Sen. Rand Paul was leading the charge against extending unemployment benefits until on ABC’s This Week he screwed over his party, and flip flopped on the issue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You guys are going to begin right away this week with that fight over extending benefits to the unemployed. President Obama in his weekly address yesterday said it’s cruel to deny those benefits. He wants a vote right now. And the House Speaker John Boehner says he’s open to it if the benefits are paid for.
Now I know you have been opposed to the extension in the past, but if Speaker Boehner’s conditions are met, can you support the extension?
PAUL: Well, I think what’s really cruel is to have an economy that doesn’t have jobs in it. So we have to talk about what policy creates jobs. With regard to unemployment insurance, I’ve always said that I’m not opposed to unemployment insurance, I am opposed to having it without paying for it.
I think it’s wrong to borrow money from China or simply to print up money for it. But I’m not against having unemployment insurance.
I do think, though, that the longer you have it, that it provides some disincentive to work, and that there are many studies that indicate this. So, what I’ve been saying all along, we have to figure out how to create jobs and keep people from becoming long-term unemployed. That’s why I promoted the economic freedom zones which would dramatically lower taxes in areas where there’s long-term unemployment.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But are you saying now that if this extension is paid for, you can support it?
PAUL: Well, what I have always said is that it needs to be paid for, but we also need to do something for long-term unemployed people, and that is, we need to create something new that creates jobs. So, what I would like to do, when we get back, is one, if we extend it, we pay for it. But, two, we add something to it that would create jobs. And so what I have been promoting are economic freedom zones, which any area that has unemployment one-and-a-half times the national average, we would dramatically lower taxes to try to spur and stimulate the economy there and create jobs.
That’s not what Sen. Paul said on Fox News Sunday on December 8, “I do support unemployment benefits for the 26 weeks that they’re paid for, but if you extend it past that you do a disservice to these workers.”
Sen. Paul has changed his position to the typical Republican cry that he is in favor of extending unemployment benefits as long as they are “paid for.” The phrase paid for in Republican speak usually means cuts to other parts of the social safety net, but it would be interesting if Democrats responded to Paul by offering cuts to the military or corporate welfare.
Rand Paul is flipping flopping like a fish out of water, because he wants to be president in the worst way. He is talking out of both sides of his mouth and hoping no one notices. Paul knows that extending unemployment benefits is popular with the entire country, so he is going to abandon his conservative principles with an eye towards a potential 2016 general election campaign.
Paul’s shift is also a sign that Senate Republicans are going to cave on extending unemployment benefits, but as usual the real battle will be in the House where right wing ideologues are likely to demand severe spending cuts in exchange for extending unemployment benefits.
The lesson here is that when Republicans stand with Rand they better be prepared to move, because Paul doesn’t stay in the same spot for very long.