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Rand Paul: The Tea Party Is Going to 'Co-Opt' Washington

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Republican Senator-elect Rand Paul, probably the best-known of the tea party figures who won election last week, brushed aside talk that the GOP establishment might co-opt newly-elected members of the movement and said, "I think the tea party actually is co-opting Washington."

"We're coming. We're proud. We're strong. We're loud," Paul said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "And we're going to co-opt. And, in fact, I think we're already shaping the debate."

Paul said the prime example was political and public concern about the nation's debt. "You hear a lot of talk about the debt now. Where do you think that's coming from?" Paul asked.

Rand PaulA potential showdown is looming, probably early next year, when the House will be asked to vote on raising the federal debt ceiling and, if agreement is not reached, the government would default on obligations because it would no longer be able to borrow. When Republicans took control of the House in 1995, then-Speaker Newt Gingrich refused to go along with raising the ceiling, triggering a government shutdown which, later, former President Bill Clinton turned to the Democrats' political advantage.

Paul said that he and like-minded new lawmakers would take a hard line on the debt issue.

"I think we've been fiscally irresponsible for a generation or more here," he said. "And the one thing about the tea party that's interesting is, it really is equal parts chastisement to both parties. You know, Republicans doubled the debt when we were in charge, and then Democrats are tripling the debt."

He said he intended to push for a seat on the Senate Budget Committee and would introduce a plan to balance the budget although he didn't set a firm timetable for how quickly. "If they won't do it in a year, we'll say, how about two years? If they won't do it in two years, how about three years? But someone has to believe it," he said.

Paul also said he would back a balanced budget amendment.

The talk of "co-opting" tea party lawmakers traces back to former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi. Lott, now a lobbyist, said last summer: "We don't need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples. As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them."

Lott was referring to Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who through his Senate Conservatives Fund backed many of the insurgent candidates around the country who challenged establishment Republicans.

Paul said if there was room for compromise on spending, it was to get liberals to agree to cuts in domestic programs and Republicans to back reductions in military spending.

"Republicans never say they'll cut anything out of military," Paul said. "What I say is, national defense is the most important thing we do in Washington, but there's still waste in the military budget. You have to make it smaller, but you also then need to address, how many wars are we going to be involved in? Are we going to be involved in every war all the time?"

While Paul put cutting the pay of soldiers off the table, he did raise questions about the costly U.S. commitment to the war in Afghanistan.

"We need to have a debate in our country, in our Congress over, is our national security still threatened by Afghanistan? Do we need to be there?" Paul said.

"If you ask our G.I.s, when I asked them from Kentucky leaving the base, I say, 'Are the Afghans stepping up enough? Would you rather the Afghans do more of the patrolling on the streets?" Every one of these young brave men and women will tell you, 'Yes.' "

As for other spending reduction targets, Paul declined to offer specifics and said, "Bottom line is, you have to look at everything across the board."

He said that had to include entitlement programs, such as Social Security, though he said, "Democrats have run against Republicans for years saying we're going to take away your grandmother's Social Security. We're not going to do that."

On NBC's "Meet the Press," DeMint was asked if the tea party was taking over the Republican Party, and he said, "Hardly. I'm hoping the Republican Party will embrace a lot of the ideas of the tea party, but it's a mistake to think the tea party is one big organization. It's made up of thousands of leaders all across the country, of citizens who are just tired of out-of-control spending. ... I think they made a huge difference in the election, but they're just a part of this awakening of the American people ... that's realigning politics in America today."
Filed Under: Deficit, Tea Party

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354 Comments

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jsim6974

I hope Rand Paul returns all Fed money that has been spent on Kentucky projects.

November 08 2010 at 9:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tplapper

Name one President who didn't grow the government?

November 08 2010 at 12:00 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
goman89b

Many right wing Tea Partiers and Republicans have now set themselves up as the enemies of CIVIL government by advocating that taxes and CIVIL government should be eliminated or reduced to the point of being meaningless and ineffective. They also seem to believe that the only function of federal government should be defense/policing. The far right has demonized the idea of paying taxes to fund CIVIL government to help the poor, elderly, mentally and physically handicapped and others who will likely ALWAYS remain heavily dependent on CIVIL government for survival and for a decent BASIC standard of living. GM,. GE, Boeing, Microsoft and other giant corporations and churches will likely NEVER be able to raise the funds to help these people nor will ever WANT TO support these people. It's up to you and I, the tax payers and our democratically elected CIVIL government to help take care of these individuals/provide medical care and the basics of food, rent etc. African Americans who are now in the process of recovering from 400 years of slavery, racism and prejudiced which has disenfranchised them from the American economy, are only now, with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, beginning to participate and benefit from the American economy. Most African Americans are still heavily dependent on our federal CIVIL government for rent, food and other basics of survival despite a few thousand black millionaire athletes and entertainers who lead us to believe that wealth disparity in America is a thing of the past. (just drive around some of our urban areas in the U.S. and witness millions of African Americans still living in vast economic crime ridden ghettos.) The new growing anti-government, anti-tax, pro-wealthy policies of right wing Republicans and Tea Partiers, if implemented, could further enlarge wealth disparities in the U.S. to the point of erasing all gains made by 10's of millions of African Americans in the last 40 years. This will likely cause much chaos and civil disorder in America. Although many African Americans, as well as their children, are now emerging from 400 years of abject poverty, through access to higher education, government grants, loans, welfare, food stamps, social security, disability for elderly etc., it will take MUCH MORE THAN 40 YEARS to overcome this extreme disparity of wealth and poverty caused by 400 YEARS of slavery and cut all these ties to government services. Therefore many of the anti-civil government, anti-tax, pro-wealthy policies of the far right are anti-African American and inadvertently sentence millions of African Americans to many more years of extreme poverty through the defunding and destruction of the U.S. civil government by advocating people pay less and less taxes. (I look at paying taxes to my democratic U.S. government as TITHING or donating). Most NON-BLACK Americans have benefited beyond belief by the U.S. practice of slavery, which gave this country 400 years of FREE labor. The benefits that African Americans now receive from the government are part of the price for all this free labor and abuse of millions of human beings. We should willingly pay taxes to provide these services and not complain or lobby for the destruction of civil government to sabotage this system. Our support of the poor, elderly, African Americans and the mentally and physically disabled in America by our federal government is a BLESSING to us and our country. Attempts to cut this aid to these vulnerable people in America will likely bring a great deal of misery and suffering. If we have patience and give our president and congress a chance, blessings will be back upon the U.S. soon. ....but by ALL MEANS we should not smite down the poor and weak because our economy is currently ailing and the rich don't want to pay taxes here. Almost 2/3rds of the yearly 600 BILLION U.S. trade deficit is caused by importing oil. .

November 08 2010 at 11:04 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
ettu

I agree with many of the values expressed by the Tea Party members, and support their efforts to reform a runaway, detached government. However, I hope they understand that if they push too far to the Right, they will fail. We are a Center Right country, and the Far Left and Far Right are too extreme for the majority. Stay close to the center, compromise wherever possible, and keep the American people as informed as you can with what is going on in DC and in State Legislatures.

November 08 2010 at 10:23 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
scottee

career politicians and lawyers of both parties in Washington are the problem, not the solution.

November 08 2010 at 10:13 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
echobuman

wow, a Republican actually admits that Republicans have been fiscally irresponsible in the past generation ... hmmmm ... Ronald Reagan raised deficit from 800 billion to 3 trillion, Bush I raised it 4 trillion and Bush II raised it 6 trillion.

November 08 2010 at 7:42 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to echobuman's comment
sysaphus71

Is it that the liberals don't understand that someone HAS TO balance the national checkbook at some point. All the libs want to do is apply for more credit cards and max them out.....If the tea party makes this country do that you should all get down on your knees and be thankful. Do any of you libs understand what a bankrupt America will look like.Or do you think this party will last forever....you better start getting real!!!

November 08 2010 at 6:40 AM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sysaphus71's comment
christierandall

do you think any of the republicans thought of that when they were spending like crazy and doubling and tripling our deficit.?

November 08 2010 at 9:45 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
furio

Democrat Partie has ceased to exist! Anti Communism, Capitalism, Americanism, Constitutionalism, Faith and Freedom, Family,Liberty is the IDEA of the Right. GOP will embrace this or perish. What does the Marxist Democrat Partie stand for? STATE TYRANNY BY THE LIBERAL ELITES! Sterile, Mindless, Judgemental, Anti American to the Core=Democrat Partie! State after State after State has eradicated the Democrats.

November 08 2010 at 6:31 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to furio's comment
madcowfj

WOW...i think you need to read into every word you just wrote down and see what they really are because not a single one of them exists in this country today.

November 09 2010 at 1:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mchasehq1

Rand Paul says no abortion under any circumstances and that a fertilized egg has rights under the Constitution. Does that mean that a mother's death due to a miscarriage is murder performed by her unborn child? Who gets prosecuted? Or is a miscarriage murder by the mother? For a party that preaches less government regulations to have the government intrude into the womb is the height of hypocrisy.

November 08 2010 at 6:14 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
robert

Lets ask ourselves a few questions, if the Republican party and the tea party who share many basic similar views in Washington and a very similar constituent base cant get along and come together how can we expect the Democrats and Republicans to come together. If we ask ourselves whats more important, political agenda or the wellbeing of a nation and its citizens also, if our elected officials began to act as if every political decision or non decision affected their houshold the bickering would be greatly reduced and true legislation for all and diplomacy would be reborn. The political process especially in this economic climate is a multi billion dollar process in itself of wasted revenue that could be better utilized to create jobs. Also, there seems to be so much disagreement on which bills passes, which bills are blocked and the best way prevent new bills from even being considered and the bottom line is that this almost immature, and irresponsible representation is exactly what the American people does not want because as tax payers its costing us all money. Our governement is based on Democracy and in its trueist sense has been overwhelmingly described as a governent "BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE" this is something I think we all need to evaluate and all the leaders we sent to Washington should step up and take responsibility acordingly. This notion that "America" being the voters have spoke is totally incorrect because we as Americans want this nonproductive, wasteful, and costly political feuding to stop. We need true democracy and a group of decision makers to put aside their personal or party agendas and serve this Country and its Citizens. Lets all think about these words openly and honestly.

November 08 2010 at 5:06 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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