Friday, May 21, 2010

Rand Paul ducks question about minimum wage

By Greg Sargent

Rand Paul's remarkable interview this morning with George Stephanopoulos is getting lots of attention because of his criticism of President Obama for being too tough on British Petroleum.

But there's another, perhaps more telling, nugget that came at the very end: Paul was unwilling to say unequivocally that the Federal government has a proper role in setting the minimum wage. The exchange comes at the 7:45 mark of the interview:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Should the Federal government be able to set a minimum wage?

PAUL: It's not a question of whether they can or canot. I think that's decided. I think the question you have to ask is whether or not when you set the minimum wage it may cause unemployment.

Paul went on to argue that a high minimum wage risks pushing up unemployment among unskilled workers.

Paul was asked a straight Yes or No question: Does the Federal government have a valid role setting minimum wage? He declined to answer.

Later on Stephanopoulos asked Paul if he would repeal the minimum wage. He seemed to say No but basically brushed off the question. And even if he is opposed to repeal, the question of where he stands on repeal -- which is an impossibility -- is separate from whether he embraces the core principles underlying the law.

The pattern is becoming clearer and clearer: Paul simply does not want to answer direct questions about the proper role of the Federal government in regulating the private sector. He visibly bristles when asked to clarify his views on these matters.

Perhaps he knows that his views are too far out there and just doesn't want to lie about them. Or perhaps he thinks it's an unfair imposition for him to endure direct questioning from pointy-headed elite liberal journalists who are obviously doing nothing more than echoing DNC talking points. Whatever the explanation, it offers a telling glimpse into his actual views and character.

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