Americans don't have an easy way to escape their dependency on the government, and the government isn't helping them, Sen. Rand Paul says, noting that welfare recipients "are not bad people."
"People feel trapped, and it's not their fault," Paul, a Kentucky Republican, told Reason magazine
writer Brian Doherty on Wednesday.
"They don't have an easy way to get out of dependency, and if we are trying to fight long-term dependency or long-term unemployment, we have to figure a way out," Paul said.
Paul, expanding on his Tuesday night response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, said the government should give people hope for ending dependency.
"People who have been on welfare are not bad people," Paul said. "They are not wanting to be there."
Republicans, he said, need to promote ways for welfare recipients to get out from under their dependence on the government and advance into the middle class.
"It is a message you haven't necessarily heard from Republicans," Paul said. "It's not that anyone is condemning anyone for being poor."
He called on lawmakers to have a debate about the best ways to raise people from poverty, rather than "saying, 'Hey, we are Democrats and we are against poverty, we are the party to go for if you want alleviation of poverty.'"
Creating a vast number of jobs is one way to help Americans escape their dependency on the government, Paul said, but targeting money to places where officials think jobs should be created usually doesn't work.
Instead, Paul said, it is better to give tax reductions because consumers determine who creates good jobs.
"There needs to be a gateway back into the job market," he said. "Things that are permanent need to be made temporary, things that are duplicative need to be gotten rid of."
Paul, though, said it will be difficult for him to vote for the nation's farm bill, saying, "It's hard to vote for a bill with $800 billion of food stamps, even with belief in some safety net. It's not a belief in a safety net that goes on and on and is not paid for by corresponding cuts somewhere else."
Meanwhile, Paul said he's in a "box" over his libertarian stance
, which was profiled in a New York Times front-page article on Sunday.
"I've got half the libertarians on the Internet beating up on me for not being pure enough," Paul said, "and the rest of the mainstream beating up on me for being too libertarian. It's a box they put me in."
He said he is "trying to advance a philosophy and advance an economic program that's better for the country," while "winning elections and trying to convince people to come in the direction of smaller government and more individual liberty."
He insisted he is doing the best he can to advance libertarian views, even though purists "might not see it as pure as they'd like."
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