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Why was Rand Paul the only Senator fighting a budget deal that includes $1T in spending?

Why was Rand Paul the only Senator fighting a budget deal that includes $1T in spending?

“It’s worth a debate whether we should borrow a million dollars a minute.”

On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul succeeded in blocking a vote on the so-called Budget Deal (which we discussed thusly Wednesday). In so doing, the federal government shut down at 12:01 AM.

An hour and a half later, the Senate invoked cloture, voted on the huge spending deal reached by both parties Wednesday evening, passing the bill with a vote of 71-28 (without bothering to debate it). Just before dawn it passed the House and heads to Trump for signature.

Because of the egregious amount of money the bill spends, Paul objected to the deal. The deal includes $1 trillion in spending, raising federal government spending caps for the next two years.

Paul refused to acquiesce and allow the voting on the budget deal without a vote on his amendment which would cap and cut spending.

The usual suspects are annoyed.

Politico reported:

The dispute will provoke a brief shutdown as midnight draws near, and Paul’s colleagues ganged up on him as they grew increasingly frustrated with a member of their own party. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) blamed Paul directly for “wasting everybody’s time.”

Paul “will effectively shut down the federal government for no real reason,” Cornyn said. “I just ask him to reconsider what he is doing in shutting down the entire federal government.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Paul is waging his fight “probably to help Rand Paul.”

And Cornyn, McConnell, Graham and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) tried repeatedly to set up a vote before the shutdown deadline. Each time, Paul objected, much to Tillis’ frustration.

“Do you want to be a senator that wants to make a point or you want to make a difference? You know what? I don’t see how points alone can make a change in America,” Tillis fumed on the Senate floor. “You can make a point all you want. But points are forgotten. There’s not a whole of history books about the great points of the American Senate.”

Paul rightly pointed out Republican hypocrisy on federal spending, noting that the same people voting to raise the debt ceiling for the next two years lambasted President Obama for wanting to do the same.

I’m so old, I remember Republicans touting cut, cap, and balance back in 2011, even if they don’t.

Which begs the question, why is Paul alone in calling attention to our runaway federal deficit?

Mike Lee stood with Paul, but only to criticize the binary choices parliamentary procedure creates:

After Paul withstood a barrage of criticism from his colleagues, the like-minded Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) came to the floor to defend him. He said individual senators are “left out of the process” and left with a binary choice of voting yes or no, with no alterations to legislation.

The legislation, all 700 pages of it were introduced at midnight Wednesday, leaving less than 48 hours to sort through the spending monstrosity. This is the exact same kind of governance Republicans complained about for 8 years: introduced hundreds of pages of legislation in the dead of night, leave little to no time to review said legislation, insist the legislation must be passed or else! Republicans might not be trotting out children, but they’re shamelessly using the military as a political prop in this battle.

Without fail, conservative governance at the federal level dies a publicly humiliating death when Republicans are in power.

The war of government is not, nor has it been in my lifetime, a war between dueling parties. It’s a constant, exhausting, and losing battle between the taxpayer and a finagling, self-interested, leach of a government. Unless there’s a clear adversary who can be used as a tool to obtain some political capital, principles fall by the wayside, if they ever truly existed.

Barely more than a year in control of both houses and the oval office and Republicans have already sold old to big-spending and perpetual government glut. Disappointing is far from sufficient. Disgusting is more accurate.

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Comments

I heard Rush Limbaugh say yesterday that he just doesn’t care about the deficit and debt anymore. He doesn’t think it’s important. Obviously, most Republicans in Congress don’t care either (nor do I think they ever did). Republicans have no more integrity than Democrats. They’re just another corrupt team vying for political power to reward their favorite cronies and themselves.

Guess who I won’t be voting for in the next election?

Because he is one of the few people in Congress with any integrity. This bill is a complete sell-out to the big spenders. As someone who works closely with gov’t in my second career, they amount of waste and deadwood in gov’t is absolutely staggering. They deserve less money, not more.

    Disco Stu_ in reply to Ghost Rider. | February 9, 2018 at 8:08 am

    Much, much, MUCH less.

    I’ll open with a recommendation of at least a third less. (True, roughly double the phony TEMPORARY federal govt. non-essential “shutdowns” that were going to mean the end of the #RulingClass world.)

All the politicians have come to realize that they cannot get what they want if they take the deficit seriously. To pass a budget, everyone has to get some goodies. So, they have decided to ride the tiger while they can.

I note in passing that the deficit will exceed the defense budget, and that in a few years the annual interest payment on the accumulated debt will be the largest item in the budget.

That will not result in a trimming of entitlements. In a democracy entitlements are iron-clad. What will happen is that all other spending will be squeezed out. There will be significant disarmament. Look to Britain and Germany to see out future.

In extremum, we will get a dictatorship Our multicultural, multiethnic empire requires a dictatorship anyway for stability, and the natural endpoint of all democracies is dictatorship.

Integrity is a fine trait. Those who have it in Congress can stand their ground all alone while others do what they were elected to do–spend money. Problems are “solved” by spending more money. The last several years we had no budget because the warring camps on spending stood their ground and allowed our military to degrade from lack of resources. The idea of “CR’ after CR got old and here we are.

Spending and debt will never be tackled until entitlements, which are driving the debt, are addressed. Nobody there has much stomach for that in numbers sufficient to get anything done. As long as the right to vote remains the “universal franchise” it is, the voters will allow no cuts.

The cost of our debt has to be big enough to hurt across the spectrum. Democracy goes along until it commits suicide from self inflicted bankruptcy and degraded currency.

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”

― Benjamin Franklin

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

– attributed to de Toqueville or Tytler

    Milhouse in reply to snopercod. | February 9, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    There is no evidence that Franklin ever said that. Nor is there any evidence that either Tocqueville or Tytler ever said the second one. The attribution to Tytler appears to have been invented by one Elmer T. Peterson, in The Daily Oklahoman in 1951. Nobody seems to know who invented the attributions to Tocqueville or Franklin.

G. de La Hoya | February 9, 2018 at 8:27 am

I admire Senator Rand Paul for his integrity and I always have. I strive not to be a hypocrite in my life that includes both personal and business. Many people choose to keep those parts of their life separate from one another. Sad. 🙁

These guys are caricatures of themselves.

You can make a point all you want. But points are forgotten.

Right. Only debt is forever. And, with interest, it’s the gift which keeps on giving. Or the tumor which keeps on growing.

Congress is not put together in such a way that it can, practically, do anything else but spend without restraint. So any corrective influence must come from outside Congress. But it’s not like conventional consumer behavior; Congress is itself too isolated from the market. Voters can, in principle, be the restraining force, but when both parties are indistinguishable and when voters are too easily bribed with money which doesn’t really exist, that doesn’t work, either.

Of course, the President can be the one to say no. So, what does this porkulus do to earn his signature? How many of those 700 pages fund The Wall?

I see only two possible ways to attack this process…and it is a process…of national suicide.

One is a broadly supported civil disobedience campaign to withhold paying income tax. How broadly? A big fraction of the people, on the order of 20% should carry the day.

The second is a Amendment 5 convention, which would include a balanced budget amendment and repeal of the 16th Amendment.

These are not mutually exclusive.

Kemberlee Kaye: Paul rightly pointed out Republican hypocrisy on federal spending, noting that the same people voting to raise the debt ceiling for the next two years lambasted President Obama for wanting to do the same.

No kidding. And you’re just figuring that out now? Gee whiz.

Consider infrastructure investment. The best time to invest is during an economic downturn when there is excess capacity and people are looking for work. Then when the economy improves, the infrastructure improvements are in place to allow for expansion to the next level.

When Obama wanted infrastructure investment, you would have thought it was the end of the world, a socialist conspiracy to take over the economy and destroy the Republic. Now Trump wants infrastructure investment, at the very wrong point of the market cycle, and it’s being seriously entertained. Along with tax cuts, there’s a real danger of overheating the economy.

    Mac45 in reply to Zachriel. | February 9, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Zach: “Consider infrastructure investment. The best time to invest is during an economic downturn when there is excess capacity and people are looking for work. Then when the economy improves, the infrastructure improvements are in place to allow for expansion to the next level.”

    This is not correct. Infrastructure investment has to be continuous and ongoing. Infrastructure, such as bridges, roadways and dams all have a finite life span. They have to be maintained constantly and even replaced periodically. Then there is the necessity of upgrading existing bridges and roadways. If you spread the maintenance, upgrades and replacement over twenty or thirty years, it is not that expensive.

    However, waiting to make infrastructure investments during a recession, or other economic downturn, is counter productive. While excess building capacity and expanded labor force may exist during these times, the problem is that the revenues necessary to pay for the work are reduced due to reduced tax revenues. Low productivity = lower tax revenues. Higher productivity = higher tax revenues.

    The problem that America faces is that much needed maintenance, upgrades and replacement of critical infrastructure was not done on a routine basis, because funds were diverted to other things, such as a war and social programs. Now we are forced to play catch-up. Never a good thing.

      Mac45: Infrastructure investment has to be continuous and ongoing.

      A rational and consistent investment is certainly better than allowing the infrastructure to deteriorate. However, the market cycle does exist, and large infrastructure projects require large amounts of resources, human and capital.

      Mac45: While excess building capacity and expanded labor force may exist during these times, the problem is that the revenues necessary to pay for the work are reduced due to reduced tax revenues. Low productivity = lower tax revenues. Higher productivity = higher tax revenues.

      That’s right. However, during downturns is the very time to expend wealth for large infrastructure projects. It costs less to invest during downturns. and cost more to inveset during peaks of the market cycle. That’s because when the market cycle is at its peak, government projects compete against the private sector for resources, human and capital; while during market downturns, there is available resources, human and capital. It also stimulates the economy by putting idle resources to work.

      Classically, the policy is to maintain the government in balance. So, if the economy is growing, leading to increased tax receipts, cut taxes. If the economy is shrinking, causing reduced tax receipts, raise taxes to cover the budget. The problem is that this exacerbates the market cycle, leading to booms and busts. Cutting taxes while the economy grows causes it to grow faster, leading to a bubble. When the bubble bursts, raising taxes to compensate for the drop in receipts accelerates the decline, leading to a dangerous, downward spiral.

      Countercyclical policy means to run a surplus during times of plenty, and run a deficit during times of famine. Countercyclical policy mitigates the market cycle. Save while times are good, so as to have a rainy day fund for when times are bad. Countercyclical policy is as old as the Bible.

      Genesis 41: Then Pharaoh said to Joseph: ‘Behold, in my dream I stood on the bank of the river. Suddenly seven cows came up out of the river, fine looking and fat; and they fed in the meadow. Then behold, seven other cows came up after them, poor and very ugly and gaunt, such ugliness as I have never seen in all the land of Egypt. And the gaunt and ugly cows ate up the first seven, the fat cows.’

    inspectorudy in reply to Zachriel. | February 9, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Oh, you mean like obama’s “Shovel ready jobs”? Infrastructure is a long-term process that takes many years to initiate and get all of the required permits. Just like the military, you don’t wait for a war to upgrade it. obama gave over 80% of the TARP money to Dimm cronies and most of them have since declared bankruptcy. There are two things that will stop this crap. One is term limits and the other is a balanced budget amendment. As long as getting re-elected is the most important thing on a pols mind, he/she will always offer goodies to his/her constituents with no concern for where the money comes from. Plus the Dimms always demand a dollar for dollar spending on any money that goes to the military has to be matched on social spending.

      inspectorudy: obama gave over 80% of the TARP money to Dimm cronies and most of them have since declared bankruptcy.

      Making stuff up doesn’t make for a convincing argument. TARP was a Bush Administration program. Furthermore, it wasn’t a stimulus, but a stabilization plan for the banking sector.

      inspectorudy: balanced budget amendment

      A balanced budget would exacerbate the market cycle. To resolve the deficit issue only requires not falling, over and over again, for Republican claims that they care about the deficit. Rather, they used it as a cudgel against Democratic presidents, then abandon it as soon as they acquire power.

      “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” — George W. Bush

      On the other hand, Clinton left the federal government with cash surpluses, while Obama cut the deficit in half even in the aftermath of an economic crisis.

      The proper response is to have short-term spending during downturns, then working to reduce deficits when the economy is stronger. Instead, both Bush and Trump cut long-term taxes during an expansion, which tends to cause the economy to overheat, exacerbating market bubbles.

Paul In Sweden | February 9, 2018 at 10:31 am

The “Conservatives” in congress are only concerned about conserving their seats. Drain the Swamp, Build the Wall, enforce the immigration laws and schedule a retirement party for Sen. John McCain.

    Whitewall in reply to Paul In Sweden. | February 9, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    “Drain the swamp”. If somebody really wanted to continue the “military parade” troll, they could add “the swamp will be drained during the parade”. Some people would get the vapors!

And this is the sole reason why I voted for Sen. Paul in the primaries. He was the ONLY one to address the “And how the heck do we PAY for all of this?” question.

It is tiresome, spitting in the wind. I admire Sen. Paul for continuing to try to bring some sanity to our budgeting process.

    inspectorudy in reply to Anonamom. | February 9, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    There is a difference between a gadfly and hero. Paul is both. He knew/knows that his one-man rants will have zero effect on the outcome of the bill but makes a big show anyway. Just like Pelosi did on DACA in the house with her 8 hours BS rant. If Paul really wanted to change Congress he would constantly demand term limits and a balanced budget amendment. That is the only way to change this mess. As long as all of them can stay there forever, they will sweeten the pot for the people at home and screw the nation.

      notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to inspectorudy. | February 9, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      “He knew/knows that his one-man rants will have zero effect on the outcome of the bill but makes a big show anyway.”

      Touche!

      “Hurry! Look busy! Here comes the boss!”

We are in a dictatorship – the leadership of the senate and house are a dictatorship by committee
This DISASTROUS spending is an example – mcconnel and shumer created this 700 page pile of crap and then crammed it down the throat of the senate and ryan then did the same in the house !

This budget deal was required because of all the past failures of BOTH democrats and republicans. The most pressing and immediate existential threat to our country is how democrats and republicans let the military erode since the cold war ended but especially during the Bush 43 and Obama years.

Our military has eroded to the point that we are dangerously close to one of several countries (including China and Russia) deciding to challenge us on some battlefield somewhere.

As a result immediate increase in defense spending and upgrade of our nuclear forces is absolutely required and if we have to risk blowing up deficit further in order to avoid a near term war for survival then that is what is required. Better to risk death by deficit in 30 years to avoid death by war in the next few years.

There will be plenty of time for recriminations on government spending AFTER we ensure peace and survival by preparing for war.

    Mac45 in reply to garybritt. | February 9, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    We had to do it for the troops is almost as bad a mantra as we had to do it for the children.

    It might have SOME validity, if the Congress had at least held the cap on domestic spending or reduced it as well as holding the cap on debt. But, it didn’t. It ran into the mall with credit card in hand ready to max it out, again.

    Here is the problem with expanding the deficit. We have just about reached the point where America in no longer capable of paying its debt. If that happens, the US will likely simply refuse to honor its debt and then the whole house of cards collapses. The Dollar could go the way of the Deutschmark in the 1930s. The US, contrary to popular opinion is not too big to fail.

      You should re-read what I wrote. I did not say we need to do it for the troops. I said we need to do it now/immediately to ensure our survival as a country and to make sure we as a country and as people continue to exist in the world of tangible things.

      Yes increasing only defense while cutting fraud and waste everywhere would be better but that isn’t going to happen (not in the near term). So when continued existence in the near term is literally at stake then you do what you have to do.

      Failing to ensure our survival in the near term is suicide. In this instance Rand Paul is a fool tilting at windmills while the armies of destruction are circling.

      Ending the stupid budget caps and sequestration was necessary to lay the ground work to maybe being able to survive long enough to do some good stuff on the debt.

buckeyeminuteman | February 9, 2018 at 11:23 am

I STAND WITH RAND. He at least delayed the knife being shoved into our backs, if only for a few hours. Trump was smart to not get heavily involved and push the McConnell-Schumer collusion. He did sign it though. And come 22 March, we’ll be right back at the whole “fund my pet project or I’m shutting down the government”.

I’ve got a new idea for a GOP t-shirt: “I SPENT $1,000,000,000,000 AND ALL I GOT WAS A LOUSY 6 WEEKS OF GOVERNMENT FUNDING!”

Oh Rand, you had me till you quit after one state.

Because he is the only senator running for president…………at the moment.

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