Rand Paul (R-Bowling Green), Kentucky’s junior senator to the U.S. Congress, met many of his western Kentucky constituents Monday as he visited several locations in the region, including Martha’s Restaurant in Murray.
Martha’s Restaurant was filled to capacity with dozens of people wanting to meet the senator. Paul made his way through the restaurant, first introducing himself to the media representatives gathered at the door, and then walking through to meet and greet the members of the crowd.
Those in attendance could ask Paul questions, inquire about his opinions on issues such as the debt ceiling or the Affordable Care Act, or simply talk and share their opinions with him.
“I like coming to communities I haven’t visited in a while,” Paul said.
Three Murray State seniors, Hannah Knapp, of Xenia, Ill., Dylan Gerlach, of Louisville, Ky., and Elizabeth Tarter, of Greenville, Ky., spoke with the senator about the Affordable Care Act, and what it will mean for them as they graduate college and enter the healthcare field. Tarter and Gerlach, both biology pre-med majors, asked Paul why they should be doctors after the passing of the Affordable Care Act.
“Being a doctor is about more than the money, it’s about caring for people,” Paul said. “I would practice for free any day.”
The three students said meeting the senator was a good experience, and that they liked what he had to say about healthcare.
In addition to recent government action, Paul also shared his opinions on education.
He said he believes primary education should be decentralized, with more decision-making power given to the state and local governments.
When asked about secondary education, Paul said college is too expensive, and there are not enough jobs for graduates.
“The biggest problem with college right now is the rising cost,” he said. “Students are graduating with increasing loan burdens and it’s hard for them to find a job, let alone a job where they make enough to pay off loans.”
He talked about the need for more jobs, so college graduates can find work, and when asked about the impact government welfare programs are having on the job search, he quickly touted statistics on the issue.
“In 11 states right now, welfare pays better than a starting teachers’ salary,” Paul said. “In 39 states, welfare pays more than minimum wage.”
He said he does not believe young adults do not want to work. He believes there just are not enough jobs for them.
Susan and Joe Walker, a couple from Murray, said they came to Martha’s Restaurant to thank Senator Paul for his efforts, and to let him know they appreciate him.
“People like him need to know they’ve got support back home,” Joe Walker said.
Susan Walker agreed with her husband, and said she likes Paul. “He’s got common sense, and he stands up for it,” she said.
The couple had no questions or concerns for the senator. They simply wanted to thank him for the work he has done in Washington.
Paul’s meet and greet in Murray was part of a series of stops he made in the region, including Benton, Ky., and Cadiz, Ky.
Story by Kate Russell, Staff Writer