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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Platitudes typically litter the announcement speech of every aspiring president, and Rand Paul’s address in Louisville today was no exception. “We have come to take our country back,” he thundered—or tried to thunder—“from the special interests that use Washington at their personal piggy bank.”

Exactly what those special interests might be, he neglected to say — although they probably don’t include the oil or coal lobbies he tends to favor. He went on to rant against “both parties” and “the political system,” not to mention “big government,” deficit spending, and the federal debt. Naturally he prefers “small government” because “the love of liberty pulses in my veins.”

Yet Paul delivered these encrusted clichés with impressive energy, to an enthusiastic crowd featuring enough youthful and minority faces sprinkled among the Tea Party types to lend a touch of credibility to claims that he is a “different kind of Republican.” Speaking about urban poverty and education, the Kentucky Republican even name-checked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — a gesture that too many elected officials in his party, especially from the South, still find difficult. (His father Ron Paul, watching from the audience, may have stifled a chuckle, recalling how his racist newsletters regularly excoriated the late civil rights leader as a “pro-communist philanderer” and worse, while blasting Ronald Reagan for signing the bill that made King’s birthday a national holiday.)

Appealing to younger and minority voters, Paul wisely emphasized his ideas about cutting back the machinery of surveillance and incarceration. Likewise, he kept the required paeans to economic “freedom” sufficiently vague to avoid alienating potential supporters, like students who might not appreciate his hostility to federal loans and grants, and families whose survival depends on food stamps and unemployment benefits that he would slash.

The upside of a Paul campaign may be that his dissenting perspective on issues such as Iran, Cuba, and the surveillance state brings a small degree of sanity to the Republican primary debate. Although he parroted much nonsense about the Obama administration’s foreign policy, he dared to say that the goal of diplomacy “should be and always is peace, not war.”

Equally beneficial would be a frank discussion of the libertarian delusions that underlie his economic platform – and the real effects that such policies would have on American communities, families, and workers.Paul still hates the auto bailout, although killing it would have cost another million jobs. While he rails against deficit spending and Obama’s economic stimulus, the clear consensus is that unemployment would have soared without those measures. No doubt he agreed with his father’s repeated warnings that government spending would lead to “hyperinflation” and depression, but we have seen precisely the opposite: a revived economy, recovering employment, and inflation that remains too low to worry any sane person.

Among Paul’s easiest targets today was the IRS, which he promises to diminish or even abolish with his favorite “new idea,” a flat tax. That was a fresh proposal, perhaps, back when right-wing academics Robert Hall and Alvin Rabushka unveiled it in a 1983 book titled Low Tax, Simple Tax, Flat Tax. There is no reason to believe that Rand Paul’s flat tax would differ significantly from theirs in design or impact; namely, to worsen inequality, raising the burden on the poor and middle class while benefiting the very rich.

Mocking the federal proclivity to spend more than the IRS collects, Paul chortled today, “Isn’t $3 trillion enough?” But while he promises to “balance” the budget, his 17 percent flat tax wouldn’t collect even that amount — which means enormous cuts in every budget sector, from education and infrastructure to defense.

Authors Hall and Rabushka described their flat tax as “a tremendous boon to the economic elite” and noted, candidly, “it is an obvious mathematical law that lower taxes on the successful will have to be made up by higher taxes on average people.” We shall see whether Paul is as honest as the authors of his tax plan.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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22 responses to “Can America Stand Rand? Cranking Up His ‘Libertarian’ Campaign”

  1. TZToronto says:

    I guess it’s every man for himself. (Women will just have to go along to get along.). Libertarians believe in self-sufficiency; Tea Partiers believe in little or no government (except for funding permanent war). A Rand Paul presidency would bankrupt the country and triple the debt. These folks don’t understand that bills need to be paid, and Republicans–libertarians and Tea Partiers alike–apparently don’t believe in paying bills, only in running them up. At least he didn’t propose making evangelical Christianity the official US religion.

    • johninPCFL says:

      “At least he didn’t propose making evangelical Christianity the official US religion.” – yeah, but his campaign is only a day old. Give him time…

    • MVH1 says:

      But he’s neither fish nor fowl. He’s just a lowly cherry picker.

      • TZToronto says:

        Preaching to the choir works when it’s a really big choir. When most people aren’t singin’, there’s not much to gain. Paul is too far left for the far right and too far right for the center. The left can’t even see him from where they are. Not to mention that libertarian sounds too much like liberal.

        • MVH1 says:

          You are backing me up. But when I say he’s neither fish nor fowl, he rejects too much of what the Libertarians preach and love, so he’s not really a Libertarian. He’s a nothing. he’s a cherry picker, whatever will appeal just enough here, just enough there. I say he winds up with nothing. This is a silly, empty candidate. I believe he should flame out quickly. But what on earth do I know. Nothing makes sense anymore.

    • charleo1 says:

      The whole Libertarian meme is a false philosophy thought up by some wealthy kleptocratic greed freaks. To dupe mushy headed, malcontents into thinking they’d be better off going mano-e-mano with them, and a room full of their high priced lawyers, and their bought, and paid for politicians. Sure, we’re going to start hacking away at the big bloated government, starting at your end.

  2. charleo1 says:

    Surveillance, and the corporate, for profit incarceration apparatus are two subjects worthy of a Presidental campaign, we probably won’t hear much about from either side. But, as Mr. Conason aptly put it,…keeping the paeans of the Right Winger’s version of economic, “freedom,” sufficiently vague…As to disguise the pure poison it represents to the broader Middle Class. Has been a staple of the GOP, since Reagan pulled off the scam in the early 80s.

  3. Budjob says:

    If this man is Presidential material,then I am a candidate for Sainthood! And, anyone that knows me,knows that is impossible!

    • MVH1 says:

      That was exactly my view of him and especially after his interview with Savannah Guthrie this morning. We should all just move along as quickly as possible. This fellow has not one presidential quality. Not one.

      • Budjob says:

        MVH1,Thank you,However,the U.S.electorate rolls is compromised by individuals almost as wacky as many of the nutjobs being put forth by the Republicans.The ONLY way to combat these crazies is to vote,and vote for Democratic candidates only!!

  4. midway54 says:

    Implicit in Paul’s sloganeering rant is that which all the Plutocratic Party hopeful candidates for the nomination see as the goal: All citizens fending for themselves in all circumstances with no government intrusive safety net but with the proud confidence that they live not in a socialist system but in the American Way of Life as real patriots celebrating freedom for all even as many are sinking into financial quicksand with no personal fault for their circumstances,

    • johninPCFL says:

      It’s good that we’ve had record gun sales lately. If he wins, we’ll all need them to fend off our neighbors.

  5. R Michael Maddox says:

    What these guys don’t seem to understand is, when they make us working people less financially independent, that means less money to spend on their products and services. All I can say is, “If you want to rid our govt. of these morons, then get your BUTTS to the polls and VOTE every time their is an election”.

    • MVH1 says:

      AMEN. It’s most unfortunate the Dems can’t get their voters to the voting booth as regularly as the scary Republicans can, as well as stay on message. The Republicans seem to have no problems finding plenty to perpetuate whatever lie they float as gospel truth.

      • TZToronto says:

        A lot of the Republican base is old white guys, retired and living off Social Security and that generous pension their union negotiated (and they forgot about). Since they have nothing better to do, they vote the way they did when sane Republicans were running for office. Since they only watch Fox News, they still believe that the GOP is the same party they knew when they were growing up and that the (Communists/Socialists/Muslims/ Entitled minorities) are at the gates, waiting to take their guns and force them to get a doctor. Obama! Keep your hands off my Medicare!!

        • MVH1 says:

          I am one of the geezers and I can’t convince my compadres that this Republican bunch thinks of us as the takers. I have this argument all the time. You cannot convince them. They look at you as a traitor.

        • charleo1 says:

          The same thoughts exactly, myself. Do they ever wonder how the decent pay, health benefits, and pensions they now enjoy came about? Out of the kindness of their employer’s heart, I guess? And a Party that’s became so extreme, that most Conservatives 30 years ago, would have rightly called them out as nut jobs. Are now selling the hogwash they’re, “just getting back to the Party’s real Conservative roots.” Who was it that said, ‘don’t tell a small lie, they’ll never believe it?’ Some propagandist.

  6. MVH1 says:

    He seems ever so much only to be a little piggy. Doesn’t even rise to the bank descriptor. Just a little pink whiny piggy.

  7. bernieo says:

    Let’s not forget in Rand Paul’s ideal world your doctors would certify themselves, which is what he did. This guy is serious… ly nutty. But the MSM is downplaying all his crackpot, extremist ideas. At the same time they are obsessing about Bill Clinton’s potential effect on Hillary’s campaign as if he is the guy who is a joke.

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