By RONNIE ELLIS / CNHI News Service
LOUISVILLE – If Kentucky Republicans thought freshman Sen. Rand Paul would extol the virtues of the deal to avoid a federal government shutdown struck Friday in Washington, then they don’t know their new man.
Paul called the deal a Pyrrhic victory, saying the deficit will actually go up this year, even after the $38 billion in cuts Republicans forced on Democrats.
“It’s still a problem,” Paul told the 500-plus at the Galt House. “This is the beginning of the war. This is the beginning of the discussion. We have to push forward and ask for more.”
Paul and Kentucky’s other Republican Senator, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, spoke briefly before the night’s keynote speaker. Texas Gov. Rick Perry also happens to head the Republican Governors Association, a group likely to spend a great deal of money in this year’s Kentucky governor’s race. McConnell introduced Perry as the most “Reagan-esque governor in America.”
Perry decried the excesses of the federal government, complaining that, “We have a federal government that is destroying the future.” He said the fight is about “freedom from a repressive government and those who would take away our rights to live out our lives as we see fit.”
He said Kentucky voters could “scream out freedom” this year by electing a Republican governor – but none of the three gubernatorial candidates (David Williams, Bobbie Holsclaw and Phil Moffett) spoke. But Perry said a Republican victory in 2011 would send a message “all across this country that you better believe 2010 was real, 2011 will be real and you better believe 2012 will be real.”
Perry, along with Paul and McConnell, heaped criticism on the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which Perry said has the “potential to destroy this country.” He said the business of state government is to see business succeed so they can create jobs and produce state revenues to hire teachers and police. He talked about Texas having no income tax and facetiously urged Kentucky to keep its tax system, promising to open an office here to recruit business from the state to Texas.
Paul covered the ground he’s best known for, the need to cut back federal spending and debt. He praised McConnell for getting all 47 Republican Senators to support a balanced budget amendment, adding he thinks there’ll be a vote on the amendment sometime this year.
McConnell, of course, supported Paul’s opponent in last year’s Republican primary, but all seems in order now. Paul introduced McConnell, noting his job as Minority Leader and saying he hopes “my friend Mitch McConnell” will soon become Majority Leader in the Senate.
McConnell responded in kind, saying he’s “proud of our new Senator for Kentucky” and thanking Paul for the energy and enthusiasm he’s brought to the Senate. But he took a different view of the Friday night budget deal.
“I guess you can argue $40 billion is not a whole lot of money. On the other hand, you could look at it this way: with one-third of the government we forced them to cut government,” McConnell said.
He then promised no Republican Senator would vote to raise the debt limit – the next big debate in Congress – “unless we do something about the debt. And you can write that down!” But McConnell was careful not to promise too much, repeating that Republicans controlled only one-third of the government.
“The legislative agenda of the Obama administration is over,” McConnell said. “That’s the good news, the bad news is they still control two-thirds of the government and they’ve got all the bureaucrats.”
Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort, Ky.
He may be contacted by email at HYPERLINK “mailto:email@example.com”firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at HYPERLINK “http://www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort”www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.
By RONNIE ELLIS / CNHI News Service
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