Show: CNN American Morning
Date: August 6, 2009
Host: Kiran Chetry
Kiran Chetry: Alright, it’s 32 minutes past the hour. You may have heard the phrase “like father like son” but for Congressman Ron Paul the expression is ringing more true. Not only is his third child, Rand, a physician, but yesterday he announced that he was running for the Republican Senate seat in Kentucky. So, why is son following dad into the political arena?
Dr. Rand Paul joins me now on the set and in just a moment we’re actually going to be talking to your dad, Ron Paul, Congressman from Texas. But first let’s talk to you. Welcome, thanks for being on the show.
Rand Paul: Thank you.
Kiran Chetry: We’ve had your dad here a lot. You’ve been a doctor for years. I know you’ve been actively involved and actually founded a tax fairness organization in Kentucky.
Rand Paul: Right.
Kiran Chetry: Why throw your hat in the ring though for the U.S. Senate?
Rand Paul: I’m very worried about our country, I’m worried about the debt, I’m worried about what the debt will lead to. I think it will lead to rampant inflation, higher prices. And I think we cannot borrow our way into prosperity. I think there are serious times ahead for our country. We have a recession now, high unemployment now. What’s going to happen when we have high unemployment and the prices in the store begin to rise? You can’t just run a deficit at this level, it’s a historic deficit and it’s getting worse. And I think the career politicians on both sides of the issue, both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat, have been unwilling and afraid to address the deficit; and someone has got to.
Kiran Chetry: That’s interesting that you say that because your dad’s been in Congress for years and years. You could say, even though he marches to the beat of his own drum for sure, that he’s a career politician. I mean, can you do more good in the private sphere than you can in public life at times?
Rand Paul: Well I think the thing is, he was also a physician for 20 years like myself, I think you need people outside of government. If your primary goal is to continue your career, you tend to do things that are good for you but not necessarily good for the country. For example, the way our system works around the country is that people bring back spending projects and it seems to be free. For example, the stimulus project brought a million dollars into my little town. Republicans and Democrats clapped their hands and said, “We have a million dollars.” But no one asked the hard question “Where did those million dollars come from?”
Did we have to borrow it from China, or Japan or foreign countries? Is that good for our country to go further and further into debt to build a new ball park or a new parking garage? You know, we have to understand where does the money come from. But debt leads to inflation. They print the money to pay for the debt, you ultimately will pay for it through higher prices. Who pays the higher prices? The working class and those on fixed income. In a year if you’re paying $8 for your milk, will you be happy that you got a million dollars for your town?
Kiran Chetry: Well, how do you explain that, you know, when you go out there and you said you’ve sort of hit the dinnrs and talked to people and sort of let them know how you feel; you think that the stimulus is a really bad idea. You think that the bank bailout also was a mistake. But there are many in the Republican Party who felt, at least about the bailout, that it was necessary and voted for it.
Rand Paul: I tell people that you look at problems for our economy the same way you would look at them personally. I have a lot of older patients who have grandkids, they come in to me and I ask them, “Would you borrow money to buy a gift for your grand kids?” And they say, “No”. You pay for gifts out of your savings. But you don’t borrow money to give people cash for clunkers. I don’t know how you get rich as a country by borrowing money and giving it to people and saying, “Go to the mall and spend it.” And somehow we’re supposed to be richer as a country?
Kiran Chetry: Let’s bring in your dad, you sound a lot like one of our favorite guests, Congressman Ron Paul. What did you think when your son told you “Hey, I think I’m going to try to join you in Congress, dad?”
Ron Paul: Well, I wasn’t too surprised. He’s been interested in politics for a long time and he’s had his own tax groups. So I think the family sort of expected that he would be the first one to get into politics like this. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise, but I was very pleased.
Kiran Chetry: One of the things that he talked about is people who want to do more for themselves; they want to continue to get elected. What are some of the lessons that you want to explain to him when you have all these ideas and you think they make sense and then you butt up against the bureaucracy in Washington? And often times, as you’ve seen yourself, things that you fight for don’t necessarily get accomplished.
Ron Paul: Well, I think the most important thing that I’ve tried to convey to myself and others and to the kids is that don’t go with conventional wisdom. If you go with conventional wisdom and the usual advisors, they’re about 10 or 15 years behind the people and I think that is what you’re sensing with these town hall meetings; the people are way ahead. I think the people are way ahead of us in Washington on the drug war and on foreign policy. And certainly they’re expressing themselves on the spending and the medical care.
So it’s marching to your own tune and listening to the people. I think that is where it can’t go wrong. People want to trust you as a politician, they want to like you and they want to trust you. But it’s up to the politician who’s running to stand for something and that’s what energizes your base, your supporters and raises your money. But I think too many politicians don’t have a whole lot they really stand for and really believe in. I think that has been what has energized our base.
Kiran Chetry: And Rand, I want to ask you about that. I mean, you’re a doctor. What do you hear from the front lines, meaning people, about whether or not health care reform is a good idea?
Rand Paul: I think they are afraid of losing their choices. They titled the act “The Free Choice Health Care Act”. But I think the more benign sounding the title, maybe the more ominous the contents. Within the healthcare bill it is actually going to limit your choices. You will only be able to buy government approved insurance, pages 16 through 19. And I think that worries people.
People also see the reports from England where there is a breast cancer drug called Herceptin that blocks the estrogen receptors. It’s not available in England because it’s too expensive. I’m in the business of eye surgery and eye disease, and one of the common diseases in the eye is abnormal blood vessels that grow into the back of the eye, called macular degeneration. We inject a drug called Avastin. In England you had to prove that you were blind in one eye before they might let you use it in the second eye.
Americans are going to be fearful of losing their choices. Now we have problems in health care, but the main problem is see is expense, not access. So when you add a lot of new people to it, you’re going to add expense to the system. But you haven’t really necessarily changed things.
Kiran Chetry: Congressman Paul, I want to ask you and then I want to ask your son. The overall grade as we head into 200 days of this administration, we’re asking all of our guest to give a grade. You guys weighed in. Congressman Paul, how do you think this administration has done overall?
Ron Paul: Well, not very well. I’d probably give him a D. He deserves an F, but I’d give him a D to make one point. That is that he is not responsible for this mess, this has been going on for a long time. The last administration has a lot to do with this. The Congress has a lot to do with it. But what is failing is the system; this idea that the government is the economic planner, that inflationism is good, the planned economy is worthwhile, this foreign policy is a good idea. That’s what’s wrong. Nobody in the presidency can manage the country. And so the task is impossible, so I would say he’s failing, but he doesn’t deserve all the blame. And I think we have to look at what our country is up to, what we believe in and whether the Constitution is worth following, and whether free markets are what we need. We need the government out of the way; we don’t need a better manager. So for that reason I give him a D but I think the system is still failing.
Kiran Chetry: Alright, let’s hear from your son, you weren’t as generous as his dad.
Rand Paul: I would say an F and the main reason is that that as I run for office because I think the debt is out of control. I was unhappy when the Republicans were running 500 billion dollar deficits in a year, and now we’ve tripled that in one year. I mean, this is a historic deficit, 13% of gross national product, spending is at 28% of gross national product. Things are out of control, but there will be repercussions. You cannot borrow and borrow and borrow and print money to pay for this without repercussions. And the repercussions will be higher prices in the grocery store.
Kiran Chetry: Alright, I want to thank you for coming on and it was great talking to you, Congressman Ron Paul, great having you as well. I know you’re proud of your son. You’ll probably be doing a little bit of campaigning for him as well as he tries to take the Senate seat in Kentucky. Thanks for being with us this morning.
Rand Paul: Thank you.