D.C. Chatter: Sen. Paul's 1st speech draws notice; McConnell gets headlines on health vote

02/02/2011 08:30 PM

Kentucky Freshman U.S. Sen. Rand Paul gave his first floor speech in the U.S. Senate. And he said while he’ll be sitting at a desk once used by “the Great

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul

Compromiser” Henry Clay, Paul said the trick to compromising is knowing when to do it and when to hold firm to ideals.

Paul praised the refusal to compromise of Clay’s cousin Cassius Clay, who advocated for abolition of slavery while Henry Clay continued to own slaves.

“Now today we have no issues — no moral issues — that approach moral equivalency with the issue of slavery. Yet we do face a fiscal nightmare — potentially a debt crisis in our country,” Paul said Wednesday in the nearly nine minute speech. “Is the answer to compromise? Should we compromise by raising taxes and cutting spending as the (president’s) debt commission proposes? Is that the compromise that will save us from financial ruin?”

But he went on to say that “any compromise should be about where we cut federal spending, not where we raise taxes.”

“There must be dialogue and ultimately compromise. But compromise must occur on where we cut spending,” he said. “The compromise that we as conservatives must acknowledge is that we can cut some money from the military. On the other side, the liberals must also compromise that we can cut domestic spending.”

McClatchy Washington D.C. reporter William Douglas wrote of Paul’s speech that signaled “he and the Tea Party movement will make limited compromises on spending cuts.”

The speech also received coverage in Politico, which noted that Paul’s remarks differed from most maiden Senate speeches because of the violent imagery he used in recounting Cassius Clay’s run in with a pro-slavery gang.

The Washington Post’s The Fix also seized on Paul’s comparison between tea party ideals and the abolitionist movement.

Watch the speech here:

Ky. Senators react to vote on health care repeal

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, led an unsuccessful effort Wednesday to vote to repeal the health care law Congress passed last year.

The Senate Democratic majority stuck together and the measure failed, 47-51.

McConnnell issued a statement to the Kentucky press saying “the fight isn’t over.”

And the effort, as expected, received wide national coverage.

Politico reported that “just holding the vote is a victory for Republicans.”

The Washington Post did a fact check of McConnell’s claim that Americans overwhelmingly are calling for repeal, concluding that McConnell exaggerated but didn’t tell any falsehoods.

The New York Times quoted Kentucky’s other Senator, Paul, as saying: “If you can regulate inactivity, basically the non-act of not buying insurance, then there is no aspect to our life that would left free from government regulation and intrusion.”


Paul also issued a more general statement pledging to continue to call for the law’s repeal:

“As a physician, I am opposed to Obamacare. As an American, I demand a better solution to this big-government takeover of health care. And as a U.S. Senator, I will do everything in my power to see this burdensome and destructive legislation repealed. The government has no constitutional right to impose a health insurance mandate on Americans. By applying free-market principles and removing the government’s wrest of power, Americans will be better served to make decisions that best serve their families and businesses.”

- Compiled by Ryan Alessi

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