Last weekend when I got to talk to Sen. Al Franken at Netroots Nation, he told me a story about a newly elected politician that he chatted with shortly after his win, one who stated the federal government should get out of “charity” because his mother volunteered for Meals on Wheels. Franken told me that he explained to the new colleague that Meals on Wheels was a federal program, but one thing the senator would share with me was who the colleague was.
Now he doesn’t have to spill the secret, as it’s looking pretty clear that the Republican in question was Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. And Paul appears to now be obsessed with getting the government out of the Meals on Wheels program. And it’s just as ludicrous to Franken as it was then.
Via The Nation:
“It’s curious that only in Washington can you spend $2 billion and claim that you’re saving money,” [Senator Paul] said. “The idea or notion that spending money in Washington somehow is saving money really flies past most of the taxpayers.” Instead, Paul touted the “nobility of private charity” as opposed to government-funded “transfer programs.” He suggested privatizing Meals on Wheels and other government assistance for hungry seniors.
…Paul—who’s home state of Kentucky is ranked twentieth in the nation in senior citizen food insecurity, with over 5 percent of seniors there facing hunger—pressed on. Addressing Greenlee, he asked: “If we are saving money with the two billion we spend, perhaps we should give you 20 billion. Is there a limit? How much money should we give you in order to save money? If we spend federal money to save money, where is the limit? I think we could reach a point of absurdity.”
Senator Al Franken turned on his microphone and offered a quick reply: “I think you just did.”
You have to wonder — if it was good enough for Paul’s mother to participate in, how did he turn so rabidly against it?
Photo credit: photo from Gage Skidmore