Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “Your World,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) reacted to attacks from comedian and former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart for his decision to block the 9/11 First Responders legislation given its far-reaching and long-lasting aspects.
Paul called Stewart a “guttersnipe” and urged people to not be wooed by Stewart’s celebrity. He said a closer analysis of this legislative effort would reveal the problems with the bill.
Partial transcript as follows:
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: First up, settling an 18-year-long battle that rages on.
At issue, compensating the now thousands of rescue workers from 9/11 who are still waiting for help from Washington. Jon Stewart says Rand Paul is making things difficult. Rand Paul says Jon Stewart is making things up.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Look, I know Jon Stewart. 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.
And it’s — it’s really kind of disgusting, because, see, he pretended for years when he was on his comedy show to be somebody who could see both sides and see through the B.S. on both sides.
Well, now he is the B.S. The B.S. meter is through the roof when you see him calling people names, calling people an abomination, when I’m asking something very reasonable, that an amendment be included to consider whether we should pay for this, from taking money somewhere else in the budget.
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.
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.
CAVUTO: But did you vote for that when it was taken out, I mean, or was it too late?
PAUL: No, it was still in. It was still in, actually.
CAVUTO: I mean, their argument that they have been making is that you were OK paying for…
PAUL: Yes, I know.
CAVUTO: … for a tax cut, but not this stuff.
But they’re misinformed. And they’re either liars or misinformed. When we passed the tax bill, the pay-go provision was in the tax bill. So, as we passed the bill, the next instruction should have been, by the end of the year, we would have had to cut spending.
In a subsequent bill, they went ahead and got rid of the pay-go rules in some big enormous spending bill. I objected to it, and I forced an amendment vote on it. And only nine people voted with me.
But when I voted for the tax bill, it actually had provisions in it that says you would have to cut spending if there’s any less revenue.
But the left-wing mob doesn’t care about the truth. Jon Stewart doesn’t care about the truth. It’s all about me, me, me, Jon Stewart. Look at me. I’m on TV.
But here’s the thing, is — here’s the thing.
CAVUTO: Do you regret that tax bill vote then, Senator, given what happened on the pay-go thing?
PAUL: No, because I voted for a tax bill with the pay-go provision in it.
CAVUTO: I know. I know But now knowing that they took that out after, do you regret that vote?
I regret — I regret that 91 of my colleagues voted to take pay-go out when I didn’t. But you shouldn’t blame me for that.
The other thing about the tax bill that the left won’t tell you is, guess what? When we cut corporate tax rates, we got more revenue. Art Laffer was right. Supply-side economics works. You lower tax rates, and you can sometimes get more revenue.
Revenue went up after the tax cuts. The deficit did too, but because we refuse to address spending in this town.
And what I don’t like about this, about the lies and the ad hominem attacks from Jon Stewart and Kirsten Gillibrand and the whole left-wing mob is, they are telling a lie. 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 (ph) offset the spending. It makes no sense to borrow money from China to give it to…
PAUL: … no matter how good the idea is.
CAVUTO: I understand.
But, if you don’t offset it, are you, Rand Paul, saying you will not vote for this, you will not vote for this measure?
PAUL: I don’t vote for any spending that’s not 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.
So I have consistently voted against spending bills if they do not — if they are not budget terribly neutral and if we don’t expand the deficit. I won’t vote for it.
We have a $22 trillion debt. We’re borrowing most than — almost $2 million every minute. And I have consistently sounded that theme.
And what is really disgusting is people like Jon Stewart lie to the American public. People like Kirsten Gillibrand lie to the American public.
I have been absolutely consistent from the get-go. I have forced like four or five votes this year on having offset spending cuts to new spending. I lose every time because Republicans and Democrats are terrible.
CAVUTO: But if you stick to that, Senator, if you stick to that — and it might be perfectly budgetarily meritable, but it’s $10.2 billion over a decade.
You have already said that, if it is not paid for, they don’t find some way to pay for that money…
CAVUTO: … then you would not support this measure, right?
But here’s — it’s worse than that, Neil. 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. 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: … 2092.
CAVUTO: But there’s no way of knowing. There’s no way of knowing, right? Isn’t that part of the problem?
PAUL: Well, that’s…
CAVUTO: Because there was no way to forecast…
PAUL: Right. So, the responsible…
CAVUTO: … illnesses and sicknesses that came as a result, right?
PAUL: We do this — we do this on disasters, too.
PAUL: So we just make up an enormous number.
What you would do, if you were responsible, is, you would allocate it for three, four, or five years and come back and reassess it. That’s a responsible way to budget.
But to have an open-ended thing that goes to 2092? Really? We’re going to have a spending bill that says you spend whatever you want until 2092. It doesn’t matter how good the cause is. It’s irresponsible.
And, really, people need to wake up and not be so sort of overwhelmed by celebrity that they take out-and-out falsehoods and ad hominem attacks from really a guttersnipe like Jon Stewart.
CAVUTO: All right, but people are dying, more than they thought, as a result. And…
PAUL: And they’re getting money. And they’re getting money, Neil.
CAVUTO: All right, but are you satisfied that it could stop, that, if this doesn’t happen, it’s going to stop?
PAUL: See, this is the false narrative that Jon Stewart and Kirsten Gillibrand want you to believe.
There’s $2 billion in the 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.
CAVUTO: But there are — whatever your cause, right, Senator, there are no budgetary — this president is presiding over what will be the second trillion-dollar deficit in a row. No one seems to be watching the till, right?
PAUL: Except for me.
And I continue to watch it. No matter how good the cause is, I say, if you want to spend new money, find waste elsewhere in a $4.2 trillion spending budget. It’s everywhere.
How about the $300,000 we spent on Japanese quail to see if they’re more sexually promiscuous on cocaine? How about the $2 million we spent studying whether or not if someone sneezes on the food in front of you at the cafeteria, whether you’re more or less likely to get the food?
That runs throughout the budget. And until you’re willing to cut that kind of stuff out to pay for something more important, like the 9/11 victims, you’re not doing your job.
Just to add it on and borrow it is inexcusable. It’s wrong. And it really is what’s wrong with Washington, is that everybody fears people like Jon Stewart will say, you lack humanity.
People fear that. And they fear that celebrity. So they’re unwilling to stay up and speak truth to lies. And that’s what I’m willing to do.
CAVUTO: But even leaving — even leaving Jon Stewart out of it, I mean, a lot of these — those who have acquired these illnesses and other sicknesses that come with this, they’re going to have a hard time understanding your attention to the budget and deficits that they see running out of control.
And they’re going to go back to you and Senator Mike Lee and say, you stopped this for me, something that could help me.
PAUL: Well, actually, even that’s a lie, Neil.
The bill is going forward. Because Mike Lee and I stood up on principle, guess what? They’re going to give us our amendments. I have just come from the floor. Our amendments are going to be voted on next week. And we will have a vote.
But the American people will get to see who doesn’t care about the debt.
CAVUTO: And so this will pass? This will pass, in other words?
PAUL: No. We will vote, and we will lose.
There’s only about 10 to 15 people in the Senate who care about the deficit. So my forcing a vote…
CAVUTO: No, no, what I mean is, this will — what Jon Stewart and John Feal and others are arguing for, it’s ultimately going to happen?
PAUL: It’s going to pass, yes.
PAUL: And it’s going to get a vote on.
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. And I think we ought to set the record straight because Jon Stewart can’t just have a free pass to lie to people, think he’s a celebrity, and think facts don’t matter.
Look, the left-wing every day is accusing Donald Trump of not adhering to the facts. Here’s Jon Stewart making up his own set of facts, so he can feel good about himself. And we shouldn’t let it stand.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor