'This Week': Sen. Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on leniency for Edward Snowden and the battle over unemployment benefits and Obamacare.
3:00 | 01/05/14

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Transcript for 'This Week': Sen. Rand Paul
We're going to washington now, back to work this week. Can they get anything done before this year's midterm elections? Abc's jeff zeleny starts us off. Good morning, jeff. Reporter: Good morning, george. On capitol hill this year, there's one number that stands out above all others -- six. That's how many seats republicans need to take control of the senate and take over president obama's second-term agenda. With the senate majority up for grabs, every issue comes with campaign fireworks. Up first this week, a showdown over a three-month extension of long-term unemployment benefits. Just this weekend, the president urged lawmakers to get on board. Republicans should make it their new year's resolution to do the right thing and restore this vital economic security. Reporter: We met kathy biscotti of baltimore, one of americans whose benefits expired late last year, she's loing for a new job. And asking congress for help. I'm not saying that it should last forever, but we need more time. What are we supposed to do in the meantime? Reporter: Some republicans say it's time to end the relief which has been in place since the economic collapse of 2008. And that's not the only showdown ahead. From new scrutiny on government surveillance, to another battle over raising the debt ceiling, there's immigration and familiar clashes over obamacare. The law, now in effect, is once again being used against vulnerable democrats. Keep your insurance if you like it. Reporter: For democrats, income equality is another theme. The president calling for an increase in the minimum wage. As for republicans, they may have a stronger political hand if they can refrain from fighting one another. Party leaders tell me they still worry those simmering feuds with the tea party could be the biggest thing standing in the way of winning those six elusive seats and taking control of the senate. George? Okay, jeff, thanks very much. And with that, let's get to one of gop's rising stars, senator rand paul. Happy new year to you, thank you for joining us. Good morning. You guys are going to begin right away this week, by extending benefits to the unemployed. President obama yesterday says it's cruel to deny those benefits. He wants a vote right now. And the house speaker john boehner says that he's open to it if the benefits are paid for, I know you have been opposed to it in the past, but if his conditions are met, can you support the extension? Well, I think what's really call is to have an economy that doesn't have jobs in it, so we have to talk about what policy creates jobs. With regards to unemployment insurance, I'm not opposed to that, I'm opposed to having it without paying for it. I think it's wrong to borrow money from china. I'm not against having unemployment insurance. I do think, though, the longer you have it, it provides dis disencentive to work. There are many studies indicate this. We have to figure out to create jobs and keep people from becoming long-term unemployed. But are you saying now, that if this extension is paid for you could support it? Well, what I have always said it needs to be paid more, but we also have to do something for long-term unemployed people. And that is, we need to create something new that creates job. What I would like to do, when we get back, if we extend it, we pay for it. I have been promoting economic freedom zones. Any area that has unemployed we would dramatically lower taxes. To try to spur and stimulate the program there. Another controversy over this nsa. You announced on friday that you're going to filing a class-action lawsuit against the agency. This issue is already making its way through the courts. So, why is this lawsuit necessary? Well, the thing is, is that the point is, that one single warrant should not apply to everyone who has cell phone in america. One of the things that snowden released was a single court order to the company verizon, that all of the records would be looked at, that's a generalized warrant. So, I think by bringing a class-action suit, where we have hundreds of thousands of people who come forward and say, my cell phone records are mine unless you go to a judge and ask a judge specifically for my records, you shouldn't be able to have a general warrant. I think the idea of having a class-action lawsuit really beats home and brings to the forefront the idea that this is a generalized warrant and it should be considered unconstitutional. This issue of clemency also back in the news for edward snowden. The "new york times" said, considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed and the abuses he has exposed, mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. I want to know where you stand on this. A couple of months ago, we talked about this, you said we didn't know enough then. On friday, it may be an idea for edward and james clapper to share a prison cell. Is clemency for snowden now off the table as far as you're concerned? The reason I said that was to make a point that we can't selectively apply the law. So, james clapper did break a law and there is a prison season sentence for that, so did mr. Snowden. I don't think that mr. Snowden deserves a death penalty or life in prison. Do I think it's okay to leak secrets and give up national secrets and things that could endanger lives? I don't think that's okay, either. The courts are now saying that what he revealed was something that the government was doing was illegal. He if they served in a prison cell together we would become further enlightened over the country. You have taken heat for making that comparison. I want to clarify here, you're saying no clemency for edward snowden, but perhaps leniency? Well, I think the only way he's coming home is if someone would offer him a fair trial with a reasonable sentence. We have had people all over the news, some of the same people defending james clapper lying to congress, off with his head, he should be hung from the nearest tree, I don't think that's appropriate. In the end, history is going to judge he revealed great abuses of our government and great abuses of our intelligence community. James clapper, in lying to congress, really, seriously destroyed the credibility of our intelligence agencies. I actually give them the benefit of the doubt. I don't think james clapper is a bad person. I think he's a patriotic person who wants to stop terrorism. I don't think he was a bad person. By lying to congress he made us doubt and believe maybe the government could be listening to our phone calls, even though they tell us they're not. Your opposition to obamacare has been no secret, but i understand now that the issue has also become personal for you, is it true you had trouble signing up for obamacare and you're not sure your family is covered? At this point I'm unsure. The other day I tried to get my son signed up through the kentucky exchange. I have here my son's medicaid card. We didn't try to get him medicaid. I'm trying to pay for his insurance. They automatically enrolled him in medicaid. For a month they wouldn't talk to us because they weren't sure he existed. He had to go down to welfare office, prove his existence. Next thing we know we get a medicaid card. I'm trying to pay for insurance and can't pay for it and I'm uncertain now whether I'm enrolled d.C. And/or kentucky. And it's a mess. I keep getting an error code every time I go in, it won't let me edit my policy to try to make sure that my family is covered. This is an unfolding disaster. That I don't think gets better any time soon. Final question, I wan to get you on the record on immigration, our next guest senator chuck schumer in new york is confident that it will get done this year, is he right? Can you support speaker boehner's call for a series of measures on immigration? The reason, and I have had this conversation with senator schumer before, the reason it has failed is that, the senate bill that he proposed, actually limited work visas. I'm for very expansive work visas. There is a debate, though, over citizenship and how quickly. I don't think the house is ready for citizenship. So, really, the question to democrats is, will you do halfway? Are you willing to bring the 11 million people who are here, bring them out of the shadows, give them an existence and try to get them a better situation? That could happen tomorrow. The problem is, the sticking point, are we going to have to immediate voting privileges for those who came here illegally? That's more of a sticking point. If they're willing to come halfway, I think we're able to pass meaningful reform for the 11 million that are here. Let's bring that question to senator chuck schumer.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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