Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) testifies before a state legislative committee… (James Crisp / Associated…)
WASHINGTON – In the tea party rebuke to President Obama’s vision of the state of the union – and some in his own party – Republican Sen. Rand Paul laid out a deeply conservative alternative that includes cutting corporate taxes in half and slashing trillions in federal spending.
Paul, the freshman from Kentucky contemplating his own run for president, staked out some sharp differences from the president, including on the spending cuts due to begin March 1. In his speech, Obama called these so-called sequester cuts a “really bad idea” that will slow the economic recovery and devastate social programs. Paul welcomed the sequester and said there should be trillions more in cuts.
“The president does this big ‘woe is me’ over the $1.2-trillion sequester that he endorsed and signed into law,” said Paul, giving a response for the Tea Party Express. “Some Republicans are joining him.”
He called for “a new bipartisan consensus” to cut spending, starting with leaders from each party being willing to take on their own sacred cows.
“It is time Democrats admit that not every dollar spent on domestic programs is sacred. And it is time Republicans – myself included – realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud.”
He called for a budget plan that would cap the personal income tax rate at 17% and cut corporate taxes in half, while still balancing the budget through steep cuts.
But Paul also struck some positions that aren’t often associated with the tea party, including a clear note backing immigration reform. He said Republicans need to be the party that “embraces” immigrants.
“We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities,” he said. “We must be the party that says, ‘If you want to work, if you want to be an American, we welcome you.’”
Paul hit other favorite conservative themes: pushing school choice, protecting 2nd Amendment gun rights and limiting executive powers. He said Congress should continue to push back against Obama’s executive orders, and said he opposes “secret kill lists of American citizens who can be killed without trial,” a reference to the administration’s use of drone strikes.
“We cannot and will not allow any president to act as if he were a king,” he said.
Paul’s speech at the National Press Club in Washington was the third tea party response to the State of the Union; the two others were given by businessman Herman Cain and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), both former GOP presidential candidates. The speech was streamed live on the Web.