U.S. Sen. Rand Paul speaks to chamber

-A A +A
By Leslie Moore


When he ran for office in 2010, he said he was worried about the national debt.

Four years later, with the nation's debt increasing by about $1 million every minute, he said that worry continues.

United States Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told a packed crowd at Campbellsville/Taylor County Chamber of Commerce's monthly luncheon on Monday that the United States borrows nearly $1 trillion a year, and the nation's debt has spiraled out of control to $17.5 trillion.

Paul used an analogy from President Ronald Reagan to help the audience visualize the size of the nation's debt. He said $1,000 dollar bills stacked in one's hand four inches high would be $1 million. But to illustrate $1 trillion, the stack would be 63 miles high.

"The problem with government is that the numbers are mind boggling," Paul said. "You and I can't even imagine having that much money, much less making decisions about it."

According to Paul, government has a critical role in building roads and schools and providing for national events that can't easily be managed by individuals or private entities.

"But really we should keep government out of most other things because it doesn't do a good enough job," Paul said.

To bring more economic opportunity to Taylor County and Kentucky, Paul said it's as simple as leaving more money in the community and sending less in taxes to Washington D.C.

Paul also called for fewer government regulations in order to compete with the global market. He said that at 35 percent, the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. In comparison, Canada's tax rate is 15 percent.

He blamed the corporate tax rate on American corporations choosing not to bring income generated overseas back to the U.S.

"As a consequence, we lose all that productivity and all the potential jobs."

According to Paul, working to lower the corporate tax rate is the perfect issue for bipartisanship. He said back in 2005, then Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., voted in favor of a bill to lower the corporate income tax rate to 5 percent for one year. As a result, Paul said, $300 billion of corporate income made overseas came back to the U.S.

Paul said just like individuals claiming all their deductions to minimize their taxes, corporations are obligated to do the same.

"If you are the [chief financial officer] of a financial corporation, you can be fired and be charged with malfeasance if you don't minimize your costs. Taxes are costs," Paul said.

He said while aboard Air Force One with President Barack Obama in 2011, Obama told him he wanted to improve infrastructure by building roads and schools. Paul said he told Obama that Republicans and Democrats could do this together by lowering the corporate tax rate.

"So I called him two weeks ago and told him I was still willing to work with him," Paul said. "And now he's not so much willing to work with us anymore. In fact, he's calling these corporations corporate deserters, unpatriotic, bad Americans."

Paul also shared his views on foreign policy with the audience and had some criticism for Obama's handling of the ongoing civil war in Syria. He said Congress has the sole authority to declare war and that decision is made as a last resort, with a consensus of the people.

But the U.S. doesn't wage war all the time, he said, and it's supposed to be difficult to pass a war resolution. According to Paul, Obama petitioned Congress for approval to bomb Syria.

"And I said very loudly we shouldn't do it. Why? Because it's a messy civil war and I'm not sure which side is worse," Paul said.

While he acknowledged that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a "horrible dictator" who uses chemical weapons on his own people, Paul said he is also protecting up to two million Christians living in Syria. On the other side, Paul said there are many Islamic radicals who behead Christians and priests.

Paul said there is now discussion about going to war once again in Iraq because of the brutal takeovers by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Paul said he isn't opposed to helping with arms or possibly bombing, but that he has mixed feelings about it and is concerned that, "ISIS is big and powerful because we protected them in Syria for a year."

But Paul said that Assad hates ISIS and those who want to bomb ISIS are the same people who wanted to bomb Syria last year.

"Syria and ISIS are on opposite sides of the war. We're now bombing both sides of one war that's spread into another country," Paul said.

Paul also addressed the issue of immigration. He said he has an open mind on immigration and would be willing to vote in favor of it if the border was secured first. He said he would then vote for some form of forgiveness for illegal immigrants who are already here.

But Paul criticized Obama's signing of an executive order that states children younger than 18 won't be forced to return to their native country.

He said having an open border and welcoming illegal immigrants promotes an idea of lawlessness that will attract millions of people.

"They have fliers in Central America saying, 'Come to America, President Obama won't send you home,'" Paul said.

Decisions such as this one that are made without Congressional authority will lead to chaos, according to Paul. He said the system of checks and balances are an important part of the U.S. republic because it prevents extremeness.

Following the principles of checks and balances, he said, will keep the U.S. from lurching too fast and too quickly in one direction.

" ... I will fight to make sure there are checks and balances and that no person becomes king or thinks they're king of our country," Paul said.