Rand Paul: Tea Party Is 'Co-Opting Washington'
Kentucky Republican Rand Paul vowed on Sunday to uphold the Tea Party's core principles when he is sworn in as a United States Senator in January. Yet in an interview with ABC's Christiane Amanpour, Paul struggled to specify exactly how he would implement bold spending cuts.
When pressed on "This Week" about which programs the he would cut, Paul declined to identify individual programs. "All across the board," the senator-elect said.
Amanpour challenged Paul, saying, "But you can't just keep saying all across the board." Still, the newly elected senator refused to budge. "No, I can. I'm going to look at every program, every program." He later continued on the theme: "You need to ask of every program -- and we take no program off the table. Can it be downsized? Can it be privatized? Can it be made smaller?"
Paul stated that he wants "the Republican message to be one of balanced budgets," but made clear that any budget balancing would need to come from spending cuts, not tax increases. "I think it's not a revenue problem, it's a spending problem," he said, adding, "We don't need bigger government. We need to shrink the size of government."
Regarding entitlement programs, Paul said that he would consider raising the retirement age for Social Security, but that he would oppose immediate implementation of any such action. "What I would say is not the people who are currently on it and not those approaching retirement, but the sooner we fix it, the better. So it may be 55 and under, but that should be this year, we should be looking at 55 and under, what do we do to change the system to make it more sustainable."
The senator elect was also sure to deliver a message to Washington. In light of recent comments from former Republican Senate majority leader Trent Lott, who is now a lobbyist, that "as soon as [new members of Congress] get here, we need to co-opt them," Paul struck a defiant tone. "I think the tea party is actually co-opting Washington," he said. "We're coming, we're proud, we're strong, we're loud and... I think we're already shaping the debate."