Exactly a week after the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Affordable Healthcare Act was constitutional, Sen. Rand Paul clarified a comment of his that has received national attention.
The senator was speaking Thursday afternoon at the Memorial Building during a Hopkinsville Kiwanis Club meeting.
Paul spent a large portion of his time talking about the act, more commonly known as Obamacare. Immediately following the high court’s decision, Paul issued a statement saying, “Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional.”
Paul has taken flack for his statement, and he took some time Thursday to clarify what he meant.
“People have been giving me grief for saying, ‘It’s still unconstitutional,’” he said. “The Supreme Court decided. But my opinion hasn’t changed. … That doesn’t mean I don’t consider the court to be invalid. The decision stands. And the only way to change it is through another election.”
Paul said that four Supreme Court justices ruled the law was unconstitutional, and even though they were in the minority, their position that the health insurance mandate is unconstitutional probably hasn’t changed. He also pointed out that the Supreme Court has changed course in the past, and just because the court rules something is constitutional doesn’t mean that decision won’t be reversed in the future.
Paul also said Thursday that the Supreme Court’s decision sets a dangerous precedent. He said, if Congress now has the power to tax those who don’t buy health insurance, there is no limit to what they can tax.
He called it the “road to ‘unlimited’ government.”
Paul also said socialized medicine doesn’t work. With greater access to care, people are much more likely to over-utilize health care, which will lead to longer wait times for people who need care. He cited the system in England, saying many people have to wait weeks to get surgery.
“For many years in England, you couldn’t even get dialysis,” he said.
Paul also said that there was no logical way to pay for Obamacare when the country is spending $1 trillion more than it collects every year.
“I have trouble wrapping my mind around how we’re $1 trillion short in the budget … and now we’re going to insure everybody. And it’s going to reduce the deficit?” he said. “It makes absolutely no sense.”
Paul used the inability to fund Obamacare to segue into a discussion of the national debt. He called for an amendment to the Constitution that would require a balanced budget, instead of allowing provisions to borrow money and go into further debt. He also suggested increasing the requirement age for Social Security in addition to means testing.
Mostly, he emphasized that government borrowing has to be limited.
“That can’t go on forever,” he said. “You can’t do it personally, and a country can’t do it forever. There will be ramifications to that.”
Paul also talked about the problem of partisanship. State Sen. Joey Pendleton, D-Hopkinsville, attended the event and mentioned how it was difficult to get both sides to compromise enough to get anything done in Frankfort.
Paul agreed and talked briefly about partisanship in Washington, D.C. He gave an example of separate Democrat and Republican lunches. He said he asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, to let him attend the Democrat lunch, but Paul said Reid has hedged around the issue. He said it was an example of empty partisanship.
“There can be true partisanship when you really believe in something and the other side doesn’t,” he said. “But there’s a lot of reactionary, empty partisanship. Just because someone’s a Democrat and someone’s a Republican, immediately we stop and don’t get beyond that.”
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