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Republican congressman Paul Broun — the same Paul Broun who doesn’t know if Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen but does know that he’s a socialist — the same Paul Broun who believes the federal government plans to force us all to eat more fruits and vegetables — yes, that Paul Broun — serves up some outside-the-box thinking today:

Today, I introduced a unique bill that goes in a completely different direction than everything else we’ve been hearing out of Washington. It would force politicians to start practicing what they’ve been preaching by lowering the debt ceiling from $14.3 trillion back down to $13 trillion.

I’m increasingly convinced that there’s some kind of gigantic practical joke being played on all of us. But by whom? Who has the power to orchestrate such a thing? I think someone needs to waterboard Glenn Beck to find out.

But back to Broun. Oddly enough, he concedes that “to be realistic, we can’t lower the debt limit today, but if we set a deadline, the beginning of FY 2012, it would force politicians to make those decisions in the months to come.” My back-of-the-envelope guess — and I’m not willing to do anything more than that — is that this would force federal spending down to about $1.3 trillion in FY2012. Slice off interest on the debt and you’d have about a trillion bucks left over. That’s enough to fund, say, the Pentagon plus half of Social Security and nothing more. That’s outside the box all right.

You might reasonably ask, who cares? So Paul Broun is an insane wingnut. There are always a few of them around. Answer: because this proposal is currently being hosted by the fine folks at National Review. They don’t endorse it, of course, but presumably they think it’s sane enough to deserve a wider audience. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the flagship of mainstream conservatism. Revel in it.

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DONALD TRUMP & DEMOCRACY

Mother Jones was founded to do things differently in the aftermath of a political crisis: Watergate. We stand for justice and democracy. We reject false equivalence. We go after, and go deep on, stories others don’t. And we’re a nonprofit newsroom because we knew corporations and billionaires would never fund the journalism we do. Our reporting makes a difference in policies and people’s lives changed.

And we need your support like never before to vigorously fight back against the existential threats American democracy and journalism face. We’re running behind our online fundraising targets and urgently need all hands on deck right now. We can’t afford to come up short—we have no cushion; we leave it all on the field.

Please help with a donation today if you can—even just a few bucks helps. Not ready to donate but interested in our work? Sign up for our Daily newsletter to stay well-informed—and see what makes our people-powered, not profit-driven, journalism special.

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