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CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript

Interview

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BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. We welcome to the FACE THE NATION studios for the first time, the newly-elected senator from Kentucky Rand Paul. Mister Paul, thank you very much for coming. Congratulations. Polls show overwhelmingly, that voters want the two sides to find compromise. Do you come to Washington to compromise?

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL (R-Kentucky): Well, I think there is room for compromise. I think that overwhelmingly the polls also show that people are concerned about the debt. And you have, you know, reasonable people saying that, you know, one of the biggest threats to our national security is the debt. So I say the compromise is, as often you've had Republicans who
say we'll cut domestic spending but won't touch the military. And then you have some good people on the left who say, well, the debt is a problem. I mean, Steny Hoyer has also said, you know what the national debt is a threat to our security. So there are good people on the left who are saying this. But their compromise has to be they have to cut domestic spending. So really if you're serious about the budget, you have to look at the entire budget--military and domestic, if you want to make a dent in the debt.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Are you willing to cut both sides including--

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL (overlapping): Absolutely.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --the military?

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Absolutely. And you have to look at it. There's no way else. You know, it's just-- it's all consuming between entitlements and then the domestic spending and then the national defense. If you don't look at all of it you don't get anywhere close. And this is an exploding problem getting worse as we speak.

BOB SCHIEFFER: David Axelrod, one of the President's senior advisors, says that the President has called nearly every newly-elected Republican in the Congress and all of the newly-elected senators in-- what-- what did he say to you?

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: He hasn't got through to me yet but I'd love to speak with the President. He--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Oh, he didn't call you?

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: No we haven't-- well, we haven't gotten-- I haven't heard that I've gotten a phone call. But I think I would hear about that if the President calls. But I would love to speak with the President and show him that people coming from the Tea Party can work with people from the other side of the aisle. But really we have to be serious about what we do about the debt.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What would you say to him? What would be the first thing you'd say?

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Oh, I laughingly said the other day, I'd like my kids-- would like to meet his kids. So I think getting to know people personally is a good step forward and having dialogue up here. And then from that I would say that I do like the fact that they appointed the
debt commission. I think we're showing people who have serious ideas about trying to address the debt. And I want to be one of those who is part of the debate about how do we fix our country? How do we get out of this mess?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let's-- let's just talk about that because the-- the deficit commission issued kind of a preliminary report. It's not even their final report. And it seems to gore everyone's eyes. It calls for cuts in spending coupled with some tax hikes, including a fifteencent increase in the gasoline tax. So I just-- let me just run through part of this and see how you
feel about. Would you support raising the gasoline tax?

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: I don't think I want to raise taxes right now. I think government is too big and so I think we need to cut spending. The way I see it is, is that you want the private sector to have more money. I want to expand the private sector because we have a-- a serious recession so I want to leave more money in the private sector. I want to shrink the ineffective sector of the economy which is the government.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, they-- the commission doesn't seem to think you can do it with just cuts. But let's run through a couple of other things here. Eliminate mortgage interest deductions.

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL (overlapping): I--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Would you favor that?

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: No, once again, I'm on the other side. I want to be on the side of reducing spending. So I think really the compromise is where you find the reductions in spending. But I don't think the compromise is in raising taxes. I mean here, you have to put things in perspective. We now consume at the federal level twenty-five percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Historically, we were at twenty percent. So we've taken five percent away from the private sector. And the private sector is the engine that creates all these jobs. I want to send that five percent back to the private sector.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, the commission is talking about bringing it back to twenty-one percent. But let's-- let's go through a couple other specifics. Increase the retirement age for social security.

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Yeah, I think you have to probably do it quicker actually. I think you can't do it on people who have already made their decisions or on people who can't afford it. But I would say instead of waiting till 2050, you've got to move that up many decades to have a chance. And the other thing is instead of taxing high-wage earners more on the social
security, give the-- maybe have means testing for those who are high-wage earners for receiving social security or for receiving Medicare, instead of adding new taxes. The problem and the reason why that's better, is instead of the government sending a check to somebody who makes two hundred thousand dollars a year in retirement income--let's not tax them, let's
not-- just not send the money to them. You don't want to tax them though because they are creating jobs. You don't want to take more money out of the private sector.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Cut the federal work force by ten percent?

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Absolutely.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You-- you-- do you think that's doable?

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Well, the-- the federal employees unions are pretty strong but you have to do it. I mean, at the very least freeze the hiring and then through attrition shrink it. But really, I think you should shrink the federal work force and you should make their pay more comparable. Right now the total compensation for government workers versus private workers is almost two to one.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Would you include the military in that?

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Well, maybe there are parts in the military that could. But I think the soldiers should not have reduced pay. I mean, you look at what the average soldier makes it's not a lot of money. And they're asked to-- put their lives on the line. So I don't rece--don't see reducing the pay of soldiers but there is within the military structure maybe contractors and different people--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mm-Hm.

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: --at different levels that could be eliminated.

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): What about-- what about the military health care? It's totally out of control, the spending on that right now.

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think they ought to think about reducing benefits that military retirees get?

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Right, I think we have to look at how it-- how it is all distributed. But the bottom line is there are a couple things I think the federal government should do. I'm always for reining in and getting rid of spending but we should take care of our national defense. And we should take care of our veterans. So those are two priorities and I'm not for reducing pay or reducing veterans' benefits. But does everything have to be done within a reasonable structure where it's not outlandish. We do have to look at the process of all of it.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You're not going to be voting in this special session when they take up extending the Bush tax cuts. But I would just like to-- unless, you know, they were--

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --unable to do anything and it carries over to next year in the new Congress. I-- but I'd like to get your think-- thinking on that. Various kind of little signals coming out of the White House that the President might be willing to compromise on what he-- what seems--everybody seems to be talking about temporarily extending the cuts for the upper-income people and in return for that he would go along with it and he wants to extend the tax cuts to the middle and lower-income people.

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Would you-- would you entertain something like that? Do you think that's a good idea?

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: I think the best thing is to make the tax cuts permanent. And the reason is, as people are talking--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): But--

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: --people are talking as if this is something new. Businesses have predicated and made their-- their business plans based on these tax cuts now for five, six, seven, eight years. And so, if you abruptly change that, you're changing the business model of someone who has made--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): But could you see a temporary extension of those upperincome one--

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: If-- if that's all we can get that's better than nothing. But I think the more--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): And you would do that.

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: --permanent the better. And then-- what we need to do as Republicans, if we're serious about the debt is keep the tax cuts permanent. But then come in and say here's several hundred billions dollars we'll save--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah.

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: --by having spending reduction bills immediately introduced in Congress. And I think you'll find some of us that will be doing that from the get-go.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me-- I-- I just want to ask you this question. What do you envision the federal government is? And what do you expect it to do because, for example, after the BP spill, I remember reading that you gave-- came down pretty hard on the administration for being too tough--

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: All right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --and putting too much pressure on BP. At one point you said it was just downright un-American.

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL (overlapping): Well, what I said--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): On-- on reflection--

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL (overlapping): Well you know--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): --though--

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL (overlapping): --I--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): --are you glad that you said that?

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Well, the interesting thing is I think it got sort of distorted because it wasn't that they're being harsh, that I was disagreeing with. I didn't like the language. I didn't think the President or his people should say something like putting the boot heel on the throat of a-- of a business. I didn't like that. It wasn't that I thought that we shouldn't be tough. I do think we should be tough. And if they broke the law they should be punished, etcetera, etcetera. They should be responsible. They should pay for the cleanup. But I don't think an American President should be talking about putting the boot heel on the throat of a corporation, because it sends the wrong signal that the government's the enemy somehow of business. And we need to always recognize that one in ten businesses succeed. We need to do everything we can to encourage business because that's where the jobs are created.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, another statement that you made that kind of-- kind of caught my eye was after one of the mine accidents down--

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Yeah.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --in Kentucky. And I think a couple of people were killed. And you said we're back into this idea and I'm paraphrasing here--

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --of trying to find somebody to put the blame on.

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And not recognizing that sometimes accidents just happen.

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Right. Well that was a poor choice of words. And I think my wife even told me that was a poor choice of words. You need to think about what you're saying. But what I was trying to point out is that as a physician, you know, if you come to me and I do your eye surgery I'll tell you there's one in a thousand chances that you can get an infection in
your eye and you could lose the vision. And when that happens I might have done everything perfectly, but it's one of these risks. And to say accidents happen won't comfort you because that's just a bad wording. So I used the wrong words. But I do honestly want to tell you, if you're my patient that there are risks. And I think we realize that of all the things that happen that there are risks of oil spills, there are risks of mine collapses. And it isn't always that someone intentionally did it, or even that there's someone broke a regulation. Sometimes there are natural acts of tragedy that happen. That's what I was trying to point out and I guess, maybe I'll learn to choose better words.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Rand Paul, thank you. Welcome to Washington.

SENATOR-ELECT RAND PAUL: Thank you.

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