Interview with Senate Candidate Rand Paul

Interview with Senate Candidate Rand Paul

By John King, USA - May 19, 2010

KING: Dr. Paul, thanks for joining us.

I guess I would start by saying congratulations to you on this day. But then barely any sleep and you're into the general election. I want you to listen to something the national Democratic chairman, Dr. Tim Kaine, the former governor of Virginia, said today. He said that in Kentucky, Republicans with tea party help have nominated an extreme candidate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TIM KAINE, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CMTE. CHMN.: A Republican nominee who represents the most extreme elements of the Republican Party, a candidate, for example, who's vowed to abolish the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve and who was oppose -- and who vows to basically oppose, oppose, oppose at a time when we need constructive challenges to the problems we face. Simply put: the Republican Party has a problem. For the last year and a half, they have been riding the tide, and now, they're feeling the tea party's bite.


DR. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: You know what's kind of funny is what I think is an extreme idea is a $2 trillion deficit. The debt is spiraling out-of-control and I'm proposing things like a balanced budget, and they think that's an extreme idea? What I tell to the national Democrats is: bring it on and please, please, please, bring President Obama to Kentucky. We want him to come and campaign for my opponent. In fact, we'll pay for his plane ticket if President Obama will come down to Kentucky.

KING: That's an interesting invitation and we will ask them if they will respond to it. But let's go through it because you know what the lines of attack are going to be, so I want to give you a chance to explain your views. You say balance the federal budget. I think most Americans would say amen to that. The question is: how fast and how.

The president has named, for example, a commission to look at this and come up with recommendations to deal with after the election. What if they came forward with a plan that actually had some pretty good cuts in federal spending, things that you supported but also said we need a modest tax increase in the mix as well?

PAUL: Yes, I think government is too big and our tax burden is too high and I won't vote to raise taxes. I think you've got to cut spending. You know, I think both parties have done a poor job at this. When the Republicans were in charge, we doubled the debt. But now, the Democrats are in charge and they have tripled the debt.

The bottom line is: it's out-of-control and it threatens our country. I mean, look at what's going on in Greece right now. I'm concerned that we could have a debt crisis in this country, and we've got to look at the entire budget. And when I'm elected, I will actually introduce a balanced budget the first year I'm there.

KING: And would your balanced budget eliminate the Department of Education?

PAUL: Well, what we'd do is take a stepwise approach to every department. Christopher Edwards has written a book called "Downsizing Government." In that, he takes a multi-step approach. We either downsize departments, maybe eliminate some departments, maybe privatize some departments, or maybe we can't do anything to a department. But we look at every department, every expenditure, and we find out how it can be reduced. KING: If we don't deal with Medicare and Social Security, you don't get to the big picture here. What would you do? How high would you raise the retirement age, for example? And what about Medicare for the next generation, not those who are on the verge of retiring but for the next generation? What should -- what would they look forward to if you had your way in Washington to a new Medicare program?

PAUL: Well, I think it's sort of like being an alcoholic. The first thing you have to do is admit you have a problem. And Washington needs to admit that they're sort of an alcoholic drunk on spending. We have to admit that Social Security and Medicare have demographic problems. There used to be seven workers for one retiree and for many years there was a surplus.

But now, for the first year, Social Security will spend more than it takes in and that's a real problem. So, you have three choices. You either keep borrowing the way we've been borrowing. I don't think that's a good choice.

Or you raise taxes. Some think tanks have said you might have to have a 40 percent payroll tax. I think that's crazy and I won't vote for that.

Or you look at eligibility over a long period of time, mainly people who are not close to retirement age. But you do have to do this.

KING: I'm asking you these questions from a political reporter who has lived a lot of his life in Washington's perspective.

PAUL: Yes.

KING: I want to read you something, a question somebody tweeted you, because it goes to your reaction to winning last night when you said it's time to take the government back. Here was the tweet @DrRandPaul. "Which is it, Rand, do you want your government back or do you want it out of your life? Can't have both."

PAUL: Well, I think by saying we want our government back, we want to have representatives who represent the people. But we also want a smaller government. You know, the Constitution has 17 enumerated powers. If we did only that at the federal level, we'd have a balanced budget every year and we'd have a much smaller government.

But as a consequence, the rest of the economy would have more money and more jobs could be created because government would be taking a smaller portion of the pie and the free enterprise and the private marketplace would have a bigger share of the pie, and that's how you create jobs.

KING: A lot of people know your name from your father's career in Congress and his presidential campaigns, both as a Republican and as a libertarian. Where do you disagree with the views of your father? People out there are saying, "Oh, I know this guy because I followed his dad."

What do they need to know, here's how Rand Paul is different?

PAUL: Well, I would say that we both believe in limited constitutional government, so we have many similarities in our philosophy about the way government should be. There will be some disagreements. We won't be a rubber stamp one of us for the other or vice versa. But the overall general philosophy that government is best that governs least is very similar for both of us.

KING: As you know, he has said he doesn't believe U.S. troops should be overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. Where are you on that?

PAUL: What I would say is there are two extremes. One extreme is that we're never overseas and the other extreme is that we're always overseas. And I think we need -- I think we're close to the polar extreme where we're everywhere all the time and it might be better to come back more towards the middle. And there still will be times when we're overseas. But I think we may be overextended and that expense-wise, that may be too much of a burden on our republic.

KING: You have given a great deal of energy and you are at the moment -- I don't mean this as figurative (ph) -- the poster child for the tea party movement, proof to the tea party movement, that if you have the energy and the organization, you can win and you can defeat the establishment endorsed, in some ways better financed and better organized candidate.

Where should the tea party set its sights next? And how do you see your role? When Scott Brown won in Massachusetts, Republican candidates all around the country said, come help me campaign. If a tea party candidate, say, in the Nevada Senate primary, wanted your help or in the Arizona Senate primary wanted your help, would you go out and campaign for them?

PAUL: If I agree with their principles and if they're within the Republican Party. I don't think it's helpful to run outside the Republican Party because it will just help to defeat the Republican candidate.

But what I see my role is -- is I want to help shape what the tea party becomes. I think the tea party needs to define its platform. I'd like to run on that tea party platform.

To me, it means term limits, it means balancing the budget by law, it means that they should read the bills, it means we should have a waiting period before we pass legislation, and it means that all legislation that Congress votes on should be made applicable to themselves. They shouldn't apply it to us and then exempt themselves. I think that's arrogant.

And I think that every piece of legislation should enumerate where in the Constitution they get the authority for that legislation.

KING: Let be give you one example. There is a tea party-backed candidate, the former Congressman J.D. Hayworth, running against John McCain in the state of Arizona. Do you have a preference in that race?

PAUL: I haven't looked at it closely enough to know yet. But I do know that I have some similarities with former Congressman Hayworth and we will look at that race. I'm not sure we'll go into every race and make endorsements. We've kind of got our hands full with winning our own race at this point.

KING: How many terms would you serve if you were elected to the Senate? If you support term limit, what's your pledge?

PAUL: I think that in the Senate, we should do two six-year terms and in the House, six two-year terms. But I'll support any variation of term limits because I think the concept of term limits is good.



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