In an interview with The Daily Caller, Rand Paul took a shot at potential 2016 rival Marco Rubio for proposing to increase military spending without offsets elsewhere.
Earlier Thursday, both Paul and Rubio offered separate amendments that would have increased military spending. While Paul’s amendment included specific cuts in the budget to make up for the increase in spending, Rubio’s didn’t.
Neither amendment passed. But Paul is arguing the episode foreshadows a significant divide in the upcoming Republican presidential race.
Speaking by phone Thursday, Paul said: “I think it shows a lack of seriousness, in regard to the problem of the deficit, if you’re willing to increase spending $190 billion dollars without cutting any spending. That is reckless and a recipe for disaster.”
“I think there’s a very important distinction, or separation, that occurred on that vote,” Paul added. “Particularly among people who are considered to be potential candidates.”
Asked about Rubio’s amendment, Paul replied: “If you are willing to increase domestic spending, without offsetting it from cuts, you know that’s liberal. If you are willing to increase defense spending without offsetting it with cuts — just simply by borrowing it — I think you’re someone who just lacks seriousness with regard to the deficit.”
Paul said he’s part of the camp that believes “yes, we should spend adequate money on national defense, but if we are going to spend more, it should be offset with cuts and we should specify them.”
Referencing Rubio’s amendment, Paul said: “It was an enormous debt burden. And I think that it really does separate out different philosophies up here.”
Asked about his past budget proposals which cut military spending, Paul said: “I think some people missed the point here.”
“The point is there are a large number of people in the Senate who would expand defense spending and just add to the deficit to do it,” he said. “And then there are some like myself, who say, look national defense is important, we can provide some money for national defense but we would only do it by not borrowing an additional amount but paying for it through spending cuts.”
Paul’s amendment would have increased defense spending by nearly $190 billion over the next two years.
But Paul called for offsetting that spending by cutting $21 billion from foreign assistance accounts, $14 billion from the National Science Foundation and from climate change research, $10 billion from Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Commerce activities, $20 billion from the Department of Education and $41 billion in discretionary spending from the Department of Housing and Urban Development
These reductions would have occurred in both fiscal year 2016 and 2017.
Both Paul and Rubio, elected to the Senate in 2010, are expected to launch presidential campaigns next month.
The Daily Caller has reached out to Rubio’s office for comment.