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Standing in front of 12 volunteers each holding a sign with a zero — to show how many zeros are in the nation's $16 trillion debt — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Scott Howell outlined Wednesday his plan to trim it by $2.5 trillion as a start.

That includes a three-year salary freeze for federal workers (including Congress), reducing congressional and White House budgets by 15 percent, cutting the federal workforce through attrition and using technology to shave federal travel and printing budgets.

"Now is the time for us to have new bold leadership — leadership that has refreshed ideas, leadership that hasn't been in office for 36 years," Howell said at a news conference at the state Capitol.

He is opposing 36-year incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who could become chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which would oversee any budget-cutting efforts.

So Howell offered cuts that he would pursue, noting many have been proposed by the Technology CEO Council of leaders of high-tech companies. Howell is a former IBM executive.

He said freezing the pay of federal workers for three years — including members of Congress — would save $20.4 billion in 2015.

"In the recent recession, millions of private-sector and state and municipal employees had their wages frozen or cut back, and millions more lost their jobs altogether. In contrast, federal workers' wages increase annually due to automatic formulas in law," his plan reads.

He wants to cut the federal workforce over time by 10 percent through hiring only two new workers for every three who leave.

He proposes using more teleconferencing and telecommuting to reduce travel budgets and cutting printing costs by producing many documents only in electronic form.

He also calls for selling excess federal property, eliminating all congressional earmarks, better attacking Medicare fraud, allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices by using bulk purchasing power and forming a deficit-reduction commission.

He also called for creating more jobs by ending tax breaks for outsourcing jobs, spending more on highways, enhancing access to Small Business Administration loans, cutting taxes on small businesses and reforming trade deals he says have sent many U.S. jobs abroad.

Dave Hansen, campaign manager for Hatch, said in response, "While our opponent can only talk about these issues, Sen. Hatch is in the trenches already working on solutions to help bring economic prosperity to Utah's families.

"As the ranking [GOP] member on the Senate Finance Committee, the senator is promoting an economic agenda that embraces free enterprise, fewer taxes and smaller government instead of the liberal agenda of Scott's party."

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