Sen. Rand Paul Addresses Challenges Facing New Congress

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 13, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: 2011 is not starting off with great economic news. The Labor Department is reporting that first time jobless claims jumped last week to their highest level since October. And on the housing front, it's being reported that about five million homeowners are at least two months behind their mortgages. Foreclosure tracker Realty Track says banks repossessed one million homes in 2010 and that in 2011 the numbers will be even higher.

Now, this news comes as the Treasury Department claims the Federal Budget deficit now to 80 billion in December down from the previous year. But despite the sliver of good news for this year, we're still on course to exceed one trillion dollars in deficits.

Now, joining us with reaction is the Republican senator from the great State of Kentucky Rand Paul is back. Rand, welcome back to the program, thanks for being with us.

PAUL: Good to be with you, Sean.

HANNITY: Rand, probably, you, yourself probably one of the most associated now newly elected senators, representatives, from the Tea Party. You've watched now this tragedy in Tucson. You've watched the Tea Party get blamed. And I wanted to get your reaction to it?

PAUL: Well, I think people who would politicize this tragedy ought to be ashamed of themselves. I think it also does a disservice to the memory of these people. You know, Judge Roll, Representative Giffords. I think we should be talking about their lives, the tragedy, how it affected them. And not trying to score cheap points politically and to try to politicize this. I think it's really a distasteful that the left is trying to do this.

HANNITY: Yes. And the exploitation even goes a little bit further as now legislatively, I know James Clyburn has talked about, now, we're going to bring back the fairness doctrine. We have Congressman Robert Brady of Pennsylvania, he wants legislation that would make it a federal crime to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence. Which I think would be, you know, look, nobody wants any of this. Democrats have used bullseyes on their maps and they seem to act like, oh, this is really about conservatism, when it has nothing to do with conservatism.

PAUL: Well, I think this is just sort of right out of Rahm Emanuel's playbook. This is the kind of tactics that he would use and he would say, here's a crisis, let's exploit it. Let's take advantage of it. You know, they don't care one way about whether any of it is true or has anything to do with the situation. They want to take people in an emotional vulnerability and they want to go ahead and play on those fears to try to get their agenda passed. But I think the American people are smarter than they think. And I think the American people will see through all of that.

HANNITY: I think the early attacks on the Tea Party Movement showed that they don't work. You think people would learn from history, but they obviously don't.

Let me ask you about those economic numbers that I throw out at you. I assume the Congress and Senate or at least the Congress will be back next week and be back in session, back to business repealing health care, trying to make cuts in spending. I wanted to specifically know where you stand on the debt ceiling issue.

PAUL: Well, you know, I can't imagine voting to raise the debt ceiling unless we do something dramatically different in Washington. The system is so broken, so out of control, so systemically ill that we have to really do something fundamentally different. I've been proposing that we balance the budget by constitutional amendment. I've also been proposing that we link a balanced budget rule to the vote. When they vote to raise the debt ceiling, they have to prove to the American people that they are really changing their ways. And unless they do so, I think we shouldn't. Now, the other side presents this as if the sky is falling. But just a few years ago, President Obama when he was senator voted against raising the debt ceiling and said that our leadership had failed us and we shouldn't reward them by raising the debt ceiling. So, he can't have it both ways.

HANNITY: So, it will take what to get your vote to raise the debt ceiling?

PAUL: I think an ironclad rule that we will balance the budget from here on after. And that's what it is going to take. Not a rule that they can break. You know, they passed pay as you go. They broke it 700 times in the late 90s and early part of this century. You know, it has to be a very strict rule. So, we have to have different rules that they are forced to obey. Ultimately, I think the budget problem will not be fixed until we amend the constitution and force them to balance the budget. But in the short run, if the only thing we can get is a rule that we attach, it has to be a very, very strict rule, and ironclad rule that they cannot evade. And then, I might consider voting for it.

HANNITY: You know, look at these economic numbers. Unemployment claims up for the highest number in six months. CBS News reporting that the housing slump is worse than the Great Depression in terms of declining home values in the country.

Ben Bernanke is out there saying that we may not hit the unemployment numbers we need for five or six years, which means this is a lost decade in the end.

PAUL: Yes, we are now in 19 months of unemployment over 9.4 percent, 19 straight months. We have home prices that have declined for 53 months. It's now equal to what happened in the period between 1928 and 1933 and believe me that's not a decade you want to replicate.

But my question would be to those in charge in Washington is when people do a bad job should we not let them go and hire new people? The head of the Federal Reserve did not see the housing bubble coming. Timothy Geithner didn't see it coming. They're both part of the Federal Reserve that made the mistakes that led to the housing bubble. Maybe we need new leadership in Washington.

HANNITY: All right, Senator, I think we do. We are starting with the winners, including yourself in this last election. Good to see you.

PAUL: Good to see you, Sean.

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