After Rand Paul’s “principled stand’ against a budget bill that would add nearly $300 billion to the deficit over two years forced his colleagues in the House and Senate to stay up all night Thursday, just to pass an essentially unchanged bill that could’ve easily passed 12 hours earlier if it weren’t for the Kentucky Senator’s dedication to libertarian principles compulsive need for media attention, it seemed like his colleagues were rushing to be the first to issue an insulting quote about Paul to any reporter who’d listen.
Already one of the most ubiquitous guests on the so-called Sunday Shows, Paul took to Face the Nation this weekend to explain and defend his decision to hold up the vote and trigger another government shutdown – even if it only lasted a few hours.
During his interview with Major Garrett, Paul said Republicans need to reconcile their commitment to limit government spending and cut down on the deficit with their tendency to overspend on the military. Paul added that the US has accomplished about all it possible can in Afghanistan, and that now is the time to bring our troops home. The US is actively at war in about seven countries, Paul said. Yet none of those interventions were authorized by Congress.
MAJOR GARRETT: And now we have deficits projected to be a trillion dollars again and yet they’re growing non-recessionary economy or are you troubled by that?
SENATOR RAND PAUL: Yeah, I’m very worried and I think one of the questions the Republicans I think are not willing to ask themselves is can you be fiscally conservative and be for unlimited military spending. There’s sort of this question, “Is the military budget too small or maybe is our mission too large around the world?” And because Republicans are unwilling to confront that they want more, more, more for military spending. And so to get that they have to give the Democrats what they want which is more and more and more for domestic spending and the compromise while some are happy with bipartisanship. Well if the bipartisanship is exploding the deficit I’m not so sure that’s the kind of bipartisanship we need.
MAJOR GARRETT: From your point of view, Senator, on the defense side of the equation is the spending and the mission, are they reckless?
SENATOR RAND PAUL: I think the mission is- is beyond what we need to be we’re actively in war in about seven countries. And yet the Congress hasn’t voted on declaring or authorizing the use of military force in over 15 years now. So I’ve been one that’s been bugging the Senate and Congress to say how can we be at war without ever voting on it don’t the American people through their representatives get a chance to say when we go to war. I think the Afghan war is long past its mission. I think we killed and captured and disrupted the people who attacked us on 9/11 long ago. And I think now it’s a nation building exercise. We’re spending 50 billion dollars a year. And if the president really is serious about infrastructure, a lot of that money could be spent at home. Instead of building bridges and schools and roads in Afghanistan or in Pakistan. I think we could do that at home and the interesting thing is I think the president’s instincts lean that way but –
But when confronted about inconsistencies in his own voting record – such as his decision to support both the budget agreement and the Trump tax plan – Paul insisted he could “only control how I vote”.
MAJOR GARRETT: And that’s sort of the way, Senator, because you know where the votes are. You know the votes are there for tax cuts. You know they’re not there for spending cuts. So, isn’t there any part of your voting pattern that is irresponsible?
SENATOR RAND PAUL: I don’t think so because you know I can only control how I vote. So I voted for the tax cuts and I voted for spending cuts. The people who voted for tax cuts and spending increases. I think there is some hypocrisy there and it shows they’re not serious about the debt. But all throughout my career I’ve always voted for spending cuts and I’m happy to offset cuts in taxes with cuts in spending. So no I think that I’ve had a consistent position in being very concerned about the debt and I want to shrink the size of government. So, the reason I’m for tax cuts is I to return more of the money to the people who own that who- who actually deserve to have their money returned to them. But it also shrinks the size of government by cutting taxes or should if you cut spending at the same time.
This, of course, begs the question: Was Paul in some sort of fugue state when he voted for the Trump tax bill last year?