Rand Paul Doubles Down On Ignorance

June 07, 2010 12:26 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Rand Paul

On Saturday, U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul (R-KY) wrote a column in the Bowling Green Daily News, defending his criticism of laws that forbid discrimination in private businesses.  In the piece, Paul explained his stance by calling himself an "idealist" -- like Martin Luther King, Jr. -- before coming out against bans on smoking in restaurants.

Paul went on to blame the media for supposedly twisting his previous comments, arguing that he is simply concerned that the federal government's efforts to protect the rights of all Americans have unduly "burdened" small businesses:

Now the media is twisting my small government message, making me out to be a crusader for repeal of the Americans for Disabilities Act and The Fair Housing Act. Again, this is patently untrue. I have simply pointed out areas within these broad federal laws that have financially burdened many smaller businesses.

For example, should a small business in a two-story building have to put in a costly elevator, even if it threatens their economic viability? Wouldn't it be better to allow that business to give a handicapped employee a ground floor office?

Paul is either confused or deliberately misleading his readers.  As the Washington Post's Greg Sargent notes, Paul's "costly elevator" scenario is implausible given that the Americans with Disabilities Act specifically exempts most buildings under three stories.  The law states:

(b) Elevator

Subsection (a) of this section shall not be construed to require the installation of an elevator for facilities that are less than three stories or have less than 3,000 square feet per story unless the building is a shopping center, a shopping mall, or the professional office of a health care provider or unless the Attorney General determines that a particular category of such facilities requires the installation of elevators based on the usage of such facilities.

Sargent adds, "Paul has repeatedly floated this scenario, even though it's been debunked. And he continues to do so. He wants you to fancy him a serious political thinker, but he either can't bother to get the facts straight or just keeps makin' it up."