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: 664446

Reported Deaths: 12663
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion909511650
Lake48568884
Allen36004640
Hamilton32182398
St. Joseph30166513
Elkhart25453419
Vanderburgh21300382
Tippecanoe20143203
Johnson16407361
Porter16042276
Hendricks15877300
Clark12018181
Madison11776319
Vigo11660231
Monroe10379163
Delaware9870179
LaPorte9802198
Howard9083199
Kosciusko8582111
Bartholomew7488147
Warrick7438151
Hancock7428133
Floyd7243170
Wayne6648192
Grant6446157
Boone610989
Morgan6106126
Dubois5925112
Dearborn549969
Cass547299
Marshall5439105
Henry542594
Noble510578
Jackson465167
Shelby461991
Lawrence4193113
Harrison402564
Gibson402083
Clinton396753
Montgomery389683
DeKalb387178
Knox357885
Miami357863
Whitley350237
Huntington347377
Steuben339555
Wabash332676
Putnam331260
Ripley327862
Adams324749
Jasper318143
White297952
Jefferson295874
Daviess285696
Fayette272156
Decatur271188
Greene262080
Posey261431
Wells258675
Scott251350
LaGrange241870
Clay241444
Randolph225676
Spencer218930
Jennings216344
Washington212827
Sullivan203639
Fountain202142
Starke189051
Owen183253
Fulton179837
Jay178528
Carroll176619
Perry173736
Orange171250
Rush165322
Vermillion161442
Franklin159635
Tipton148441
Parke140016
Pike128233
Blackford120727
Pulaski107344
Newton96632
Brown95140
Benton92213
Crawford91713
Martin80314
Warren75914
Switzerland7558
Union67510
Ohio54011
Unassigned0432

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 974480

Reported Deaths: 16750
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1125851214
Cuyahoga964441832
Hamilton736841034
Montgomery47424903
Summit40474802
Butler35678505
Lucas35588685
Stark29495803
Warren22510271
Lorain22111414
Mahoning19532537
Lake18471318
Clermont18459201
Delaware16537116
Licking15037189
Fairfield14587180
Trumbull14381413
Greene13626218
Medina13448226
Clark12319248
Wood11604163
Portage11078164
Allen10804216
Richland10334183
Miami10048189
Muskingum8204112
Columbiana8160200
Pickaway8079107
Tuscarawas8063227
Marion8006125
Wayne7898193
Erie6925140
Ross6161128
Geauga6097136
Hancock6013116
Ashtabula5993152
Scioto597780
Lawrence527218
Union515237
Darke5040114
Belmont497659
Huron4838107
Jefferson4814107
Sandusky4785108
Seneca4709107
Washington470991
Athens465447
Mercer459180
Auglaize456480
Shelby442479
Knox4045101
Putnam400090
Madison394253
Ashland381381
Fulton381258
Defiance372983
Brown372244
Crawford359096
Logan356072
Preble353678
Clinton341152
Highland328649
Ottawa324869
Williams302962
Jackson290745
Champaign289249
Guernsey288444
Perry270447
Fayette269441
Morrow260934
Henry247058
Hardin246558
Holmes243493
Coshocton238054
Van Wert230154
Gallia223131
Adams217436
Pike216026
Wyandot211747
Hocking194754
Carroll181641
Paulding160530
Meigs135930
Noble129333
Monroe116927
Morgan101119
Harrison100724
Vinton76613
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