Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul...

...announced his candidacy for president in 2016.

Since my last vote for a Republican was for Ron Paul, Sen. Paul's father, in the 2008 Illinois primary, and since much of this blog has been about my metamorphosis from a Libertarian (yes, that's with a capital "L") to an Obama Democrat, I thought I'd comment on Paul's announcement speech yesterday.

The junior senator from Kentucky began, like he did in the video above, with the words (all emphasis mine):

I have a message, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words. We have come to take our country back.

Except when he won the Republican primary back in 2010, he actually said:

I have a message -- a message from the tea party -- a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words. We have come to take our government back.

Why did he omit the reference to the tea party? Has that term fallen out of fashion? Does Paul want to appeal to a broader base within the Republican Party? Does he really think he can be the establishment's choice? I don't know. (I'm not even sure it's important, but I did notice it.)

As I watch our once-great economy collapse under mounting spending and debt, I think, “What kind of America will our grandchildren see”?

First of all, the deficit is down dramatically since President Obama first took office. And the economy is collapsing? Really? It's recovering, right? The stock market and corporate profits are at record highs. And housing is recovering and jobs are returning, albeit slowly.

And it’s now tripling under Barack Obama’s watch. President Obama is on course to add more debt than all of the previous presidents combined.
We borrow a million dollars a minute. This vast accumulation of debt threatens not just our economy, but our security.

It does? Then why are interest rates so low and the dollar so strong? Does Sen. Paul know something that the rest of the planet doesn't? Isn't "all that debt" (about $13 trillion) fairly manageable in an $18 trillion economy?

We can wake up now and do the right thing. Quit spending money we don’t have.

Everyone spends money they don't have. Don't most corporations issue debt? And isn't that what a mortgage is for? What if I scolded you for having a $100,000 mortgage and you answered, "But my wife and I make that much in two years' time?"

Congress will never balance the budget unless you force them to do so. Congress has an abysmal record with balancing anything. Our only recourse is to force Congress to balance the budget with a constitutional amendment.

Seriously? Are there still people talking about that? Isn't one of the lessons from the last eight years that the government should spend money it doesn't have during a recession to make up for the loss of private demand? And shouldn't the government run a surplus during good times? What's so magical about a balanced budget? While it may not be such a bad idea for a household, it's hardly necessary for a government that borrows in its own currency.

Many Americans though are being left behind. The reward of work seems beyond their grasp. Under the watch of both parties, the poor seem to get poorer and the rich get richer. Trillion-dollar government stimulus packages has only widened the income gap.

I'll grant you that inequality has grown in America and it's a big problem. But the vast majority of economists would say that the "trillion-dollar stimulus" saved the economy from an even worse recession. In the very next breath, Paul says:

My plan includes economic freedom zones to allow impoverished areas like Detroit, West Louisville, Eastern Kentucky to prosper by leaving more money in the pockets of the people who live there.

So his "small government" administration would pick winners and losers?

Can you imagine what a billion-dollar stimulus could do for Detroit or for Appalachia? I’m convinced that most Americans want to work. I want to free up the great engine of American prosperity.

A trillion-dollar stimulus didn't work but a billion-dollar one would?

Turning to national security:

Without question we must defend ourselves and American interests from our enemies, but until we name the enemy, we can’t win the war.
The enemy is radical Islam. You can’t get around it.

Anti-Islam is the new antisemitism. (And the subject of another post.) It's respectable nowadays in some circles, but I'm convinced we'll look back on it with shame.

Then comes this familiar canard:

We must realize, though, that we do not project strength by borrowing money from China to send it to Pakistan.

While China owns less than 10 percent of all U.S. debt, we mostly owe it to ourselves.

It angers me to see mobs burning our flag and chanting “Death to America” in countries that receive millions of dollars in our foreign aid.
I say it must end. I say not one penny more to these haters of America.

Come on, Sen. Paul, you know better than that. Foreign aid only accounts for about one percent of the federal budget. Or, in other words, a rounding error.

To defend our country, we do need to gather intelligence on the enemy.
Warrantless searches of Americans’ phones and computer records are un-American and a threat to our civil liberties.
I say that your phone records are yours. I say the phone records of law-abiding citizens are none of their damn business.

It's hard to argue with this one; I value my privacy too.

But imagine for a moment another 9/11 (or worse). Do you think America would ever forgive President Obama? How about a President Rand Paul?

I actually like Dr. Paul (as he prefers to be called now). He seems like a good and decent and honest man. But his understanding of economics is embarrassingly pre-2008. And his views on national security are strictly pre-9/11. I might have voted for this guy in the 1990s, but the world has changed since then. And so have I.

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