Editor's Note: Newsmax Senior Editor David A. Patten is in Washington this week interviewing the incoming tea party freshmen and Republican leaders to offer an exclusive look at the next Congress and its Republican agenda. This is the second in a series of Newsmax special reports and videos.
GOP Senate-elect Rand Paul tells Newsmax that he opposes any effort to shut down the federal government in order to extract budget cuts from Democrats, a tactic that he branded “government by chaos.”
In 1995, the court of public opinion lambasted Republicans over the GOP-led shutdown. Public workers were furloughed, and then-President Bill Clinton saw his re-election prospects revive.
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Despite that history, some GOP members of Congress, as well as some of the activist conservatives elected on Nov. 2, continue to discuss a shutdown as a viable option. But Sen.-elect Paul is not among them.
In an exclusive interview Monday on Capitol Hill, the Kentucky ophthalmologist told Newsmax: “I think shutting down the government is a mistake. Nobody really wants that. That’s sort of government by chaos.
“What you really want is government where we say, ‘We have several months to discuss this. Let’s go ahead and have a budget.’”
Paul told Newsmax that he will introduce a bill that will balance the budget shortly after the new Congress convenes in January. His unique strategy: He’ll offer several options for how quickly the cuts would be made.
“We’ll give them a choice: Balance it in one year, balance it in two years. We’ll give them a choice,” he told Newsmax. “But I think balancing it over a 30- or 40-year period is not reasonable. And I think that we may not have 30 or 40 years to balance the budget before we have a crisis in this country.”
Paul told Newsmax that what worries him most about the fiscal crisis is that both sides of the aisle are warning that the deficit has become a national security issue for America.
“That means we need to address it immediately, we need to be serious about, and it probably means going back beyond 2008" spending levels, Paul said. “But it really means you have to look at the entire budget. You can’t just look at discretionary spending. You have to look at the entire length, breadth, and width of the budget.”
Other highlights from the exclusive Newsmax interview with Kentucky’s new incoming senator:
- He wants to create a tea party caucus that includes senators. “It’s a grass-roots movement,” he said, “so my idea is to have a tea party caucus that communicates with the grass roots, that invites the grass roots to Washington, that doesn’t meet in a cloakroom and smoke cigars, but really is open to the public and gets information and ideas from the tea party, and transmits back to the tea party what we’re trying to do to correct the problems here.”
- Paul wants to see Republicans in both the House and Senate agree to a moratorium on earmarks. “I think it makes sense for us to vote in favor of a ban on earmarks,” he said. “I think the House is going to vote in favor of that. And I think it would look good if we had a unified front opposing earmarks.”
- Everywhere he went during the campaign, he said, business people told him it felt like “there’s a war on business coming out of Washington.” But he doesn’t know if the Obama administration can repair its anti-business image at this point. “I’m not sure if they can change it, or whether it will require a new president,” Paul told Newsmax. “But they needed to hear that message, because there was a message loud and clear from this election, that business is afraid of what’s going on in Washington.”
- Restoring trust in Congress requires structural changes in budgeting rules. And members must follow the rules they set: “When we go to committee we’ll ask, ‘How much money do we have?’ rather than ‘How much do we want to spend?’”
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