Rand Paul To Take Back the Spotlight?

To those hard-core conservatives enamored of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the last few months have been dispiriting. Not long after a hefty share of Republican Senators were more or less forced to “Stand With Rand” in his 13-hour filibuster against CIA nominee John Brennan, Ted Cruz moved to displace Paul as the champion of conservative militants everywhere, spearheading (along with Mike Lee) the “Defund Obamacare” crusade and besting the Kentuckian’s filibuster (though Cruz’s effort was not, technically, even a filibuster) stamina by a good eight hours. The approbation of the MSM folk and Republican Establishment figures (“Rand Paul has been incredibly responsible,” quoth Lindsey Graham) who noticed, occasionally, that Paul was not howling at the moon during the fiscal fight isn’t worth remotely as much in 2016 coin as the idolatry of “constitutional conservatives.”

So it’s not terribly surprising that Paul is now making noises about putting a hold on, and then organizing a filibuster against, the nomination of Janet Yellen as Fed chairman, linked to a demand that legislation reflecting his father’s longstanding “Audit the Fed!” battle cry come to a Senate vote.

There are, unfortunately, two dangers Paul will court if he pursues this course of action. One is that he’ll help reinforce the dirty little secret of Republican monetary policy views: the GOP largely favors a deflationary approach at a time when the Fed’s stimulus program is widely perceived as the only thing propping up an anemic economic recovery. And the second more immediate problem is that financial markets will not smile on any effort to rebuff Yellen and destabilize Fed policy. Mere rumors of Paul’s move to put Yellen’s nomination on hold caused a market tremor just this morning.

If Paul follows through on his threat, it will indicate either a strong fidelity to his old man’s agenda, or some serious jealousy of Ted Cruz’ growing reputation as the wild man of the Senate.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.