Rand Paul Says Tax Cuts Aren't A Cost, But Counts Them In Cost Of The Recovery Act

October 04, 2010 3:06 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Rand Paul

Following his rocky debut on the national stage, Kentucky Republican Rand Paul made a calculated decision to "nibble around the edges," obscure his policy positions, and stay out of the limelight.  Paul's aversion to the press is well-learned; while fellow Tea Party candidates Sharron Angle (R-NV) and Christine O'Donnell (R-DE) provide endless fodder for headlines, Paul's own radical agenda has not received nearly the same level of attention.

Yesterday, Paul appeared on Fox News Sunday for an informal debate with his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway.  The show served as a useful reminder of why Paul shut out the national media in the first place.  Not only are his attitudes about civil rights, mine safety, and Medicare (among other things) far outside the mainstream, but he seems helplessly confused on basic matters of policy.  Take, for example, Paul's argument that the government doesn't have to pay for tax cuts:    

Q: You said at the very beginning, the first issue you mention was the national debt. If you're so concerned about the national debt, how are you going to pay for a $4 trillion loss of revenue from the tax cuts?

PAUL: I think, first of all you look at whose money it is. It's the people's money, who earned the money; we give up some to pay taxes, so I'm not seeing it as a cost to government.

With few exceptions, it is Republican dogma that tax cuts pay for themselves, so Paul's position isn't all that remarkable.  At the same time, though, the far-right Senate hopeful railed against President Obama's "trillion-dollar stimulus," clearly counting tax cuts as part of the bill's cost.  The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included $288 billion in tax relief, accounting for more than one-third of its total price tag.   

While the Recovery Act cut taxes for 95 percent of working families, Paul and the rest of the GOP are fighting to give tax breaks to the rich.  It's nearly impossible to argue that tax cuts for the middle class cost almost $300 billion while simultaneously arguing tax cuts for millionaires don't cost a penny — but that's exactly what Republicans are doing.