Ky.'s Republican Senators viewed very differently in D.C., Wash. Post's Perry Bacon says

06/19/2011 07:37 PM

While U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell is in on most of the major discussions in Washington, it is Kentucky’s junior senator — Rand Paul — who has D.C. buzzing, the Washington Post’s Perry Bacon Jr. said.

“Rand Paul is probably the most interesting person in the Senate right now. There’s a lot of talk about him,” Bacon said on Friday’s edition of Pure Politics.

Most recently, Paul has been among the Republicans who have been most outspoken about the United States military leaving Afghanistan. And he held up a vote on the reauthorizing of provisions of the U.S. Patriot Act last month.

“He’s a figure that’s viewed differently than other people,” he said, around the 6:30 mark in the video. “But he’s not up there to make friends in the first place … He wouldn’t get a lot of endorsements if he runs for president, for example, from the other Republican senators. But he’s not looking for that.”

Bacon, a Louisville native and political reporter for the Post, said Paul likely derives much of his influence among tea party supporters from those same tactics that sometimes rankle his Senate colleagues.

As for McConnell — the Senate Republican leader — he is using his influence in the ongoing talks over reducing the nation’s debt and annual budget deficit. Those talks include Vice President Joe Biden, with whom McConnell worked in December to reach agreements on key issues, such as extending tax cuts and ending the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy in the U.S. military.

But the debt talks are at a crucial point, with Democrats wary about changes to programs, such as Medicare, and Republicans resistant to tax increases of any kind.

“The President is calling for tax increases as part of this deal, and … Sen. McConnell is very opposed to that. He’s said over and over again, he will not support any tax increases as part of any deficit reduction agreement,” he said at around the 2:50 mark.

Still, there has been an increasing populist sentiment — as well as grumbling about CEO compensation — among the electorate.

But it seems unlikely Republicans will change their position and allow taxes to go up on the rich, Bacon said.

“You will not see the (House Budget Chairman) Paul Ryan kind of ideas, either,” he said around 4 minutes. “The Republicans are going to have to bend in terms of what kind of ideas they support — what kind of ideas in Medicare.”

For instance, he said instead of Ryan’s proposal to essentially turn Medicare into a voucher-like program, Congress could implement caps or cut off certain Medicare benefits for the wealthiest Americans.

- Ryan Alessi


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