Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rand Paul defends his comments on Face the Nation

Rand Paul on Face the Nation

Rand Paul corrected and apologized for two of his most widely criticized comments.  Bob Schieffer, Face the Nation's host opened the topic by asking Rand Paul what he thinks the Federal Government is, or is supposed to be, considering his comment about the Obama administration putting so much pressure on BP to take responsibility for the oil spill.  The comment from the Administration was made by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who said, "...our job is to keep the boot on the neck of" BP to ensure it meets its obligations." 

Paul, in response, said that the Administration's pressure on BP was unAmerican.  Paul's comment was widely seen to mean that government should stay out of corporate business- that government has no role in this disaster.  To the contrary, Paul submitted to Face the Nation that he does  think that BP should be help accountable to clean up the mess, but that the language Salazar used, specifically the 'boot on the neck' part, paints the government as the enemy of business and is too harsh for American politics.

I agree with this sentiment.  After all, it is largely business that allows countries to maintain treasury.  Dangerous, but true, and worth common respect. 

The second comment, about mine accidents,  Paul defended and apologized for.  Coal mining is a large industry in Kentucky, but also a source of severe environmental degradation and health risks to workers and surrounding communities.   After a tragic mine accident in Kentucky, where two coal miners were killed, Paul made this statement on Good Morning America, "We had a mining accident that was very tragic, but then we come in and it’s always someone’s fault. Maybe sometimes accidents happen." He apologized, admitting that saying 'accidents just happen' does not "make anyone feel better", but reasserted that, as a medical doctor, he knows there are certain risks to every activity, and "Sometimes accidents just happen."  The trouble is, in the case of mine accidents, there are usually multiple lapses in safety regulations that lead to tragic deaths.  Mining is part of big energy and has had corruptive forces on Capital Hill since they started digging into the mountains.  Looks like coal may be one of Paul's corrupting influences.  "I guess I'll learn to choose better words," Paul said, concluding the matter with Schieffer.

The program went on to ask Paul and colleague Charles Shumer, D-New York,  what they can agree to in Obama's Deficit Reduction Commission report. In the spirit of compromise, Paul suggests that conservatives will have to reduce military spending and Democrats will have to reduce domestic spending.  He eludes that military and entitlement spending are "exploding problems, getting worse as we speak."

This is definitely true.

However, Paul then goes on to say that he will endorse no new taxes, even a .10 increase in the gas tax, because the deficit should be reduced by cuts in spending and not increases in taxes.  Paul wants to "decrease the inefficient sector of our economy" - the government, and keep as much money as possible in businesses.

I wonder if Paul is for eliminating tax cuts meant to spur business growth, or should businesses pay no taxes?  When are taxes appropriate and how much?  That is the question at the core of this matter.  Paul also says he would not favor eliminating the Mortgage Interest Rate tax credit for homeowners, calling that tactic a tax increase.  Following this logic, Paul would not support eliminating tax breaks for businesses to spur jobs.  So, again, when is taxing and tax forgiveness appropriate?  Once a tax break is given must it always remain permanent, because to re-inact the tax would be leveraging a tax increase? Things just aren't that simple, Tea Party Patriots.  Paul goes on to endorse increasing the retirement age, but in a much shorter time frame than the Committee suggests, and decreasing government payrolls by 10%.

In a counterproductive closing comment Paul said he would compromise, "not where you increase taxes, but where you cut spending."  Unfortunately, the Commission says that to shrink the government to 21% of GDP (which is one percent over where Paul wants it), cuts in spending must be accompanied by strategic tax increases.

Shumer, the Dem. spokesperson in this debate (and  head of Dems messaging if Reid stays in leadership) would not make any specific comment on where he or Dems would agree to cut/tax, saying that making specific statements now undermines cooperation later.  The existence of the bi-partisan deficit commission and their findings are enough of a signal to me that the Obama admin. is serious about decreasing the deficit in a bi-partisan fashion. 

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