Dylan Ratigan: Well, the big story today: an open field. Good afternoon to you I am Dylan Ratigan, a rainy Monday here in New York, the fog however lifting for the GOP’s crop of 2012 presidential candidates. Trump and Huckabee are out and as the field finally starts to take shape, the big question remains, will the Republicans work to restore the most basic American values of competition and choice and ultimately tackle the trillion dollar problems that continue to suck trillions – that’s why I call them trillion dollar problems – out of our country. The gloom fitting on this day as we finally break the bank. The U.S. today busting through the $14.294 trillion debt ceiling. Tim Geithner, of course, in turn sending a letter to Congress alerting them of actions he’s taking to ensure the government keeps paying its bills. As of today that includes selling of certain investments of a pension fund and blocking other funds from new investment. But as the debt fight folly ratchets up, let’s not forget how we actually got here. The underlying problems digging us deeper into debt, defense, monopoly healthcare, monopoly banking, you get my point. Those same monopolies in total rejection of core American values of competition and choice as those same six outdated industries enjoy implicit government support and the resulted record profits that can come from a rigged market. Meanwhile, our government is raiding our pensions to fund this broken system. Republican or Democrat, will any 2012 candidate see the light and lead America back to brighter days based on our core values of competition, choice and fair play. Joining us now Republican Congressman Ron Paul, who announced his bid on Friday. Before we get into some of the policies, Congressman, your thoughts on the developing Republican field.
Ron Paul: Well, it is interesting and a lot of questions come up where will those votes go? And I can’t help but think that there will be some advantage for me because he was pretty conservative and he believed in free markets more so than Romney. So I think there’s a very good chance that we’ll pick up some of that support but it’s hard to say and we don’t know what the field will be like, some people think it’s going to be five, 10, 15 or 20 so I think it’s too early to do too much speculating.
Dylan Ratigan: You and I both know and we’ve talked about this for years that the reason America has the deficit that it does goes directly to an abandonment of our core values of competition, choice and fair play. You like to talk about it in our banking system. We know that there’s a health insurance monopoly in this country. We know that there is an energy and military oligopoly or monopoly in this country. How can we sit here celebrating everything from the Super Bowl to the Oscars, to American Idol to ultimate fighting and make ourselves feel this grand sense of competitive sort of pride while living inside of a government whose political system and economic system betrays our most fundamental values?
Ron Paul: I think people are denial and maybe they don’t want to think about the hard choices and how bad things are, so they go to ball games and other things and they are in denial. One of the things that, and you probably have heard me complain about this before because it is the lack of competition, it is big government and big banks and big corporations in bed together and what I don’t like about it is the free market gets blamed and say “see, we told you that free markets don’t work.” But I think you and I both know that corporatism and special interest for big business is not free market. Free market is where you get the competition. But on top of this of course has been this privilege that United States has been given for 40 years where we literally were able to issue the reserve currency. That is an economic advantage. It’s coming to an end. But that is another reason that we’ve gotten ourselves into such trouble and gotten ourselves into so much debt because people were willing to loan us this money and for all of us to overextend ourselves.
Dylan Ratigan: I want you to take a listen to the president recently on his view of the American Dream:
President Barack Obama: Every single one of you stood tall and said “Yes, we can.” You decided you would not be defined by where you come from but by where you want to go, by what you want to achieve, by the dreams you hope to fulfill.
Dylan Ratigan: Is it cruel for a media figure or a politician or a business leader to encourage people to throw themselves into a competitive environment that we know is rigged against them, whether it’s the banking system, the healthcare system, the energy system, so yeah a kid can have a dream to fix energy but as long as the energy companies can manipulate the price of energy to prevent any alternatives from being developed, is it not cruel to encourage them knowing that you’re rigging the game against them? A kid can come up with a new banking system or an investment system, but is it not cruel to rig that system to ensure their failure? I feel like it’s like giving somebody a greased football and then complaining they can’t catch it.
Ron Paul: Yeah, and I think that’s one of the reasons why people opt out, they might be discouraged and not want to get in that rat race and try to vie for all those privileges that some people get. But also it’s sometimes the reason why people leave this country where they think the game isn’t quite as rigged. But I think the word that you use is correct and that is competition. That’s what free markets are all about: creative energy, competition, sound money, contract rights, all these things would allow us to be creative and productive again but unfortunately we embarked on the wrong course and we’re up against the wall on just this very day. They’re talking about the debt limit again and I think that is a very important event and we’re going to have to deal with it. They can’t be in denial much longer because it’s going to hit everybody’s pocketbook pretty soon.
Dylan Ratigan: Do you feel like as president you would have the courage to do what a lot of people thought Barack Obama was going to do which is to take on the special interests that wield the power of legislative manipulation from healthcare to energy to war to banks?
Ron Paul: A lot of people give me the credit for sticking to my guns and having strong beliefs so, yes, I think I’d be quite capable of doing that and it would deal with foreign policy as well as domestic policy and the attack on corporatism but I would keep harping on the fact that free markets aren’t the same as corporatism and special interest. The military industrial complex is hardly free market capitalism, so understanding that, I believe, is very important.
Dylan Ratigan: I call the distinction between capitalists that make and capitalists that take and it’s much easier to take, as you know. Let’s talk a little bit about foreign policy if we can, you spoke yesterday on Fox, I want to give people a sample and then discuss it a little further. Take a listen to the Congressman yesterday:
Ron Paul: When you bomb a country you violate their security, their national sovereignty. We’re doing that. At the same time we’re giving them billions of dollars. Then you wonder why the government gets in trouble with their people. So I would say that why didn’t we do it like we did with George Bush?
Dylan Ratigan: Your thoughts on the actual way forward: in other words we know what your opinions are and we know what your values are. We also know the reality is we’re involved in an incredibly conflicted and inconsistent set of relationships that go back decades. Where would you begin?
Ron Paul: Well, you have to reverse the trend. And you’re right, we’re very much involved to turn a key and the switch and be out of all the mess in one day or two is going to be very difficult. But I think the explanation that we don’t intend to run these countries and occupy these countries and own these countries would be a big change. Why is it that we continue to bomb Pakistan and the chaos that’s going on over there, no wonder it’s trouble dealing with their government, cause their government and their people are separated. We, in a way, are inadvertently and some people claim on purpose, is we are causing chaos in Pakistan. I am frightened. I think we’re going to have troops in Pakistan six months or a year from now because they’re going to say, “Well, there’s total chaos in there.” But how can we deal with a country that we give them both billions of dollars at the same time we’re bombing them. Just recently we bombed them and the civilians once again were killed. Why wouldn’t they get upset with us? So I think the nature of our foreign policy has to totally change and besides we can’t afford it. Even if people say, “I just disagree with Ron Paul completely on foreign policy,” they can’t disagree with the fact that we’re out of money, so if they don’t cut some of that militarism, they got to cut food stamps for the poor and, of course, I don’t think that’s the right priority.
Dylan Ratigan: Last question for you and those who took the pundit class that looks at a man like yourself and your policies still raise an eyebrow as to whether you can get through a socially conservative primary. You may have rhetoric and policies that are very appealing to a lot of people in this country but there’s a concern that those people are not Republican primary voters.
Ron Paul: Yeah, and I guess it gets back to what conservatism means and what constitutionalities mean and, of course, I personally am very very conservative and I think it’s pretty conservative and it’s family values to allow people to take care of their families and to make their own choices for their kids and education and deciding those factors. I think it’s very very conservative and getting the national government out of the way and let some of these problems be solved locally. So I don’t see that, although I think you’re correct in the challenge I have because some people think “well, he’s not socially conservative,” but I happen to be a Libertarian Constitutionalist that believes that all life is important, that you just can’t casually throw life away. So, in many ways I believe when people get to know me better they’ll realize that I can appeal across the board. That’s the magnificent thing about a freedom philosophy, is there’s an appeal to progressives and antiwar people, people who care about civil liberties as well as people who understand what real free markets are and that it is not corporatism that I would want to defend.
Dylan Ratigan: Understood, Congressman, always a pleasure to get a chance to speak with you. Thank you for the time.
Ron Paul: Thank you, Dylan.
Dylan Ratigan: Alright, Ron Paul. Coming up here open gates.