AUSTIN, Texas — Another major point Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) made in a news-packed exclusive interview with Breitbart News at the South By Southwest conference here in Austin, Texas, is that, in his view, President Barack Obama is a “lame duck” president and has been since at least the November midterm elections.
“That’s up to him [whether he wants to achieve any significant reforms working with Congress],” Paul said. “But I think he is and has been a lame duck since the day of the election if not before the election. That’s the question [whether there will be any significant accomplishments in Obama’s final year plus for his legacy], but it’s up to him. He says he’s going to veto everything.”
Paul has ripped Obama many times for his work outside of the regular order as laid out by the U.S. Constitution, something the president has done on everything from immigration to changes to his own healthcare law to plans to do so on ammunition and gun regulations that were thwarted this past week to plans to do so on a tax increase he wants. Paul said that Obama has either vetoed or threatened to veto every piece of GOP-led legislation if it doesn’t have everything he wants, refusing to compromise and ruling by executive order and action. But Obama will have yet another chance to prove he can govern and compromise on an upcoming highway bill that Paul predicts with contain a significant tax cut.
“We’re going to have one chance this year of doing something constructive—and that’s going to be whether we should lower the taxes for American companies who bring their money home, repatriation,” Paul said. “I think there’s a very good chance we’re going to get an amendment on the highway bill that passes. The question is will he sign the highway bill and allow this tax rate to be reduced?”
On foreign policy, too, Obama right now is negotiating a nuclear arms deal with Iran with no plans to seek congressional approval for it. Paul last week signed a letter that Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) organized to the leaders of Iran warning them that any deal Obama cuts without congressional approval would be non-binding lasting only for a little over Obama’s last year or so in office.
“It’s been something that I’ve said consistently over time is the president doesn’t get to do things unilaterally,” Paul said when asked to explain why he signed the hawkish Cotton letter along with 46 other Republicans.
There are checks and balances and separation of power, particularly with regard to the Iran sanctions. Congress passed those so only Congress can undo them. There are waivers—the president can waive sanctions for a while. But to remove sanctions, even the administration has admitted that. I really signed the letter, and I mean this sincerely, to strengthen the president’s hand and to get him to negotiate from a position more of strength than weakness.
What I mean by that is when it is made explicit to the Iranians that an agreement will have to approved by Congress, they know the president is being backed up by people who may want a better deal than the president wants. So I think it strengthens his hand. It should cause him to negotiate from a position where he says, “look, this is going to have to pass Congress. I can’t just let you have 19,000 centrifuges, etc.” So my hope is that it strengthens his hand. I still do want negotiations, I think negotiations are preferable to war. Any sanction relief would have to be passed by Congress because Congress voted the sanctions into place.
Paul, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, is in Austin to speak at the South By Southwest conference and pressed everyone from Obama to Hillary Clinton to Loretta Lynch to Jeb Bush in this interview with Breitbart News. Paul has been touting his foreign policy strength in appearances out on the trail, ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign.