Sen. Rand Paul visits Kentucky, talks crime, spending, media

Published 9:26 pm Sunday, May 12, 2024

Friday, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul went on a tour of Kentucky to meet with community leaders.

Paul began his day in Lexington, where he met with Mayor Linda Gorton and community organizers to discuss what the city is doing to lower crime.

According to Gorton, Lexington’s homicide rate has dropped significantly since last year. During her meeting with Paul, she said she shared some of the positive efforts Lexington is making to continue the downward trajectory.

Paul said he’s been holding meetings like this with mayor and chiefs of police across the Commonwealth. He said addressing gun violence is hindered by political polarization.

“Republicans are here, Democrats are here and nothing’s happening because we disagree,” Paul said. “And there’s some truth to that—there are definitely disagreements on how we move forward—but I think there are also some things that we could do, things we could all agree on.”

The Kentucky senator had a suggestion: take some of the money being sent overseas for efforts like Afghanistan reconstruction, and instead use it to hire more U.S. attorneys to prosecute felons who try to buy guns.

According to research published in the National Library of Medicine, an estimated 100,000 convicted felons likely still own guns across the nation, despite being banned due to their criminal history. They are rarely prosecuted for keeping guns illegally, Paul said.

“So I think there is the possibility that we could do better,” Paul said. “We can’t hardly do much worse.”

During the meeting, Paul also spoke to community organizers who are trying to reach kids as they’re having disputes in schools, before any issues escalate into crime.

One of those organizers was Devine Carama, director of One Lexington who focuses on youth gun violence reduction.

Carama said Lexington and Louisville sometimes get unfairly lumped together in the crime conversation, and so it was important to share the city’s unique issues and solutions.

The city of Lexington partners with the school system and adults with lived experiences who have previously been drivers or victims of gun violence, Carama said. They want to figure out why people are entering the cycle of violence to stop crime before it happens.

“The mayor always uses the proverb of Desmond Tutu, which is if you see somebody on the river, the instinct is to jump in and save them, but why don’t we go upstream and figure out why they fell in,” Carama said.

Paul also stopped in Barren County Friday, visiting with the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. Paul spoke on several issues related to spending, including borrowing money.

“The only government you have that really has no concern for what comes in or what goes out is the federal government,” Paul said during the meeting. “We spent over $6 trillion and we bring in a little over $4 trillion, so it’s somewhere between 1.5 to $2 trillion in debt each year.”

Paul said one plan to curb this is what he calls the “penny plan.” He said when this was first introduced eight years ago, 1% of “everything” would be cut each year for five years. Paul said by doing this, the government would balance its budget.

Paul used research into Alzheimer’s as an example. He said if funding for research into the disease cost $100 million every year, federal funding would be cut back to $99 million.

“I’ve yet to meet somebody, even an advocate for Alzheimer’s research, who says that it’s not that unreasonable,” Paul said. “But if you tell someone in Washington we would cut a program by 1%, they think you’re the scrooge.”

If the plan were implemented today, Paul said, it would call for a 6% cut each year instead of one. He said this was due to a rise in government spending during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press conference after the meeting, Paul spoke about the Local News and Broadcast Media Preservation Act, which he introduced Wednesday.

Paul said the act would allow newspaper, broadcasting and digital media companies to organize and “have more bargaining power” against technology companies, which he said can post journalistic content without any financial obligation to a media company.

“The only way you have enough power to negotiate against someone like Facebook or Google would be to organize,” Paul said.

The act would also remove media companies from antitrust and anti-monopoly laws. Paul said much of the government’s antitrust laws are “upside down.”

“You think ‘well, antitrust is to stop monopolies,’” he said. “That’s not really the danger anymore because TV stations are actually pretty small compared to Google … I think it equalizes the playing field.”