WASHINGTON — Sen. Rand Paul scolded Democrats and Republicans alike for spending money the government doesn't have as he delivered the tea party response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address to Congress.
Paul, a Republican from Bowling Green, Ky., called for "a new bipartisan consensus" on cutting spending.
"It is time Democrats admit that not every dollar spent on domestic programs is sacred," Paul said. "And it is time Republicans realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud."
Despite the government's record $16.5 trillion debt, Paul said the country's political leaders still don't grasp the severity of the problem.
Never miss a local story.
"The path we are on is not sustainable, but few in Congress or in this administration seem to recognize that their actions are endangering the prosperity of this great nation," he said.
Paul singled out Obama for criticism.
"The president seems to think the country can continue to borrow $50,000 per second," he said. "The president believes that we should just squeeze more money out of those who are working."
Yet the first-term senator fell in line with the emerging push for immigration reform from Obama and lawmakers from both parties.
"We are the (Republican) party that embraces hard work and ingenuity, therefore we must be the party that embraces the immigrant who comes to America for a better future," Paul said. "We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities."
Focusing most of his attention on fiscal issues, Paul said the sequestration system of forced spending cuts, scheduled to begin March 1, should not be changed as Obama and most lawmakers want. And he said the cuts should be deeper than the planned $1.2 trillion over a decade.
"Not only should the sequester stand, many pundits say the sequester really needs to be $4 trillion to avoid another downgrade of America's credit rating," Paul said. "Both parties will have to agree to cut, or we will never fix our fiscal mess."
James Rosen, McClatchy Newspapers