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Senator Rand Paul introduced legislation calling for an end to all American aid to Pakistan in protest of the Afridi situation and just a few moments ago I asked him why the Americans left this informant of Pakistan considering that he was so important to our finding and killing Osama bin Laden.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: You know I'm a little perplexed by it also. I don't have any inside information on this but I have read reports that say he was offered the ability to leave and didn't take it. Sometimes it's complicated if you don't get to go with all of your family do you go by yourself. You know we've been through this in Egypt where some of them escape and have gone back for trial because they're worried about their family still being there.
I don't know the details but I do have a lot of sympathy for Dr. Afridi. I am a physician also. We're about the same age and I think it was particularly brave of him to help us get bin Laden. We had offered a $25 million reward and now we're giving money to a country that's keeping him in prison for 33 years. To me it makes no sense.
BURNETT: And about the cuts I wanted to understand exactly where you stood on that. And obviously you want them to be halted until Pakistan changes how it is handling the U.S. or for 33 years, the same length as his sentence. But you know the president of the United States is also extremely frustrated with Pakistan. He halted -- he's cut aid by about 50 percent because of his frustrations with the government and how it has openly worked against the United States and so many of our counter terrorism efforts. Why isn't that enough?
PAUL: Well, you know I think what we need to do and if the president negotiated from a point of strength, if he told the Pakistani government you are not getting one red cent more unless you free Dr. Afridi, I think he would be released tomorrow. If you tell them you are going to cut three percent of next year's budget and by the way, we're going to keep spending the 500 million we haven't given you so far I think that looks pretty weak and they kind of laugh at us and say yes we will cash our welfare check and we'll keep doing whatever we want. So I think if you want to influence their behavior at the very least you should tell them you are not getting anymore unless you do behave.
BURNETT: I understand that but what happens in the interim. I mean you're dealing with an impoverished country where yes I've been there, the anti-American sentiment is a bit overwhelming and they have got -- they have got nukes. I mean just abandoning it all --
PAUL: Yes I don't think --
BURNETT: -- don't we put ourselves more at risk?
PAUL: I think very little of U.S. taxpayer money actually helps anyone who is impoverished in the country. The history of foreign aid throughout Africa and throughout most of the world has been rich autocratic leaders stealing the money. Mubarak was a great example in Egypt. He allegedly stole and was worth billions and billions of dollars, U.S. taxpayer dollars that he just skimmed off the top. I think Pakistan is no different. I think the average ordinary Pakistani never sees any of that American money.
BURNETT: Bottom line is though do you think we can work this out with Pakistan? Every single example of what's happened just seems to be an example of failure for them to support or work with this country. Some of it partially, you know just be honest, is America's fault. But that seems to be consistent whether it is George W. Bush or Barack Obama.
PAUL: I think both parties. What I would say is that people understand negotiation from strength and if you say you are not going to give them anymore aid I think all of a sudden their ears will perk up and I think we would get results. If you say you're going to cut their aid by three percent not this year but next year I think they're going to say so what and you're going to get nothing. When I threatened to remove aid from Egypt within two weeks 16 Americans were released. So I think if you threaten to be significant, to significantly change policy in a way that would affect their pocketbook I think they would sit up and take notice.
BURNETT: And I want to turn topics tonight because it is a very big night obviously here at home. Would a Scott Walker victory, you know a Republican in Wisconsin who -- you know the whole recall is based on fighting unions and taking them on, that victory does that embolden you in Washington to say let's go more for cuts on pensions, on Medicare, on entitlements? Is that how you take it as a mandate for you in Washington?
PAUL: Well see I see none of it that I am jumping up and down to do. I see it the things we have to do. For example, Social Security, I don't see it as my mandate to say I want to make everybody wait longer to get Social Security. I see it as something I have to do to save the system because we had the huge population of baby boomers. We are living longer. There are now about 2.5 workers, maybe three workers for every retiree and the system is $6 trillion in the hole, so it's not that I see it as a mandate to get what I want. It is that I see it that we have to do this or Social Security will drown under a mountain of debt.
BURNETT: And Senator, are you ready for a grand bargain? You and I have talked before and you've talked about your support for say means testing of Medicare where millions would contribute more or get less in benefits. Are you similarly also for closing loopholes in the overall tax system that would end up with the wealthier in this country paying more? It would be an effective tax increase even though of course you'd get the political point of saying oh well maybe your rate went down. Are you for that?
PAUL: I'm for a simple tax code, very simple. In fact my budget, my five-year balanced budget has one rate, 17 percent for corporate, 17 percent for private and has almost no deductions. You'd fill it out on one page and then there wouldn't be any special deductions. There would be no individuals paying no taxes and there'd be no companies paying no taxes, but there also would be no companies paying 35 percent income tax which is twice what the rest of the world is paying. We are losing companies overseas because we are the highest tax rate in the world right now, so that has to come down in order for us to compete internationally.
BURNETT: Intellectually though and this is an important intellectual point, you are all right with some people all in, they may end up paying more than they are paying now, but you'd get a simpler tax code and a simpler rate but they could pay more --
PAUL: Absolutely -- absolutely.
BURNETT: All right, well thank you so much, Senator Paul. It was good to see you.
PAUL: Thanks, Erin.
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