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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rand Paul

Kentucky held a primary yesterday that received national attention thanks to the participation and victory of "tea party"-backed Senate candidate Rand Paul, son of libertarian Representative Ron Paul of Texas. The seat is currently held by Republican Jim Bunning, a Hall of Fame former baseball pitcher. The race was noteworthy because Mitch McConnell's preferred (and groomed) candidate, Secretary of State Trey Greyson lost the race.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic ballot, state Attorney General Jack Conway defeated Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo and won his party's nomination for the same Senate race. Rob Farley declared this "Good news from Kentucky... Conway is more progressive than Mongiardo and polls better; against the Randernaut he might have a chance."

Frankly, I suspect most Kentuckians know little about Rand Paul. I'm also betting that Conway will make sure that voters learn a lot more before November.

What's to know?

Like his better-known father, Rand opposed the Iraq war -- and he thinks the "murky" Afghan war needs to be formally declared by Congress. Those are defensible positions, but they are clearly not reflective of Republican policy in the last decade.

Many of the policies Rand and Ron Paul reject were proposed and implemented by Republicans in power during the Bush era: bank bailouts, deficit spending, war without end, etc. This is likely why Dick Cheney supported Greyson in the primary and why neoconservatives are alleged to be upset by his prospects for success.

Indeed, Paul himself says that he typically agrees with his father on policy issues:
Washington Wire: Are there any areas where you disagree with your father’s views on issues?

Paul: There are some minor areas where we disagree.
He then notes that his father will sometimes introduce an earmark, while he thinks "the whole system is broken down, and it’s my opinion that we shouldn’t put earmarks on bills."

He thinks drugs should be a state issue, which is an evasive way of saying that the federal government shouldn't make them illegal. Right?

Libertarians oppose drug laws, but what about health and safety issues? How much should the federal government do to help save lives? The New York Times Magazine asked him this question in April:
But in light of your distrust of the federal government, where are you on an issue like seat belts? Federal legislation requiring people to wear seat belts could obviously save lives.

I think the federal government shouldn’t be involved. I don’t want to live in a nanny state where people are telling me where I can go and what I can do.
The "nanny state" is a line used by people who don't think the government should try to limit tobacco consumption, promote better nutrition, etc. However, these examples may also mask antipathy towards environmental regulations, occupational safety and health standards, minimum wage laws, etc.

Paul has a somewhat dystopian view of the economy and is fairly cynical about the culture as well:
I see us in the latter stages of the Roman empire, when you have bread and circuses to placate the mob... I think there’s a danger that we could destroy our currency and be like 1923 in Germany, with the Weimar currency, with money in wheelbarrows. Germany was a civilized country in Europe, and they destroyed their currency and then elected Hitler, so things have happened before and they could happen again.
Paul certainly isn't a Keynesian as he favors a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. He is "worried that the deficit will consume our nation."

The bipartisan Keynesian economics we witnessed in 2008-2009 reflected legitimate concerns that the banking and credit system would collapse without emergency assistance, thus destroying the economy and provoking another Great Depression.

I cannot wait to hear what Paul has to say about that topic, as well as aid to Israel, farm subsidies, Social Security (!), public education, etc.

Helpfully, Trey Greyson's campaign maintained a website of "" It seems to have been taken down, but the google cache of the central issues is still available for now. Here's an idea of what it used to look like.

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