In the last Republican debate, various candidates touted their conservative economic credentials, all while maintaining their tough posturing on national defense. In the midst of the self-congratulatory party of pretending to care about fiscal responsibility while promising reckless military spending, Rand Paul took a moment to rain on the parade with some long-overdue common sense: you can’t be spendthrift on war and your pet social programs and still call yourself an economic conservative.
When Marco Rubio touted his plan to provide childcare tax credits, Rand Paul took advantage of the opportunity to chide him for championing what amounted to a new unfunded entitlement program. He then pushed further into a critique of reckless defense spending, pointing out that the United States spends more on war than the next 10 largest countries combined. He wrapped up his brutal takedown of liberal spending proposals by conservative candidates by questioning what it means to be a conservative, and by insisting that driving up national debt actually makes us less safe.
A prevailing idea in American politics is that the Republican Party is the one of small government, taxes, and spending, and the Democrats are the fiscally irresponsible ones. This has proved to be a myth, both during the Bush era and beyond. Every major presidential candidate on the GOP side has promised tax cuts while either refusing to be serious on entitlements, advocating for expanding the bloated defense department and overseas conflicts and commitments, or otherwise failing to offer a realistic deficit-reducing plan, all the while posing as the candidate of financial sanity. Rand Paul finally called out the GOP at large for this hypocrisy.
Some Republican candidates advocate for economic sanity. Others push for an increased warfare state and no serious spending cuts. Rand Paul made it clear in front of the whole world that you can’t do both.
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