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The United States Senate has approved a $900 billion stimulus package to address the effects of policies implemented during the pandemic. In response, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has made one of the most important speeches in the Party, putting into perspective the catastrophe that the stimulus package will represent for citizens.
This speech, moreover, took the opportunity to make one of the most epic criticisms of many of the representatives of his party who have perhaps entered this new quasi-laboratory stage of the Party with a great dogma.
In a twelve-minute speech, Paul attacks the hypocrisy of several members of his party, puts the Senate as a whole and the country into perspective regarding government expenditures, shows the catastrophic effects that a permanent return to huge public spending can have on future generations and regarding what is the true and only way to save the country.
Rand Paul, Mr. No-Free-Money
“Republicans like to make fun of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT),” with this phrase Rand Paul opens his speech with his characteristic calm voice. The main premise of MMT is that the state can print money without discretion and with impunity. To focus his criticism on the Republicans who support this stimulus package, he uses the phrase of former Vice President Dick Cheney “Ronald Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter” recalling the radical increase in public spending that the U.S. president implemented during his administrations.
For the senator, the Republicans who are supporting this nearly 6,000-page bill represent and propose everything they claim to oppose. This law, says Paul, is basically “free money for all” and does not discriminate among people. The package virtually forces people to go deeper into debt and accept the money, whether they are fully employed, whether they own their own homes, whether they own their own businesses.
MMT practically consists of this thought that Rand Paul proposes later: “if money grows on trees, why not give more money? Why not give it all the time? Why stop at $600 per person? Why not give $1,000? Why not give $2,000? If we can print money with impunity, why not do it?”
The Republicans who supported the package he calls “Free-Money Republicans” are criticized by Paul because, in his view, they are quick to criticize the socialism of the Democrats but, in reality, they are not much different. Citizens should remember those conservatives who denounce socialism and who supported this package, says the senator, that they will be converting the difference of the parties from “Adam Smith vs. Karl Marx” to “Karl Marx vs. Friedrich Engels.
To so-called conservatives who are quick to identify the socialism of Democrats, if you vote for this spending monstrosity you are no betterSenator Rand Paul (R-KY)
The government in perspective
After his criticism of the Republican Party, Rand Paul proceeds to put the public on notice about the government’s giant public spending. Last year, he reveals, the government raised $3.3 billion and spent $6.6 billion, creating a deficit the same size as the money raised.
“The coffers are bare. We have no rainy day fund. We have no savings account. Congress has spent all of the money. Congress spent all of the money a long time ago,” the senator pointed out. Congress, he says, has spent all the money. But, he clarifies, the problem of astronomical spending is not a recent one but is practically a bipartisan political tradition.
Under George W. Bush, public spending rose from $5 trillion to $10 trillion. Under Obama, it went from $10 trillion to $20 trillion. But from the Obama era until now, the increase is $27 trillion and has been rising by $1 trillion annually. But Rand Paul doesn’t stop there, and he reveals even more alarming figures for citizens.
The debt per citizen is $136,000 and has no plans to stop. The only inheritance the children will get, he says, will be this debt that will nullify any economic opportunity for them in the future. The total debt represented 55% of the GDP 20 years ago, now it represents 128%, reveals Paul.
Congress spent all money!Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
To put this in perspective, the senator uses figures that communicate the proportion of what a billion dollars represents. “A billion seconds ago it was 1988 and Reagan was president. A billion minutes ago, Jesus Christ was walking on the shores of Galilee. A billion hours ago men were still living in caves. But a billion dollars ago it was 80 minutes ago. At the rate Congress is spending money, a billion dollars was 80 minutes ago.”
The hypocrisy of the pandemic
This is the fundamental problem – and not the pandemic, argues Rand Paul. “The debt problem is made worse because mayors and governors impose terrible restrictions that crush businesses. It is not the pandemic, but the government that is dedicated to restricting the economy that has caused so many calamities during these times.”
Paul detects a correlation between the authorities of the regions and the government of the Union: as long as the governors and mayors continue to be given money, more restraints will be decreed. “Every dollar of aid passed on to the governors only allows these “brass dictators” to perpetuate the confinements. They impose arbitrary and unscientific rules, schedules without any kind of criteria, force businesses to attend partially in order to close them down again, take away and revoke at will permits to operate, while hundreds of thousands of jobs are lost.
“If we continue to finance these tinfoil dictators, they will continue to prevent the opening of the economy. The government, the senator argues, has been the biggest obstacle to our economic recovery.
For Senator Paul, Congress should stop automatically increasing public spending and start looking within the budget to find savings that can pay for these needs.
To Make America Great Again, we must Make America Open Again
Paul closes his speech with a “there is an alternative: open the economy!” Against a package that would only critically increase the debt of the citizens, he asks that Americans be allowed to rebuild their lives through work.
Maintaining restrictions, maintaining an eternal war in Afghanistan that continues to cost the United States $50 billion and thousands of lives, keeping the economy closed, and maintaining the increase in public spending, in Rand Paul’s opinion, will only plunge the country into an unprecedented economic decline that future generations will have to bear.
His speech finishes with a lesson to the government and his fellow party members:
Leadership is not passing on the problem to someone who cannot protest: Leadership is making the hard choices now!
Rafael Valera, Venezuelan, student of Political Science, political exile in São Paulo, Brazil since 2017 // Rafael Valera, venezolano, es estudiante de Ciencias Políticas y exiliado político en São Paulo, Brasil desde 2017