Rand’s Reforms: The Ricochet Survey

 

RandHere’s a protip for the approaching presidential campaign season: when the candidates take to the stump, always read the transcript rather than watching the speech. I adopted this technique during the 2008 presidential campaign, when it simply became too arduous to sit through 75 minutes of mass hysteria (and at least one audience member fainting) to get through 15 minutes worth of Barack Obama’s cotton candy remarks.

The transcripts are clarifying. You’re not distracted by the delivery or the audience dynamics. You’re essentially alone with the candidate and his thoughts. And, nine times out of ten, you’re going to be disappointed — because the vast majority of these guys don’t have much to say.

Now, I don’t especially blame them for this. Running for the presidency in the modern era often dictates hiding the ball (the 2008 Obama campaign is a textbook example of this). But it does make mining the transcripts an interesting exercise. You’ll often discover that dozens of paragraphs worth of rhetoric only yield two or three concrete proposals.

There was a little more meat than that to the speech Rand Paul gave in Louisville earlier today kicking off his presidential campaign—although not much. The speech was clearly focused a lot more on constructing Paul’s personal narrative than delivering a coherent policy manifesto. That said, there were several specific proposals embedded in the remarks. For your edification, I’ve included them below. Let us know what you think in the comments.

Balanced Budget Amendment

Congress will never balance the budget unless you force them to do so. Congress has an abysmal record with balancing anything. Our only recourse is to force Congress to balance the budget with a constitutional amendment.

Term Limits

I have been to Washington, and let me tell you, there is no monopoly on knowledge there.

I ran for office because we have too many career politicians. I believe it now more than ever.

We limit the President to two terms. It’s about time we limit the terms of Congress!

Reading Legislation

I want to reform Washington. I want common sense rules that will break the logjam in Congress.

That’s why I introduced a Read the Bills Act.

The bills are thousands of pages long. And no one reads them. They are often plopped on our desks only a few hours before a vote.

I’ve proposed something truly extraordinary — Let’s read the bills, every page!

The bills are 1,000 pages long and no one reads them. They are often plopped on our desk with only a few hours before a vote, so I propose something truly extraordinary. Let’s read the bills every day.

Economic Freedom Zones

Politically connected crones get taxpayer dollars by the hundreds of millions and poor families across America continue to suffer. I have a different vision, an ambitious vision, an ambitious vision, a vision that will offer opportunity to all Americans, especially those who have been left behind.

My plan includes economic freedom zones to allow impoverished areas like Detroit, West Louisville, Eastern Kentucky to prosper by leaving more money in the pockets of the people who live there.

Repatriation Tax and Infrastructure

I want to see millions of Americans back at work. In my vision for America, we’ll bring back manufacturing jobs that pay well. How? We’ll dramatically lower the tax on American companies that wish to bring their profits home.

More than $2 trillion in American profit currently sits overseas. In my vision for America, new highways and bridges will be built across the country, not by raising your taxes, but by lowering the tax to bring this American profit home.

School Choice (This is not a selective excerpt — this is all Senator Paul said on the matter)

Those of us who have enjoyed the American dream must break down the wall that separates us from the other America. I want all our children to have the same opportunities that I had. We need to stop limiting kids in poor neighborhoods to failing public schools and offer them school choice.

Iran Negotiations

We’ve brought Iran to the table through sanctions that I voted for. Now we must stay strong. That’s why I’ve cosponsored legislation that ensures that any deal between the U.S. and Iran must be approved by Congress.

Not — not only is that good policy, it’s the law.

It concerns me that the Iranians have a different interpretation of the agreement. They’re putting out statement that say completely the opposite of what we’re saying. It concerns me that we may attempt, or the president may attempt, to unilaterally and prematurely halt sanctions.

I will oppose any deal that does not end Iran’s nuclear ambitions and have strong verification measures.

And I will insist that the final version be brought before Congress.

Foreign Aid

It angers me to see mobs burning our flag and chanting “Death to America” in countries that receive millions of dollars in our foreign aid.

I say it must end. I say not one penny more to these haters of America.

Domestic Surveillance

To defend our country, we do need to gather intelligence on the enemy. But when the intelligence director is not punished for lying under oath, how are we to trust our government agencies?

Warrantless searches of Americans’ phones and computer records are un-American and a threat to our civil liberties.

I say that your phone records are yours. I say the phone records of law-abiding citizens are none of their damn business.

Is this where we light up the phones?

The president created this vast dragnet by executive order. And as president on day one, I will immediately end this unconstitutional surveillance.

In addition, Paul also closed the speech with passing references to envisioning “an America where criminal justice is applied equally and any law that disproportionately incarcerates people of color is repealed” and “an America with a restrained IRS that cannot target, cannot harass American citizens for their political or religious beliefs.”

How about it, Ricochet? What do you think? Quibbles? Critiques? Suggestions? Unbridled adulation?

There are 93 comments.

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  1. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    How about a length limit on the bills? Seriously.

    That said, each one of the members of Congress has a huge staff. There’s no excuse for not reading bills carefully, even if those bills come in on a Friday night for a vote on Monday. Everyone takes a page home. By Sunday, there should be a coherent argument established.

    I agree with the problem statement, but Read a Bill doesn’t seem to solve it.

    • #1
  2. Casey Member
    Casey
    @Casey

    I predict he’ll dominate among 24-year-old independents.

    • #2
  3. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Irrelevant. I watched Brain Games the other day and people were able to pick the winner of past local elections at about an 80% rate just by comparing photographs of the contestants.

    • #3
  4. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    an America where criminal justice is applied equally and any law that disproportionately incarcerates people of color is repealed”

    What if “people of color” break that law more than pale people?  Is he saying we should repeal laws against murder?

    Much of what he is saying is worthwhile but he should lose the silly race pandering stuff.

    BTW, thanks for doing the boring work we don’t want to do, Troy.

    • #4
  5. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @PleatedPantsForever

    I’ll go with partially bridled adulation. Though I tend to be biased. I like that his proposals are more ambitious than just cutting the growth of the Department of Busybodies by 10%. Though, to be fair, the simple fact that he is actually employable outside of law, lobbying, or government means he could start drooling on himself during his announcement and I’d probably like a lot of it.

    Like him or not one must admit he shakes up the establishment, is not afraid to disagree with what tests well in a GOP poll, and connects with a good chunk of younger voters

    • #5
  6. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Sounds like a speech written by his pollsters.  #4 is a very good point.

    But none of these positions are game-changers, none will affect the basic balance of power in the US that has swung too far away from the Constitution.

    • #6
  7. Butters Inactive
    Butters
    @CommodoreBTC

    Rand Paul is the only candidate trying to expand the coalition rather than just assuming an evenly divided electorate and relying on base turnout.

    • #7
  8. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    MarciN: How about a length limit on the bills? Seriously.

    A few months ago, I would’ve agreed with you about this.

    James of England makes the argument (and I’ll make sure he shows up and does it in person here, so I’m not short-changing him) that there’s more tyranny to be had in short bills than longer ones.

    Basically longer bills spell more things out.  This means this.  That means that.  This authority is this and not that.  With shorter bills, it’s nebulous, which can be taken by the administrative state as license to reach wider.

    I’m not sure I buy it, but the argument gave me pause.  The other thing is that with longer bills, its easier to hide mischief.  Which I think is what you’re getting at.

    • #8
  9. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    I have responses to a few selected things:

    1. I used to be whole-hog in favor of a BBA until a friend of mine pointed out that it would need to be phrased very carefully to avoid the government cheating via currency manipulation.  (My friend is correct.)

    2. Economic freedom zones are a fascinating idea.  I don’t know how plausible they’d be in the United States.

    3. Of the major candidates, Rand Paul is the only one I trust to do anything about the surveillance state.

    • #9
  10. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Frozen Chosen:“an America where criminal justice is applied equally and any law that disproportionately incarcerates people of color is repealed”

    What if “people of color” break that law more than pale people? Is he saying we should repeal laws against murder?

    Much of what he is saying is worthwhile but he should lose the silly race pandering stuff.

    BTW, thanks for doing the boring work we don’t want to do, Troy.

    No.  He’s not talking about laws against murder. (But thanks for trying.)

    • #10
  11. Casey Member
    Casey
    @Casey

    Fred Cole:

    MarciN:

    I’m not sure I buy it,

    I do buy it.  Once bills pass they go off to some agency whose task it is to interpret and implement.  The more our elected officials think this through on paper, the less our unelected officials will be free to interpret.  I’m sold.  Longer bills.

    • #11
  12. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    Most of these positions are shared with almost all other Republican candidates to come.  The one where he stands apart from many Republicans is on the surveillance state.  I would sure like to vote for someone who doesn’t think the government should treat every American like a criminal suspect.

    • #12
  13. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Troy Senik, Ed.:included them below. Let us know what you think in the comments.

    Balanced Budget Amendment

    Utterly ineffective for the states, so I believe this is a waste of time.  All a congress need do to violate it is predict far more economic growth than will actually happen, and the budget will appear balanced.  The state of New Jersey has such an amendment and has a history of running astonishing deficits by predicting 9% economic growth the following year.

    Term Limits

    Sure, but if you are expecting this to have any extraordinary effect then you are in for a surprise.

    Reading Legislation

    How will you make anyone do this?  Will there be quizzes?  On second thought, any action that occupies congresses time and prevents them from voting on new laws is okay with me.  Let’s make this happen

    Economic Freedom Zones

    Great, except the states have rights and an enormous amount of say in how this will work. Probably not an issue for a national campaign.

    Repatriation Tax and Infrastructure

    How about not just carving out a specific corporate exemption, but lowering rates to the companies already here as well?

    School Choice (This is not a selective excerpt — this is all Senator Paul said on the matter)

    State issue.

    Iran Negotiations

    This is refreshing to hear from Paul, but would like him to at some point say that if all else fails, he is willing to bomb Iran to prevent them from getting a bomb.

    Foreign Aid

    It angers us all, but it’s also a nothing issue.

    Domestic Surveillance

    The main benefit of a Paul presidency is that we will finally have this battle, and hopefully draw some clear lines on what the government can and can’t do without a warrant.

    • #13
  14. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Love the man. He’s a hero to me on many levels. He puts a lot of thought in to his ideas and listens to people.
    He can’t win though , only a stooge or a crook can win now. Lets hope it’s our stooge or crook this time.
    His ideas are worthy of a decent people and a decent society. I wish he was our president.

    • #14
  15. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Fred Cole:

    Frozen Chosen:“an America where criminal justice is applied equally and any law that disproportionately incarcerates people of color is repealed”

    What if “people of color” break that law more than pale people? Is he saying we should repeal laws against murder? [….]

    No. He’s not talking about laws against murder.

    Of course not. FC’s example was rhetorical. But it shows what a worthless qualification racial proportionality is. It shows that Rand Paul’s position is either poorly thought out or (more likely) an attempt to buy votes.

    • #15
  16. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    I generally agree with Frank Soto, though I give Rand Paul credit for making more significant proposals than most candidates will likely offer.

    Just two proposals, very simple in design but extremely difficult to achieve politically, could fundamentally turn America back toward the Founders’ vision: replace the national income tax with a flat tax (starving the Leviathan) and eliminate the Department of Education.

    Neither will happen, of course. But if all Republicans can offer is to tread water until the Democrats regain control, then we might as well fantasize.

    I do believe Congressional term limits would be significantly beneficial, though.

    • #16
  17. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Aaron Miller:…I do believe Congressional term limits would be significantly beneficial, though.

    It would probably require a Constitutional Amendment however, given current Supreme Court precedents.

    I’m more partial to smaller, but, I think, more impactful changes, like a national right-to-work law along the lines of what Walker did in Wisconsin.

    • #17
  18. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Aaron Miller:I do believe Congressional term limits would be significantly beneficial, though.

    For every Lindsay Graham you lose, you also lose a Tom Cotton eventually.  On net I don’t see much benefit.

    • #18
  19. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Fred Cole:

    MarciN: How about a length limit on the bills? Seriously.

    A few months ago, I would’ve agreed with you about this.

    James of England makes the argument (and I’ll make sure he shows up and does it in person here, so I’m not short-changing him) that there’s more tyranny to be had in short bills than longer ones.

    Basically longer bills spell more things out. This means this. That means that. This authority is this and not that. With shorter bills, it’s nebulous, which can be taken by the administrative state as license to reach wider.

    I’m not sure I buy it, but the argument gave me pause. The other thing is that with longer bills, its easier to hide mischief. Which I think is what you’re getting at.

    Your last paragraph: Yes.

    I am a fan of GW, and so I always tended to try to see if he had a reason for doing what he did. A slippery slope of my own making. But I remember when he passed a harmful bankruptcy bill that the credit card companies and banks had been trying to get through for a decade. It surprised me because the bill was so punitive and its effects on individuals were long-lasting. GW was a everyone-gets-a-second-chance type of guy, so I was puzzled. When the bill passed, he said it contained a clause that enabled the government to attach the paychecks of fathers who had gone missing from their children’s financial lives. Abandoned families was a big deal to GW.  He even tried to start a marriage-helping branch of the government because, he said, the moms need someone. They can’t do this alone. A noble intent.

    At the time, it really bugged me how sometimes the lawmakers get trapped into going along with bad stuff in order to get something good done they care about. Not to mention the editor in me who says, “One well-crafted paragraph . . . ”

    But I see your point too.

    Maybe there are no answers at all. Only messiness everywhere. :)

    • #19
  20. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    Fred Cole:

    Frozen Chosen:“an America where criminal justice is applied equally and any law that disproportionately incarcerates people of color is repealed”

    What if “people of color” break that law more than pale people? Is he saying we should repeal laws against murder?

    Much of what he is saying is worthwhile but he should lose the silly race pandering stuff.

    BTW, thanks for doing the boring work we don’t want to do, Troy.

    No. He’s not talking about laws against murder. (But thanks for trying.)

    What laws was he talking about, exactly?

    BTW, I didn’t get my Daily Shot today – are you slacking off, Fred?

    • #20
  21. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Frank Soto:

    Aaron Miller:I do believe Congressional term limits would be significantly beneficial, though.

    For every Lindsay Graham you lose, you also lose a Tom Cotton eventually. On net I don’t see much benefit.

    Tom Cottons don’t become party leaders.

    • #21
  22. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Frozen Chosen:

    What laws was he talking about, exactly?

    Marijuana prohibition.

    BTW, I didn’t get my Daily Shot today – are you slacking off, Fred?

    He sent it, I got it…

    • #22
  23. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Aaron Miller:

    Tom Cottons don’t become party leaders.

    We can hope!

    • #23
  24. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Aaron Miller:

    Frank Soto:

    Aaron Miller:I do believe Congressional term limits would be significantly beneficial, though.

    For every Lindsay Graham you lose, you also lose a Tom Cotton eventually. On net I don’t see much benefit.

    Tom Cottons don’t become party leaders.

    Will they after term limits are implemented?

    It may be satisfying to see McConnell forced out by a term limit (Not for me, as I see him acting as conservative as the current composition of the senate allows him to be), but it won’t change any of the fundamentals.

    • #24
  25. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    I should also say I’m not against Rand Paul.  He currently sits third in the race for the coveted Frank Soto primary vote.

    • #25
  26. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    Frozen Chosen:BTW, I didn’t get my Daily Shot today – are you slacking off, Fred?

    I got mine.  It must be your paper boy’s fault.

    • #26
  27. skoook Inactive
    skoook
    @skoook

    Rand’s launch : Consulted , State of the Union prose, tailored conventional wisdom, a 6 in genuinessity, below expectations, not the kind of lift off that gets you into orbit. Surely we’ll see better ? In it to win it, the antithesis of Obama, a turn around artist.

    • #27
  28. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Seconding Frank. Most of it was fine but not terribly interesting, but man do I want to see a real, genuine debate among republicans over warrantless domestic surveillance.

    • #28
  29. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:Seconding Frank. Most of it was fine but not terribly interesting, but man do I want to see a real, genuine debate among republicans over warrantless domestic surveillance.

    Yeah, if Lindsay Graham or Chris Christie decides to run this will be an issue.

    • #29
  30. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    It angers me to see mobs burning our flag and chanting “Death to America” in countries that receive millions of dollars in our foreign aid.

    I wouldn’t have put it that way, but I would like to see our foreign aid more contingent on some kind of reciprocity than pure humanitarianism. If you want the United States’ help, show us a good reason to help you. Gratitude ain’t a bad start.

    • #30

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