A Teleconference With Rand Paul: 500 Billion Dollars In Cuts

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has announced 500 billion in suggested cuts and he’s having a teleconference to discuss the cuts. What follows are my notes, not quotes, from the meeting.

Opening Statement

We introduced a bill that would cut spending by 500 billion dollars. We also had our first Senate/Tea Party caucus today.

Q&A Session

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Q: You don’t seem to be suggesting any Social Security cuts. Do you plan on addressing that later?

A: Yes. The reason we chose this tactic was to show people that we could cut 500 billion dollars without even touching entitlements.

I think you can fix Social Security by gradually raising the age of eligibility and means testing. I think the people are ready to fix this and the other option is to eventually default. We are going to introduce a bill to do that later this year.

Q: What’s your take on Mubarak and Egypt?

A: I think when there are mass protests about autocratic rule, we should let that be determined within their country without our interference unless US lives as at stake.

Q: No Child Left Behind is unpopular.

A: No Child Left Behind doubled expenditures and the size of the Department of Education. A lot of teachers don’t like it, but they want to fix it by raising the amount spent on it. We should just scrap it.

Q: There have been two cancer drugs that are being reviewed and FDA approval is possibly being withdrawn. Do you think it’s a sign of rationing?

A: Yes, I do. I have used Avastin. I know someone who was projected to die in 4 months and it kept her alive 5 years. It’s a miraculous drug. When you’re dying and you have a couple of years remaining, that should be a decision for you and your doctor, not the FDA. Sometimes drugs take a little time to figure out if they work and the government shouldn’t be taking the lead on deciding what drugs can be covered.

Q: Donald Berwick has been renominated. What do you think?

A: Donald Berwick would be great in say, Britain, but not here. He wants to ration health care. I’m not a fan.

Q: Craig Becker was renominated, too.

A: I’m not really familiar with him. So, both of those will require Senate confirmation? (Yes)

Q: Do you have any plans to try to close the Department of Education? Will you get Michelle Rhee to help?

A: Maybe. She sounds great.

Q: Could you mention a few more details about the Social Security bill you want to introduce? What about Medicare?

A: It won’t deal with Medicare. I’m new enough to think we can fix things; so I want to deal with Social Security first. I think young people are willing to embrace having the age moved back.

Q from me: The military is a big part of our budget. Should we make deep cuts there?

A: I think there is a possibility for savings. But, I think the most important Constitutional function is the military. There is room for expenditures, too. This is something we will have to compromise on with Democrats. Ultimately, we will have to do that. We have a 3% reduction from 2010 levels in our current bill. If you don’t touch the military, you don’t balance the budget. We can’t have unlimited spending on the military.

Q: Has the CBO scored your bill?

A: Not yet.

Q: Coal. Kentucky has huge reserves. 22% of our energy comes from coal. Half of our electric power comes from coal. Under the auspices of clean streams they are going to hammer the coal industry, cost a lot of jobs, and reduce production.

A: I want to bring most regulations back and have them voted on in Congress. Any regulation that will cost the country $100 million or more should have to be voted on in Congress. We also need to work to repeal a hundred of the most onerous regulations. We want to make sure the government doesn’t cripple the industry. The Obama administration is trying to kill coal.

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