Transcript: Sen. Rand Paul on "Face the Nation," Feb. 11, 2018

The two-year budget deal that brought a brief government shutdown to an end on Friday balloons the deficit by allowing large increases in defense spending and disaster relief programs. The deal was held up in the Senate by Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who objected to the hikes in defense spending and its effects on the deficit. Paul delayed a vote in the Senate by holding forth on the floor until his time expired.

Paul joined us to discuss the budget deal, military spending and what he calls Republicans' "hypocrisy" on government spending. 

The following is a transcript of the interview with Paul that aired Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018, on "Face the Nation."  


MAJOR GARRETT: We go now to Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul whose objection to this week's funding agreement touched off an ever so brief government shutdown. Senator Paul joins us from Palm Beach Florida. Senator, what did you accomplish?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Well you know I think we should draw attention to the fact that we're spending so much money. I ran for office in 2010 with what was called sort of the Tea Party tidal wave. At that point we were very, very critical of President Obama's deficits you know approaching a trillion dollars in a year. We talked endlessly about them we had 100,000 people rally on the Mall in Washington. And I'm still against deficit spending just because Republicans are doing it doesn't make it any better.

MAJOR GARRETT: And now we have deficits projected to be a trillion dollars again and yet they're growing non-recessionary economy or are you troubled by that?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Yeah, I'm very worried and I think one of the questions the Republicans I think are not willing to ask themselves is can you be fiscally conservative and be for unlimited military spending. There's sort of this question, "Is the military budget too small or maybe is our mission too large around the world?" And because Republicans are unwilling to confront that they want more, more, more for military spending. And so to get that they have to give the Democrats what they want which is more and more and more for domestic spending and the compromise while some are happy with bipartisanship. Well if the bipartisanship is exploding the deficit I'm not so sure that's the kind of bipartisanship we need.

MAJOR GARRETT: From your point of view, Senator, on the defense side of the equation is the spending and the mission, are they reckless?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: I think the mission is- is beyond what we need to be we're actively in war in about seven countries. And yet the Congress hasn't voted on declaring or authorizing the use of military force in over 15 years now. So I've been one that's been bugging the Senate and Congress to say how can we be at war without ever voting on it don't the American people through their representatives get a chance to say when we go to war. I think the Afghan war is long past its mission. I think we killed and captured and disrupted the people who attacked us on 9/11 long ago. And I think now it's a nation building exercise. We're spending 50 billion dollars a year. And if the president really is serious about infrastructure, a lot of that money could be spent at home. Instead of building bridges and schools and roads in Afghanistan or in Pakistan. I think we could do that at home and the interesting thing is I think the president's instincts lean that way but --

(CROSSTALK)

MAJOR GARRETT: His policies, his policies, have not though.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: And that's sort of the problem and this is something that we've seen even going back to Reagan conservatives said, "Oh, we love Reagan." Then the people appointed around him were often big government types. That's a little bit of the problem I see here is that I think Donald Trump is probably the least interventionist minded president we've had in a long time. I mean he criticized George Bush for the intervention in the Iraq war. I think he's not that excited about continuing the Afghan war forever. But the generals who surrounded him with don't want to admit that there isn't a military solution. And so the war goes on and on and on. And really I think after 15 years and a trillion dollars that the Afghan it's time for them to take over their country.

MAJOR GARRETT: Senator Paul you and I have talked about this many times you know the instincts in Washington are to spend. You know that's what's going to happen and yet you voted for the tax cut which is contributing to these deficit and debt problems. How do you reconcile those two facts?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: I think if you're for tax cuts and for increasing spending that's hypocritical. But if you're for tax cuts and you're also for cutting spending a corresponding amount. See I would offset the tax cuts with spending cuts and there are a few of us that would actually do that. When we had the budget deal that lowered the taxes I also had an amendment to look at and try to control entitlement spending at the same time to pay for the tax cuts. But interestingly I could only interest three other Republicans. We had four votes total to try to control entitlement spending and that is where the money is.

MAJOR GARRETT: And that's sort of the way, Senator, because you know where the votes are. You know the votes are there for tax cuts. You know they're not there for spending cuts. So, isn't there any part of your voting pattern that is irresponsible?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: I don't think so because you know I can only control how I vote. So I voted for the tax cuts and I voted for spending cuts. The people who voted for tax cuts and spending increases. I think there is some hypocrisy there and it shows they're not serious about the debt. But all throughout my career I've always voted for spending cuts and I'm happy to offset cuts in taxes with cuts in spending. So no I think that I've had a consistent position in being very concerned about the debt and I want to shrink the size of government. So, the reason I'm for tax cuts is I to return more of the money to the people who own that who- who actually deserve to have their money returned to them. But it also shrinks the size of government by cutting taxes or should if you cut spending at the same time.

MAJOR GARRETT: Senator Paul I don't need to tell you this was a rough week in terms of White House personnel. Do you think the president was well served this past week by his chief of staff John Kelly?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: You know I don't know the ins and outs of who hires and fires and who goes through personnel files, but you know all I can say is from looking from the outside in and not really knowing all the facts that obviously domestic violence should be roundly condemned particularly in an advanced world like ours that just something that we shouldn't countenance.

MAJOR GARRETT: Is that a message you think this White House has communicated clearly?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: You know I don't know. I just don't know the ins and outs and I was kind of distracted for about you know 24 hours of that news cycle you know talking for long periods of time about the deficit. And so-- and it's hard for me and I know the media gets consumed with this, you know. But it is sort of a personnel thing that those of us on the outside don't know the ins and outs and I nobody wants to speculate on it.

MAJOR GARRETT: Sure.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: But I think really that we should all roundly condemn domestic violence and--

MAJOR GARRETT: Well, look--

(CROSSTALK)

SENATOR RAND PAUL: -- complicated matters that really they have to deal with because they know all the facts and we don't.

MAJOR GARRETT: Sure. But setting aside the ins and outs. The president said on Twitter due process, lives are being ruined. The vice president said no tolerance. Can you reconcile those two. And if somebody in Kentucky asked you, "Senator, what's their position on this?" Could you explain it to them?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Right.You know it's difficult for me to get involved and there's other than to say that absolutely no place for domestic violence in our world. And then beyond that I will say that there is complicated things and somebody has to. I mean if you've ever been to family court with he said and she said and I'm not saying that I'm denying what these women are saying. I'm just saying that these things are very, very complicated. You go to family court and you're a family court judge you talk about a very, very difficult job. But that being said I don't want to think-- I don't want anybody to believe I'm making excuses. There is no excuse for domestic violence.

MAJOR GARRETT:  Senator Paul, thank you so much for joining us this Sunday. And we'll be back in one minute with the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. Please, stay with us.