Politics

Rand Paul Breaking Campaign Promise on Earmarks?

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

Rand Paul is proving himself to be a typical politician. He was elected to the Senate only last week, hasn't even been sworn in yet, and he's already breaking campaign promises.

During his Kentucky run for U.S. Senate, Paul made a ban on earmarks a cornerstone of his campaign, vowing to end the reckless spending in Washington. Yet here's what The Wall Street Journal reported in a story last weekend:

In a bigger shift from his campaign pledge to end earmarks, he tells me that they are a bad "symbol" of easy spending but that he will fight for Kentucky's share of earmarks and federal pork, as long as it's doled out transparently at the committee level and not parachuted in in the dead of night. "I will advocate for Kentucky's interests," he says.

That is a clear shft from Paul's position in March:

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Rand Paul has made a ban on wasteful earmark spending in Washington D.C. one of the key points of his campaign. He has supported Sen. Jim DeMint's vocal support for an earmark ban and he supports news that House Democrats are even coming around on the idea of a partial ban.

However, Paul himself doesn't seem quite sure of what he wants to do. Here's part of an interview he did on ABC's "This Week" last Sunday -- the same weekend he made those comments to The Journal:

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: And what about earmarks? Would you say no to earmarks?

PAUL: No -- no more earmarks.

AMANPOUR: No more? Not even in your state?

PAUL: No. No. But I do tell people within Kentucky is I say, look, I will argue within the committee process for things that are good for Kentucky that they want and also within the context of a balanced budget. Here's what happens. You go to the Transportation Committee and they say, "What do you want?" But it should be, "How much do we have?" No one asks, "How much do we have?" So we just spend it. And then, at the end of the day, if we don't have it, we either print it or borrow it. Those are bad things. There is no restraint, but that's why you need rules. In Kentucky, we have a balanced budget amendment. We have to balance our budget. So they have to be better legislators.

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So it would appear Paul wants to have it both ways. It may not matter because statements from the incoming GOP House Speaker John Boehner indicate he is unlikely to push for a ban. And Republicans are still the minority in the Senate, and would need Democratic support to bring the issue to debate.