Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) fired at Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), among others, calling their ideas “fiscally irresponsible and dangerous to the country” and “just as bad as the Democrats” after they voted to raise defense spending on Thursday without offsetting that with spending cuts to discretionary federal programs.
Paul had introduced an amendment that would have raised defense spending, but offset that increase with cuts elsewhere, such as the Departments of Education, Energy and Commerce. That amendment competed with an amendment from Rubio that would have increased defense spending with no offsetting spending cuts—just a blanket increase in spending.
Paul’s amendment failed 96-4, and Rubio’s amendment—introduced alongside Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)—failed as well, 32-68.
Paul’s amendment would have increased defense spending by $190 billion over the next two years, but offset it entirely with spending cuts. Rubio’s would have increased defense spending by nearly $190 billion over the next two years but would not have paid for the increase with any spending cuts—meaning that that $190 billion over two years would have been added to the deficit.
One of the biggest advocates for Rubio’s plan over Paul’s was Graham, something that highlights an interesting breakdown between potential 2016 presidential candidates. It’s also worth noting that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)—who just declared earlier this week he’s running for president in 2016—voted with Rubio, Cotton and Graham but not for the Paul amendment.
“There are two groups of people on the Republican side in the Senate. Both groups, I think, want to have a strong national defense,” Paul said in a phone interview with Breitbart News after the votes.
Both groups think that we can spend more on national defense. But one group wants to do it by borrowing the money. My amendment would have done it by saying we increase defense spending, but we only do it by offsetting it with spending cuts.
I think the great hypocrisy is those who want to borrow money to increase defense spending but aren’t willing to put spending cuts on the table to pay for them. This is the big divide in Washington: Those who are willing to simply borrow for welfare or borrow for defense spending, but they’re unwilling to pay for it by cutting spending. I think this is why we have an $18 trillion debt.
You have people on the left who are willing to borrow money for welfare but you have people on the right who will borrow money for defense. I think the only fiscally responsible position is to be for a strong national defense but for cutting spending elsewhere to pay for it.
Paul added that it is “real problem” that so many Republicans across the party talk about cutting wasteful spending and how they’re concerned about the national debt and the deficit, but then turn around and vote to add to it. That’s when he brought out the heavy criticisms against his potential fellow 2016 presidential competitors.
“You have to be willing to actually put the cuts forward or you’re just as bad as the Democrats on this,” Paul said.
The cuts would have been coming from things like corporate welfare, the Department of Commerce is loaded up with things like corporate welfare. The cuts would have also come from things like the Department of Energy, and its loans like Solyndra.
They have loans to a big hotel corporation, a big hotel out west. They would have also cut from things like the Department of Education. This is a local thing, things like Common Core have no place being done in Washington. That spending could have been cut.
So I think there’s a lot of areas where, the bottom line is this is a big deal. You can’t be for borrowing money for things even that are things that we should do. The things that we should do are national defense is important and we ought to pay for it by cutting spending elsewhere.
I think those who are unwilling to cut spending to pay for national defense spending are ultimately irresponsible and dangerous to the country. If you are going to simply spend us into oblivion I think America can’t be protected forever from bankruptcy court.
Paul replied “exactly’ when reminded that the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, has testified before Congress that the biggest threat to America’s national security is the out of control national debt.
“What the votes were is there were a series of votes,” Paul said. “There was one amendment that would have just raised defense spending and borrowed the money, but my amendment would have raised defense spending but offset it with cuts to spending on domestic programs. This is a real divide in Washington: Who are the folks who are going to be fiscally responsible and frankly many of these people have national aspirations as well.”
Paul added that he thinks this will have big implications for those Republicans seeking higher office in 2016.
“I think it’s interesting to look at what potential candidates voted to raise defense spending but borrow to do it, and what potential candidates would expand defense spending but cut spending to pay for it,” Paul said. “I think those are two interesting categories and I think people will be interested to know who is in each category.”