July 2nd, 2010
02:29 PM ET
12 years ago

Rand Paul compares U.S. economy to fall of Roman Empire

Washington (CNN) - Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul sees economic doom possibly on the horizon for the U.S. using one of the most spectacular collapses in history to illustrate his point.

Paul says there's a similarity between America's current economic situation and the fall of the Roman Empire. On Thursday, the Republican compared recent U.S. government assistance programs – such as the stimulus package – to Roman emperors giving away food and entertainment as the Roman economy collapsed.

"In the latter days of Rome, the economy was crumbling, the emperor…would placate the mob with bread and circus - food and entertainment to placate them since the economy was in shambles and dwindling around them," Paul told Tea Party activists at a rally, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal and confirmed to CNN by Paul's campaign.


"Now in our country, as our economy is in shambles, they give us Cash for Clunkers and a stimulus check and they tell us to go to the mall and spend your money and everything will be OK," the Courier-Journal reports Paul added.

Paul campaign spokesman Jesse Benton told CNN the candidate was simply using a metaphor to make a serious point.

"He uses it as a metaphor to illustrate that great nations can fall if they're not respectful of their great traditions," Benton said. "If we don't avert ourselves from our path of unsustainable debt…we are going to see some cataclysmic consequences."

Benton was asked if Paul's "metaphor" means the candidate believes the U.S. government is doling out something akin to "bread and circus – food and entertainment" simply to satisfy angry mobs of Americans.

"People are scared and they very much want action," Benton told CNN. "So the government is trying to placate people by showing them they're taking action. But it's the wrong action."

The campaign for Paul's Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Jack Conway, is responding to Paul's words.

Conway press secretary Allison Haley told CNN, "With the unemployment rate in Kentucky well over 10%, Jack Conway is focused on bringing jobs to Kentuckians and restoring accountability to Wall Street and Washington. And we'll leave the comparisons to others."


Filed under: 2010 • Kentucky • Rand Paul
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Jason

    Rand Paul needs to learn Roman History from sources other than the movie "Gladiator".

    July 2, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  2. Josh in Sacramento

    Ron Paul has vastly oversimplified the collapse of the Roman Empire. Things look pretty similar when you leave out all the details.

    July 2, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  3. The Watcher

    Does anybody can make this racist idiot teabagger to shut up for 15 mn ??? I would pay 10 millions dollars.

    July 2, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  4. Marge

    Since he and the republicans are responsible he ought to know.

    July 2, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. TTBALA

    Oh you idiot shut the hell up, if you Repugs ahd one iota of an idea we wouldn't be in this situation now would we.

    July 2, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. THE OBAMA TRUTH

    Under the illegal Muslim leadership of the likes of OBAMA we will most assuredly fall.

    July 2, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. sonny chapman

    The Dr. needs a history lesson different than the fantasy world in which he lives. The Roman EMPIRE fell because, like all empires, they overextend their resources needed to support such a kingdom. America take heed, The Empire of Corporate USA is costing the American Middle Class too much.

    July 2, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. Ben in Texas

    Rand Paul's cure for our ailing economy include yet more tax cuts for the rich and the destruction of Social Security and Medicare, along with a side order of the government's heavy hand on reproductive rights. That will save our empire by turning us into a third world country, devoid of a middle class. Great solution, Randy.

    July 2, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. Katie B in NC

    And Dr. Paul's solution is to do what? Nothing. Just stand on the sidelines and shout inflammatory rhetoric. Simply disgusting.

    July 2, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  10. GI Joe

    Sounds more like the RNC giving trip to Hawaii and sexy-girly-strip shows to me. Maybe the RNC really is falling to the pressure of the tea-baggers.

    July 2, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  11. a health economist

    LOL! Are you serious! Hey, the same similarity can be compared to the US during the Great Depression. And I think Paul and all of the other Republican's would agree that the US improved since. They would have to since they say we are now falling from our peak.

    And also be curious to know, who exactly would be the equvialents to the slave labor that the Roman society was built and dependent on. Hmmm?

    For that matter, why is Paul not also pointing out similarities to some of the other factors that led to the fall of the Roman Empire. Such as constant wars and heavy military spending, political corruption, antagonism between the Senate and Emporer, and decline in ethics and values to name a few. But no, Paul uses his limited, and cherry picked, economic knowledge to make a simple connection of a complicated connection.

    July 2, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  12. Don Wuerl

    Where in the hell does he get this non-sense? Another one that has lost touch with reality and his name is Rand Paul! Our country is not crumbling before our eyes and this is not the former Roman Empire, either. Get your stories straight; and, avoid listening to the folks on Conservative Hate Radio! Do we need to take you to see those fine folks at the local Asylum before you spew more non-sense; you are giving all kinds of fodder for the Comedy Channel!

    July 2, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  13. bob

    Mr. Paul needs to check the fall of the Roman Empire was because of greed through the capitalistic system. Similar to what got us into the situation we are in now. Not because of giving to the needy. It was the greed of the rich.

    July 2, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  14. Bob of Lompoc

    Good grief, he's back in his Sophmore year in college. An absolute dumb comparison. I guess "Obama Is A Socialist" doesn't click any longer, so now it's "Obama Is A Roman Emporer".

    July 2, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  15. NC

    Rand Paul is a bonafide wing nut.

    July 2, 2010 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  16. Chris

    The excesses here and fall will of our nation economically will be worse than the fall of any previous empire.

    July 2, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  17. vet in tx

    Funny how Paul fails to mention W giving away $300-$600 in the beginning and end of his presidency.....both times there was economic turmoil. I wish he would have said this in 2001 while visiting the President at his Crawford ranch his first 8 months in office.

    He and his father are racists, period (Ron's interview with a Houston news paper in the 90's look it up) . Although Ron was hilarious in the movie Bruno.

    July 2, 2010 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  18. uscentral

    Having campaign spokesman speak to the media insead of the candidate sounds familiar. Where have I seen that before? Oh yeah, in the last presidential race.
    This guy is clearly not ready. Or qualified.

    July 2, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  19. thor

    This is the same people that are in the midst of going out on a summer recovery tour to promote what they accomplished.17 months in office and 9.5% unemployment ,pretty impressive.

    July 2, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  20. sammieb51

    And the Tea Party is going to change this by doing what - arming everyone with a rifle and handgun? Paying folks to protest big government? Will they create jobs by teaching people how to make posters? Or hats with teabags on them? What is there big AHA that will turn our economy, that BTW was freefalling from 2007 to 2008 unchecked and presumably unnoticed by even the GOP candidate McCain until 2 days before the AIG and bank bailouts happened? And the jobs we have been bleeding to China for hte last 10 years will be recreated here by what? – these elite youngsters who don't leave home let alone work until after college (and then some) and would never dream of dirtying themselves in a factory? Pray tell Rand, what is the TB party going to do to solve these problems?

    July 2, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  21. JFS

    Boy is this guy a wacko..............makes Rush seem liberal.

    July 2, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  22. Marty, FL

    While decent Americans are struggling, Rand Paul shamelessly compares a difficult time of need to a "circus." Unbelievable. If Rand had his way, BP & businesses with civil-right infringements would continue to wreak havoc on our economy without protections for consumers & "tough"/proper oversight. Give me a break.

    AG Conway at least understands the issues facing our great nation and responds in a respectful manner. A class act and clear choice.

    July 2, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  23. al in memphis

    Has Mr Rand heard of a little something call the GDP– It's call is a country does not produce much it becomes a debtor nation. Years ago we gave away our production capacity by encouraging companies to move oversea. That was a little process call let's make the rich even richer with government assistance.

    Mr. Rand left out the part where the Roman government gave bankers $750 billion and bailed out insurance companies who ruin the credit system– so all that money could go overseas and not contributed anything to the GDP in the United States.

    Quite frankly, the collapse should have happen 2 years ago.

    July 2, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  24. gt

    we better wake up america... or history will repeat it self ....

    July 2, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  25. richard in montana

    And there are 535 fiddlers in Washington (were-they are all on vacation, again) and you Mr Paul are the looney tune band director!

    July 2, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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