ABC News' Matthew Jaffe reports:
Members of Congress are upset about a lot of things – the economy, the debt… the toilets?
Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, today went off on a tirade about toilets in the midst of an Energy & Natural Resources Committee hearing on energy efficiency standards for certain appliances.
His unwitting victim was Kathleen Hogan, the deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency at the Department of Energy.
“You’re really anti-choice on every other consumer item that you’ve listed here, including light bulbs, refrigerators, toilets – you name it, you can’t go around your house without being told what to buy. You restrict my choices, you don’t care about my choices,” Paul said to her. “You don’t care about the consumer frankly. You raise the cost of all the items with your rules, all your notions that you know what’s best for me.”
“Frankly, my toilets don’t work in my house. And I blame you and people like you who want to tell me what I can install in my house, what I can do. You restrict my choices. There is hypocrisy that goes on when people claim to believe in some choices but don’t want to let the consumer decide what they can buy and put in their houses. I find it insulting. I find it insulting that a lot of these products that you’re going to make us buy and you won’t let us buy what we want to buy and you take away our choices.”
“These things you want us to buy are often made in foreign countries. You ship jobs overseas. The same thing your administration claims to be in favor of, you’re shipping jobs overseas by saying we can’t make these items over here. I find it really an affront to the sensibility of the idea and notion of the free marketplace, of capitalism, of freedom of choice. Now it’s not that I’m against conservation. I’m all for energy conservation. But I wish you would come here to extol me, to cajole me, to encourage, to try to convince me to conserve energy. But you come instead with fines, threats of jail, you put people out of business who want to make products you don’t like.”
“This is what your energy efficiency standards are. Call it what it is. You prevent people from making things that consumers want. I find it really appalling and hypocritical and think there should be some self-examination from the administration on the idea that you favor a woman’s right to an abortion, but you don’t favor a woman or a man’s right to choose what kind of light-bulb, what kind of dishwasher, what kind of washing machine. I really find it troubling – this busy-body nature that you want to come into my house, my bathroom, my bedroom, my kitchen, my laundry room. I just really find it insulting and I find that all of the arguments for energy efficiency – you’re exactly right we should conserve energy, but why not do it in a voluntary way? Why do it where you threaten to fine me or put me in jail if I don’t accept your opinion? In America we believe in trying to convince our neighbors, but not trying to convince them through the force of law. I find this antithetical to the American way.”
“I have a couple responses to that,” replied Hogan once Paul had concluded his rant. “One, I think the appliance standards program is a great partnership between the Congress and the administration over many years. So much of what we are implementing had its genesis in bipartisan bills that we put forth at a number of different points over the history of this country for the last 30 to 40 years.”
“But you restrict our choices, right?” asked Paul.
“I really do not believe the appliance standards end up restricting personal choice,” Hogan said.
“I can’t buy the old light bulbs. That restricts my choice on buying.”
“My view is what you want is lighting, right?” Hogan said.
“I can’t buy a toilet that works,” he replied.
“I can help you find a toilet that works,” she offered.
“Are you going to pay for it?” quipped Paul. “Everything costs more, to go back and retrofit the toilets that don’t work that no bureaucrat understood or flushed before they made us use them, will cost us money. It will cost us thousands of dollars to go back and add some kind of jet stream to the toilets. And we don’t even save money. You flush them 10 times and they don’t work. But the thing is you busybodies always want to do something to tell us how to live our lives better. Keep it to yourselves. Try to convince us with persuasion, but don’t threaten to put us in jail or put us out of business if we don’t accept your way of thinking.”
When Paul finally paused, Hogan smiled, and then another senator asked if he should go ahead with his own comments or let Paul continue.
“I was just kind of enjoying it,” Paul said. “I’ve been waiting for 20 years to talk about how bad these toilets are and this was a good excuse today.”