Chris Wallace: Our next guest has joined the Republican race for President. He’s also written a new book, Liberty Defined, in which he sets out his controversial views on the role of the federal government. Congressman Ron Paul, welcome to Fox News Sunday.
Ron Paul: Thank you. It’s nice to be here.
Chris Wallace: You’re a member of the House Financial Services Committee. I’ve got to ask you first about the stunning arrest of the head of the IMF (International Monetary Fund), Dominique Strauss-Kahn for alleged sexual assault in a hotel room in New York—dragged off an airplane yesterday. Your reaction, sir?
Ron Paul: I think it’s a bit ironic, because the IMF is not my friend. The IMF is a threat to us because, now that we have a financial crisis here, and the dollar is threatened, others besides myself—I would like to go to a sound American currency, but others would like to go to a Thiet [?] world currency, and they want to use the IMF. And I think, these are the kind of people who are running the IMF? And we want to turn the world finances and the control of the money supply to them? So I think it’s rather interesting that we have that kind of an individual, and I think that should awaken everybody to the fact that they ought to look into the IMF and find out why we shouldn’t be sacrificing more sovereignty to an organization like that and individuals like he was.
Chris Wallace: You’re being taken—I think it’s fair to say—more seriously by the media this time, frankly including me, because your issues—limiting the size and scope of government, adhering to Constitutional principles—are center stage for the Republican Party this time around. But, do you really believe that you’re equipped and ready to be president? And if you were elected, what’s the first thing you’d do?
Ron Paul: I would say, nobody’s perfect. I don’t know all the answers. I don’t want to run people’s lives and run the world and run the economy, so my qualifications are a little bit different. But compared to others, I would say I’m pretty well-equipped, I’ve had a fair amount of experience. I’ve been in the military. I was in the military five years. That gives me a little bit of experience. So I would say I’m pretty well-equipped. But to brag that I can run things, I don’t do that; because that’s not what a president is supposed to do. The president is supposed to guarantee and work for the protection of liberty, and allow people to take care of their problems.
Chris Wallace: All right, let’s talk about it, because this gets right to the heart of your view about the role, but also the limits, of government. The flooding of the Mississippi has caused terrible destruction in the heartland of America. But you said the other day that the government should play no role in bailing out people who live in hurricane zones or flood zones. Let’s watch:
[(Video footage of Ron Paul): If it’s too dangerous, why dump the responsibility on the taxpayer? It doesn’t make economic sense. It doesn’t make good moral sense. It doesn’t make Constitutional sense.]
CWL: Question: President Paul would tell those folks, “You’re on your own”?
Ron Paul: You can’t change laws overnight. The president isn’t a dictator. But you would work for certain goals. The principle of ultimate insurance by government is a moral hazard, because people do things they shouldn’t do. But I have opposed flood insurance ever since I’ve been in Congress, for 30 years, since 1976. And I have a coastal district. So I don’t support FEMA. I get a lot more complaints about FEMA than I get support. Of course, if it’s a program—there’s a lot of programs I would do away with, but in the meantime, I would work to manage them responsibly. As a matter of fact, I’ve introduced legislation that would make Social Security more of an insurance program, make it responsible, even those things aren’t technically proper. So, no, FEMA is a problem. You brought up the subject of the Mississippi. FEMA is more-or-less in charge. But their decision now—because of government levies, because of the flood and no natural result in taking care of this flood, they have a decision to make: “Okay, die in [?] the Mississippi and flood this city, or die in [?] here and flood some innocent farmers. I mean, this is the kind of dilemma that wouldn’t happen in a society that didn’t expect the government to solve all our problems. But to expect the government and people who aren’t benefiting to pay for me to live on the beach and get my house blown down, that’s not morally correct; it’s not in the Constitution that that’s what we’re supposed to be doing.
Chris Wallace: All right, but—and I’m going to drill down on this. Critics say that is the problem with your Libertarian views, and they say it extends to your belief (and we discussed it in the South Carolina debate) that heroin and even prostitution should be legal if states decide to allow it. Michael Gerson, who was the chief speech writer for George W. Bush, wrote this, this week: “It is Social Darwinism. It is the arrogance of the strong. It is contempt for the vulnerable and the suffering.”
Ron Paul: I have no idea what he is talking about. Anyway, it makes no sense. But the question—
Chris Wallace: Well, what he’s basically saying is—
Ron Paul: No, no, wait—
Chris Wallace: All right, here’s what I think he’s trying to say. Government has a role to enforce social norms, and to protect people.
Ron Paul: And, if you accept that, they can accept everything you do with your life, and everything you do—that justifies all the economic intervention; that justifies the intervention in Freedom of Speech; it subjects interference on our religious values. But to take my philosophy, of freedom, and the Constitution, property rights and contracts, and turn it into a cliché and say, “Oh, you’re for legalizing heroin!” That is so grossly distorting my views. I want a legalized freedom of choice. I want to enforce State’s rights. I don’t like prohibitions—Prohibition of alcohol was horrible. State’s control of this is one thing. We had 150 years where heroin and cocaine were legal. At the same time, if you regulate those values, you can regulate home-schooling, you can regulate private schooling, you justify all these regulations. And if you’re for freedom, this whole idea that we can’t be responsible for ourselves—you remember the reaction that, “Oh, we’re safe and secure and smart, because we need the government to tell us what to do.” But history shows that individual choice—most people make good choices. And the big important here is, as a physician and one that has studied this issue very well, drug usage and drug addiction should be a disease, like we treat alcoholism. And what we have done to these people, and filling our prisons for non-violent crimes, that whole thing is being reassessed. I think the politicians and the pundits are way behind the People on this issue.
Chris Wallace: You talk a lot about the Constitution. You say Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, are all unconstitutional.
Ron Paul: Technically they are. But I want to also just—
Chris Wallace: Why? Why?
Ron Paul: Because there’s no authority there. Article 1, Section 8 doesn’t say I can set up an insurance program for people. What part of the Constitution do you get that from? The Liberals are the ones that use this “general welfare clause.” Those are Liberals.
Chris Wallace: Oh, okay. Well, I don’t know that I’m a Liberal, but let’s put it up on the screen, because that’s exactly the point. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution: “The Congress shall have the Power to lay and collect taxes… to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States.” Doesn’t Social Security come under promoting the “general welfare”?
Ron Paul: No. Absolutely not!
Chris Wallace: Why not?
Ron Paul: The “general welfare” is the general condition—maybe a sound currency is “general welfare.” Maybe markets, maybe a judicial system, maybe a national defense. But this is specific welfare. This justifies the whole Welfare State. The military-industrial complex, the welfare to foreigners, the Welfare State that imprisons our people and impoverishes our people and gives us our recessions. So, no. Why would you have Article 1, Section 8, and why would you have Amendments number 9 and 10? That means there’s no reason for Article 1, number 10, if you believe that, the “general revenue” clause—that is such an extreme Liberal viewpoint that has been mis-taught in our schools for so long. And that’s what—we have to reverse that very notion that you’re presenting.
Chris Wallace: Congressman, it’s not just a Liberal view. It was the decision of the Supreme Court in 1937—
Ron Paul: 1937…?!
Chris Wallace: —When they said that Social Security was Constitutional under Article 1, Section 8.
Ron Paul: Yeah, and the Constitution and the Courts said slavery was legal, too. And we had to reverse that. So, I’ll tell you, just because a Court in 1937 went very liberal on us and expanded the role of government…. No, I think original intent is not a bad idea. I think limitation of government power—if we aren’t clear on this, we’re going to get into a mess. Our government’s going to get very big, and we’re going to have a very big deficit, and we’re going to have a financial crisis. And it’s this type of thinking that is leaning us to that very problem that we’re facing today.
Chris Wallace: You caused a stir this week when you told an Iowa radio station that President Obama was wrong—wrong— to order a secret raid to get bin Laden without telling the Pakistani government first. Let’s listen:
[Video footage of Ron Paul interview on WHO/Des Moines: “I don’t think it was necessary, no.
Host: It wasn’t necessary to do?
Ron Paul: It was absolutely not necessary, and I think respect for the Rule of Law and world law, and international law….”]
Chris Wallace: You really believe that we could have trusted—let me just ask the question. You really believe we could have trusted the Pakistanis not to warn bin Laden?
Ron Paul: Well, not under today circumstance; it’s a big problem. But, see, you distorted that. You said it was wrong. I never used the word “wrong.” I said it could have been done differently, and it should have been. I mean, how about Kahlid—
Chris Wallace: You said, “It was not necessary. It was absolutely not necessary. And then you talked about the Rule of Law.”
Ron Paul: Okay, but that’s different than saying it’s wrong. I’m just saying, there was another way of doing it. So let me explain.
Chris Wallace: No. Well, I know. But I’m asking you, do you think that if we had told the Pakistanis, that they would have kept our secret?
Ron Paul: Well, go by history. Did they help us arrest about fifteen other vicious criminals and deliver them? The people that were responsible for the bombing of 1993, they helped capture them and bring them to us. Khalid Mohammed—
Chris Wallace: Sheik Mohammed.
Ron Paul: Sheik Mohammed. They helped us capture him. But why are we having trouble with the government? Why are we stirring up a civil war in Pakistan? It’s because we’ve been bombing it. This emphasizes so clearly what I’m talking about in my foreign policy. I’m saying that when you bomb a country, you violate their security, their national security, and their sovereignty. And we’re doing that. At the same time, we’re giving them billions of dollars. Maybe you wonder why government gets in trouble with their people. So, I would say, why didn’t we do it like we did with George Bush. He did it. He used the Pakistani government. And we arrested these people, and they’ve been convicted—
Chris Wallace: We’ve got a minute left, and I’ve got to ask you—I just want to ask you one more question in this regard, sir. Some of your biggest supporters are from the TEA Party. Judson Phillips, who is the head of the TEA Party Nation, says you’re flat wrong about warning the Pakistanis, first in getting their permission. He said this: “If there is any doubt Ron Paul should not even get near the Oval Office, even on a tour of the White House, he had just revealed it.” That’s from the TEA Party.
Ron Paul: Well, if you use him as a spokesman for the TEA Party—and he’s a Johnny-come-lately; he doesn’t have the vaguest idea about the people who rally around me, and what the young people are thinking, the people from 18-25. They’re “sick” of this. They’re sick of this spending. They want somebody to stand up and say, “No,” to the spending; “No,” to our foreign policy and, “Yes,” to liberty, and, “Yes,” to our Constitution. When we have that, we will have reform, and we will have our true revolution that we need.
Chris Wallace: Congressman Paul, we want to thank you so much for coming in today. Good luck on the campaign trail. Please come back, sir.
Ron Paul: You’re welcome.