Thursday, January 31, 2013
79 Senators Support Sending Advanced Weapons Systems to the Genocidal Anti-Semitic Government of Egypt
I rise today to present legislation that would stop the transfer of F-16s and Abrams tanks to Egypt. I think it particularly unwise to send tanks and our most sophisticated fighter planes to Egypt at a time at which many are saying the country may be unraveling.Ironically, a year ago the Arab spring occurred. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Tahrir square to protest a government that was instituting martial law. Ironically the current President now has instituted martial law and once again the dreaded indefinite intention is threatened to citizens in Egypt.As the writing expands, many see Egypt descending into chaos. What is President Obama's response to this? To send them some of the most sophisticated weapons we have: F-16 fighters and Abrams tanks. I think this is particularly unwise, and this legislation will stop it.I think this is particularly unwise since Egypt is currently governed by a religious zealot, a religious zealot who said recently that 'Jews were bloodsuckers and descendants of apes and pigs.' This doesn't sound like the kind of stable personality we would be sending our most sophisticated weapons to.I think it is a grave mistake to send F-16s and tanks to a country that detained American citizens on trumped up political charges. On a country that currently is still detaining Egyptian citizens on trumped-up political charges.I think it is a blunder of the first proportion to send sophisticated weapons to a country that allowed a mob to attack our embassy and to burn our flag. I find it objectionable to send weapons, F-16s and tanks, to a company that allowed a mob chanting "death to America" to threaten our American diplomats.I am concerned that these weapons, some of the most sophisticated weapons in the world, someday may be used against Israel. I'm concerned that these weapons threaten Israel's security and that sending weapons to a country with a president who recently was seen to be chanting "amen" to a cleric that was saying "death to Israel and death to those who support Israel."I think it's foolhardy to support and send arms to both sides of an arms race. We send 20 F-16s to Egypt which already has 240 F-16s. We send 20 in addition. What does Israel feel? They've got to have two for every one Egypt has. It escalates an arms race. It makes it more difficult for Israel to defend herself.Today we have a chance to stop this folly. I urge my Senators to instruct the President that we will not send any more F-16s and any more Abrams tanks to the current government of Egypt. Thank you, Mr. President, and I yield back my time.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Monday, January 28, 2013
Saturday, January 26, 2013
The transcript of the interview is here. Glenn Beck is definitely a fan and even says:
I will tell you Senator Rand Paul, I believe in my lifetime [are] the first libertarian that I believe could be president of the United States. You make sense, you’re rational, you’re reasonable, and you look at the facts on the ground.
Friday, January 25, 2013
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Kerry admitted that he really doesn't stand for anything and his principles are worthless. On Libya he said you can't be absolutist and that there wasn't enough time ask for Congressional approval as 10,000 civilian lives were in danger. There are two problems with this. First, there was plenty of time to ask for approval. It's not like we went in there, took Gaddafi out and then those civilian lives were saved. We spent 8 months fighting the war in a relatively limited way so if there were 10,000 civilians in imminent danger, they probably died before the fighting was over. Asking for Congressional approvals wouldn't have changed much. Second, does the fact that certain people are in danger mean the President has carte blanche about going to war? By John Kerry's calculations we should have invaded Syria months and months ago as it has already cost the lives of 60,000 people. I don't remember a humanitarian out-clause in the Constitution.
Then Kerry admitted that he doesn't really care that Morsi is a vile anti-semite, he will get his aid anyway. He said "the fact that sometimes other countries elect someone you don’t agree with doesn’t give us permission to walk away." It's not like the disagreement is over trade policy or global warming, the disagreement is over whether Jews are humans and have a right to live in their homeland. Anyway, watch the whole thing, it's 10 minutes long:
HH: I want to thank you at the beginning just for your straightforward statement regarding the culpability of Secretary Clinton for Benghazi and the acts. There's quite a lot of comment on this. How long ago had you reached that conclusion that she was indeed culpable?
RP: Well you know, when I first heard about it, everybody seemed to be so concerned about sort of the cover up of everybody talking about was this a movie, or was this regarding a movie. Well, that's important. To me, it always seemed to be more important why there wasn't adequate security there, why there weren't Marines there, why wasn't this embassy protected like the embassy in Iraq. They just emerged from a war. And so I can understand people making bad decisions immediately in the aftermath, not making an appropriate decision during a gunfight, but I can see no excuse for not reading the cables, the repeated cables and requests and pleas for help, the pleas for security. I find that inexcusable, and I really think whoever made those decisions should never, ever be in that position again, and I think this really disqualifies her from holding higher office, because it's a serious judgment, it's a serious error of judgment for her to have put ambassadors and diplomats into an area where there wasn't adequate security.
HH: Earlier, a couple of hours ago, my colleague, my friend, Sean Hannity, had former Speaker Gingrich on, who said about your remarks that it's really not all that surprising that a Republican who wouldn't have appointed her in the first place would say that. But I disagree. I think it's very surprising. How did your colleagues react?
RP: Some of them called me bad names and profane names as they were huffing out of the room. Those were Democrats. But on our side, no one's really responded to me on that. I went to lunch, and no one threw anything at me. So no, I think that most of them are disturbed this, also. Many of them have been more disturbed with Ambassador Rice's comments about whether this was pertaining to a movie. But to me, it's always been more important that there wasn't security in advance. I've asked repeatedly in speeches, where in the hell were the Marines, and they say oh, well, the Marines are there to guard the paper, and the host country is to guard the ambassador. And I'm like, well, that may be true in Vienna or Paris, but this is a war zone. And to send our ambassador in and have some guys who can't speak English running around in a Jeep from a militia with a machine gun bungee corded in the back and say oh, this is your protection, that's inexcusable. We have the resources. There's no reason why military resources should not be designated in a war zone if you want to have an embassy there. And they should protect, set up a perimeter. This is the way it should be done. I'm fearful that this will happen again in Libya, that it could happen in Egypt, that it could happen if a government forms in Syria, if we're going to decide to treat embassies the same way in war zones that we treat them in the civilized world, I think it's a huge mistake.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
After being sworn into the Senate, Paul introduced a budget that zeroed out all foreign aid, including for Israel. He sought to de-authorize the Iraq War. He opposed the Patriot Act. He proposed amendments to sanctions bills for Iran and Syria emphasizing that these bills did not constitute an authorization of force.
Just in the last three months, Paul sought to expand Fourth Amendment protections under the Bush-era warrantless surveillance program and Sixth Amendment guarantees under the National Defense Authorization Act's terror-detention provisions. When he failed, he protested loudly and voted against both bills.
Speaking to reporters last week, Paul made clear that he was still ultimately opposed to all foreign aid and skeptical of foreign military adventurism. And he has compiled one of the most conservative voting records in the Senate, even when it has left him in the minority.
Recent polling suggests a majority of Republicans is at least open to retrenchment. According to the Pew Research Center, 53 percent of GOP voters want America less involved in Middle Eastern political change—not as noninterventionist as Democrats or particularly independents, but still nearly 20 points more than the percentage of Republicans who picked "more involved."
Arguments for foreign-policy restraint have failed to gain traction in the Republican Party because of three perceptions of the conservatives making them: namely, that they are hostile to Israel, indifferent to American national security, and naïve about brutal foreign regimes. Paul is aiming to correct these perceptions while emphasizing his common ground with the GOP and the broader conservative movement.
That's why Paul has focused on cutting foreign aid to Middle Eastern despots, who also happen to be virulently anti-Israel. It's why he talks about missile defense to protect American cities from attack. And it's why he observes that Israelis aren't burning American flags.
More hawkish conservatives may be noticing Paul's comments, but they are aimed at the Republican rank-and-file: evangelical well-wishers of Israel, primary voters who could be convinced that our overseas interventions are bad policy but not that the Muslim Brotherhood bodes well for secular democracy.
Paul may in the process repel those who are genuinely hostile to Israel or who dabble in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. But will Don Black's financial contribution really be missed? There will also be Ron Paul voters and donors without such noxious motives who will nevertheless be troubled by these overtures. They will be harder to replace.
This strategy carries a risk of failure, as both sides of the burgeoning conservative foreign policy debate could cool to Paul. But the old approaches have already failed, or at least reached the end of where they can take the antiwar right.
There is indeed more than one way to be a friend to Israel—and perhaps more than one way to be the spokesman of a less bellicose conservative foreign policy, too.
"I saw the speaker on TV handing the newly sworn-in president a flag. I am afraid it was the white flag of surrender," the Kentucky Republican said, according to a GOP source present at the meeting.
Alluding to the House GOP's gathering last week in Williamsburg, Va., Paul jabbed: "They came out of their retreat and retreated."
Doctors and other health care providers also need to be able to ask about firearms in their patients' homes and safe storage of those firearms, especially if their patients show signs of certain mental illnesses or if they have a young child or mentally ill family member at home. Some have incorrectly claimed that language in the Affordable Care Act prohibits doctors from asking their patients about guns and gun safety. Medical groups also continue to fight against state laws attempting to ban doctors from asking these questions. The Administration will issue guidance clarifying that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit or otherwise regulate communication between doctors and patients, including about firearms.
"What they said in their description of the executive order is families that have someone mentally ill or children — well, half of the country have children at home," Paul said, holding a press conference in a boardroom at Charleston Place Hotel. "So what are we going to do? Are we going to ask eight-year-old kids, 'Does Daddy have a gun at home? Does Daddy drink beer? Did Daddy ever yell at Mommy, and he has guns in the house?' I mean, you can see how you could open Pandora's box, not to mention that interviewing of children is notoriously inaccurate."
Monday, January 21, 2013
Friday, January 18, 2013
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Perhaps because of his own experience with vigorous American Capitalism, Naftali Benett is in favor of cutting the 40-year-old umbilical cord that still connects Israel to the American Treasury.One major benefit of this would be that Israel would no longer feel the need to listen to the US as to where Jews should be allowed to settle in their own country.
"Today, U.S. military aid is roughly 1 percent of Israel's economy," Bennett says. "I think, generally, we need to free ourselves from it. We have to do it responsibly, since I'm not aware of all the aspects of the budget, I don't want to say 'let's just give it up,' but our situation today is very different from what it was 20 and 30 years ago. Israel is much stronger, much wealthier, and we need to be independent."
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
"I think she has to accept responsibility for Benghazi," Paul told Business Insider during his recent trip to Israel. "That's the problem with government — government is anonymous and so no one is accountable. The reason you want somebody to be accountable is that you don't want someone to make that decision again."
"She needs to be held accountable for it, and I think she needs to answer questions for it," he said.
Paul added that he plans on demanding Clinton explain what she knew about the deteriorating security situation in Libya and provide details about who denied requests for additional security personnel at the consulate in Benghazi.
"In government, there is usually an incentive to overspend when it comes to security," he said. "You're in charge of security in Benghazi and someone asks you for a 16-person detail — and the security people on the ground in Libya are asking you for it — it's impossible to say no. So how did someone possibly say no to that security? That's an incredible ineptness."
"It was an enormous mistake," he added. "It was a career-ending mistake, I think."
Paul's outrage over the lack of security funding in Libya is surprising, given the Kentucky libertarian's opposition to almost all government spending and non-interventionist brand of foreign policy. Paul's office insists that there is no contradiction, however, telling Business Insider that "while Senator Paul believes there is plenty of waste and unnecessary items in the State Department budget, security is not necessarily one of them."
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
What a contrast with Joseph Biden.
On his 2010 trip to Israel, the vice president erupted in a bitter denunciation of the government in Jerusalem because of its settlement policies. But when Sen. Rand Paul, whom the Left likes to accuse of being the most anti-Israel figure in the Senate, was in Israel last week, there was nothing but sweetness and light on the settlements — not even much quarreling over foreign aid.
In Jerusalem last week, the senator met a broad range of leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, as well as Naftali Bennett, a rising right-wing leader aligned with the settler movement.
The Jerusalem Post quoted Paul addressing questions about what Israel should do about the settlements and Gaza. "Well," he replied, "America should and does have an opinion about these things, but ultimately these are decisions you have to make."
There hasn't been such a supportive comment on Israel's settlements in the West Bank and in Jerusalem since Sarah Palin last spoke on the subject. Her comments drove the left up the wall.
Paul also voiced support on Gaza: "I don't think you need to call me on the phone and get permission to stop missiles raining down from Gaza." He seems to want Israel to have a free hand in its own affairs, which dovetails with his wariness on foreign aid.
When he talked about foreign aid, he stood by his longtime contention that it would be a good thing to reduce such transfers. This view has been pressed by some pro-Israel voices in this country, in that aid has subsidized statist economic measures and retarded free-market development.
Indeed, Netanyahu himself, in a 1996 speech before Congress, vowed to work to reduce Israel's dependence on US aid — and then kept his word: It's now restricted mainly to military aid.
Paul cited that Netanyahu speech in Jerusalem as he talked in a straightforward way about America's own predicament: "The biggest threat to our nation right now is our debt."
"To me, it has always been about whether it makes sense for me to borrow money from China to give to Pakistan," he said at one point.
In The Jerusalem Post's account, he said the debt problem means "that we have to reassess who to give aid to, and when we do reassess that, I would begin with countries that are burning our flag and chanting 'Death to America.'"
Then, he added, "No one is accusing Israel of that."
He didn't want his visit to be about "touting and spouting" cutting aid to Israel, saying, "I came here to show that I am supportive of the relationship between Israel and America," The Jerusalem Post reported. He signaled the same in a recent letter to the managing editor of Commentary, Jonathan Tobin.
Meantime, the Obama administration is moving its foreign policy sharply to the left. Secretary of State-designate John Kerry would be the most left-wing figure ever to run State. And Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel has a far more worrisome record on Israel than the most determined libertarian.
Monday, January 14, 2013
"I'm against having a king," Paul said. "I think having a monarch is what we fought the American Revolution over and someone who wants to bypass the Constitution, bypass Congress -- that's someone who wants to act like a king or a monarch."
"I've been opposed to executive orders, even with Republican presidents. But one that wants to infringe on the Second Amendment, we will fight tooth and nail," he continued.
"And I promise you, there'll be no rock left unturned as far as trying to stop him from usurping the Constitution, running roughshod over Congress," he vowed.
"And you will see one heck of a debate if he decides to try to do this."
Sunday, January 13, 2013
It is “none of our business” whether Israel builds new neighborhoods in east Jerusalem or withdraws from the Golan Heights, and the US should not tell Israel how to defend itself, US Sen. (R-Kentucky) said on Saturday night at the end of a week-long visit to the country.
Paul, a maverick libertarian senator known for his advocacy of slashing US foreign aid, said at a press briefing that the issue of cutting aid to Israel – something he advocates as part of a gradual process – did not come up during his meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or President Shimon Peres.
Paul said that he was not interested in the message of his trip being that he came here “touting and spouting” cutting aid to Israel.
“I came here to show that I am supportive of the relationship between Israel and America,” he said.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Senator Rand Paul has a new ally in his attempt to fit his libertarian foreign policy views into the Republican Party's hawkish pro-Israel stance: The Israeli public relations firm Lone Star Communications, which has also promoted American figures from Glenn Beck to Mike Huckabee, and also works with a leading Israeli opponent of Palestinian statehood.
The firm, run by Texas-born Charley Levine, sent out a press release Wednesday morning about Paul's visits with Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres, Mahmoud Abbas, and King Abdullah of Jordan.
"Historically America has sought stability with very mixed results around the world by arming both sides of conflicts," Paul is quoted as saying in the release. "I fear that one day our Israeli friends might face American-made F-16s and Abrams tanks that our foreign aid has been providing to some very questionable countries that sit on Israel's border."
The identity of Paul's Israeli guides suggests that the Kentucky Senator may be more in agreement on Israel than on other issues with the rest of his party, who are if anything to the right of the Israeli government in their skepticism of Palestinian independence and, in some cases, doctrinal belief that Israel has a right to the land. Lone Star has worked with Danny Danon, a pro-settler Israeli parliamentarian who challenged Benjamin Netanyahu from the right for party leadership, as well as helping out on similar trips by American politicians figures including former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton....
Levine, the ombudsman wrote, is "a figure of the Israeli right, who counsels prominent Zionists and serves as a reservist in the Israeli Defense Forces Spokesperson's Unit." Levine lives in Ma'ale Adumim, a settlement in the West Bank just outside of Jerusalem.
Monday, January 7, 2013
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, a fierce opponent of US foreign aid who is being touted already as a likely 2016 presidential candidate, said in Jerusalem on Monday that the United States is and always will be a friend of Israel, but thinks "it will be harder and harder to be a friend if we are out of money."
Speaking to the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, Paul said it is one thing if you are giving foreign aid out of your savings, but it is something completely different if you are "borrowing from one country to give to another. You have to wonder how wide that is, and what the repercussions will be."
Paul, who acknowledged that he will probably not see an end to foreign aid in his lifetime, said he was "all for gradualism" and would start ending foreign aid to those countries who don't act as allies towards Israel.
The senator said that he was concerned the US was trying to win friends in the region by providing them with arms where you can have a situation down the line where Israel would have to face up against Egypt supplied with US state-of-the-art tanks.
He said that as far as aid to Israel is concerned, he is not suggesting disengagement or that the US should stop selling armaments, but said "it wouldn't be a one-way street, it would be a sale, not a grant."
Paul, who on a number of occasions cited Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's 1996 speech in Congress saying he wanted to wean Israel off American aid, said that decent aid would be beneficial for Israel because it would retain its own sovereignty and not have to come "on bended knee" to ask US permission on a variety of issues, such as settlements.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Here is a screenshot of the results so far:
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has been holding a series of meetings with neo-conservative pro-Israel foreign policy hands as the libertarian prepares to take a seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sources familiar with the meetings said.
Paul's new contacts include Dan Senor, a former key Mitt Romney foreign policy aide who is also close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met Paul in his Washington office.
Paul is also going to take a "fairly impressive list of folks" on his trip to Israel next week, according to a source close to him, and he is planning on delivering a major foreign policy address in early February.
Recently, the junior Paul has begun an under-the-radar campaign to make overtures to those in his party whose foreign policy views are far less libertarian than his. He did an interview with the Washington Post's hawkish blogger Jennifer Rubin, who found him "more self-aware and engaging than is the elder Paul, a wide-eyed libertarian."
"I'm irreconcilable on this point," said one prominent Jewish conservative. "But others take a different view and have met with him in the past and in the run up to this trip."
A source close to Paul confirmed the meetings and said that "Senator Paul has always spoken with a wide range of foreign policy experts." A spokesperson for Paul didn't respond to a request for comment.
Paul's trip to Israel begins on Sunday and he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres on Monday, according to The Jerusalem Post. The trip has been widely interpreted as a signal from Paul of his national intentions.
Friday, January 4, 2013
NJDC Has a Conniption Over Selection of Rand Paul for Foreign Relations Committee, Yet He'd Be Better for Israel Than Obama
Israel is a strong and important ally of the United States, and we share many mutual security interests. I believe we should stand by our ally, but where I think sometimes American commentators get confused is that I do not think Israel should be dictated to by the United States. I think that has happened too often, and it has been to the detriment of Israel. Too often we have coerced Israel into trading land for peace, or other false bargains. When President Obama stood before the world in 2011 to demand that Israel act against her own strategic interest, I denounced this as unnecessary meddling. As I wrote in May of that year: "For President Obama to stand up today and insist that Israel should once again give up land, security and sovereignty for the possibility of peace shows an arrogance that is unmatched even in our rich history of foreign policy."
Israel will always know what's best for Israel. The United States should always stand with its friends. But we should also know, unlike President Obama, when to stay out of the way.
Foreign aid is another example of how our meddling often hurts more than its helps. In my proposals to end or cut back on foreign aid, some have made accusations that my proposals would hurt Israel. Actually, not following my proposals hurt Israel. We currently give about $4 billion annually to Israel in foreign aid. But we give about $6 billion to the nations that surround Israel, many of them antagonistic toward the Jewish state.
Giving twice as much foreign aid to Israel's enemies simply does not make sense. Our aid to Israel has always been to a country that has been an unequivocal ally. Our aid to its neighbors has purchased their temporary loyalty at best.
These countries are not our true allies and no amount of money will make them so. They are not allies of Israel and I fear one day our money and military arms that we have paid for will be used against Israel.
Does that sound anti-Israel at all? What is anti-Israel is our current policy of sending M1A1 tanks and F-16 jets to countries whose leaders say the Jews are "bloodsuckers", "were descended from apes and pigs" and refers to America as an enemy. What is anti-Israel is denouncing of the building of apartments around the capital city of Jerusalem (open to Israeli citizens who are both Arab and Jewish) and taking the Palestinian negotiating position as one's own, as this NJDC-supported administration has done.
If Rand Paul gets his way, the enemies of Israel and the US will receive far less aid (aid they are much more dependent upon than Israel is) and Israel will no longer have to worry about interference in building around their own capital and won't be forced to negotiate with genocidal terrorists. Sounds like a nice improvement over the current US-Israel dynamic. What's so outrageous about that?
Though they are both Republicans, Paul and McCain have clashed repeatedly over foreign policy and national security. "I worry a lot about the rise of protectionism and isolationism in the Republican Party," McCain said when Paul was first elected. "I admire his victory, but … already he has talked about withdrawals [and] cuts in defense."
"Calling me an 'isolationist' is about as accurate or appropriate as calling Senator McCain an 'imperialist,'" Paul shot back in his book "The Tea Party Goes to Washington."
The two senators have most recently sparred over the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Paul said that McCain was responsible for changes to the bill that unconstitutionally left Americans vulnerable to being detained without trial if accused of terrorism. McCain's office countered that the bill protected constitutional rights.
McCain and Paul have differed on military involvement in Libya, arming Syrian rebels, the size of the Pentagon budget, warrantless surveillance and foreign aid. Paul also opposed the Iraq War and tried to revoke its congressional authorization. McCain was a staunch supporter of the war.
Despite their disagreements, the two have collaborated on legislation in the past. But tensions between Paul and McCain escalated during the NDAA fight.
"I find it disappointing that one member of the United States Senate feels that his particular agenda is so important that it affects the lives and the readiness and the capabilities of the men and women who are serving in the military and our ability to defend this nation," McCain said of Paul's NDAA filibuster. "I think it's hard to answer to the men and women in the military with this kind of behavior, but I will leave that up to the senator from Kentucky to do so."
McCain went so far as to suggest Paul's tactics lend "credence" to Democratic filibuster reform proposals.
"The right to due process, a trial by jury, and protection from indefinite detention should not be shorn from our Bill of Rights or wrested from the hands of Americans," Paul said of the McCain-led conference committee report on the NDAA. "It is a dark day in our history that these rights have been stomped upon and discarded."
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Kentucky Republican senator Rand Paul, a fierce opponent of US foreign aid who is being touted already as a likely 2016 presidential candidate, is scheduled to arrive in Israel Sunday for his first-ever visit.
Paul, who espouses the libertarian views of his father Ron Paul, is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres on Monday.
Paul, one of eight senators who voted against the so-called "fiscal cliff" agreement in the US Senate this week, is scheduled to speak at a private reception Monday on the issue of fiscal responsibility and reducing US foreign aid during a speech at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies (JIMS). JIMS describes itself as "an independent, nonprofit economic policy think tank whose mission is to promote social progress in Israel through economic freedom and individual liberty."
After meeting Netanyahu and Peres, Paul is scheduled to go to Jordan on Tuesday and meet with King Abdullah II and PA Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
He will return to Israel Wednesday and tour the Galilee.
The trip is sponsored by the American Family Association, a conservative Christian group that promotes fundamentalist Christian values. Paul will be part of a group of some 50-100 evangelical Christian, including politically well-connected figures in South Carolina and Iowa, which will hold early 2016 caucuses and primaries.
HH: Gosh, I hope every one of my shows is as significant as Paul Ryan and Rand Paul after a major vote this year. That would be a good 2013 for me. Can you tell us why and how you voted no on H.R. 8?
RP: Well you know, I think the biggest problem we face as a country is this debt crisis. The fiscal crisis was sort of a created concoction by the President, because he said he wanted taxes to go up. So he forced the taxes up on some folks, but it did nothing to address the real problem, which is the debt crisis, and in fact, I think made it worse, because this bill had $330 billion dollars worth of new spending in. So I just can’t vote for more spending, taxes going up. It really was going the wrong direction, as far as I’m concerned.
RP: Everything is done with a political end in mind. Everything is done, and everything has been done for the last several years based on envy, fear, jealousy, all things that I think aren’t really what typify what’s made our country great. And so no, I object to the way he’s characterized these things. And really, I tell people over and over again, the facts of the matter are that the rich pay most of the taxes in our country as it is now. And the other fact is that when you take money out of the private economy, whether it’s rich people’s money, middle class or poor, when you take it out of the private sector, you’re taking it out of the efficient sector, and you’re giving it to government. And there’s no objective evidence that government spends it wisely.
RP: Yeah, and here’s the thing, and the reason why I don’t is I don’t believe these people. They always put the spending cuts ten years from now when there’s a new Congress. All these budgets, they say, will balance, take 28, 30 years to balance. So I think you have to have an amendment. But as far as the entitlements, what I don’t like about what the Democrats do is they say oh, if you give us this, if you trade us this, we’ll agree to fix entitlements. Well, entitlements affect all Americans, Republicans or Democrats. They’re not broken because of either party’s fault. They’re broken because we’re living longer, and because the Baby Boomers are retiring. So I think as an obligation as a good legislator, you should just agree to fix them. But they always want to trade something. They want to see that they’ll raise taxes on some more people, give them some more spending for earned income tax credit or what have you, but they want something in exchange for doing what is the right thing, and that’s to fix entitlements so we can save them.
- - - -
HH: Senator Paul, when we went to break, we were talking about entitlements. And I know that your position that we ought to do the right thing on them, do you think we need to chain the CPI for Social Security and Medicare?
RP: Well you know, I think a lot of people don’t understand exactly what that means. I have a bill that would do two things. It would raise the age gradually, a couple of months a year over about 20 years, and then I would means test the benefits. I think means testing is a little more acceptable than slowing down the cost of living increases for everyone. What you do with means testing is that the richest among you will actually get a cut in their Social Security, and then you work your way down to the poorest among us, who won’t have any cut. And so then something like a chained CPI and all these other complicated formulas won’t hurt the people on the lowest end of the totem pole. And so I think that’s the better way to approach it.
HH: Let me ask you about that, because a lot of people instantly say Social Security, at least, was always about a savings program. If you begin to means test it, you break faith with people who have for decades been paying in on the expectation they would get back.
RP: It’s been a fiction, though, for a few decades now. And now for the first time in the last two years, Social Security pays out more than comes in. In fact, with Medicare, it’s dramatic. You pay a dollar in Medicare taxes, and you get three dollars in return receipts, so really, these things are so broken and have to be changed. I think means testing is a way of doing it that’s acceptable to people. And what people need to understand is if you were, if you made over a $100,000 dollars a year, that’s basically the top bracket for Social Security. You get about $2,200 dollars a month. My plan that means test takes about $300 dollars a month from those who made more than $100,000 dollars a year. So they would actually get less, but it would actually start having savings immediately. If you do not do that, you have to do all these manipulations to CPI that really, you know, there are a lot of poor people in our country who are having trouble living on the Social Security check they have. And you slow that down, I just think it’s harder to get through Congress, it’s harder to make work. I’ve told the President, Biden, I’ve told all the Democrats, why don’t you work with us on this, because you keep saying you want the rich to pay more. This is a way that the rich receive a little bit less in benefits. It doesn’t, it helps to make the system solvent, and I think it’s the best way to go.
HH: Now I want to go back to the debt ceiling, since that looms on March 1. Are you afraid, now we will hear, and we’ve already begun to hear, that if we do not raise the debt ceiling in time to borrow more, that the bond vigilantes will arrive, they’ll attack our bond rating, they will attack our credit rating, and everyone will suffer. What’s your response to that, Senator Paul?
RP: The best way is to affirmatively pass legislation, and Senator Toomey had this last time, and I was a co-sponsor, affirmatively pass legislation that says the tax receipts will go to pay for the interest on the debt. The first one in line will be interest on the debt. And then we also designated, I think, a few other people – Social Security soldiers’ salaries, the military, things like that. We prioritize our spending, and we go ahead and pay tax receipts. So that way, we let the world know we will not default. So when they play this game, they are always saying that we will default. They want to scare both Congress into voting for more spending and more debt. But they also want to scare the marketplace, and I think it’s a bad idea to scare the marketplace. I would preemptively go ahead and put out there that we will never default on our debt, that it is an obligation, something that’s a Constitutional obligation that we have to pay the interest on our debt. So I would let the world know we would do that, and I think that would give a great deal of confidence. You know, we bring in billions of dollars of tax revenue every month. And there’s actually plenty of it to pay interest, Social Security, soldiers’ salaries. Eventually, you get down to a lot of the discretionary spending, but I think you could delay discretionary spending and have none of it for about three months. People might discover that we don’t need most of the discretionary spending.
HH: Now Senator, that might be interesting, but I know Senator Reid will not bring that forward. And so if we’re up against the wall in late February, and it appears that we are going to run up against the limit, and there has not been any sort of prioritization of payment beginning with sovereign debt and then down through the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, et cetera, are you afraid of what will happen if we get to that limit and we have not established that prioritization, and we can’t borrow?
RP: Well, that’s why our job is to talk about prioritizing, how we would pay for it. Our other job is that what we ought to do is what we did last time, is the House passed in advance a bill that says we will agree to raise the debt ceiling. Actually, we had over $2 trillion dollars we were going to agree to, if you’ll pass a balanced budget amendment. So the only way to get the leverage of the debt ceiling to work is you have to be willing to go through the deadline. If you’re willing to go through the deadline, and have the Treasury keep taking tax receipts, and continue to pay the interest on the debt, and pay for the primary functions of government, if you’re willing to do that, which would be saying that part of the government wouldn’t get funding until we got a solution, I think you would finally get to a point of leverage where Congress would say you know what? We should have a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and I think we could pass it. I know we can pass it in the House. We just have to get some Democrats to agree that there’s a fiscal problem in our country.
HH: If we are at this point, find majorities of Republicans willing to go through the deadline, enough to stop any kind of debt relief bill, how long will they stay strong on that, do you think, Rand Paul? Will they fold up when the media begins to barrage them with criticism?
RP: Well, here’s the problem. And this is it in a nutshell. We give up before we ever get started, usually. So we give in and we have absolutely no leverage, because we know that many have the spine of an invertebrate. And so, like for example, we gave up the whole fight over whether or not we were going to pay for the Sandy emergency funding before it got started, $60 billion dollars, you know, not offset at all. The Republican alternative in the Senate was $24 billion now, and they’d give you more later, but not offset, either. I said let’s give them the $9 billion that they need to spend in the next year. That’s all they’re estimating they’re going to spend. But I offset mine with real cuts.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
FISA courts operate in secret, which is to be expected. What is not to be expected is that the elected branches of the federal government will conduct a debate about the proper scope of the law without knowing how the law is actually interpreted in practice.
We might as well have a debate about the Constitution with a secret Supreme Court. (Well, that probably wouldn't be all that different from the current state of affairs.)
Sen. Jeff Merkley asked that we be given some window into what the important rulings and precedents of the secret court might be, with the understanding that nothing endangering national security would be declassified. If we are going to discuss these issues, it would be awfully sporting to know what we are talking about.
Nah, the Senate decided. Merkley's amendment was defeated by a vote of 54 to 37. Who needs to know these things anyway? That's why the government hires national-security professionals, who will always act in our interests.
So Sen. Ron Wyden, a fellow Democrat from Oregon, offered a different amendment. He just wanted some general reporting on the privacy impact of the law, some more disclosure. Transparency, the president tells us, is a good thing, right?
"I think we ought to know, generally, how many Americans are being swept up under the legislation," Wyden said on the Senate floor. Not explicit tips on ongoing terror investigations. Just making sure the surveillance is focused on, you know, terror investigations.
"One of the biggest misconceptions about NSA is that we are unlawfully listening in on, or reading e-mails of, U.S. citizens," the National Security Agency told CNN in a statement. "This is simply not the case. NSA is unwavering in its respect for U.S. laws and Americans' civil liberties."
No one should think the targets are U.S. persons," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. "Thirteen members of the intelligence committee who have voted on this do not believe this is a problem."
Okay. Well, then that's what some small measure of transparency will show us, right? Or do we just have to take the NSA and the Intelligence Committee's word for it? (Wyden incidentally serves on Intelligence and he still has a wee bit of a problem with these assurances.)
Turns out that the Senate didn't want to know. Wyden's amendment was defeated by a vote of 52 to 43.
By now, you might be able to sense a pattern developing here. So you would probably not be surprised to learn that only a dozen senators supported Rand Paul's proposal that emails and text messages be subject to the same Fourth Amendment protections as telephone calls.
I guess if you believe government powers are never abused, or that Democrats will protect our civil liberties even when a president of their own party is in power, it's fine not to do "this."
Just reauthorize the sunsetting provisions so we can all find out what's in them.
Our government is run by Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes. I know nothing!