CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript - Budget

Interview

By:  Rand Paul
Date: March 11, 2013
Location: Unknown

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BLITZER: Let's talk about all of this with Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. He's a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. It's pretty outrageous when you think about it, Senator Paul. The United States spends all these billions of dollars in Afghanistan, still has 66,000 troops there, and he says, Hamid Karzai, that the U.S. is actually colluding with the Taliban. What do you make of this?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Well, it's a great deal of disrespect for a man that largely came into being and came into power because of our help.

It's what I question sometimes when, you know, we're asked to send our young men and women over there to lose their lives and we're treated with disrespect by our allies. So, I find it very troubling. But I think we have accomplished our goals there. We got bin Laden. We disrupted Taliban that was harboring him. We disrupted the government that was harboring him. I think we have achieved our goals, and I think it is time to come home.

BLITZER: You would accelerate the withdrawal schedule. Right now, U.S. troops are supposed to be out by the end of 2014, almost two years from now. What kind of timetable would you like?

PAUL: You know, we have been there nearly 12 years. I think it's time to come home.

I don't think there will ever be a time there's not going to be combat and there's not going to be some form of war. But 12 years is a long time for the host country not to have stepped up now and begin to defend their country. I think they will have to step up, and I think when we do leave, they will step up, or there will be a civil war.

So, I think it is time to come home. The exact timetable, though, I think, has to be done in conjunction with the generals and trying to figure out how you can safely exit a war that you have been in for so long.

BLITZER: It's costing the U.S. taxpayers about $2 billion a week to maintain that military presence in Afghanistan.

Another secretary, the secretary of state, he was in Egypt the other day. He offered another $250 million to the Egyptian government, the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Egypt. Is this something you support?

PAUL: Well, we have no White House tours right now, but they have got $250 million to give to Egypt extra beyond the $2 billion we give. I can tell you that people are outraged.

When I talk to working-class people and they find that their taxes are being sent to a country that burns our flag and chants death to America, meanwhile, we don't have tours in the White House. You know what the president's done now? He's closing the entrances to the office buildings here. I asked one of the Capitol Hill police. I said, where are they, are they not working? He said, no, they have just been assigned to other locations. This Mickey Mouse games he does, and then he gives $250 million in addition to the couple billion we already give to Egypt, I think it's really a disgrace.

BOLDUAN: Senator, I want to ask you about some domestic politics. This new approach by President Obama being described by some as the charm offensive. He's coming up to Capitol Hill this week to meet with various lawmakers, meeting with Senate Republicans on Thursday. When you see him, what issues will you raise with the president?

PAUL: Well, you know, one I have been asking for a year-and-a- half, and I told him, frankly, that he could go down in history as a great leader if he would fix entitlements.

It's really just math. I mean, nobody really wants the changes, but mathematically you can fix Social Security by gradually raising the age and means-testing the benefits, meaning rich people get a little less benefits than they currently get. You can fix Social Security and you can save it for all posterity, but instead the other side continues to use it as a political weapon.

But if he wanted to rise up and be a great leader, he would come to us and fix Social Security, but not as some grand thing, oh, if you raise taxes more, I will fix Social Security. Why don't you fix Social Security just because it's broken? Why would we have to trade something we have already done once that we think's bad for the economy, which is a separate issue? Why don't we just fix something that's broken because we're good people and we should fix Social Security for future generations?

BOLDUAN: You know the politics of Capitol Hill better than most. Do you think that's even possible for that to happen, only entitlement reform without some serious tax reform in conjunction at this point in time?

PAUL: Absolutely it's possible. In fact, I think the grand deal, the big bargain's impossible.

BOLDUAN: Why?

PAUL: Because there are too many moving parts. Let's say you and I agree on some issues. Why don't we pass the issues we agree on? But if you have 1,000 issues, maybe we never get to an agreement.

But let's say we have 1,000 issues and we break it up into pockets of a hundred, we might be able to get to a hundred. Or if we have a hundred issues, you break it up into packets of 10. We can never get to where we can agree on every issue.

So, for example, the corporate income tax right now is 35 percent. It's 17 percent in Canada. It's in the low 20s in Europe. I would tomorrow cut the corporate income tax in half and do it by itself, because I think many Democrats know that would help the economy and so would many Republicans. But if you make that the sweetener for tax reform and tax reform never comes, that's why the American people are unhappy with us, because we never do anything. But we're looking for too big a deals. Let's carve it up into smaller deals.

BLITZER: What have you learned, Senator, from your dad's experiences as a presidential candidate? Because you now say you're seriously considering a run in 2016.

PAUL: I don't know if it's what I have learned so much as that I think the country is starting to understand that the candidates we're putting forward and what we're talking about as Republicans isn't appealing to a large enough group of people.

And if we want to be the party from the red states, the red states are getting redder, but the purple and blue states are leaving us behind. We have to figure out how to be competitive in California, competitive in New York. One of the things he did figure out is how to appeal to youth. I think the youth are captivated by stands on principle. I think our stand for trial by jury and for not droning Americans was something that a lot of young people accepted. They like you to stand on principle and stand on something you really believe in.

BOLDUAN: Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky, Senator, thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you.

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