While he was in London for the annual Redbud bike ride Saturday, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky. took time out to talk about his experiences in Washington since taking office in January and the debates on Social Security, taxes and efforts to reduce the budget deficit.
Paul said he has developed good relationships with other fiscally conservative senators including Mike Lee, R-Utah, Jim DeMint, R-SC and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., adding that federal spending must be cut.
"Everybody comes to Washington with their hand out," Paul said. "A lot of them are good programs that really tug at your heart strings.
While in the past, funding for such good programs would just be added on, Paul noted this process has the U.S. spending almost $2 trillion more than it takes in, annually.
Paul added that programs such as Social Security and Medicare are in financial straits because people are living longer and the Baby Boomer generation is increasing the programs’ rolls.
To ensure the programs’ long-term solvency, Paul is proposing gradually increasing the age at which individuals become eligible.
"For younger people, the age of eligibility can gradually rise," Paul said.
In addition, Paul endorses means testing for the programs as another way to improve their solvency. Under that proposal the poor and those already enrolled or nearing retirement will receive the same benefits, while younger people will receive less.
He emphasized that he will fight against anything that would reduce Social Security and Medicare benefits for individuals at the lower end of the economic ladder.
"Across the board cutting of the budget would help," Paul said. "But it would not be completely across the board, because across the board means everybody would have a lower Social Security benefits. There are some people at the bottom end of the ladder who can’t do with less money than what they are getting."
Paul said a recent article at drudgreport.com which indicated he is promoting the flat tax, was incorrect.
"I have not put it out there as a proposal," Paul said. "I was asked about it."
Paul said he likes the idea of a 10 percent flat tax, but with the size of the budget deficit and the spiraling national debit, cutting spending should be the priority.
"If we went to the flat tax now, it would probably mean less revenue for the government," Paul said.
Long term, he said Congress should look at the flat tax.
"The church doesn’t ask for more than 10 percent, why should the government?" Paul said.
With the Congress at one of its most divided points in the country’s history, Paul admitted there may be some heated moments between Democrats and Republicans. However, he is optimistic it will not come to physical blows such as those that have occurred in the parliaments of Japan, Pakistan and Somilia.
"We may have verbal battles with the Democrats but there will be no physical battles," Paul said.