Rand Paul: Debate ‘report card’

Contact CU Independent Features Editor Nicole McNulty at nicole.mcnulty@colorado.edu 

In his opening statement, Sen. Rand Paul sidestepped the first question of identifying a personal weakness, instead highlighting why he chose to leave the medical profession and run for office. It’s unlikely that Paul sees the fact that he is running for office because of the $18 trillion national debt as a weakness, so it was interesting that he answered in this way.

It is possible that he sees the debt itself as a weakness in the nation that he can address, citing his plans to filibuster a bill Thursday in Congress that would “explode the deficit.” He then used the line that he would also close the debate with: “Enough is enough. No more debt.”

By continually highlighting the issue, Paul is trying to separate himself from the pack in being tough on debt. But reusing the same line could be stale to viewers.

Paul spoke about opposing the current budget deal in Congress, seeing it as a recipe for the deficit to explode. Paul argued that Washington’s raising of military and domestic spending amounts to the left and right “spending us into oblivion.” That statement is in line with Paul’s desire to balance the budget because he believes that welfare and other social programs waste money.

In March, Paul proposed increasing military spending by reducing the budget for agencies like the EPA, but he has since advocated for cutting all areas of government spending. The budget deal has bipartisan support, but Paul used this not as evidence of its benefits, but as evidence of the established elite in Congress.

Paul thinks that even with new leadership, inevitable with the resignation of House Speaker John Boehner, the American people won’t see a change in Congress and instead will continue to witness more of the same. This statement is in line with Paul’s beliefs in making government as small as it can be.

By constantly harping on the debt problem, Paul was trying to highlight that he alone among the candidates has American voters’ best interests at heart. But by citing the same statistics of the $18 trillion debt and the government borrowing a million dollars per minute, multiple times, he may have come off as redundant and slightly out of touch to views.

When a moderator brought up his “Audit the Fed” bill and campaign, he explained why he thinks the country needs it. The bill itself has been questioned by many economic experts and some argue that it is unnecessary, as there are already established ways to monitor the Federal Reserve.

Paul argues that we need to examine how the Federal Reserve caused income inequality as well as the housing boom and crisis. He also thinks that there should be no price controls on the value of money. The latter statement falls in line with Paul’s desire to have a smaller government, but is the former not an extension of government powers?

By giving the government unlimited ability to look at any actions taken by the Federal Reserve, which was designed to be independent of the president and Congress, Paul would be widening federal powers, which seems to be out of line with his general rhetoric.

Paul used his “private marketplace versus government [regulation]” argument to defend his ideas about the problems of Medicare and Social Security. According to Paul, there’s no money in either account and because of this, we must raise the retirement age for Social Security and we have to cut back Medicare. Both of these ideas are coherent with Paul’s ideology.

Paul repeatedly tried to separate himself from the establishment Republicans he said were making deals with Obama to essentially send the country to ruin. Paul mostly did a good job of sticking to his specific stances on issues, but didn’t mention his plans for economic freedom zones, the logistics of his flat tax rate or how he would focus on clean energy.

All of the doomsday rhetoric Paul used about how the government is essentially going down the tubes supports his arguments to a point. Paul took it a little too far and by focusing on the same buzzword, factoid-type bits of information, he may have alienated himself from the viewers.


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