Paul rails against spending, talks food stamps at town hall
Published 3:48 pm Monday, September 18, 2023
By Jake Moore, Bowling Green Daily News
“I hope everyone has their heart medication as you’re watching that $32 trillion spiral,” U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, said Monday at La Gala as he sat near a TV screen showing a live count of the national debt.
Paul began the week in Bowling Green at an economics town hall hosted by conservative political group Americans for Prosperity, offering his thoughts on everything from government spending to food stamps.
Paul said it was time for the federal government to consider cutting spending on some of its programs – programs like Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare – in order to wrangle the national deficit.
According to FiscalData, the federal government has spent $1.52 trillion more than it has collected in fiscal year 2023.
He said his goal with those cuts wouldn’t be to take someone’s benefits away. Rather, Paul said his goal is to “fix it so they keep the entitlement programs for another generation.”
He said he and some other members of the Senate will soon begin “examining Medicare” to find ways to save some money. According to the Congressional Budget Office, federal spending on Medicare is projected at $826 billion for FY 2023.
“It’s a trillion dollars. Don’t you think there’s room to cut in a trillion dollars you spend without cutting anyone’s benefits? There’s got to be,” Paul said.
He called excess spending a “bipartisan problem,” saying that Republicans can never get enough of military spending and Democrats can never get enough of welfare spending.
“The compromise: I’ll give you military money if you give me the welfare money, and it all goes up,” Paul said.
He said the federal government is in need of a “reverse compromise” to limit spending, where all sectors are cut regardless of political backing.
“I would cut 1% of everything,” Paul said. “But you have to include the entitlements. Maybe more than 1%, actually.”
Paul touched on the United Auto Workers strike against Detroit’s Big Three automobile manufacturers – Ford, General Motors and Stellantis – which began Friday with nearly 13,000 workers striking at three plants across Missouri, Ohio and Michigan.
The union has demanded better protection for workers as the industry transitions to one driven by electric vehicles, a 36% wage increase over the next four years and a shorter work week.
Paul said it was up to both parties to settle on a wage that will see both sides benefit. He said one potential trade-off is that if the union gets the wage increase it wants, “how many things go to another country?”
“There is a point at which maybe you get too much,” Paul said. “At which time maybe you look back and say, ‘well I got $46 an hour, but instead of 1,000 jobs we have 800 jobs because 200 of them went to Mexico.’ ”
Paul said that due to COVID-19 shutdowns in 2020 and the rounds of stimulus checks distributed to Americans during the pandemic, “we borrowed and spent more money than we ever have in our history.”
“I think the main thing we have to learn is that we can’t do this again,” Paul said. “The inflation has come from this, and the inflation is looking like it’s a little more difficult to tackle … it’s been with us for a while and I think it’s still more to come.”
He added that, on top of kids’ educations being curbed by school closures, the pandemic shutdown measures “didn’t save any lives.”
“Because we also learned that kids don’t die from this disease,” the senator said. “Not just a few kids, zero healthy kids died. Now there were a few, a little over 100 in a nation of 300 million who died that were younger kids, but they were very seriously ill unfortunately and were probably dying for another reason than also of COVID.”
Paul said he will be introducing a reform to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamps Program, to eliminate sugary and processed options, stating that one of the country’s biggest ailments is too much of the wrong kinds of food.
“I think food stamps shouldn’t pay for sugared drinks, I think food stamps shouldn’t pay for chips and I don’t think it should pay for Hostess Ding Dongs,” he said.
Paul said that the change would come as an amendment to the 2023 Farm Bill. If successful, he said the amendment wouldn’t affect the amount of funds put toward nutritional aid.
“It’d be the same amount of money but it would be toward healthier foods,” Paul said.
He said he thought such an amendment would lead to a “healthier America.”