Judging by Republicans' questions to Rand Paul, it's still the economy, stupid

01/26/2014 06:54 PM

LAWRENCEBURG — What was billed as a meet-and-greet with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul at the Lawrenceburg Best Western on Thursday quickly morphed into a town hall meeting with an overwhelming economic theme to it.

Sure, there were other questions. One man wanted the first-term Republican senator’s take on Edward Snowden. A woman asked about the release of a pastor held in Iran. And there was the inevitable question about Paul’s presidential ambitions, although it was cleverly disguised in the form of “who will be your running mate?”

But the overwhelming majority of questions that the more than 75 Republicans asked Paul over the course of an hour focused on pocketbook issues: unemployment, raising the minimum wage, Social Security. Even questions about the Affordable Care Act were framed around how it affects the cost of health care.

Unemployment insurance

Technically, Paul was first to bring up the subject when he was asked about the conditions in Congress. But two questions later in the session also focused on it. Here’s what Paul said:

Social Security

One small business owner asked what could be done to address the Social Security rule that caps the amount those 62-65 could earn and still collect Social Security benefits.

Minimum wage

Paul was asked straight-up what he thinks about the Democrats’ push to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10

Government spending

The size of government came up a couple times in the course of questions. Paul commented on the $1.1 trillion federal spending bill that funds government programs through September.

Paul’s presidential bid

But there was also some curiosity about Paul’s political future. Here’s how it came up.

After the meeting, Paul was less candid about one potential rival in the 2016 GOP primary. He declined to say whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would be sidelined by the furor over the bridge lane-closure and questions about political motives for holding back Hurricane Sandy relief funds.

Paul says he’ll make a decision about 2016 by the end of the year.

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