Rand Paul and Candy Crowley discuss the upcoming debt ceiling vote.
When congress returns from its Easter recess it faces must-do legislation to raise the debt ceiling so the U.S. can pay its loan obligations. Here to talk about that and what Americans can expect for the rest of the session is conservative freshman Senator Rand Paul, a member of the Tea Party. Senator, thank you so much for joining us.
Let's talk about that debt ceiling bill. As you know, the U.S. will not be able to pay its bills unless you all agree to raise the debt ceiling. Are you willing to send the president a clean bill that just doesn't attach anything you want to it, just says, OK, raise the debt ceiling?
PAUL: Well, I don't think it should be an either/or situation, you know. There is another alternative, and that is that we send the message to the president through legislation that says, you know what, Mr President? Don't default, but pay the interest out of the revenue.
We bring in about $200 billion a month. There's no reason to default ever. I don't want default. But I also don't want to just keep giving an irresponsible government more money.
You know, if we give them a trillion dollar increase in the debt limit, it will be gone by November. It's out of control and someone needs to stand up and say, the emperor has no clothes. We have no money. We are borrowing to the tune of trillions of dollars and I don't think we can sustain this.
CROWLEY: Well, if you use existing money and revenues that are in the U.S. Treasury, then you're not going to be paying for something else. So, in effect, you are saying, let's cut something.
PAUL: Yeah. And interestingly, if you didn't raise the debt ceiling, you'd be passing a balanced budget. And really what we need to do is balance our budget.
The problem is, see, the president came out with a plan, his budget, about a month ago and it's supposed to add $11 trillion to the debt over 10 years. Well, he decided that was a nonstarter himself and he's now coming out -- but what's tricky about all these numbers, he's saying he's going to cut $4 trillion from the debt. No, he's going to cut $4 trillion from his proposed increase of $11 trillion in debt.
So really the numbers get a bit confusing. But the bottom line is this year, we will spend more money than last year and this year our deficit will be greater than last year. We aren't reforming the system. We're still heading headlong towards a debt crisis.
CROWLEY: Are you willing to filibuster a bill that would raise the debt ceiling without any of the things that you're asking for?
PAUL: I think that's yet to be determined. What I've said is there is a circumstance where I will vote for it, but I do harken back to the president's words. The president's changed a lot of his words since he was a senator. He said that to raise the debt ceiling was irresponsible at that time and only gave credence to bad policy, only gave credibility to people who were doing a bad job with controlling the deficit. So I harken back to those same words.
And I would say I would vote to raise the debt ceiling if we passed a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and say from here on out, this is the last time we're doing it, we are going to act responsibly.
But I see nothing going on in Washington that leads me to believe that they are spending our money wisely. They can't even balance the budget in the Pentagon. The Pentagon tells us they are too big to be audited. I think that's really a sad state of affairs.
CROWLEY: I want to just add that the president has said in recent interviews that his vote against raising the debt ceiling was a political vote by a novice senator and he regrets it.
But moving you along here, if -- it just seems completely unlikely to me that there will be a vote for a constitutional balanced budget amendment. It seems unlikely to me that the president would agree to just use existing funds to pay off the interest on the debt. Seems to me that the only way this is going to go is that there will be the prediction (ph) of a bill to raise the debt ceiling.
So if there is that, could you see yourself just voting no and letting it go at that, or would you stop at any means?
PAUL: I think we haven't yet determined what our strategy will be, but I can tell you that the people of Kentucky elected me to shake things up. They didn't elect me to raise the debt ceiling. They didn't elect me to pass budgets that add -- you know, the president's budget will add $7 trillion to the debt if you believe his numbers.
But whatever the numbers are, our government and our leaders are still adding enormous amounts of debt, heaping this burden on our kids and our grandkids. It is precisely why I was elected, to oppose this type of behavior.
CROWLEY: As you know, there is a so-called gang of six on the Senate side, three Republicans, three Democrats, trying to come together to come up with a bill that could pass, that would deal with the debt that you're talking about here. Because the president has a plan, House Republicans have a plan, there's not a lot of middle ground there other than everybody thinks -- everybody says we've got to cut the deficit.
I want to read you something that Senator Tom Coburn, a fellow Republican from Oklahoma said about these negotiations and about how to bring down the deficit -- the debt. And he said. "I agree that we ought to cut spending. But will we ever get the spending cut to the level that we need without some type of compromise?" He's talking tax increases here. Can you see yourself agreeing to a tax increase to help with this debt that you're so concerned about?
PAUL: Yeah. I think there is a compromise. But the compromise is not to raise taxes, the compromise is for conservatives to admit that the military budget's going to have to be cut. We've doubled military spending. I believe in a strong national defense, but conservatives will have to compromise and we will have to cut military spending. Liberals will have to compromise and we will have to cut domestic welfare. The compromise is where we cut, not where we raise taxes.
The problem is, if you give them more money in Washington, they're not to be trusted. I mean, there was $100 billion in last year's budget that is unaccounted for. They don't even know where the money was spent. Recently when we bailed out the banks in our country, guess who got bailed out? The Libyan National Bank. It was a pass-through. AIG became a pass-through for foreign banks. We don't know where all of our money is going to be spent.
When I want to turn in money for my office, I want to turn a couple hundred thousand dollars back in that I'm not going to spend? It is unclear where that money goes. We cannot even be confident that the couple hundred thousand I want to give back goes towards the debt.
Our government is out of control. They don't need more money, we need to give them less money.
CROWLEY: Senator Rand Paul, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate the time.
PAUL: Thank you.
VIDEO and IMAGE CREDIT: SenatorRandPaul
TEXT CREDIT: State of the Union with Candy Crowley