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: 751242

Reported Deaths: 13795
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1032931788
Lake556911009
Allen41692692
St. Joseph36990565
Hamilton36588417
Elkhart29398461
Tippecanoe22901226
Vanderburgh22556400
Porter19356325
Johnson18471389
Hendricks17682317
Clark13226195
Madison13149344
Vigo12614253
LaPorte12419221
Monroe12207176
Delaware10966198
Howard10321225
Kosciusko9630121
Hancock8576146
Bartholomew8169157
Warrick7860156
Floyd7811180
Grant7242179
Wayne7162201
Boone6966103
Morgan6761141
Dubois6218118
Marshall6209116
Cass6016110
Henry5900110
Dearborn589878
Noble581488
Jackson509076
Shelby501496
Lawrence4742122
Gibson444894
Clinton442355
Harrison441875
DeKalb439885
Montgomery438090
Whitley406543
Huntington402681
Steuben400159
Miami395269
Jasper388054
Knox375991
Putnam372960
Wabash361983
Ripley347170
Adams345555
Jefferson335886
White331953
Daviess3033100
Wells295281
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay267148
Washington246036
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228058
Fountain220948
Sullivan214643
Owen211858
Fulton202942
Jay200932
Carroll193620
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion174844
Franklin170335
Tipton166246
Parke149416
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120647
Newton113936
Brown104243
Crawford102516
Benton101714
Martin91715
Warren84015
Switzerland8148
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108902

Reported Deaths: 20166
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1287491467
Cuyahoga1158082211
Hamilton814091250
Montgomery525571043
Summit484351001
Lucas43359820
Butler39018606
Stark33338929
Lorain25675505
Warren24595303
Mahoning22376603
Lake21211388
Clermont20124253
Delaware18856136
Licking16663222
Fairfield16576204
Trumbull16551482
Medina15612271
Greene15284248
Clark14237306
Wood13292200
Portage13251215
Allen11914239
Richland11607211
Miami10849225
Wayne9146223
Columbiana9034230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8664122
Tuscarawas8650250
Marion8642138
Erie8056165
Ashtabula7161179
Hancock6999132
Ross6945161
Geauga6838151
Scioto6534106
Belmont6157174
Union584649
Lawrence5732102
Jefferson5679158
Huron5546122
Sandusky5442126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5320109
Athens523960
Auglaize502187
Mercer487385
Shelby476895
Knox4572112
Madison444366
Ashland435797
Putnam4336103
Defiance432399
Fulton432174
Crawford4040110
Brown402461
Logan387677
Preble3856105
Clinton379166
Ottawa373681
Highland359865
Williams348278
Champaign344859
Guernsey324953
Jackson318254
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin275365
Henry273467
Holmes2702101
Coshocton269060
Van Wert247264
Adams243256
Pike242835
Gallia240750
Wyandot234556
Hocking220563
Carroll197348
Paulding176542
Meigs148440
Monroe136344
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
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