Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a potential contender for 2016 Republican presidential nomination, said cooperation with President Barack Obama is possible this year on infrastructure and immigration, if the efforts are limited and don’t aim to be comprehensive.
Obama will sketch out his agenda for 2014 when he delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.
“The president and I don’t agree on every issue, but if you took ten issues, I think there are two or three that we agree on… and why don’t we go after the issues that we agree on?” Paul said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
He said on immigration reform, “We don’t agree on the whole comprehensive package with the Democrats, but I’ll bet you about half of it we agree on. The question is: are we willing to narrow our focus and go after things that we can agree to and get them done, or are we going to stay so polarized that we always have to have our way or the highway?”
The Kentucky Republican said that when he visited the president at the White House a couple of weeks ago he told Obama, “I want to increase infrastructure spending and I know you do. Let’s let companies bring back their profits from overseas at (a) 5 percent (corporate tax rate) and put it all in infrastructure.”
Paul said he’d talked to Senate Democrats about this idea “and I think we could agree to that tomorrow.”
Paul said it was an error to try to pass overall tax reform or a comprehensive rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws this year.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Frequently, times of divided government are quite good times in terms of achieving things for the American people.”
McConnell said Obama could take “some job-creating steps” immediately. “He could approve the Keystone pipeline. He could work with us on trade agreements. My party is much more interested in global trade than the Democrats are. If he would convince his own members, we can do some business on trade. And he ought to stop things like the war on coal in my state, which have cost us 5,000 jobs during his administration.”
On CNN’s State of the Union, Obama’s senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer said Obama would use his speech Tuesday night to “lay out a series of concrete, real, practical proposals on how we restore opportunity for all Americans. And he's going to do that by looking for ways to work with Congress where he can, but act on his own where he can't.”
But Paul warned against the dangers of the president using executive orders as a way to circumvent Congress.
“Montesquieu talked about when the executive branch tries to assume the legislative powers, that that's a form of tyranny,” he said. “There are times when we lose our checks and balances, when government grows, and when government is not obeying the rule of law, that that is a form of tyranny.”