Rand Paul Tells Lies in Detroit

Jeff Wattrick, one of Michigan’s best muckraking journalists, went to hear Rand Paul’s speech to the Detroit Economic Club last week and asked him a simple question: Why did you vote to continue subsidizing crop insurance for tobacco farmers? His response was a rather blatant lie.

Paul had just finished telling the crowd at the Motor City Casino that government programs hinder rather than help economic activity so, given his libertarian view of government programs, it’s odd that he would support a program that shackles tobacco farmers in his home state of Kentucky to the burden of federally-subsidized insurance. This is a man who once equated food stamps to slavery, after all.

Crop insurance subsidies sound a lot like Obamacare—Paul is a critic—for plants instead of people. You’d think Paul would want the government to get out of the way, so the free market would be better able to fulfill the crop insurance needs of his tobacco-growing constituents.

The junior senator from Kentucky has (mostlybeen against farm subsidies in the past and he did mention his general opposition on Friday. However, when he had an opportunity to kill one of those subsidies, Paul apparently sided with the big government status quo. What happened?

Paul explained that he voted against the tobacco amendment—offered by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA)—because, he said, it wouldn’t have actually eliminated the subsidy.

“I don’t think the amendment was to cut the program,” Paul said, explaining that the issue was whether or not the program would be included in the budget or as an off-budget item.

But in fact the amendment he voted against would have eliminated federal subsidies for tobacco crop insurance, saving over $30 million a year. Paul voted against it, of course, because of pressure from Kentucky’s tobacco farmers, who didn’t want the federal gravy train to end. But food stamps are like slavery. And government subsidies are terrible. Except when they’re not.

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  • marcus

    And Rand Paul is a tireless crusader for liberty and justice except when he’s a lying asshole.

  • Artor

    Rand Paul tells lies, period. He just happened to be in Detroit for this particular whopper.

  • The only newsworthy part of your post, Ed, is the city where Rand Paul is lying.

  • Michael Heath

    Artor writes:

    Rand Paul tells lies, period. He just happened to be in Detroit for this particular whopper.

    We know it’s a general attribute of politicians to at least sometimes lie. We also know that nearly all contemporaneous Republicans predominately depend on dishonest premises to promote their most important positions, e.g., fiscal policy, other domestic policy matters – especially energy policy, social issues, etc.

    I bring this up because while it’s true Rand Paul is a liar, he’s no different in the honesty department than nearly all elected Republicans, at least at the state and federal level. He may tell more outrageous lies than some, but they’re all lying about their most important platform planks.

    I find MI’s current governor, Republican Rick Snyder to be a very rare exception. Not that he doesn’t lie, he does, but I find him lying at the same propensity as a leading Democratic figure, like Barack Obama.

  • …given his libertarian view of government programs, it’s odd that he would support a program that shackles tobacco farmers in his home state of Kentucky to the burden of federally-subsidized insurance. This is a man who once equated food stamps to slavery, after all.

    It’s incredibly ironic that the conservatarian right has chosen a hyper-paternalistic argument for opposing government subsidies. In their up-is-down universe, giving people money is bad for them, it makes them dependent, but they’re too stupid to know any better. They need Rand Paul to explain to them what’s really in their best interests. NANNY-STATER.

  • thascius

    While libertarians may oppose government programs in principal, in practice they generally only oppose government programs which aid the poor. In addition to farm subsidies, libertarians/tea partiers are also ferociously defensive of government handouts to the oil industry and seek to increase government spending on defense (military contractors).

  • Jordan Genso

    Michael Heath wrote:

    I find MI’s current governor, Republican Rick Snyder to be a very rare exception. Not that he doesn’t lie, he does, but I find him lying at the same propensity as a leading Democratic figure, like Barack Obama.

    Michael, what would your thoughts be about comparing President Obama’s “if you like your insurance…” statement to Gov. Snyder claiming that the emergency manager law was justified because it would give cities the ability to avoid bankruptcy? An emergency manager was forced onto Detroit, yet they still had to file bankruptcy, which leads to the question of why the EM was appointed. And was the prediction/claim that the EM would let them avoid bankruptcy therefore a lie (in a similar manner to “…you can keep your insurance”)?

    They aren’t a perfect comparison (few things ever are), but do you think they are similar enough to bring up in public?

  • Michael Heath

    Jordan Genso,

    I hadn’t heard Gov. Snyder make the claim the EM law was intended to avoid bankruptcies.

    I had dinner with a friend of mine tonight. He’s an Oakland county resident and a liberal. He voted for Snyder. He wants to see Detroit get reorganized. Like this should have happened a long time ago.

    Snyder’s 2010 Democratic gubernatorial opponent has recently criticized Snyder from the right, claiming Snyder was too hesitant use the EM. That Mr. Snyder should have been more personally involved and more energetic in wielding this power.

    I don’t enough know enough about the Detroit metro-area’s politics to weigh-in on how prudent it is to take on this issue. From my perspective people outside of Detroit proper, regardless of party, wanted the EM law instigated sooner, not later. Not just conservatives but also liberals, and certainly moderates. That we’re fine with bankruptcy if it stops the bleeding.

    Does this issue directly effect your district?

    Tonight my friend and I both reported we each had two primary objections against Gov. Snyder. His signing the recent law against unions, and his signing bills restricting abortion rights. The latter being no surprise since he campaigned in western MI (Calvin country) as an anti-abortion rights advocate. I’m surprised at how little energy there is out there to confront the GOP on their war on women.

    On the unions, I do think people in this state, with the exception of the GOP base, are very upset with the governor on his union vote where it provides an opening against him. That we Michiganders see our state as crucial to the future of unions, and hold our union legacy with pride, in spite of the role unions played with the mismanagement of Detroit (where unions were only one bad actor amongst many).

  • skinnercitycyclist

    Isn’t Rand Paul also in favor of price supports for marijuana (i.e., keeping it illegal so that dealers and growers can make bank)? I guess he is just ok with anything smokable…

  • Jordan Genso

    Michael Heath,

    I will have to respond later when I have a better opportunity. I was looking for an editorial Gov. Snyder wrote last year, but couldn’t find it at the moment. I did find this though, which isn’t the same, but is him claiming he wouldn’t allow Detroit to file bankruptcy:


  • Jordan Genso

    Here is the editorial Gov. Snyder wrote:


    The title (which he probably didn’t choose any more than Romney’s “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” op-ed title) is:

    Emergency Manager Law is a needed tool to help cities, school districts avoid bankruptcies

    And there’s also a quote in this article from his office, arguing the same thing:


    “The governor feels strongly that he has a responsibility to the citizens and taxpayers of struggling communities and our overall state, and that we simply can’t ignore these fiscal crises of communities or school districts and allow them go into bankruptcy.”

    -spokeswoman for Gov. Snyder

    The emergency manager law has little influence in my district, since even though some of the townships are in a financial crisis over bonds they are having difficulty repaying, the county is very white and very conservative, so I don’t think the Republicans would allow an EM to take over here. But I do feel that as a candidate, I still must take a position on the emergency manager law.

    My position for the past couple of years is that I’ve never seen a compelling reason as to why an EM would be preferable (from the municipality’s point of view) to bankruptcy. The EM Law is unquestionably anti-democratic, and bankruptcy is the system that was designed to handle these crises, so we should let it. I’ve read editorials stating that a bankruptcy judge would have nearly the same powers as an EM, but just because the harm done by an EM could also be done by a bankruptcy judge, doesn’t mean we should let the EM do it. But most of the arguments I heard were that the EM was the only way for the cities to avoid bankruptcy, and so I think Detroit shows that that is a lie. An EM was forced onto Detroit, took whatever actions he wanted, and the city still had to file bankruptcy, where a judge will get to do the same. The EM in Detroit’s situation didn’t help anything, and instead only served to do the governor’s bidding. That is why the EM Law is bad- it is a major power grab by the governor. For Gov. Snyder to get to force dictators onto cities, rather than let the eventual-dictator-already-in-place (aka bankruptcy judge) handle the situation, is a huge shift in power that I’ve not heard a legitimate justification for.

    But I’ve also wanted to find a “compromise” for the situation. Even if I accept the arguments that an EM is needed, then there still is no reason to dismantle democracy in the process. Allow the cities to vote for their dictator, rather than having one forced upon them by the governor. I know many people feel the voters can’t be trusted, since their elected officials up to this point failed to do the job properly, but none of those elected officials had the dictatorial powers of the EM. It’s entirely possible that the mayor, or one of the city council members, knew the best options to resolve the crisis, but wasn’t able to get the rest of the elected officials to agree. The EM doesn’t have the checks-or-balances on their power that each of the elected officials up to this point had.

    Imagine the U.N. looking at the dysfunction in D.C., and using that as an excuse to appoint a dictator that would take all power away from Congress and the White House. We would not accept that. And if their argument was that a dictator was needed in order to get our government functioning again, then we should at least be allowed to choose who we want as our dictator, because regardless of whether we chose President Obama, or Speaker Boehner, or someone else, nearly any dictator would be able to end the dysfunction (just as nearly any dictator would be able to help the cities get out of their financial crisis).

    I’m opposed to giving any individual dictatorial powers, but if one side is convinced that it is necessary, then let’s at least keep some semblance of letting the people choose who governs over them.