Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Tuesday fired back at President Barack Obama's aggressive push for extended unemployment benefits, saying that like "most liberals," he makes "big-hearted, small-brained policy statements."
"They can make all these emotional arguments, but their policies haven't worked and unemployment is still a horrific problem in our country," Paul, a Republican, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
Earlier in the day, Obama ripped Paul's belief that expanding benefits harms the country.
"I have heard the argument that says extending unemployment insurance will somehow hurt the unemployed, because it saps their motivation to get a new job . . . That really sells the American people short," Obama said.
"I can't name a time when I met an American who would rather have an unemployment check than the pride of having a job," the president said.
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But Paul said statistics in many states bear him out.
"North Carolina reduced their unemployment benefits and their unemployment went from 8.9 percent to 7.4 percent. South Carolina did the same thing, reduced their unemployment 3.5 points. Missouri did the same thing, reduced their unemployment benefits, so their unemployment went down 2.5 points," Paul said.
"So, really there is a direct correlation between extending benefits and having more unemployment . . . All of the studies also show that the longer you are unemployed, the less likely you are to get a job.
"So, if an employer looks at somebody who's been unemployed for two months and someone who's been unemployed for two years, the employer almost always, regardless of skills, chooses the [person] that's only been out of work for two months."
Asked whether he was disappointed that six Republicans voted with the Democrat-controlled Senate to extend benefits, Paul said:
"I'm disappointed in the sense that I don't think [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid's going to allow any amendments or any ability to pay for this. We've spent over $230 billion on unemployment benefits over the last six or seven years, and that adds to the deficit, which causes rising prices.
"The people who are least able to absorb inflation with food prices rising, with gas prices rising, are the poor and those on fixed incomes . . . So on the one sense, they have this big heart, they're going to help all these people, but on the other sense, the $230 billion they borrowed to pay for unemployment insurance has actually hurt the working class and the poor by raising the prices of their goods."
Paul also is pursuing a lawsuit against the National Security Agency over its ongoing blanket surveillance of Americans' phone records, which many people think is unconstitutional.
"We've assembled a team of lawyers. We expect to file our complaint in court within the next week or two. We have over 250,000 people who have signed up for the lawsuit, and I've told people that the class or nature of people who can apply is pretty wide open. You have to own a cellphone," Paul said.
"So, if you own a cellphone in America, you probably had your records taken by the government. And there really is a constitutional debate in question, whether a single warrant from a judge can apply to millions of people's phone records."
Paul's lawsuit has ruffled fellow Republican lawmaker Rep. Peter King of New York, who says the NSA's surveillance has stopped numerous terror plots and saved hundreds of lives.
Paul doesn't agree.
"There will always be people who succumb to fear and are ready and willing to trade their liberty for security, but there are serious constitutional questions here, and there are questions of whether or not you do have an expectation of privacy," Paul said.
"It's pretty clear to me that a warrant for a million people's phone records is not a valid warrant, and this needs to be decided by the Supreme Court. We may not win at the Supreme Court, but I have a feeling the Supreme Court is going to expand the right of privacy and expand the notion that the Fourth Amendment does protect some of these records."
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