Rand Paul made a heck of a speech last night about the debt. In the end, he failed, and President Trump has signed a budget-busting spending bill that is projected to add $1.5 trillion to the debt over ten years. But for a brief moment, Sen. Paul channeled the rage of many of us who believe that both parties are to blame for the fiasco that is our out-of-control budget. I think it’s worth watching.
Some people — like the anonymous source in this piece by Sarah Rumpf — are complaining about Sen. Paul’s efforts. They say that Sen. Paul was being a showboat and making television appearances. I call that raising awareness. They say that Sen. Paul wasn’t working on actual spending reduction. How was he supposed to? The bill was a take-it-or-leave-it proposition — and that’s what he was fighting against. He was trying to get a vote on an amendment to reduce spending — and the leadership was having none of it.
Perhaps most galling, the anonymous carpers say that last night was not the time to do this. What could this possibly mean? Republicans are in power now. If we were ever going to do anything about the debt, the time to do it was last night. Not some unspecified point in the future that will never come. Last night.
Paul’s speech is worth watching. It’s over an hour long, but it addresses an important issue. Put in on in the background, and listen when you can. I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing the first three minutes or so below. While many news articles have quoted from the speech, I think this is the only transcript online of the beginning of the speech — and it’s the fullest transcript of the speech that I have seen anywhere.
I surrender the balance of my time to the junior Senator from Kentucky.
Today the Senate will vote on a bill that will add $1.5 trillion to the debt over the next ten years. This is a large amount of money and something that we should be very wary of. This is in addition to what we were already running debt of, of nearly a trillion dollars. So we’re adding a couple extra hundred billion dollars a year to a budget and a country and a Congress that had already recklessly let spending get out of control.
The bill is nearly 700 pages. It was given to us at midnight last night, and I would venture to say no one has read the bill. No one can thoroughly digest a 700-page bill overnight, and I do think that it does things that we really, really ought to talk about, and how we should pay for them.
One of the things this bill does is, it’s going to add $500 billion in spending over a two-year period. This bill increases spending 21 percent. Does that sound like a large amount? Anybody at home getting a bonus or an increase in your paycheck of 21 percent? And yet your government is going to spend 21 percent more without really having a full debate. Without having amendments. The exchange you just watched was me asking to have a 15-minute vote. I’ve been asking all day. I’ve been asking all week for it.
We could have literally had dozens of votes today but we squabble because people don’t want to be put on the spot. So the reason I’m here tonight is to put people on the spot. I want people to feel uncomfortable. I want them to have to answer people at home who said, “How come you were against President Obama’s deficits and then how come you’re for Republican deficits?” Isn’t that the very definition of intellectual dishonesty? If you were against President Obama’s deficits, and now you’re for the Republican deficits, isn’t that the very definition of hypocrisy?
People need to be made aware. Your senators need to answer people from home and they need to answer this debate. We should have a full-throated debate. My amendment says this simply — we should obey the budget caps. What are budget caps? These are limits we placed on spending, both military and non-military. We placed them in 2011, and guess what? For a year or two, government actually shrunk. But now government’s taking off, and this new stimulus of deficit spending will be as big as President Obama’s stimulus.
Don’t you remember when Republicans howled to high heaven that President Obama was spending us into the gutter? Spending us into oblivion? And now Republicans are doing the same thing.
And so I ask the question: whose fault is it? Republicans? Yes. Whose fault is it? Democrats? Yes. It’s both parties’ fault!
You realize that this is the secret of Washington. The dirty little secret is, the Republicans are loudly clamoring for more military spending. But they can’t get it unless they give the Democrats welfare spending. So they raise all the spending. It’s a compromise in the wrong direction. We should be compromising in the direction of going towards spending only what comes in. And yet this goes on and on and on.
Amen. Thanks to Sen. Paul for being that lonely voice in the wilderness, who speaks for so many of us out here.