Photo Caption: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul talks about his mother's roots in Ohio, while addressing Republican supporters in Athens Friday.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, visited Athens County GOP headquarters Friday afternoon, stumping for the Republican 2012 slate of candidate. But this wasn't your typical campaign speech.
Paul used the opportunity to slam the whole of Washington for what he deems its spending problems, hitting Democrats and Republicans alike for refusing to begin making even limited cuts in international spending.
Paul, the son of former libertarian and GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, a long-time congressman from Texas, did express his support for the Republican ticket, nevertheless, during a speech where he touched on foreign aid, debt and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"Politicians get a bad rep and I think, often, deservedly so," he said to a crowd of about 50 people, pointing to a 10 percent approval rating for U.S. Congress. "The reason I think the approval rating is so low is I don't think they're listening."
As an example, Paul said the country sends $30 billion to foreign countries. Paul called out countries like Pakistan, Egypt and Libya where religious violence and anti-Americanism is rampant.
"I don't think we should send them any more money," he said.
Paul said he would just as soon end all foreign aid, but as a compromise he proposed an amendment that would have put foreign aid to these types of countries on hold until certain requirements are met.
"I was trying to put the moderate position out," he said, slamming ruling families of poor countries that receive this aid for hording it for themselves and buying luxury sport automobiles with it. "That's your money. And when I had the motion, do you know what the vote was? I got 10 votes. Most of the Republicans voted against me and all of the Democrats voted against me."
He slammed President Obama for calling for more foreign aid.
"We don't have the money to begin with. We have to borrow it from China to send it to Egypt," he said. "I sense the crowd is with me here. I sense most of the public is with me. But Congress isn't. That's why their approval rating is so low."
Another example, he said, was last month when he wanted to cut a measly $9 million total from sugar subsidies. Again, he was met with refusals.
"We couldn't do it," he said. "They said, 'Nine million won't help," but you've got to get started somewhere. To solve our debt problem you know how many times you'd have to cut $9 million? 140,000 times. We've got to get started somewhere."
Paul called for America to get back to offering opportunity instead of handouts.
"We're borrowing money. We borrow a trillion dollars. How do we pay for it? We print up more money. When you print up more money, the value of your currency goes down," he said. "So who gets hurt worst with rising prices? Rich people do fine. I do fine. But if you're a working class guy or a senior citizen, you have fixed wages. So you are the one getting robbed by all this."
Paul said that the American dream is a dream of self-worth. He then called on conservatives to acknowledge overspending on the military. He said that the total U.S. military spending comes in just a shade less that the total of all other countries' military spending combined.
He said conservatives have to note the problem of overspending on military, and Democrats have to acknowledge overspending on entitlements.
"It's going to take some tough love," he said. "We need to figure out how to pay for it."
He called for all programs to undergo means testing. Without doing this, he said, the country will head toward a cataclysm where it's printing so much money that it destroys its own currency.
"I would say there are stark choices here between President Obama and Governor Romney," Paul said, pivoting toward the election. "The choices are, do you really believe the American dream still exists?"
AFTER HIS SPEECH, IN AN interview, Sen. Paul said that the two areas of the economy where costs are rising faster than anywhere else are health care and education.
"Both are heavily subsidized by government," he said. "So you might ask, when you subsidize demand, do you raise prices? And that is the truth. I'm not sure exactly what the answer is."
Paul said it's a matter of prioritizing.
He said that student debt is topping $1 trillion and he feels sorry for students leaving school with $100,000 in loans and not finding work, or accepting positions where they are overqualified.
As for advice?
"I would think about what your practical skills are going to be," he said. "If you graduate with a math or science major, you're probably going to be fine."
Paul told the crowd he was born in Pittsburgh, but grew up in Texas and lives in Kentucky. He was greeted with mild groans when it was revealed he is a Steelers fan.
"Being a Steelers fan was not popular in Texas. It wasn't popular in Kentucky and apparently it's not popular in Ohio," he said to laughs, apparently unaware that Athens does have a healthy Steeler fan base.