Kentucky freshman Sen. Rand Paul Thursday told CNN’s John King that his call for $500 billion in federal budget cuts is necessary “because things are seriously broken” and the alternative is a bankrupt United States.
“Can we cut the $500 billion? I don't know. But that's a beginning. That's where we have to start. We can't start with $50 billion and say, oh, raise the debt ceiling, here's $50 billion in cuts. They'll be back six months later and they'll ask us to raise the debt ceiling again,” he told King, who noted Paul’s “courage” in suggesting the cuts.
“Things are seriously broken. And the alternative is not the status quo — the alternative is the status quo may bankrupt America,” Paul warned.
The senator appeared on “John King USA” after the first meeting of the Senate tea party caucus, where he said President Obama’s call for a ban on earmarks shows that the November election “is really resonating.”
“I went to my first State of the Union the other day and guess who now is against earmarks? The president of the United States has been co-opted by the tea party,” Paul told the four caucus members who attended.
.King wanted to know whether the president’s vow that he would veto any legislation that contained earmarks, though there will be partisan battles, could result that “on some things there can be adult, grown-up conversations and agreements?”
Paul said he believed that things, indeed, will be different. “I think people in Washington did listen and watched the results of the election in November,” he said. “The other thing that makes it different though is not just the election, but it's the imminence of the debt problem. We have to do something about tackling the debt crisis.”
King also wondered whether the lack of caucus attendance was that some of his newly elected colleagues, who ran under the tea party label, are having second thoughts that the group might be too extreme. He specifically signaled out Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who King noted has drawn a lot of attention for being somewhat uneasy about joining the caucus.
“I think what you'll find is when they see what we're talking about” they will be less suspicious, Paul said. “Today we talked about a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. The vast majority of the Republican caucus agrees with that idea. In fact, it may be universal.
“So the things the tea party is talking about, I've always said, are not extreme,” he continued. “What's extreme is the $2 trillion debt. What we're talking about is very reasonable and very rational. That's how do we balance our budget?”
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