News & Politics

Rand Paul: GOP Is 'Trying to Buy the Votes of Certain Senators' and It Won't Work for Graham-Cassidy

Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) stood by his opposition to the Republican health care proposal sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), after the Associated Press (AP) reported that Republican leadership had tried to buy his vote by promising extra funds to his home state of Kentucky.

“They’re trying to make adjustments to buy the votes of certain senators by giving them more money for their states,” Paul told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Monday. For conservatives like Paul, however, this strategy is “unseemly” and has “the opposite” effect.

“My point all along has been, we have a $700 billion deficit this year,” the Kentucky senator explained. “We borrow a million dollars a minute, we have a $20 trillion debt. We can’t afford one more entitlement program, we have to put more controls on entitlement programs.”

Paul referred to the Graham-Cassidy plan as “fake repeal.” The bill would “basically keep the Obamacare spending, then they reshuffle it, take it from Democrat states and give it to Republican states. That’s not repeal. That basically, to me, is just sort of keeping it and sending the money to different places.”

Paul, not to be dismissed as a stick in the mud, had positive suggestions as well. A licensed medical doctor and the son of another doctor, Paul has made health care a central issue in his political career. He suggested that if Republican leaders would alter Graham-Cassidy, getting rid of block grants, expanding health savings accounts, putting caps on entitlement spending, and giving governors more control over spending, he might consider voting for it.

“It hurts me deep inside to think of voting for a trillion dollars for Obamacare taxes and spending when that’s what I’ve talked about for seven years that I’m opposed to,” the senator explained.

His office did not respond to requests for comment from PJ Media, and neither did the office of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). On Sunday, Cruz announced his own opposition to the legislation, and signaled that Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) might also be opposed to it.

Lee’s office told PJ Media that the senator has not yet finished reading the legislation. Apparently, this senator actually wishes to know the full details of any measure he would vote on. A staunch constitutionalist, Lee has a high threshold for legislation.

On Monday, the AP reported that an updated measure of the Graham-Cassidy bill would add $14.5 billion in added funds for certain states, among which were Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky, Maine, and Texas. Along with Cruz (Texas) and Paul (Kentucky), Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) has publicly announced his opposition to the bill. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) are undecided but have tended to be unreliable on Republican health care votes.

It has been usual congressional practice to woo hold-outs with special projects or funding (often referred to as “pork”) in order to garner support for a bill. For a libertarian like Rand Paul, however, the idea would be offensive. A small-government conservative would not vote for big government, even if “tempted” by extra federal funds going to his state. In fact, that very “temptation” is more likely to push him away.

Watch Paul’s CNN segment below.