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Rand Paul was right

When Rand Paul took control of the Senate floor just before 6 p.m. Eastern, virtually every one of his Republican col...

Posted: Feb 9, 2018 11:24 AM
Updated: Feb 9, 2018 11:24 AM

When Rand Paul took control of the Senate floor just before 6 p.m. Eastern, virtually every one of his Republican colleagues grimaced. Five years ago, they would have cheered him.

Paul's speech, which slowed attempts to pass a massive budget deal before the government shuts down at midnight, was a savaging of his party -- a party that appears to have turned 180 degrees from the deficit hawks of the mid 2010s who insisted that government spending was ballooning out of control and was crippling the country.

"When the Democrats are in power, Republicans appear to be the conservative party," Paul said at one point. "But when Republicans are in power, it seems there is no conservative party. The hypocrisy hangs in the air and chokes anyone with a sense of decency or intellectual honesty."

He is 100% right.

The simple fact is that Republicans in the Obama era defined themselves primarily as committed to reducing government spending and shrinking the nation's debt. The ur-document of that age was Paul Ryan's budget, in which he proudly touted the need to confront entitlement spending and make the hard cuts necessary to keep the country solvent for the foreseeable future.

"Our debt is a threat to this country," Ryan said in a 2013 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "We have to tackle this problem before it tackles us."

He was far from alone. Republicans insisted that any spending legislation -- even for disaster relief -- be paid for with budget offsets. Every major Republican leader talked about debt and deficit relentlessly.

That focus on deficit reduction and spending restraint bled into the 2016 primary as the top tier candidates -- including Paul -- championed it. One candidate, however, did not.

That candidate was Donald Trump, the self-proclaimed "king of debt." Trump showed little care or concern for the issue that had animated the party he was running to lead.

So cavalier was Trump about the deficit that Mitt Romney, the party's 2012 presidential nominee, lambasted him for it in a speech aimed at convincing Republicans to drop Trump.

"His tax plan in combination with his refusal to reform entitlements and honestly address spending would balloon the deficit and the national debt," said Romney.

And then Trump won. Not just the Republican primary, but the election. And suddenly his priorities -- immigration, trade protectionism and a tax cut -- became the party's principles. Curtailing spending and reducing debt went out the window -- or at least way down the list of what the GOP cared about. And Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and almost the entire rest of the Republican Party -- sans Paul and a handful of House conservatives -- went along for the ride.

Which is how it came to pass that just before 6 p.m. Thursday, McConnell was on the Senate floor pleading with his home-state colleague to drop his push for a vote on an amendment that would maintain the current budget caps. Paul's issue was a simple one: A two-year spending bill that would increase the federal deficit by more than $300 billion was being rammed through at the last minute -- and without any amendments being offered.

And he's right about that too.

The natural result of our current style of governing -- lurching from crisis to crisis -- is this sort of showdown. Paul is right that it is absolutely ridiculous that a near-700-page piece of legislation that senators got their hands on around midnight Wednesday should be passed by midnight Thursday.

And yet, when you are faced with the possibility of a second government shutdown in the space of 17 days, passing this sort of legislation -- whether or not it represents a massive U-turn on the very priorities your party touted just a few years ago -- becomes your only option.

Which makes Paul either a principled hero or a misguided Don Quixote -- depending on where you stand.

"The reason I'm here tonight is to put people on the spot," Paul said. "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?' "

Mission accomplished.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 941120

Reported Deaths: 15315
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1282511983
Lake633041097
Allen53609758
Hamilton43827447
St. Joseph41906590
Elkhart33545490
Vanderburgh30383448
Tippecanoe26820249
Johnson23609417
Hendricks22250341
Porter21737346
Clark17409229
Madison17366384
Vigo16108281
Monroe14466191
LaPorte14311239
Delaware14070221
Howard13865272
Kosciusko11418135
Hancock10841165
Warrick10674177
Bartholomew10542168
Floyd10430205
Wayne9959226
Grant9130204
Morgan8865160
Boone8389111
Dubois7710123
Dearborn762289
Henry7608130
Noble7413101
Marshall7362128
Cass7176117
Lawrence6957153
Shelby6584111
Jackson656785
Gibson6156107
Harrison603786
Huntington600195
Montgomery5805105
DeKalb574291
Knox5494104
Miami542488
Putnam536768
Clinton533665
Whitley524953
Steuben497268
Wabash483592
Jasper479160
Jefferson470092
Ripley454277
Adams444068
Daviess4169108
Scott405865
White391857
Clay390857
Greene388392
Decatur385296
Wells384983
Fayette374278
Posey359941
Jennings353156
Washington332047
LaGrange321375
Spencer317835
Fountain316555
Randolph312888
Sullivan307449
Owen283863
Starke280064
Fulton277553
Orange275859
Jay254837
Perry251652
Carroll243729
Franklin239338
Rush234130
Vermillion233250
Parke219820
Tipton209655
Pike207639
Blackford168334
Pulaski163551
Crawford146018
Newton144345
Benton142516
Brown135346
Martin128217
Switzerland125810
Warren114616
Union96911
Ohio79711
Unassigned0479

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1365800

Reported Deaths: 21596
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1522221560
Cuyahoga1344852327
Hamilton976051320
Montgomery670271141
Summit562091047
Lucas50900863
Butler47417655
Stark41580976
Lorain31567532
Warren30001331
Mahoning26963639
Clermont25628292
Lake24585417
Delaware22313145
Licking20487241
Fairfield20420221
Greene20309272
Trumbull19866509
Medina19796287
Clark17879328
Richland16314234
Portage16130229
Wood15681208
Allen14115256
Miami13786253
Muskingum12641152
Wayne11946238
Columbiana11708241
Tuscarawas10953269
Marion10725148
Pickaway10465129
Scioto10324127
Erie9747171
Ross9436176
Lawrence8755125
Hancock8458141
Ashtabula8317185
Geauga8173156
Belmont8140187
Jefferson7527172
Huron7423128
Union731851
Washington7183120
Athens697165
Sandusky6848134
Darke6756136
Knox6671122
Seneca6358137
Ashland5948113
Auglaize587188
Shelby5727101
Brown564171
Mercer557890
Defiance5483101
Madison543371
Crawford5425114
Highland541581
Fulton530683
Clinton525580
Logan512182
Preble4994110
Putnam4833106
Guernsey470364
Williams459282
Perry449852
Champaign445964
Ottawa436884
Jackson425362
Pike388843
Morrow383851
Fayette375853
Coshocton374766
Adams360675
Hardin359069
Gallia347356
Holmes3259108
Henry324668
Van Wert314670
Hocking301769
Wyandot280658
Carroll262652
Paulding242243
Meigs213942
Monroe189749
Noble169340
Morgan165829
Harrison157940
Vinton138118
Unassigned05
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