Rand Paul’s Scary Numbers

Rand PaulSteven Dennis over at Roll Call goes after Rand Paul’s use of old talking points. Paul is going around saying, “We are now borrowing $40,000 a second. We are borrowing $4 billion a day.” Oh. My. God! Did he say “$4 billion a day”?! That’s a Very Large Number! And as normal with these kinds of pronouncements, there is no context at all.

Dennis reported that these numbers are no longer valid. With the huge decrease in the deficit, we are now borrowing half as much. But Rand Paul has not changed his talking points. I don’t know what Dennis is expecting. So the government is borrowing only $2 billion a day? The amount does not matter. It could be $2 million a day. What Paul is really saying is, “We are borrowing mumble mumble a day! Are you not outraged!”

Also note that Paul tweeted, “We borrow from China just to run the ordinary functions of government.” That’s technically true. But it is deceptive. The Chinese portion of government borrowing is 8%. The point is that Rand Paul has no interest in the budget or government borrowing. He just wants to scare everyone. “Look: big number!” It doesn’t matter whether the number is right or not. He’s deceiving people whatever the numbers are.

A similar thing happened last year. Rand Paul was on a talk show with Paul Krugman. Paul said that government spending was up; Krugman corrected him. Afterwords, Paul found out the truth: while Federal spending was up, total government spending was down. He then proceeded to dismiss this because apparently, only federal government spending counts. Rand Paul never lets the facts get in the way of his talking points.

Like most conservative zealots, Rand Paul is in a constant state of outrage about the government. Since he is ideologically committed to the idea that the government is by definition bad, he never looks at what the government does to figure out if any given part of it is good or bad. He just knows that it is all bad. And thus we get the comments like, “Do you know how much the government is borrowing?!” It’s all context free. Rand Paul adds nothing to the policy debate, even when he’s right about a particular policy.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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