In the wake of the Paris attacks, a majority of Republican presidential candidates have called for the U.S. to deny entrance to Syrian refugees. (Jeb Bush is the exception. Sort of. But maybe only for Christians! Not that there'd be a religious test or anything.)
Rand Paul, for his part, wants to block refugees from Syria from entering the country and implement a 30-day waiting period for anyone who wants to come into the U.S. But the libertarian-leaning Republican presidential candidate also wants to add an amendment to an existing bill that would block refugees from from receiving housing assistance and other support from government programs.
In a floor speech on the amendment, Paul said extending benefits to refugees posed "a threat to our national security."
"So my amendment says this that we’re not going to bring them here and put them on government assistance," Paul said Wednesday. "When the poem beneath the Statue of Liberty says give me your tired, give me your poor, it didn’t say come to our country and we’ll put you on welfare. In those days, you came for opportunity."
Paul's push to bar refugees fleeing violence and poverty from receiving government support isn't really a break from type. His basic economic platform—reiterated in each of the budget proposals he's introduced since taking office in 2011—involves eliminating or drastically reducing the size of major government programs that help the working poor.
For example, when it comes to food assistance and things like Medicaid, Paul has proposed moving from flexible matching payments to a capped allotment of how much can be spent, no matter how many people use a benefit. And according to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research group, Paul's 14.5% flat tax would cause a $1 to $3 trillion deficit over the next 10 years, costs that Paul says he would recover through major cuts to government programs.
So while it's clear that Paul doesn't want refugees receiving government assistance, it's also fair to say he doesn't want most anyone else receiving it, either.
But still, Paul's unique reading of "The New Colossus" kind of reminds me of something.