In NH, Sen. Rand Paul Vows He Won’t Be ‘Democrat-Lite’

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) smiles as he arrives for a private reception for Britain’s Prince Charles at the British Ambassador's Residence on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Looking relaxed in jeans, but also with a starched white dress shirt and tie, Sen. Rand Paul brought a strong message to New Hampshire Republicans. He intends to run not simply against the policies of the Obama administration, but against big-spending Republicans as well.

Speaking without notes, and avoiding the podium as all the candidates seem to do, Paul roamed the stage chatting with the audience.

The Kentucky senator said he was reluctant to get into politics. He enjoyed his life as an eye doctor, performing surgeries. And he sounded as if he’d be happy to go back into private practice someday.

There’s a clear difference between being in politics and looking at the result and being in medicine and looking at the results, he said. For one thing, patients get better, while things in Washington seem to remain the same or get worse.

Still, Paul said, he “got tired of people in my party getting in charge and then not doing what they said they would.” After spending years “throwing things at the TV,” he finally decided to enter the political arena and try to change things from inside Washington.

That means taking on both parties.

“I was disappointed that Republicans doubled the size of the debt when we were in charge,” he said. “I was disappointed that Republicans doubled the size of the Department of Education. I was disappointed that Republicans were supporting Common Core.”

He also called for real tax cuts for everybody. Too many in D.C. want “revenue-neutral” tax reform, he said. “That means half of you are going to pay more and half of you are going to pay less, and the net effect on the economy is zero,” he noted. “If all we’re for is revenue-neutral tax reform, I’m going home.”

Instead, if he makes it to the White House, Paul vowed to bring a doctor’s approach to governing. He says he’ll get things done, and not simply be Democrat-light.

For example, he promised to change the way corporations are taxed on money they earn overseas. The U.S. is the only developed economy that taxes money earned in other countries as if it had been earned here, so many companies leave trillions in profits outside our borders.

Paul vowed to reduce tax rates to bring that money back, which he says would lead to hundreds of billions coming back into the U.S., a private sector stimulus. The smaller amount his tax collects, he said, would be used to pay for highway spending.

This is a bipartisan idea. Paul noted that ultra-liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer of California co-sponsors his measure, and that Barack Obama supported it while in the Senate. No longer. That’s another problem with partisan politics. “Democrats just side with the president,” Paul said. “They’re not going to stand up to him on immigration because they like what he did. And I think you should stand up to him even if you agree with him, because you can’t have a president who just makes the laws on his own.”

But the separation of powers, enshrined in the Constitution, is eroding. That’s because Congress has surrendered its power to unelected bureaucrats, Paul said. It needs to take that power back.

The Kentucky senator also aims to expand the GOP voting base. Bringing business owners along isn’t enough. “If you want to win elections, you’ve got to get the votes of people who work for the people who own businesses,” he says. He proposes tax cuts and enterprise zones as ways of reaching out to working class voters.

As for Hillary Clinton, Sen. Paul didn’t sound impressed. “Hillary needs two planes when she travels,” he told a questioner. “One for her and her entourage, and one for her baggage. And that baggage plane is wobbling under all the weight.” He predicts more Clinton scandals will erupt in the months ahead, perhaps leading to a Democratic primary challenge from the left.

In any event, it’s clear Paul isn’t going to worry about his opponents’ message. He’s going to focus on expressing his ideas instead.