Sen. Rand Paul: Only 10 to 15 Senators Care About the Deficit

By Susan Jones | July 19, 2019 | 6:23am EDT
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) is one of the Senate's few fiscal conservatives. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

( - "There's only about 10 to 15 people in the Senate who care about the deficit," Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on Thursday. And he's foremost among them.

This week, Paul and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) delayed passage of a bill to permanently reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund by asking for a vote on an amendment to offset the $10.2 billion cost.

That earned Paul a heap of scorn and vitriol from comedian Jon Stewart, who has lobbied hard for the bill that provides compensation for survivors or first responders caught up in the 9/11 terror attacks or the clean-up effort.

"Look, I know Jon Stewart," Sen. Paul told Fox News's Neil Cavuto on Thursday.

And Jon Stewart is sometimes funny, sometimes informed. But, in this case, he's neither funny, nor informed.

I have spent my entire Senate career putting forward pay-fors for any time spending is expanded. As soon ago as two weeks ago, I put forward a pay-for, for the border funding. I put forward a pay-for the disaster funding. I do this on every new bit of funding.

So he's really not informed. And his name-calling just sort of exposes him as a left-winger, part of the left-wing mob that really isn't using his brain and is willing to call people names.

Paul said he's simply wants the extension of the 9/11 fund to be offset by spending cuts elsewhere: "It doesn't actually reduce the deficit. It just keeps the deficit from getting bigger. It's a very reasonable thing. I have done it dozens and dozens of times, including on the tax bill," he said.

Stewart has criticized Paul's vote for the tax-cut bill, but Paul said at the time he voted for it, that bill also included a pay-for.

"The left-wing mob says, oh, but you're for tax cuts, but you're not doing anything to offset the tax cuts. There's something called pay-go. And I was the leader in trying to keep that in the tax bill. It was in the tax bill when we passed it, and was later taken out of the tax bill, over my objections.

"So the whole thing is misrepresented and not true."

Paul said 91 of his Senate colleagues voted to take pay-go out of the tax bill; only 9 Senators supported Paul's insistence that the tax cuts be paid for. "But you shouldn't blame me for that," he told Cavuto.

“I have consistently been for spending cuts, even on tax bills. And I'm going to offer one on this bill also. No matter how good the cause is, we should offset the spending.”

Paul said he doesn't vote for any spending that isn't offset:

"I didn't vote for the border spending recently, even though I support more money for the border, because the responsible thing to do is to take that money from somewhere else in the budget.”

Paul noted that the nation has racked up a $22 trillion debt. We're borrowing…almost $2 million every minute. And I have consistently sounded that theme."

He said he has forced four or five votes this year alone on offsetting new government spending. “I lose every time, because Republicans and Democrats are terrible.”

Paul also objects to the 9/11 compensation fund because it’s open-ended: “It's not $10.2 billion over 10 years. It's about $2 billion a year every year until 2092. There is no limit.

“This is the thing," Paul continued. "This bill is completely irresponsible. You know what it says for how much money we're going to spend? ‘Such sums as are necessary.’

“So if Jon Stewart could read, maybe he would read the bill, and say, oh, my God, who would -- who in their right mind would vote for a bill that doesn't have a dollar amount in it? It has no dollar amount.”

Paul said the responsible thing to do is to allocate funding for three, four or five years, then come back and reassess it. “That’s a responsible way to budget,” he said.

Paul said there is currently $2 billion in the 9/11 victims fund.

"And as we speak, payments are going out every day. We have given $12 billion. This isn't a stingy country. This isn't a country who forgot the 9/11 heroes or the firemen. This is a country that's already paid $12 billion to those people who both died and have died since then.

"This is a country that will continue to do more. But we shouldn't completely lose our head and say, oh, well, it's a good cause, so we really shouldn't have any budgetary restraints. That is -- that is completely foolish."

Paul said the amendment he and Mike Lee offered will be voted on next week: “We will vote and we will lose,” he said. “There’s only about 10 to 15 people in the Senate who care about the deficit.”

Once the amendments are defeated, the reauthorization of the 9/11Victims Compensation Fund will pass, Paul said:

“So, when they argue and they bellyache and say, oh, he's blocking the bill -- no, I'm trying to have a debate in our country about whether or not deficits matter and whether or not we should offset new spending.

“And I think I should be commended and loudly cheered for being one of the few fiscally responsible people up here.”

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