminate Department of Homeland Security grants to the states, close a number of military bases worldwide to reduce the U.S. presence abroad and privatize the Smithsonian Institution.
Paul's plan also would cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency to half of its 2008 totals.
The budget plan reportedly "significantly slows the rates of growth for overall defense spending and ends current wars."
Bills also said he would support a flat tax, as outlined by the Rand Paul plan.
"It's clearly something we can look at doing," said Bills, who teaches high school economics. A flat tax would charge every taxpayer the same percentage. Rand Paul has talked about a 10 percent tax, which would eliminate many of the tax breaks in the current system.
Bills said he won't advocate legalization of drugs that now are illegal, but would cut funding to the Drug Enforcement Agency's efforts to keep drugs from entering the country. Bills said those efforts are not working.
"I do think that the federal government has become too involved in their war on drugs," Bills said. He said he would redirect some of the DEA's funding to local law enforcement, "if there's some left."
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger • Twitter: @rachelsb