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 10:24 AM
Updated: Feb 9, 2018 10:24 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 261167

Reported Deaths: 5713
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17561191
Hinds16687329
Harrison14050202
Rankin11102217
Jackson10729188
Lee9014143
Madison8495168
Jones6607114
Forrest6135122
Lauderdale6067192
Lowndes5490120
Lafayette511794
Lamar499865
Washington4904125
Bolivar4087109
Oktibbeha403581
Panola380981
Pontotoc374757
Monroe3651106
Warren3649103
Union353263
Marshall352069
Neshoba3464154
Pearl River3422105
Leflore3090109
Lincoln304287
Sunflower290373
Hancock288461
Tate279062
Alcorn270754
Pike268180
Itawamba266662
Scott256048
Yazoo253756
Prentiss251153
Copiah247649
Tippah247550
Coahoma245954
Simpson241471
Leake236167
Grenada222471
Marion220273
Covington219072
Adams212370
Wayne208432
Winston205870
George203539
Newton197346
Attala196461
Tishomingo193861
Chickasaw188444
Jasper177838
Holmes171368
Clay164237
Tallahatchie155635
Stone149525
Clarke144762
Calhoun139922
Smith127725
Yalobusha121134
Walthall114037
Greene112929
Noxubee112225
Montgomery111236
Carroll106422
Lawrence105617
Perry104031
Amite100826
Webster95424
Tunica88221
Claiborne87825
Jefferson Davis87727
Benton84823
Humphreys84224
Kemper80020
Quitman7049
Franklin69617
Choctaw62513
Wilkinson59625
Jefferson56520
Sharkey44817
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 436087

Reported Deaths: 6486
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63969994
Mobile31211565
Madison27851208
Tuscaloosa21233271
Montgomery19698326
Shelby19093130
Baldwin16981188
Lee13036105
Morgan12526134
Etowah11987179
Calhoun11441206
Marshall10357123
Houston8886158
Limestone827876
Cullman8203108
Elmore8120104
DeKalb7828103
Lauderdale7798103
St. Clair7763125
Talladega6394111
Walker6002177
Jackson594644
Colbert545276
Blount543986
Autauga532761
Coffee456762
Dale406883
Franklin372448
Russell349212
Chilton342873
Covington336068
Escambia330144
Dallas312096
Tallapoosa3120107
Chambers301170
Clarke293336
Pike261131
Marion251558
Lawrence250752
Winston232742
Bibb221248
Geneva208746
Marengo206529
Pickens199031
Hale182742
Barbour179337
Fayette177029
Butler172459
Cherokee164330
Henry158224
Monroe151320
Randolph144336
Washington140127
Clay129146
Crenshaw122944
Macon120937
Cleburne120724
Lamar119721
Lowndes113736
Wilcox106622
Bullock102228
Perry99118
Conecuh96821
Sumter90026
Greene76823
Coosa63215
Choctaw51724
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