An Interview With Ron Paul
So, when I got back, I pursued an interview with Ron Paul for Right Wing News. I wasn’t sure the interview would happen because not only do I have some differences of opinion with Ron Paul, I was very hard on him during the 2008 elections.
Still, despite whatever differences we may have, I sincerely appreciate the fact that he was willing to talk with me and was also willing, without the slightest complaint, to answer all the questions I had for him, some of which were pretty tough.
What follows is a slightly edited transcript of the conversation I had last Friday with Ron Paul.
First of all, let’s assume Obamacare isn’t repealed and we continue to run massive deficits as far as the eye can see, just as the Obama administration is predicting right now. What are the consequences of that in a decade or two?
If it lasts that long, it just means that there will be a lot of inflation. Interest rates have already started to go up and we have price inflation in medical care as well as all the other problems. With interest rates rising and inflation coming back, this will lower the standard of living of all Americans. Actually, the standard of living has been going down for over 10 years and real wages have gone down over these past 10 years. So a program like this on top of our problems just makes things much worse, just hastens the day that the dollar will lose a lot more value — maybe to the point where they will destroy the dollar completely.
Now, you’re a doctor — so you’re especially qualified to speak on the health care reform bill that just passed. If one of your constituents came up to you and asked what to expect from this bill over time if it remains in place, what would you tell him?
They’re going to get a lot worse care, there will be more between the doctor and the patient –already there’s way too much interference between the doctor and patient. We have the insurance company and the medical management companies already, but this will add to the government’s bureaucrats, it will indirectly have the drug companies involved, and the insurance companies will stay involved. It just will become more bureaucratic, doctors will become more frustrated, and there will be less doctors available because the ones who have been on the verge of quitting will probably quit. Eventually, the amount of care will have to be rationed because the cost will go up, the government will always see shortfalls, and because of the shortage of doctors, care will be rationed. It will make our patients a lot more unhappy.
OK, let me ask you a couple of tougher questions. You think it’s been proven that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii or do you believe his real birthplace is still in doubt?
Oh, I don’t have a strong opinion about that. I would say that until they prove otherwise, that he was born in Hawaii.
One more question along those similar lines. During the campaign in 2008, there was a lot of talk about the North American Union. It sort of dropped off the radar after Bush left office. Post-Bush, what do you think about that?
I think it might be a very bad sign because there had been talk about the North American Union and currency for this hemisphere. But I think what has happened is that the United States internationally has become such a powerhouse with their empire that they more or less have taken over the United Nations. Instead of them being on the short end of votes, I think they have literally become the owners.
So therefore, I’m more concerned about a world currency rather than a hemispheric currency…. But the move away from sovereign nations is still ongoing. There’s still this effort to take advantage of this crisis and move toward an international agreement or a world government. So I see the fact that they talk less about regional government is probably… is not a good sign.
Now one idea that you’ve championed that’s gained a lot of support in both parties is auditing the Fed. Can you explain the idea to someone who says, “I don’t know why we need to do this?” What would you say to him about why we need to audit the Fed?
Well, fortunately, I don’t get many questions like that. Most of the time I get questions like, “Why in the world aren’t we auditing the Fed?” That, of course, is the better question because we should know. During the financial crisis, the Fed created $2 trillion, they passed the money out to their friends, and they refused to tell us, the Congress, and the American people where this money has gone. So this sort of set the stage for the American people to demand that we have an audit. I’ve been working on that for years, but there was no interest.
But, the crisis has gotten a lot of people interested in the subject and I think that’s the reason that all the Republicans in the House have supported this. Well over 100 of the Democrats support it, too; so I think we’re certainly moving in that direction — but it’s important to know, just for transparency’s sake, and who gets the benefits and which people, which companies are allowed to drop through the cracks.
Now one of the things that has most contributed to the perception that Congress is corrupt, is earmarking. We regularly see cases where campaign contributors receive earmarks or earmarks seem to be traded for votes. Now many Republicans support a ban on earmarks for that reason, but you don’t. Can you talk a little bit about why that is?
Yes, I see this in a constitutional manner and think that one of the problems that we have faced in the last 50 years has been the steady erosion of constitutional power, the giving up of the prerogatives to the executive branch, as well as to the judicial branch. I don’t want a strong executive branch. I don’t want presidents to be able to go to war without declarations. I don’t want presidents to write executive orders, signing statements, because that gives them way too much power. We’ve allowed the executive branch to write regulations, which have the force of law.
This is just another example of the Congress giving up their prerogatives because when you have a chance to vote against an earmark, you don’t save any money. You say that this money can’t be earmarked for somebody’s district to build a highway. Well, the money came out of the district, so why should we let the bureaucrats or the executive branch decide who gets the money? The President comes back and says, “Oh, ok, I can put it in the budget if you do A, B, C, & D for me.” So, it gives the executive branch that much more power. So, I see this in a very strict constitutional sense. I defend strongly the responsibility of the Congress to designate every penny they spend. Yet, I think all the spending is too much; so I vote against all the appropriations.
Besides, the definition of earmarks is different. When they talk about earmarks, they are these special things that might go to a person’s district. It’s less than one percent of the budget. But the way I look at earmarks — I think earmarking $1 billion to build an embassy in London — it makes no sense whatsoever. I don’t want that either; so that’s my reason for opposing the ban on earmarks. I want the Congress to designate where every penny should be spent.
Now there’s a debate among some Libertarians whether it’s better to support a third party or to come into the Republican Party and try to make changes from within. Where do you come down on that?
…I’d say work within, but that’s my personal decision. There was one time in my life when I was trying to do it outside the Republican Party, but….I get the question all the time and I just tell the people to do what you feel like, do what you want to do. Do what you’re most comfortable with and where you think you can do the most good. Some people don’t want to work within the Republican Party; so they should do whatever they’d like to do. There’s no one answer for everybody.
I do point out to people, though, that the election laws are controlled by the Republicans and Democrats; so that’s one thing they agree on. If you exclude any opposition outside the two party system philosophically, then that squeezes people because philosophically, there’s not a whole lot of difference when you look at history. Government keeps growing regardless of which party is in power. So I just think that with the way they pass laws, like the getting into debates, getting on ballots, and the way you’re treated by the media, it’s just very, very difficult to have any democratic competition in this country.
Now there was a debate question you were asked that I remember. It had to do with eliminating both the CIA and FBI. Those weren’t the only agencies the question mentioned, but it did mention those two. You seemed, as I remember, to be answering that if you had your way, yes, you would do that. Don’t both those agencies, despite their flaws, serve vital roles? Can you elaborate on your views there a little bit?
Yes. I think intelligence gathering is very, very important. Matter of fact, there was somebody on TV just recently, an ex-CIA agent who has just written a book on this subject. He thinks the CIA is totally inept and has never produced worthwhile information. Even when they’re given good information, like on the underwear bomber, they don’t know what to do with it. So on intelligence gathering, there’s a military and I think there are certain things that the FBI ought to do, but I don’t think the FBI should ever be spying on groups of people like they did in the anti-war movement in the ’60’s — like they do when they infiltrate the right to life groups or the pro-gun groups. Spying on the American people is not part of the American process; so that’s what I object to.
The CIA is involved in way too much. Not only do we fight undeclared wars, but it’s the CIA operating their computers who decide who gets bombed and who doesn’t get bombed in Pakistan and in Yemen. To me, it is just totally bewildering that we put up with this. There’s no real oversight for the CIA.
There have been so many CIA agents who have left the department and wrote about this. They get involved in foreign elections. They get involved in killing people. I just don’t think that the CIA has proved themselves to be worth very much. We could still deal with intelligence gathering without the intrigue of the CIA being involved in so much secret activity involvement in other countries as well as in our own country.
Now as I’m hearing it, it sounds like you’d maybe reform both agencies instead of getting rid of them. Is that basically what you mean?
Well, I’d probably lean more on the gathering of information with the military and the FBI. But I’d curtail their activities once they do this blanket spying on people. Of course, since we’ve had the Patriot Act, this gives them license to watch anything and everything all American citizens do, whether it’s their telephones, their faxes, their e-mail, or whatever.
Now what would you say to the argument that illegal aliens contribute to the tax base and do jobs that Americans won’t do? Plus, what about the idea that people should be able to go wherever they want across the border — so we should allow them to come into the United States and be citizens?
Well, I disagree with it. Citizenship should be restricted and it should be kept legal. It is true that illegal aliens will have some benefits and they will be productive to some degree. But if you add the pluses and the minuses, actually there’ve been some studies on this to show that it’s actually a negative — because if they know and anticipate that they will get citizenship, then they bring their families in. Their families use our emergency rooms and our schools. If you add it all up, it is a tax. It is a burden. What we need to deal with is how do we get back to a thriving, healthy free market economy? (If we were) more lenient on our immigration laws, they should not qualify for any freebies and they should certainly not be rewarded by citizenship.
Getting down to the last two questions here…. Most people consider Abe Lincoln to be one of our greatest presidents, if not the greatest president we’ve ever had. Would you agree with that sentiment and why or why not?
No, I don’t think he was one of our greatest presidents. I mean, he was determined to fight a bloody civil war, which many have argued could have been avoided. For 1/100 the cost of the war, plus 600 thousand lives, enough money would have been available to buy up all the slaves and free them. So, I don’t see that is a good part of our history. Besides, the Civil War was to prove that we had a very, very strong centralized federal government and that’s what it did. It rejected the notion that states were a sovereign nation.
The people who disagree want to turn around and say, “Oh, yes, those guys just wanted to protect slavery.” But that’s just a cop-out if you look at this whole idea of what happened in our country because Lincoln really believed in the centralized state. He was a Hamiltonian type and objected to everything Jefferson wanted.
Ok, and the last question. If somehow you were allowed to make three changes to the law or amendments to the Constitution, any three you wanted, what would they be.
I’ll qualify this with the statement that the Constitution is not all that bad. Our problem is people ignore it. I mean, you take the proper interpretation of the interstate commerce clause and the general welfare clause — and we know what it means, but people want to read something else into it so the words have no meaning. The words only depend on the character of the people whom we elect. In the last 100 years, the character of those individuals has been very, very sloppy in watching out for our rights.
I guess, if you wanted to try a little harder to protect against that, you could write in some more prohibitions. They thought for sure if they just said this is what you’re allowed to do, you can’t do anything else, the people would be able to read into that. It looks to me like in this day and age, you almost have to write down and say what the government is not allowed to do.
So, writing some prohibitions that say you can’t develop the welfare state and you can’t go to — we already have it in there, you can’t go to war without a declaration, but I think I would write into the Constitution, the guarantee for nullification of laws. I imagine you could write the Second Amendment a little bit better to make that very, very explicit, but unfortunately, better language could be helpful — but the only thing that is going to improve things is better people being in charge.
Ron, I really appreciate your time. Thank you.