The freshman Republican congressman, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), would nearly eliminate the Department of Education and do away with the Energy Department, reports the Los Angeles Times. Hours before a State of the Union address expected to focus on government spending, Washington has come down with a case of budget-slash fever. Sen. Paul has unveiled his plan to cut $500 billion from the federal budget in a single year–a path that would transform the federal government and dramatically curb its reach into American life. Paul’s budget cuts more than five times as much as House Republican leaders have advocated and faces little chance of winning support, even from within his own party. Still, the “tea party” favorite’s plan demonstrates one pole in the coming budget debate. His plan would cut in half funding for the Department of Commerce and nearly eliminate the Department of Education. It would eliminate the Department of Energy, which oversees environment regulation and enforcement…

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staff and wire services reports