Loose Ends: Federal issues edition (immigration, defense, Boehner vs. Cantor in Ky?)

07/09/2010 03:39 PM

(WITH VIDEO) One thing that both of Kentucky’s U.S. Senate candidates have agreed on is that the federal government has failed in its responsibility to address the problems with immigration enforcement.

But while Democratic candidate Jack Conway said states shouldn’t be a “patchwork system of immigration laws state by state,” his Republican opponent, Rand Paul, believes the opposite: that states “have a prerogative and a right to control what goes on within their state.”

Here’s what the candidates say in response to questions about Arizona’s immigration law, against which the U.S. Department of Justice recently filed a lawsuit to block:

Paul, earlier this week, posted his latest policy letter regarding immigration reform in which he stressed the need for border security using walls and electric fences, as well as helicopter patrols.

A Paul joins up with Barney Frank on Pentagon spending

Paul’s father, Texas Congressman Ron Paul — the former Republican presidential candidate and an inspiration to the tea party movement — co-signed an open letter this week with Democratic U.S. Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts (a frequent target of conservatives), calling for lowering defense spending.

The letter was first published on the HuffingtonPost.

For decades, the subject of military expenditures has been glaringly absent from public debate. Yet the Pentagon budget for 2010 is $693 billion — more than all other discretionary spending programs combined. Even subtracting the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, military spending still amounts to over 42% of total spending.

It is irrefutably clear to us that if we do not make substantial cuts in the projected levels of Pentagon spending, we will do substantial damage to our economy and dramatically reduce our quality of life.

We are not talking about cutting the money needed to supply American troops in the field. Once we send our men and women into battle, even in cases where we may have opposed going to war, we have an obligation to make sure that our servicemembers have everything they need. And we are not talking about cutting essential funds for combating terrorism; we must do everything possible to prevent any recurrence of the mass murder of Americans that took place on September 11, 2001.

The younger Paul said he agreed that cost-benefit analyses hadn’t been done on some parts of defense spending. But he declined to fully endorse his father and Frank’s approach.

“I think what you have to do is look for waste and abuse throughout the government, and that would involve every department of government,” Paul said when asked about the letter.

Conway similarly side-stepped a question about the Ron Paul/Barney Frank letter.

“I think we’re going to have a robust national defense. It’s not as simple as saying, ‘Do you cut? Or you don’t cut.’ I think you need to be more efficient in the Pentagon,” Conway said.

He also said he’d like to see other nations where U.S. troops are based, such as Japan, pitch in more resources.

Even though neither of the candidates seemed to jump on board with the Paul/Frank approach, the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald F. Seib wrote on Friday that it could quickly gain momentum among politicos.

“When people from opposite ends of the political spectrum come together to agree on something in Washington, you can be pretty sure a trend is taking shape,” he wrote. “… Failure to curb defense spending, the two congressmen warned, would ‘do substantial damage to our economy and dramatically reduce our quality of life.’”

Boehner and Cantor both in Kentucky this summer amid possible squabble

Two Republican congressional leaders from two of Kentucky’s neighbor states will both make separate appearances in Kentucky over the next month at the same time a rift between the two is widening.

House GOP Leader John Boehner of Ohio will appear at a July 24 national Republican fund-raiser in Bowling Green, as cn|2 Politics first reported in May.

Two weeks later, Eric Cantor, the Republican House whip from Virginia, is scheduled to speak at the Graves County Republican Party breakfast the morning of the Fancy Farm picnic Aug. 7.

But Politico has written two stories in the last two weeks about how there appears to be a split between the two over the issues of internal leadership structure and Cantor’s planned book tour and rising national profile.

- Ryan Alessi

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