Friday, October 24th, 2014

Fact-checking Rand Paul's Iowa trip

At a fundraiser for a House candidate in Iowa, Sen. Rand Paul said it cost more to shut down the government than to keep it open.

On his 10-stop tour of Iowa this week, Sen. Rand Paul not-so-subtly tested the waters of a 2016 presidential run.

The Kentucky Republican met with voters, stumped for Iowa’s 2014 congressional candidates and trotted out some potential campaign messages. We found a couple facts to check among them.

Aid to Israel

Yahoo! News reported that when Paul was asked whether he thought the United States should phase out aid to Israel, he answered, "I haven’t really proposed that in the past."

Our research showed Paul said he would eliminate all foreign aid during multiple media interviews in January and February of 2011. (Read excerpts.) As late as March of that year, his office released a budget proposal that included a zeroing-out of foreign assistance, with a section specifically inserted to defend the effect that policy would have on Israel. We rated this statement Pants on Fire.

The government shutdown

Paul also said the two-week government shutdown last October was a sign that the federal government is dysfunctional. "It cost us more to shut the government down than to keep it open," he said.

We found the government still functioned partially during the shutdown, and the up to 850,000 furloughed employees received back pay. On top of doling out delayed payments, the government faced late payment penalties and other logistical costs.

But a more significant and documented blow was to the economy as a whole. We found a solid consensus among economists that the shutdown was expensive to the U.S. economy in terms of actual costs, lost productivity and stunted GDP growth. We rated his claim True.