Politics

Rand Paul’s party of one

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Mike Riggs
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      Mike Riggs

      Mike Riggs is a staff writer at The Daily Caller. He has written and reported for Reason magazine and reason.com, GQ, the Awl, Decibel, Culture 11, the Philadelphia Bulletin, and the Washington City Paper, where he served as an arts and entertainment editor.

Sen. Rand Paul is the only member of Congress who has entertained not just one, but every single one of the following ideas: Requiring a $2,000 deductible for Medicare plans, raising the age at which Americans can receive Social Security, drastically cutting military spending, eliminating foreign aid to Israel and the rest of the Middle East, and weaning poor Americans off “intergenerational welfare,” more commonly known as Medicaid.

Nevertheless, he is unhappy with House Republicans’ attempt to cut first $100 billion, now only slightly more than $60 billion, from the budget. Quite simply, these cuts are not enough.

“Here’s the thing that’s most troubling,” Paul told me in a phone interview. “Even if these House freshmen get $100 billion in cuts, we’re talking about changing the annual deficit from $1.65 trillion, to $1.55 trillion.”

“So really, you’re talking about still adding trillions in debt every year.”

The math behind that is that government spending is currently $3.8 trillion and revenues are only $2.2 trillion.

This kind of thinking makes Paul the most radical man in a party that is trying and failing, for reasons both within and beyond its control, to make good on the essential promise it has made to its base. Paul’s only mission is to help the GOP learn to do something it hasn’t ever really been good at: Reduce the size and scope of government.

“My purpose is to drive Republicans to be more bold,” Paul said. “Most of them want to wait and see what the president has to offer and make it a bipartisan solution so that you get more political cover.”

Paul would rather have Pres. Obama come to the GOP, “so that way, if the president does come around to our thinking, he has to meet us somewhere in the middle, and our solution becomes the talked-about solution.”

A “talked-about” solution Paul proposed before he announced his run for Senate nearly sank his campaign.

“Medicare is socialized medicine!” Paul said at a Kentucky event hosted by the Center-Right Coalition in the summer of 2009. “We can’t just eliminate Medicare, but we have to get more to a market-based system. It’s counter-intuitive to a lot of people, but you have to pay for things if you want prices to come down. So you really need higher deductibles. And the real answer to Medicare would be a $2,000 deductible.”

Paul’s theoretical proposal, which was captured on camera and is available in full on Youtube, provided Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway with fodder for a devastating campaign ad: More than a minute of real live senior citizens reacting to footage of Paul calling for a $2,000 Medicare deductible with real live horror and disgust.

Paul’s team slammed Conway for taking the line out of context, but the damage was done. Paul’s zeal for radically reforming entitlements was out of the bag. Had Conway not followed this effort with the infamously tin-eared “Aqua Buddha” ad, Paul might still be checking for cataracts in Bowling Green.

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  • pgrossjr

    The reason the Conway ad played so well here in Kentucky is that there are 800,000 people; 20% of the population on medicare. Once they are attached to the teat it hard to get them piglets off. The problem is now giving the moron we have for a governor fits as the budget is woefully out of balance, thanks to medicare and it is an election year.

  • ChuckNorton1

    I have my disagreements with the good Senator, but on this particular issue both of the Obama Debt Commission Chairs agree with Rand. Neither of these bills have cuts that are meaningful.

    The GOP is offering to cut 1.59% ($61 billion). The Dems are offering to cut .28% (10.5 billion)and that is after Congress raised deficit spending by 6.5 times over 2007.

    Just to show how disingenuous the Democrats are about compromise. The GOP already compromised with them by reducing the cut form 100 billion to 61 billion.

    Rand makes a good point and he should keep up the fight because when the GOP has real majorities after ’12 he will drag people his way on this debt issue.

    With that said, Democrats have this thing called a Senate and Obama has this thing called a VETO so 100 billion or 61 billion may be all we can push for right now.

    Can there be any doubt though, the Dems want a government shutdown. A $61 billion cut is a drop in the bucket and if they are willing to shut it down over a drop in the bucket than it will not go like last time.

  • Timely Renewed

    The underlying fundamental need is to redress the underlying distortions of the Constitution which have allowed the federal government to expand far beyond its original constitutional powers by amending the Constitution to restore the original constitutional structure which limited the federal government’s ability to expand to such a ridiculous size and power.

    However, this is difficult to achieve when Congress holds a monopoly on initiating constitutional amendments. The first step would be an “amendment amendment” which gives the States the ability to initiate constitutional amendments without a convention. In this way, grassroots constitutionalists could initiate amendments carefully drafted to achieve the restoration of the original constitutional structure in parallel with the legislative efforts proposed by Senator Paul. See http://www.timelyrenewed.com for more specifics on this proposal.

  • BillS

    As part of the process in identifying federal programs and departments that should be cut or eliminated, the Republicans should use the same criteria that insurance companies must meet in Obamacare. Specifically the maximum that is allowed for admin expenses is 20% of the premiums collected and benefits paid out. Given that the government does not have to meet a bottom-line profit to stay in business, let alone grow, I would suggest that the admin expenses for government programs be limited to 15% of the benefits(if they even exist) provided. Each department should be required to build a “0″ based budget plan to justify both its existence and spending programs based upon measurable returns. I expect this would cut or eliminate many departments, and duplicate and useless programs.

    • CK4RP

      Love your idea!

  • 3punch4

    Don Quixote after windmills!

    I Understand the noble cause of Rand Paul but reality is americans and their gov’t don’t want to be saved they want to feed off the host like parasites till its diseased corpse fails.
    Sorry, but Rand Paul doesn’t seem to understand the fatal conceit here the American political electoral majority rule 2 party dictatorship system is flawed.

    REPUBLICANS & DEMOCRATS are two wings of the same vulture!

    Nothing will ever change because the political system is not based on consensus voting it’s perpetual dictatorship of the majority! The public’s vote will always be trumped by the interests of the supreme DUOPOLY.

    • CK4RP

      You are absolutely correct in the assertion that Republocrats and Demicans have a supreme duopoly.

      Senator Paul (and his father) both understand that but have chosen to remain “in the game” by adherence to the Constitution, the rule of law, and limited government. Americans need to stay in the game by sending more “Mr. Smiths” t Washington and pink slipping those who don’t pass muster at the ballot box.

      I am not of the “parasite” bent which apparently puts me in the tin foil hat and right wing extremist category. Fine with me. I, for one, am staying in the game and fighting for my country.

      • 3punch4

        Yea, I do understand you and carry-on fighting for the best America possible but realize at some point the entire American public needs to participate have full representation in their gov’t based on consensus voting Proportional Representation PR-democracy is fair voting for your Representative.
        STOP 2 party POLITICAL MONOPOLY

        • CK4RP

          Agreed. We’re on the same team. Let’s play ball! :)

  • CK4RP

    MY HERO!

  • borntoraisehogs

    There can be no negotiation. Would you consent to rape if the penetration was limited to a depth deemed reasonable by your attackers peers??

  • margarethoddery

    Just cut the budget already, OK?

    Do we need to fund a radio that is national and public?? (NPR)(sounds like a socialistic radio station)

    If you build a house in a flood plain, and it gets flooded, tough luck. How stupid are you to build there?

    Do we need student loans esp. to makeshift for-profit groups, the names of which my colleagues laugh at all day long?

    There is fat, grease, fraud, and corruption we need to eliminate.

  • barnone

    But now that is the position that the Democrats need to negotiate to.

    The GOP was out negotiated by the DEMs. The House leadership negotiated with the TPP down from the $100B to a reasonable $61B. So now the Dems negotiate to the $61B with lies and offer $4.7B.

    If you Start with Paul’s $1.6T then meet the Dems halfway, you get $800B this year.

    GOP quit being reasonable with your first offer!!!!