Paul prefers a government shutdown over business as usual

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Salem, N.H. — Republican presidential contender Rand Paul told a campaign gathering here Friday that he’d rather see the federal government close down than back a budget measure that provides more taxpayer money for failed policies.

“The media says shutting down the government is irresponsible,” Paul said, adding his view on the matter: “It’s irresponsible to keep it open.”

Paul, a U.S. senator from Kentucky, said he would not vote for a plan supported by Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, a fellow Kentuckian who leads the upper chamber. McConnell has scheduled a vote for late Monday on a bipartisan funding measure to keep the government operating past the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, according to the Associated Press. Called a continuing resolution, the stop-gap legislation would maintain funding through Dec. 11. AP said that McConnell has for almost a year promised that Republicans in Congress would not repeat a government shutdown in October 2013 that occurred under similar circumstances.

In the meeting sponsored by the local chamber of commerce at the Tuscan Kitchen, Paul said he wasn’t going to go along. And yet, he said, “I’m not announcing that I want to shut down the government.”

The federal budget has been in the national spotlight in recent weeks as Republicans fight to defund Planned Parenthood over controversial abortion practices. Democrats have fought to preserve money for the organization, saying its abortion services are not paid for with tax dollars and that millions of women rely on the group for reproductive and basic health care.

At the Capitol, Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, stunned colleagues on Friday by saying he would resign from the House of Representatives next month. In one of his last acts as the chamber’s Republican leader, he sought to ensure passage of a budget resolution to prevent a government shutdown.

Much of Paul’s presidential platform focuses on a call to change the way things are currently running. Many in his Salem audience applauded when Paul told them of Boehner’s resignation announcement and said it was a “step in the right direction.”

“There is a great deal of frustration in our country,” Paul said. When Republicans won control of both the House and Senate, it was seen as an opportunity to change the nation’s fiscal condition, yet it hasn’t happened, he said.

Paul described the current budget, which includes money for Planned Parenthood, as wasteful and duplicitous, and blamed both Republicans and Democrats.

“No one is standing up to say, ‘We have the power of the purse,’” Paul said of Republicans in the legislature. He added that it’s up to Congress to take control of spending. Instead, he said, Congress has merely acted for decades as a “rubber stamp” for unnecessary policies.

As a result, he said, “we get closer each day to destroying the country.” The senator cited the national debt as the biggest threat to the country’s survival. While saying national defense should be the number one budget priority, even the Pentagon is guilty of wasteful spending.

Paul said that his fiscal goals are what separate him the most from other Republicans in the 2016 White House race. While they all claim to want a balanced budget, Paul said he’s the only one willing to achieve that by cutting spending.

Lobbying Congress should be banned, Paul said, while also faulting the influence of special interest groups. He also criticized fellow lawmakers and presidential candidates for corrupt spending, focusing much of his ire on Donald Trump, the New York developer and reality TV celebrity who leads the Republican field in most polls.

“There is nothing conservative about Trump,” Paul declared. “He’s part of the problem.”

Trump has donated to both Republicans and Democrats, seeking special favors, Paul said.

“Too many people are buying and selling politicians,” Paul said. He called both the politicians who are allowing themselves to be “bought,” as well as those doing the buying, “despicable.”

Paul also took aim at Trump’s comments about immigrants, when the topic came up during the town hall-style meeting.

“People who come to this country by and large are just searching for the American Dream, just like my great-grandparents did,” Paul said, adding that most immigrants are “good people” who just want opportunities to work and get by.

“Trump does the party a disservice by painting all Hispanics with a broad brush as being drug dealers and rapists,” Paul said. He said he believes the nation’s borders should be secured to control who enters, but that he supports legal immigration.


Paul’s greatest asset is also his biggest liability