Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul delivered the tea party response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday night — but even if you were watching any of the major television networks, you wouldn’t have been able to see it.
Unlike President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address and the official Republican response from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Paul’s speech was watchable only through online streaming.
“I speak to you tonight from Washington, D.C.,” Paul said at the beginning of the address. “The state of our economy is tenuous, but our people remain the greatest example of freedom and prosperity the world has ever known.”
The tea party senator then contrasted former President Ronald Reagan’s skeptical view of government with Obama’s worldview.
“President Obama believes government is the solution: More government, more taxes, more debt,” Paul said. “What the president fails to grasp is that the American system that rewards hard work is what made America so prosperous.”
Paul pointed to the ideas of limited government espoused by Scottish philosopher Adam Smith in “The Wealth of Nations.”
“What America needs is not Robin Hood, but Adam Smith. In the year we won our independence, Adam Smith described what creates the wealth of nations,” Paul said. “Congress is debating the wrong things. Every debate in Washington is about how much to increase spending – a little or a lot. About how much to increase taxes – a little or a lot.”
The president has irresponsibly added to the national debt and refused to get serious on entitlement reform, Paul said. (RELATED VIDEO — George Will: State of the Union address killed all hope for entitlement reform, spending cuts)
“Washington acts in a way that your family never could,” he said. “They spend money they do not have, they borrow from future generations, and then they blame each other for never fixing the problem. Tonight I urge you to demand a new course.”
The Kentucky senator stressed the need for a balanced budget amendment and suggested the “Penny Plan” to cut a single penny from each dollar spent, in order to balance the budget in six-to-seven years.
Paul’s criticism cut across party lines.
“It is time Democrats admit that not every dollar spent on domestic programs is sacred,” he said. “And it is time Republicans realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud.”
And where to begin cutting?
Paul suggested ending foreign aid to countries hostile to the United States and allowing the sequester to go forward — perhaps even as high as $4 trillion, “to avoid another downgrade of America’s credit rating.”
He railed against big government, deficits, printing money, and high prices for consumer items as the “value of the dollar shrinks.”
“Big government makes it more expensive to put food on the table. Big government is not your friend. The president offers you free stuff, but his policies keep you poor,” he said, noting that under Obama, one in six people were “poor” last year, and millions were out of work.
Paul lamented that he has been without allies in his attempts to cut spending, pointed out that there have been no budgets produced by Democrats since he took office and recalled the president’s failure in proposing a budget.
“This year, [Democrats] say they will have a budget, but after just recently imposing hundreds of billions in new taxes, they now say they will include more tax hikes in their budget,” he said. “We must stand firm. We must say no to anymore tax hikes.”
Paul spoke of the five-year balanced budget he plans to propose next month, explaining that it will create millions of jobs by creating a flat 17 percent income tax, cutting the corporate income tax in half and reducing regulations.
“Only through lower taxes, less regulation and more freedom will the economy begin to grow again,” he said.
Paul also urged welcoming new immigrants who are seeking opportunity in America.
“We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities,” he said. “We must be the party that says, ‘If you want to work, if you want to become an American, we welcome you.’”
He added that school choice will help to fix the nation’s education system, urged transparency in Washington and advocated that voters hold Congress accountable for failing to do its job.
“I have seen the inner sanctum of Congress, and believe me, there is no monopoly on knowledge there,” he said. “If they will not listen, if they will not balance the budget, then we should limit their terms.”
He reiterated the tea party’s belief in the Constitution, emphasizing in particular the importance of the Second Amendment, rules against unlawful searches, and the problems with kill lists.
“We took the president to court over his unconstitutional recess appointments and won,” he said. “If necessary, we will take him to court again if he attempts to legislate by executive order. Congress must reassert its authority as the protector of these rights, and stand up for them, no matter which party is in power.”
He concluded saying that “the people are crying out for change,” and that the tea party hears them.
“America has much greatness left in her. We will begin to thrive again when we begin to believe in ourselves again, when we regain our respect for our founding documents, when we balance our budget, when we understand that capitalism and free markets and free individuals are what creates our nation’s prosperity.”