David Cay Johnston dissects the difference between Rand Paul's rhetoric, and what he actually does. Mr. Free Market wasted $250 million in taxpayer money on one cynical deal to protect Kentucky coal before an election, but Your Librul Media refuses to cover it. Gee, I wonder why?
Senator Rand Paul, hoping to become president, says he is a tight-fisted libertarian working on behalf of beleaguered Americans to cut spending and stop waste.
But if you look at what he has done, rather than what he says, a completely different story emerges.
In just one deal, Paul wasted a quarter-billion dollars. The terms resemble the old Soviet central planning model, which Paul claims he abhors.
Paul’s role in the deal, which propped up two big Kentucky enterprises at the expense of millions of Americans living in the Pacific Northwest, has gotten no attention from the political reporters covering his campaign. Instead of scrutinizing his actions, they just quote what he says, while serving up frivolous stories that are as cheap as they are easy to throw together.
Just based on what Paul says, there is plenty to examine. He has a habit of getting facts completely wrong. You seldom hear about fabrications and errors, however, unless an opponent points them out. Political reporters tend to just quote candidates without checking facts or challenging assumptions.
While Paul boasts that he underspent his Senate office budget by $1.8 million since 2011, many members of Congress do the same. Just ahead of his presidential campaign announcement, he spent tax dollars on a makeover of his Senate website to make it look less focused on rural Kentucky and more on Paul as a supposedly visionary leader. That got little coverage.
Grover Norquist calls Paul “a taxpayer advocate,” and many news reports cast him as a friend of taxpayers.
What you probably have not read is that the junior Kentucky senator wants to fully tax wages, while letting plutocrats enjoy tax-free dividends, interest, and capital gains.
But the quote that invites serious examination of Paul’s record is this one from his presidential campaign announcement: “Too often when Republicans have won, we’ve squandered our victory by becoming part of the Washington machine. That’s not who I am.”
Oh yes, he is, as we shall see.
Johnston then exposes the inner workings of a uranium deal Paul did. (Go read it, it's too complicated to excerpt and still do it justice) He writes:
A new report this month analyzed the costs of the uranium deal. Rather than saving money, BPA wasted $250 million buying fuel years in advance and storing it.
Utility economist Robert McCullough made the calculations after filing requests for BPA’s internal records. “I used their data, their economic modeling,” said McCullough, whose work I have found consistently reliable over many years.
You might think $250 million being wasted would have made every newspaper and broadcast news program in Oregon and Washington, where the burden comes to about $90 for every family of four.
The group that sponsored the report, Oregon and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, contacted news outlets big and small, said Chuck Johnson, who runs its nuclear power task force.Total coverage: this National Memo column.
Paul’s deal worked like a hidden tax on people and businesses in the Pacific Northwest. Their pockets were drained to subsidize Kentuckians and help Republicans in the 2012 elections. That is precisely the kind of economic activity that Paul claims he opposes, asserting such transfers both morally wrong and economically inefficient.
Also not covered in Kentucky or anywhere else, except for my reporting, is the anti-market nature of the deal Rand Paul championed. As Christopher Paine of the National Resources Defense Council told me: “This was not a business deal, it was exactly like the old Soviet deals in the days of Soviet central planning.”
If journalists accurately quote politicians like Paul on what they say they will do, yet pay almost no attention to what they do, how can voters possibly make informed choices? Our democracy is already under assault by plutocrats writing huge checks to trick us into believing what’s good for them is good for America.
We need news that is more than recirculating the hot air coming from the mouths of politicians. Without it, our democracy will have as much substance as, well, recirculated hot air.