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FULL INTERVIEW: Sen. Rand Paul talks inflation, paid family leave, vaccine mandates

One-on-One interview with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
One-on-One interview with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)(WBKO)
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 2:11 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - WBKO News sat down with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) as he discussed a number of topics including vaccine mandates impacting Kentucky, inflation, supply chain issues, his opposition to the Build Back Better and Infrastructure Bill, paid family leave and Covid and masks in schools.

[Transcription after video]

Q: You put out some data about how vaccine mandates will impact Ky workers-- Since you oppose these mandates, what are your other solutions to keep Kentuckians safe?

A: “I think it’s important to know when people say there’s going to be a mandate, what will happen. Well, there’s a possibility more people get vaccinated. That’s one thing. There’s also a possibility that people still resist and they lose their jobs. When they lose their jobs, it’d be an economic impact. There could be possibly over 600,000 Kentuckians lose their job, over $50 million worth of economic productivity could be lost. Before you do a mandate, I think the important questions to ask would be ‘How successful have you been with persuasion?’ When you look at it, I think the numbers are actually very, very encouraging. Well over 90 percent of people over 65 have gotten it. So the people at high risk for dying, have listened and they’ve decided to go ahead and get it -- 90 some odd percent. Over the age 50, and a little bit lower risk category, but still with some risk, it’s about 80-85%. So really, I don’t think we’ve ever had a vaccine that’s actually been this popular and successful. If you add in natural immunity, those like myself have had the disease, that’s a little over 100 million people. So really, I think we do have adequate immunity. The main reason we’re still suffering from this is the virus mutated and in mutating, it’s escaping the vaccine. So, you know, April, May of this year, we got down to less than 10,000 cases a day, and I really thought we’re there, we’re gonna finally defeat the virus. But it came roaring back with this variant. I personally think that rather than forcing people to take a vaccine, we should quickly allow for the development of a new vaccine, the Delta variant vaccine, they have it, they’ve already got it in trials, it’s exactly the same procedure as the previous vaccine. So I would think you could have abbreviated and shortened studies, as long as it’s voluntary. And then I think we might have a more specific vaccine that will have less of these cases, these breakthrough cases that are getting around the vaccine. But I’m absolutely opposed to the mandate, and there will be economic consequences will be bad for Kentucky if we do a mandate.”

Q: Is the Biden Administration doing enough to combat inflation? Biden is expected to speak on this issue tomorrow -- what do you think he should do? What is the solution?

A: “It’s important to know what causes inflation. Inflation comes from debt, government debt. When we have a debt that we don’t pay for through taxes, the Federal Reserve prints new money. So as the Federal Reserve prints money, the prices rise, because there’s an artificial stimulus for demand. So this is caused by too much government spending and too much debt. So Biden’s solution is more spending and more debt. It’s exactly the wrong thing. And shows that basically, they don’t understand the fundamentals of inflation. But we’ve lived through this before we many of us lived through this in the 1970s. And so I think that it’s very important that people realize that if we do this Build Back Better, what we’re going to get is more inflation, more rising prices, gasoline more expensive. You know, this is a tough time. It’s tough for people to afford their food, but it’s also tough for people just to afford a tech a gas.”

Q: What can Kentuckians do NOW that are being impacted by inflation?

A: “I think it’s mainly understanding that when you elect people to government, if they offer you something for nothing, if they say, ‘Hey, we’re going to give you free childcare, we’re going to give you free college or a free car or free cell phone’, that it’s not really free. The government prints up money to pay for the things they give you, or a stimulus check. It’s not free. Government has to print the money. And when they print the money, they devalue the currency, each individual unit becomes worth less and prices rise. So this isn’t an accident. This is coming from too much government, too much of an offer of free things to people.”

Q: While passing in the House, the Build Back Better Bill is expected to face a tough pass in the Senate. Do you have concerns with the bill? What do you think the price tag on the bill means?

A: “I think it’s a big mistake. I think it’ll make inflation worse. And so if you like your prices going up by 18%, you know, for meat and poultry, and all of the prices rising. You’ll get more of this after this. There’ll be no Republican votes for it. There were no Republican votes in the House and there will be no Republican votes in the Senate. You know, it’s kind of weird that we’re essentially a divided country-- we’re evenly Republican and Democrat. Our Senate’s exactly equal, and yet they’re pushing through something that has no bipartisan support. So when President Biden said he was going to be a unifier and bring us together and do bipartisan stuff, what they’re doing is very much the extreme bidding of the far left of their party, not even the middle of their party. So you’ve got complaints from Manchin and Sinema, who tend to be more moderate Democrats, and then you have no Republican so it sounds like they’re governing as if ... ‘we don’t care what 50% of the country wants. And we also don’t care about inflation.’ These are a recipe I think for a disaster for them and for the country.”

Q: What do you think about the paid family leave that’s been taken in and out of the bill and now being potentially put back in? Does the government need to make this element of the bill a greater priority?

A: “I think it’s great that as we’ve evolved over the last generation or two, as more women have gotten into the workplace, there is more paid family leave. And I think about a third, 33, maybe 40% of employers actually offer it. The danger to the government offering it is if the government offers it, it’s about this good. And you’re already getting it about this good from private, and maybe the private people say, well, why should I pay for this for my employees, now the government does it. So it may be that you actually get the lowest common denominator and you get less good. Now, you’ll say it’ll be universal. But the thing is, is somebody has to pay for it. It’s extraordinarily expensive. So we will all pay for it, it won’t be free. It’ll be paid for by rising inflation. The problem with rising inflation is not just that you pay more, it also can lead to a recession, the boom and bust cycle of the 1970s. The 1970s was not a very prosperous time, we grew at a very slow rate, we had high unemployment. Right now we have low unemployment. But what happens if we go to 10 or 15% unemployment and 10 or 15% inflation, that’s going to be a disaster for us. So I’m all for paid family leave but it’s been developed mostly over time naturally in the marketplace.”

Q: With the latest bi-partisan infrastructure bill, Kentucky is expected to receive more than $5 billion dollars in road, bridge, water and internet infrastructure. However, you opposed the bill-- what is the biggest hold up for you?

A: “I think there’s a role for government in building infrastructure. And I’ve had many different proposals to try to build infrastructure for Kentucky. One of the main proposals I’ve had is to quit spending money overseas building roads and bridges for other countries and let’s build them here. We’re spending about $50 billion a year in Afghanistan. So there should it be a peace dividend. We’ve ended the war. The exit was a nightmare. But we are gone. Where’s the peace dividend? Unfortunately, both Republicans and Democrats say they want to expand the military, no matter whether we’re in less places or not. So that money is getting all soaked up. So how did we do this infrastructure bill, we did it by adding on debt. So we’ve basically borrowed it. So I’m for infrastructure, but it should be paid for by taking wasteful spending in other parts of government and paying for infrastructure. I don’t think adding debt. So normal government, before we do any of the things we’ve been doing this year, we borrow a trillion dollars for Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, social security, and military, we borrow a trillion, but then we’ve added all of this spending on and we don’t have it I mean, there’s no fund in Washington, it has to be printed by the Federal Reserve. So it’s all going to lead to inflation.”

Q: Is there an end in sight for supply chain issues?

A: “I think it’s not surprising that this is largely in California. Now, it’s across the world but it’s largely in California is where the big bottleneck is. The government created this problem, government lock the economy down so government back things up. So really, this is not a natural phenomenon. This is an unnatural phenomenon created by government shutting the economy down. There’s a big shortage of truckers in the country. Some of it’s because when we shut the economy down, instead of going to retail stores, everybody started ordering online. Now they already were, but let’s say a third of the people were -- now everybody’s ordering online. And so everything’s coming from trucks, and everything’s coming, you know, across the Pacific. And what you have is a bottleneck because of that. But you have also some man-made problems as well. In California, they decided they didn’t want to let Uber and Lyft drivers be independent. That also applies to truck drivers. So independent truck drivers are persona non grata in California right now, because of their Byzantine rules about employment versus contractors. That’s caused a shortage. You also can’t go to California if your truck engines over older than 2010. You also can’t go there if you’re an independent trucker, and you tend to drive longer hours than maybe the federal government wants you to be driving-- you don’t go to California either. So there’s a lot of people avoiding California. We also do need more truck drivers. We’re gonna need more truck drivers over the next generation. And I’m suggesting that we look at the age. The age is 21 now. I think there are 18-year-olds that are high-performing that could be could be truck drivers with the right training. But I think we need to start in high school both with training and with this opportunity. It’s a pretty good job. I mean, there are truck drivers that can make $75,000 to over $100,000 a year. It’s long drives, but they need responsible people and people that will drive carefully and don’t have a bad driving record, things like that. We are really at a loss right now. So we’re gonna have to do something about supply chain inflation. There’s also another aspect of it in the sense that prices are being bid up. I saw today that Chinese shipping transports are up 350%. So inflation is affecting the world because the world did the same thing we did -- they all printed up money and passed it out to everyone, which is a recipe basically for what we’re getting inflation.”

Q: What about those Kentuckians who needed that need help, they needed that those stimulus checks? What about that?

A: “I think the question should have always been and this is primarily Governor Beshear, who created the lockdown recession--- would be, did it work? Because this could happen again. Many of us think that the virus came from a lab in Wuhan and that it could come out of a lab again. If we get something like this, again, we need to ask did the lockdown work. I don’t think anything that the governor did, you know to say you can’t have a drink after 10 o’clock at night that it’s fine to have a drink between nine and 10. And then after 10 o’clock, you bars can’t be open or that you have 25% of people or 50% of the people in a hotel. He destroyed the hotel and the restaurant industry. But I don’t think there’s any evidence that any of it worked. If you look at state by state, all the mandates. So they’ll put in a mask mandate and you say well to the disease go down. No, the disease usually just kept rising up. There’s no evidence that any of the mandates worked. The only thing that works is immunity. Vaccinated immunity works. And so does natural immunity. None of the other things probably work. Almost all the masks that people were people were breathing around the mask, I mean, you’re not stopping it, unless you’ve got an air seal. Air is just going right around your mask. If it’s a cloth mask, the viruses go right through the cloth mask. The N 95 masks do work to a certain extent, that’s what doctors and nurses wear in the hospital. But they don’t touch them at all. They get them really tight. They wash their hands, they wear gloves, when they come out, they take everything off and wash their hands again. If anybody thinks they can live like that, you could get a mask maybe to work but not a cloth mask. So I just think there’s no evidence that any of this stuff works. And the question is, what do you do for people-- don’t lock the economy down. But printing up checks wasn’t a good idea. Because in the end, you feel rich for a while you spend it. And then in the end, what you wind up with is the rising prices that negate the effect the check had in the first place.”

Q: Some of our school districts have, you know, implemented masks, taking the mandate out. We saw Barren County lift their mask mandate, and then they saw a spike in COVID cases and they re-implemented that mandate.

A: “No evidence that the masks work at all for kids and in schools-- they don’t prevent outbreaks. If you look at Sweden, they haven’t worn any masks for the last two years. They have 1.8 million children from the ages of one to 15. They haven’t worn a mask the entire time, they’ve had zero COVID deaths among children who say, Well, what about the teachers and the teachers all get sick from the kids-- the teachers have the same incidence of the disease of every other occupation in Sweden. So really, we are fooling and deluding ourselves and we’re punishing our children. No scientific evidence that the maths work. If they had an increase in numbers if they took the mask off, probably entirely coincidental. But if you look at whole areas where they’re not wearing them, in Florida, about half the counties didn’t wear a mask and half wore, and they measure the incidence the disease and was the same. And these were large counties. So one school district could have an outbreak. And you might not know-- the other thing is if you had an outbreak, were any of the kids sick? If you didn’t get sick, or you realize how much of an illness is that if the kids aren’t getting sick. So I think we have to try to use some science and some common sense, but there are entire countries who don’t wear masks at all and are doing just fine.”

Q: How do you prepare your turkey?

A: “Now this I can really tell you the inside secret years ago I saw on some food channel where you can dissect under the skin and so I put all of my herbs and spices under the skin and bake it into the turkey for four or five hours. It is the best.”

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