Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, where host Savannah Guthrie labored mightily to pin the shutdown on Republicans. Interestingly, the media action line has shifted to “do you in Washington, do all of you have any idea how totally disgusted the American people are with these antics?” which tells us the ladies and gentlemen of the press are having a hard time selling the “Republican shutdown” narrative. That’s tough to do when people are watching the Obama Administration barricade memorials and march people out of their homes.
Guthrie still gave it a spirited try, asking Senator Paul: “Do you think this strategy, shutting down the government – which two-thirds of Americans don’t like as a tactic, even if they don’t like ObamaCare – do you think that’s potentially undercutting the Republicans’ chances of winning something beyond the House of Representatives, either the Senate or the White House?”
No doubt he was deeply moved by Guthrie’s tender concern for the electoral future of the Republican Party, but Paul stood firm. ”I think it’s extremely bad for the President shutting down the government,” the Senator replied, “and he’s the one shutting it down because, frankly, he’s unwilling to compromise. We’re willing to negotiate, we’re willing to compromise; the President says his way or the highway.”
The interview kicked off with Guthrie trying to draw a comparison between a White House official saying they don’t care how long the shutdown lasts, because they think they’re winning the political battle, and Paul privately remarking to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that he thinks Republicans “are going to win this” by reaching a deal in which they compromise on the ObamaCare defunding they fought for. Do you understand the difference between those two statements, Ms. Guthrie? I’ll give you a hint: Paul’s hot-mike comment is missing the “we don’t care how long the shutdown lasts” part, and includes the word “compromise,” which is conspicuously missing from the White House official’s comments.
Paul pointed out that a dozen appropriations bills to keep important government services running have come from the House, but the Democrat-controlled Senate has not been passing them. ”Government should never shut down if we’re doing our job appropriately, so really, what we need to be saying is, why are we not passing spending bills the way we should do it?”
He explained why Republicans are standing their ground in the shutdown battle, which he describes as blending into the debt-ceiling crisis we were going to have anyway: “ObamaCare is going to cost $2.6 trillion. We have a $17 trillion debt. We think these things are important, and worth fighting over, because they’re not inconsequential. Some economists say we’re losing a million jobs a year just because of the burden of our debt. Is it worth standing up and saying the Emperor has no clothes, we’re out of money, and that we should start to balance our budget and not spend money we don’t have?”
“Yeah, it’s absolutely important, so sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in,” Paul answered himself. I would have been interested in hearing Guthrie’s answer, but interviews don’t usually work that way, except sometimes with Newt Gingrich. Perhaps Paul should consider starting his own show, right from his Senate office, where he asks the questions, inviting major media figures into the studio as guests. That would be something to see, wouldn’t it?
Paul also had some common sense to offer about the possibility of “default” under the coming debt-ceiling showdown, which is ludicrous, because the federal government pulls in more than enough income to pay its debts. Actually, there should be more outrage about the notion that Washington has to borrow money to pay the interest on its existing debt. That could be one of the first questions asked of news anchors when they’re interviewed on the Rand Paul Show.
At any rate, here’s what Paul had to say about it: “I think it’s irresponsible of the President and his men to even talk about default. There is no reason for us to default. We bring in $250 billion in taxes every month, our interest payment is $20 billion. Tell me why we would ever default. We have legislation called the Full Faith and Credit Act, and it tells the president: you must pay hte interest on the debt. So this is a game, this is kind of like closing the World War II Memorial, they all get out on TV and they say we’re going to default. They’re the ones scaring the marketplace. We should never default.”
Oh, there’s another note for the producers of the hypothetical Rand Paul Show: film the premiere episode at the World War II Memorial. Paul could interview big media names and ask them what they think of the White House ordering veterans kept from the premises, or evicting them from the Vietnam Memorial. I like this idea better and better. If the Rand Paul show is on opposite “Duck Dynasty” or “Storage Wars,” we’d have some tough reality-show viewing choices to make.