Sen. Paul says "nobody wants war" against North Korea as tensions escalate

04/28/2017 06:16 PM

LOUISVILLE – U.S. Sen. Rand Paul reiterated Friday his hope that China will help rein in North Korea amid rising tensions between the secluded communist country and the U.S.

Paul told reporters after a roundtable with insurance professionals and state insurance officials that he would be open to U.S. trade with North Korea once it ends its nuclear ambitions and joins the rest of the civilized world.

Paul said that he believes China, which represents about 90 percent of North Korea’s international trading, “can have a great deal of influence” in Pyongyang and help foster new relationships with the U.S. and South Korea.

“I’m open to trade with North Korea, but they’ve got to be open to engagement and dialogue,” he said. “But nobody wants war with North Korea, and that should be the message, but North Korea should also know that they can’t act in an irrational manner with nuclear weapons. That’s a danger to their neighbors and to the whole world.”

Rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea has escalated recently. President Donald Trump said Thursday that a “major, major conflict” with the country could be on the horizon, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the United Nations’ Security Council Friday that the U.S. is prepared to take military action against North Korea if economic and diplomatic pressure fails.

With millions of lives at stake and a major military advantage in favor of the U.S., Paul says he hopes to see diplomacy prevail.

“I think the message to North Korea first of all should be nobody wants a military confrontation, but nobody wants a country recklessly saying that they’re going to develop and use nuclear weapons and they’re going to point them at the U.S.,” he said when asked for his take on Trump’s comments.

“That just isn’t a tolerable situation, and so we have to come to a realization, or North Korea does, that it’s unacceptable for them to act in a reckless way with nuclear weapons. My hope is that the president getting very involved in this sends a loud message, but also a message to China” to be “a stabilizing force in the region and to tell their ally North Korea they’ve got to behave responsibly.”

North Korea wasn’t the only thing on Paul’s mind. He pitched his desire to see health associations established in Kentucky, which he says could help lower insurance premiums for small businesses and individuals that buy insurance as a collective, during the insurance roundtable at Sterling G. Thompson Insurance.

Those groupings would give smaller insurance customers “leverage of buying power through size,” Paul said.

They’ve been implemented in other states throughout the country, but state insurance officials said state law currently prevents people in various professions from pooling together for insurance coverage.

Adam Meier, Gov. Matt Bevin’s deputy chief of staff for policy, said with a low number of individuals looking for insurance, laws would need to be changed or superseded to allow regional, or even national, partnerships.

“It’s already a small market to start with, and so that means in order to get the buying power that you would want and to be able to leverage that size, you’d either have to go regionally or nationally, and to do that, you either have to make all the state laws consistent for those plans because they’re going to be subject to all the state laws or you’re going to have to pass an ERISA-type (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) federal legislation that would preempt all the state laws,” Meier said.

Paul said he supported both potential paths for health associations. He also took a shot at House Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

He noted that Republicans had taken 60 votes to repeal most the federal health law known as Obamacare without having a replacement plan in the works in the recent past.

“And then somebody in the House leadership decided we’re not going to repeal it, we’re going to show we have compassion by replacing it, but replacing it with things that are very similar to Obamacare, just not as much money,” Paul said.

“So I don’t think we can compete with Democrats. If Democrats are going to insure 20 million people and Republicans are going to insure 5 million people, how do we ever win that battle? We need to be for something different — lower prices through buying pools, more expanding economy, health savings accounts, things to drive prices down – but we’re not sufficiently for those things enough publicly for anybody to get that we do care.”

Paul’s attendance in Louisville Friday prevented him from being in Washington to vote on a stop-gap spending resolution as lawmakers craft a long-term proposal. He said he would not vote for spending bills that did not include reforms to the budget process.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers Kentucky politics and all the goings-on at the State Capitol. Kevin was born and raised in Frankfort so he grew up around politics and has always had the drive to follow the political process and hold lawmakers accountable. Before joining Spectrum News Kevin covered government and politics for The State Journal in Frankfort. You can watch Kevin’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135.

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