Ron Paul explains why the U.S. government’s self-destructive foreign policy is bi-partisan. He goes on to present his ideas for saving the sinking, debt-ridden ship that America has become in recent decades.
Mika Brzezinski: Joining us from Washington, Republican Congressman from Texas, Representative Ron Paul also joining the conversation this morning. And with us at the table editor in chief of the daily Beast and Newsweek, Tina Brown.
Tina Brown: Hi.
Mika Brzezinski: Great to have you all on board.
Tina Brown: Good to be here.
Mika Brzezinski: Where do we begin? State dinner or Wall Street Journal polls? I’m sure which is a better story.
Joe Scarborough: Well, let’s go to Ron Paul first.
Mika Brzezinski: Okay.
Joe Scarborough: And Ron, it’s always good to talk to you.
Ron Paul: Thank you, good to be with you.
Joe Scarborough: We’ve got new NBC News Wall Street Journal poll numbers that show that Barack Obama’s numbers have gone up a good bit. I’m wondering is it possible that he could use this popularity to strike a deal to actually bring down the debt?
Ron Paul: Well, it’s always possible, politicians are politicians, and when the handwriting is on the wall sometimes they tend to change their way, so it seems like he is bending in that direction, but the job is overwhelming, to really cut spending, is not going to be easy for anybody, but at least the rhetoric is changing and hopefully some good will come from it but I’ll wait and see what the results are a year from now.
Joe Scarborough: Okay, and so, since you’ve always been honest, one of the few people that’s always been honest about our party’s inability to control the debt. You’ve seen the new Congress it’s come in, does it seem like these Republicans get it more than the Bush-era Republicans that we need to cut our debt?
Ron Paul: Well, the dynamics are completely different, you know as well as I do that when you have a Republican president it’s pushing big programs, and then the leadership in the House and the Senate, if he’s Republican, they have to carry his water, it’s completely different. Now when Obama is president, he’s an easier target, so I think the House especially will stand up and they will have a much better record because it’s sort of a partisan thing this time. But I think deep down in their hearts they’re not about to do the repealing of, not ObamaCare, but repealing most of the programs I find not technically part of, you’re supposed to be part of the Federal Government. So no, that’s not going to happen, so the momentum is too great for any significant cuts to occur.
Joe Scarborough: And you know Arianna, that is one of the things that is so disappointing that, and I always said this during the Bush era, why is it that we could stand up to Bill Clinton on big spending, but we couldn’t stand up to our own president, and as Ron said, his conclusion is my conclusion and anybody that’s been there, that when the same party runs Washington it’s like a club. Everybody is scratching everybody’s back and it’s costing tax payers billions of dollars.
Arianna Huffington: Well, and right now we have some congressional oversight beginning to be exercised over our spending in Afghanistan, Congressman Paul. We’re spending $2.8 billion a week. Isn’t that a place where we can see some immediate spending cuts instead of continuing to pursue what is clearly an unnecessary an unwinnable war?
Ron Paul: You and I may agree on it, but the progressives at, or on the Democratic side and the Conservatives on the Republican sides have no intention of cutting any of that. I mean, they’re not serious about cutting that. See, this is where I think you should have compromise. I’m not much in the business of compromising, I like coalitions, but this is where we should compromise. The people who like this militarism ought to compromise with the people who like welfarism and say, “Hey look, let’s cut $100 billion out of military, let’s cut $100 billion out of domestic welfare. I mean that would be a true compromise, but otherwise if one side argues, “well we have to cut the military, no we have to cut welfare” we’ll never get any place. But I do think it’s easier to cut overseas spending, politically speaking. I think I can make the case that we should bring our troops home, change our foreign policy, quit these ridiculous wars. We would be safer and richer for it, and that’s my argument. And I think I could actually sell that politically easier than saying “Oh, okay let’s cut medical care for the elderly.” That doesn’t make any sense to me.
Mika Brzezinski: Well, Tina Brown, politically speaking, doesn’t president Obama have the room to do this right now given the dynamics in Washington, his approval rating right now an 8-point jump from December, and the events of the past 6 to 8 weeks with the tax cuts and appealing to Republicans, where is his base going to go anyway?
Tina Brown: I agree, I think that Obama now has really got a chance to do stuff he wants to do and just make them all look small. Somehow the Republicans have set themselves up to be, it’s like they’re behind the curve. I mean, it’s very interesting to see them, they first of all they rode a curve in that last election. Now they feel completely behind the curve and I feel that Obama has kind of searched ahead to kind of wrong-foot them. Somehow, everything about what they’ve been doing in the last few days, I think the healthcare thing, they make themselves look ridiculous. That ship has sailed and I think that the American people know that that ship has sailed and it just looks futile and nihilistic. Now, then Boehner not attending the dinner, made himself small, and it’s like all of these imagery things, I think they’re losing that battle.
Joe Scarborough: Now, Pat Buchanan, I’d argued a couple of days ago and maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part: if Barack Obama would embrace the debt commission’s entire recommendation, he of course would have Democrats angry with him, but more importantly for himself politically, he would find the middle ground and Republicans, most Republicans, other than people like Ron Paul, who would agree that we need to actually make serious cuts, I think Republican leadership would be tongue-tied. They wouldn’t know what to do, and Obama would have the middle and I think he would be in an unassailable political position. Is that a possibility?
Pat Buchanan: It’s remote I think, Joe, for this, is it going to be Don I don’t think so for this reason, Republicans won’t go along with the tax hikes, they can’t go home and do that, and the Democrats are not going to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. So let me ask Ron Paul this: Ron, if the Republicans and the interventionists are going to keep the war policy going, and the Democrats and the Senate are not going to cut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, we’re going to have the third straight $1.4 or $1.5 billion deficit. How long do we go forward with these kinds of deficits before you have some international crash?
Ron Paul: Well, I think we’re on the verge of it and actually the national debt goes up faster than the deficit, so we were 1.7 last year — trillion dollars increase in the national debt. The timing is unpredictable as most of us should realize, but the inevitability of continuing this kind of spending will lead to the crisis and of course I argued that this was the setting of the stage for many, many years, maybe decades that we had embarked on this, and this should bring us all together. All spectrums if they care about their country, that we ought to be talking about it. I have worked with the progressives and I can get a lot of them to agree that deficits aren’t that good, and they might want us balance the budget differently but they know deficits are bad. And I think that the foundation has been totally eroded out of the monetary system. It’s the worst conditions this world has ever seen because it’s based on a Fiat standard which is worldwide. And because of the internationalization and the communications we have today, it is worldwide, it’s a worldwide bubble with these Fiat currencies. Very, very vulnerable and one day it’s going to break loose and maybe it could be next week, next month, or next year. But it will come and people have to realize that, so when people say “Oh, we can’t cut this and we can’t cut that.” But what if they knew that if in a year from now there would nothing functioning ’cause the dollar doesn’t work, that is much, much worse.
Joe Scarborough: And, you know, we’ve been talking, but Ron has been talking about this for a very long time. I’ve been talking about it for 15 years and nobody has been paying attention. But the fact is now, Arianna, you look at the country of your birth Greece, it happened there. Portugal, Ireland, this morning Spain is scrambling, this morning to line up bailout money so they don’t face an economic collapse. It’s happening across Europe, it could happen here.
Arianna Huffington: There is no way we can make significant cuts without growing the economy, and that’s really the problem, and I agree with Tina that the Republicans sound completely behind the curve, but they have won the battle. When it comes to which is the greatest priority: reducing the deficit, or reducing the long-term unemployment with 27 million people out of work or underemployed. That’s really the big division right now in the country, and Obama is siding more with the deficit hogs than with those who think that the jobs crisis is more significant.
Joe Scarborough: But what’s wrong, Tina, with saying “alright, we’re spending” like Ron said “we’re spending so much money, we’re spending a couple billion a week in Afghanistan and another billion in Iraq, every single week” and social security and Medicare, the numbers just don’t add up, what’s wrong with getting a plan that doesn’t slash spending in the next two years…
Tina Brown: It is amazing that…
Joe Scarborough: Like does long term…
Tina Brown: The military spending isn’t really coming up with Obama, but maybe that he’s in a stronger position he would. However, I do think he really believes in these wars actually at this point, I have now come to feel that Steven Carter and his new book “Violence of Peace” which is actually really interesting, talks about how Obama is really prosecuting these wars with more ferocity at this point than George W. Bush that he’s actually, he’s done the surge in Afghanistan, he’s really shown himself to be something of a hawk when it comes to the war.
Joe Scarborough: How depressing. Ron Paul, it seems that there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to these wars, in fact Barack Obama’s tripled the number of troops in Afghanistan and Republicans are pushing him to commit even longer. We’ve been there for over a decade Ron.
Ron Paul: Yeah, this is the bad part of bipartisanship. Foreign policy is always bipartisan. And give Obama his due because he didn’t deny that he wanted to fight in Afghanistan. That’s the good war, that’s the long war and he did state that in the campaign. But he has no intention of leaving, and we have no intention of leaving Iraq until we totally go broke and we have to leave like the Soviets did. Our empire will end for financial reasons, but it is total chaos. There is no stability in Iraq. Today there’s an article, I think in the New York Times, the last Christians about to leave there, as bad as it was before, this is the first time in the history of Christendom that the Christians had to leave Iraq. It is horrible and there’s no peace there and Afghanistan is getting worse. The war is spreading into Pakistan and there’s more than just Obama. There’s somebody that designates what foreign policy is all about regardless of the party. So whether it’s the Federal Reserve and monetary policy, whether it’s the foreign policy or the welfare spending, there’s way too much bipartisanship because philosophically both parties endorse these positions and now there’s nobody capable of backing off…
Mika Brzezinski: Alright.
Ron Paul: So that’s why we’re going to have the bankruptcy before we come to our senses.
Joe Scarborough: Pat Buchanan.
Pat Buchanan: The Bush doctrine has been a complete disaster for the United States, we’ve intervened and we’re trying, in Iraq and now in Afghanistan go on nation-building, the whole area despises and detests the United States. Every time they have a free elections, people that don’t like America tend to win. Now you’ve got this thing going down in Tunisia, Joe. I think the United States is on the verge of really, because of our policies, because of the basic Bush policies and the tilt of those policies, I think we’re in real danger of just being thrown out of that region of the world.
Joe Scarborough: It is disastrous, not only militarily and diplomatically, but financially. It is disastrous and the most staggering thing is that while both parties conspire to keep us in Afghanistan for another decade and this is what we’ve been warning about for sometime on this show, America sleeps.
Tina Brown: But, we’re not even really as a nation discussing it anymore either.
Joe Scarborough: Nobody cares,
Tina Brown: It’s like Afghanistan is sort of off the table.
Joe Scarborough: Nobody cares.
Arianna Huffington: Meantime China is spending billions of dollars mining Afghanistan’s precious mineral resources for its industry, while we’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars prosecuting an unwinnable war. Who do you think is going to be the winner?
Mika Brzezinski: And lose…
Joe Scarborough: And while we have been pursuing these wars over the past decade, while we have been sending young men and women to foreign lands to die, China has been using that decade to gain strategic alliances in Latin America and Africa across the globe. We are, every day we stay in Afghanistan, every day forward that we stay in Iraq is a day that we damage America’s future.
Tina Brown: Now we should now have…
Joe Scarborough: It is not a close call.
Tina Brown: …Conversation about it though, we have to now reconvene that actual conversation.
Mika Brzezinski: Representative Ron Paul.
Joe Scarborough: Thank you, Ron.
Mika Brzezinski: Very good to see you again.
Ron Paul: You’re welcome.
Mika Brzezinski: Thank you very much.
Ron Paul: Good to be with you.