Sen. Rand Paul: 'The Sequester Is a Pittance'

Susan Jones | February 11, 2013 | 7:14am EST
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"Tea Party people are saying the sequester is a pittance," Sen. Rand Paul told CNN's "State of the Union" host Candy Crowley on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013. (AP Photo)

( - While President Obama and many Republicans are now "caterwauling about the sequester," tea party conservatives say the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over ten years is only a start:

"Tea Party people are saying the sequester is a pittance," Sen. Rand Paul told CNN's "State of the Union" host Candy Crowley on Sunday. "One trillion dollars, and we're increasing spending $9 trillion. So really, even with the sequester, spending goes up $7 trillion or $8 trillion over the next 10 years. We're not getting close to scratching the surface of the problem."

Unless Congress replaces the indiscriminate spending reductions with specific cuts by March 1, spending automatically will be cut by $1.2 trillion over ten years, with half of those cuts coming in defense and half in discretionary domestic spending.

But the national debt now stands at $16 trillion, and Sen. Paul said that's the nation's number-one problem: "I think the debt is the number one. I think the debt is costing us a million jobs a year. The economy slowed in the last quarter. I really that think we have to do something about how enormous government is. And the way tea party folks see this is, we see it like our family budget. I have to balance my budget at home, why shouldn't government?"

The only way to avoid the sequester’s meat-axe spending cuts is for Congress to pass a budget, and then pass 13 appropriations bills to fund the government as it is supposed to do. Republicans have twice passed a plan to replace the sequester, but the Democrat-led Senate hasn’t passed a budget in the last four years, and President Obama recently missed the deadline for submitting his.

Sen. Paul told Crowley there's nothing divisive about his plan to deliver the tea party response to President Obama's State of the Union speech on Tuesday night. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is delivering the official Republican response.

"I think really there are some things that I will emphasize maybe Marco doesn't," Paul told CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday. But, he added, that "doesn't mean that we necessarily disagree." Paul called his speech "an extra response" -- "not necessarily divisive."

Paul said the tea party still generates a "lot of energy," giving an "independent voice" to conservatives who often disagree with the Republican establishment.

"But I would say that there are things that I will talk about -- you know, the president likes to talk about a balanced approach for things. We'll talk, for example, about a balanced budget and how that would be good for the economy. The president likes to say everybody needs to pay their fair share, which means he wants to raise taxes. I'll talk about the Republican message, which is we believe you stimulate the economy by reducing taxes, not revenue neutral, I mean really reducing taxes, cutting corporate tax in half, cutting the personal income tax, and the fact that you actually sometimes bring in more revenue when you cut tax rates."

Paul shrugged off the suggestion that he and Rubio are political "rivals."

"I think we do the best to promote what we believe in. One of the things I have talked a lot about that there haven't been many other Republicans talking about is that we shouldn't send foreign aid or money to people who are burning our flag and chanting death to America. So I think I do represent a wing of the Republican Party who doesn't want to send good money after bad to Egypt, or to several of these countries. I would put strings on the money that goes to Pakistan. I would say to Pakistan, you don't get more money until you release the doctor who helped us get bin Laden.

"So there are things that distinguish a lot of different Republicans. It doesn't make them bad, or me right or them wrong, what it means is that there is a Tea Party wing that is interested in not sending money to people who are not acting like our allies."

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