RALEIGH – Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was in the City of Oaks Friday night for a private fundraiser, but more importantly he and his wife Kelley were in the Triangle to attend Parents’ Weekend at Duke University where their youngest son studies engineering.
Before the event commenced, First in Freedom Daily (FFD) had exclusive access to Paul for an interview that touched on his working relationship with President Trump, healthcare solutions, and tax cuts.
Throughout the subsequent intimate dinner for about a dozen people, though, Paul and his wife (who were also celebrating their 27th wedding anniversary) revealed themselves to be not only the kind of loving parents all children deserve, but also the consummate defenders of liberty that America needs.
Engaging, thoughtful, and very down-to-earth, Paul spoke of foreign policy conundrums such as the Kurdish Independence referendum, his resistance to sending our men and women in uniform into harm’s way with out clear national security interests and strategies for victory, and described his friendship with ultra-liberal Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) with which he shares concerns about national surveillance programs violating citizens’ rights to privacy.
Paul’s relationship with North Carolina goes back decades, having attended Duke University for medical school, and advocating for fairer tax systems while in the Old North State. He has proven time and again to be a consistent champion of the American ideals of freedom, combining his dedication to the principles of liberty with a unique ability to advance these principles while avoiding any sense of ‘selling out.’
FFD: You were instrumental in President Trump’s recent executive order to expand access to Association Health Plans. Can you tell us what the order does, and why it’s beneficial to Americans?
Paul: One of the big goals of conservatives through the years has been to allow people to buy insurance across state lines, and also to let people to join groups so they can get more leverage to get lower cost insurance. So there was a law back in the 1970s , the ERISA law, and it let’s big corporations do this.
A lot of people don’t know this, but for years big corporations have been getting insurance across state lines and they’re able to evade some state insurance regulations, but also some of the Obamacare regulations.
When you look at these big corporations that buy insurance across state lines, their premiums have been going up very slightly; if you look at people in the individual market that are subject to Obamacare regulations, they’re premiums are going up by 100 percent in the last five or six years. So, the ruling that Trump came forward with is, I think, a big thing. We’ve been working with him for months, and it will allow individuals to join associations.
Now, there already are about 50 million people in associations: National Restaurant Association, National Realtors Association, Franchisee Association, you name it, there’s a bunch of them. We haven’t seen the ruling yet, but what they’re in the process of doing is looking back at the original ERISA law from the ’70s and saying, do the current regulations agree with the original law or not. And we think the original law actually allowed for more people to associate. We actually think you have a First Amendment right to associate, you know, there’s a right to peaceably assemble. We think that the Supreme Court has ruled many times to give the right to associate with your fellow man, economically, for political purposes, or for a variety of religious purposes.
So, we’re excited about it. I think it could turn out to be much bigger than anyone thinks. The only downside is it could take a while to happen; it may be 2019 until people buy insurance, because people buy insurance, you know, for the year in advance.
FFD: Why was an executive order required to accomplish this, and do you foresee other opportunities to work with the president directly to advance solutions, where it be in healthcare or other areas of policy?
Paul: I’m not sure. This is the biggest one that we were aware of and we think the law had not been interpreted correctly. So, we’re excited about this. We don’t think [the president] is creating new law, we think he’s just simply being more true to the original law.
We’re also trying to do this legislatively, but it’s difficult. I’m trying to find a Democrat, and with the Democrats I emphasize with them that this is somewhat similar to collective bargaining for consumers. We’re just letting consumers get together to have power to negotiate with a bigger economic player. We think [Democrats] would like that.
But their biggest worry is when they come back to us is, oh you’re going to evade the Obamacare rules that were to protect the consumer [who’s] not smart enough to choose their insurance. My response to them is, well, Microsoft has cross-state ERISA plan insurance; Coca-Cola does; Pepsi does; UPS does; Amazon does; Amgen does. All these big companies. In fact, if you’re a local plumber, that’s what you want is what these big corporations have. All we’re doing is letting them get what the big corporations have. We’re excited by it.
We think it will be good, but convincing Democrats that something that involves freedom of choice in the economic sphere is something that’s hard to do for Democrats.
FFD: How have you balanced the populism ushered in by Trump with the Individualism you espouse, and how does that play into your relationship?
Paul: Even when we had President Obama, I treated him with respect, I don’t criticize his person, I don’t go after him personally, and I had decent relations with President Obama.
With President Trump, not only do I treat him with the respect of the office, I also think that many of his instincts are very good and I complement the things that really have exceeded my expectations.
You know I ran against him [for president] and like everyone else, we fought tooth and nail in the election.
But he has, I think , appointed a cabinet that’s more conservative than Reagan’s. He’s appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, who’s way better than anybody the Bush’s ever picked, although I take that back, Clarence Thomas was picked by George Bush [Sr.]…I think he’s doing a great job, I think he’s picked a conservative cabinet.
I don’t always agree with him, but I will always defend him against partisan attacks, and I think, like the whole Russia thing is a bunch of B.S. and it is is ‘cry baby’ stuff. Clinton wants an excuse for why she lost the election, and I like the way that now people are starting to say, well maybe there was Russian collusion and it had to do with the Clintons getting $100 million for their foundation in exchange for selling our uranium assets in this country. I remember reading and talking with Peter Schweizer when that book first came out and thinking my goodness this is explosive, and then the mainstream media has ignored it.
FFD: Tax cuts – do you think they’ll get done this year?
Paul: Yep. I think it’s going along real well. The main obstacle to to tax cuts are the people that don’t believe don’t believe in tax cuts. We’ve got four or five Republicans that say, oh well we don’t want to add any debt to the tax cut, and, interestingly, yesterday on the budget, I had them vote on whether they wanted to do entitlement reform – I had like five votes.
So Republicans who say, oh we’re worried about the tax cuts being too big because it will add to the debt, I gave them a chance to cut spending. So my preference has always been, look, I think the debt is very important – that’s why I voted against the budget, because you should cut spending – but I don’t think that the tax package has to balance.
I’m for a tax cut, but if we’re going to cut taxes $1.5 trillion, we oughta cut spending $1.5 trillion. But I will vote for the tax cut and I think our main obstacle are those who are worried that it adds to the debt. And once you do that and you set an arbitrary deadline, or an arbitrary number of neutrality, we have trouble getting to 20 [percent], and we need to get to at least 20 [percent] on the corporate tax. Canada is already down to 15 [percent], we have 12 percent in Ireland, many of these countries want to go lower.
But still, all that being said, I think there’s a pretty good chance we’re going to get taxes [cut] – over 90 percent that we’re going to get a tax cut. I’m pushing to make it the biggest and boldest that we can get.
FFD: Do you think Congress can look to North Carolina as an example for how good tax reform is done?
Paul: Yes, and you know your senators are telling us that all the time, that we should look to what happened here. [laughs] I think some good things have happened here.
You know I was here in school many years ago and things have gotten more conservative and I think different free market think tanks, John Locke Foundation, have had some impact on this and Republican politics, but really people believing in the liberty movement, I think, has been most important.
FFD: Thank you, Senator.