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Fox News: Well, America’s Asking, and you guys are all over our chat today. We’re putting your questions to the Presidential candidates including—starting with a question about national debt. Today the headline is this: A new report from the Congressional Budget Office has some very sobering news for really every single one of us, including projections that government spending, as a share of our economy will increase by nearly 70% by 2035. Historically it’s around 20%. That’s a big jump. Republican Congressman and Presidential Candidate Ron Paul (R-TX) is joining us to take some of your questions. Congressman, let’s start off with the headline, though, and get your thoughts on this. If you were elected President, what is the #1 thing you would do to help fix the economy?
Ron Paul: Well, the #1 thing that I can do, without going through the congressional process, as the President—the President has the authority over foreign policy more than anything else. So indirectly he can help the economy by bringing our troops home and stop spending some of this money that we spend maintaining our empire. And that would be a big help. But if you are talking “directly with the economy,” you have to address monetary policy and tax policy and spending policy. We have to change the attitude of the People on what they believe the government should be doing. We cannot run the programs that we have today, believing that the government can take care of us from cradle to grave, the welfare state; nor can we endorse the principle of the warfare state where we have endless wars. Until we look at those major problems, you can’t really improve the economy.
Fox News: All right, so I’ll take the welfare state and then the warfare state, and we have good questions on both. Let’s start with the welfare state. Keith Baldwin had this question on our chat. He said, “Dr. Paul, you come off to many as radical, and therefore can get marginalized. How do you plan to address Social Security and Medicare without scaring off voters?”
Ron Paul: Well, in a very practical way, I’ve never voted to spend one penny out of Medicare or Medicaid, because I don’t vote for the appropriation bills. So if we are going to pretend and try to make these programs solvent, you cannot spend any of that money in the general revenue. And I also have bills that would make it illegal to do that. And the other part of the program—though I don’t believe in the entitlement system, I do believe in priorities. So saving hundreds of billions of dollars from overseas and the Department of Education and the Department of Energy and many other things; you can cut in those areas and tide the People over, whether it’s their medical benefits or Social Security, because there is no money there! And I believe there is a transition, but unfortunately, you can’t get a consensus, because some who care about fiscal conservatism don’t believe that should apply to the militarism around the world. But it is conceivable, if you can get the People to endorse these ideas and force Congress into doing it.
Fox News: But let’s talk a little bit about that, because you’re talking about shifting, as you mentioned, some funds here, and you mentioned the overseas factor. Sean on twitter was talking to me a little bit about this interview with you, and he said he wanted to ask you about—beyond Afghanistan, what’s your stance about closing or maintaining military bases around the world? Are there particular areas that you specifically already know that you’d like to close the bases that we have.
Ron Paul: Yeah. All of them. Just come home.
Fox News: All of them?
Ron Paul: Yeah. Why are we in Korea? We’ve been there since I’ve been in high school. Why are we in Japan? We’ve been there since World War II. Why are we in Germany, subsidizing their welfare state by paying for their defense by staying in Germany? And why are we in five wars in the Middle East? We’d be much better off. We are less safe because of this. We’re going broke. And it undermines our national security. So why stay any of those places? There’s no economic or military advantage for us to be so involved, trying to make other people live the way we do. If we have—
Fox News: Well, yeah, but some would say, Congressman, that there’s a difference in being defensive or being offensive, when it comes to protecting our country. Some believe that we can more defensive, and when there’s a threat we can defend against it. Others believe that we should be offensive, which is part of the reason why there are some military bases overseas, so that we’re “leading” in those areas.
Ron Paul: Right!
Fox News: Why do you believe that that’s not the way to go?
Ron Paul: Because that’s the way dictators work. To say it casually that we should consider being offensive, that’s what dictators do. This whole idea that was encapsulated with the last administration that “we endorse preventive war, pre-emptive war; we go to war to prevent somebody from attacking us,” that is endless war—and for casual reasons, without declaration. I think that is so dangerous. We should have a defense; we should defend our country. But when you talk about bases because we might need an offensive war, I consider that absolutely un-American.
Fox News: On the issue of past administration and the current administration, we have a comment coming from G.C., and he would like to know: If you could debate the President on any topic, what would it be and why?
Ron Paul: Well, there are too many good ones. But I would start with foreign policy: Why did he say he would start bringing troops home, and instead immediately increased our troops? So foreign policy overall. He’s—both administrations were very much the same, so I would challenge him on that. But how could I avoid wanting to challenge him on monetary policy, printing money—when we need money, just print it?—deficits, running up deficits, the whole economic program is so outlandish that it’s led to this deficit crisis. And unless we deal with that, nothing is going to happen; things are just going to get that much worse. So whether it’s economic policy or foreign policy, it’s all the same. It’s the size of government. Why not shrink the size of government and follow our Constitution?
Fox News: Congressman, you’re giving this another shot, this run for President. There are, of course, folks that are already in the race and potential candidates, such as the governor of your state of Texas here. Curious: who do you view as your greatest competition, and why do you believe this time is the time for you to jump into this race again?
Ron Paul: Well, the country has moved in my direction, because I’ve been talking about these things for a lot of years. And the financial bubble that so many of us worried about did collapse, and now we’re going to move into inflation and a monetary crisis. All these events, people are sick and tired of the groping at airports and endless wars. So everything is moving in the direction of protecting our civil liberties. Now, as far as who do I see as the greatest threat, I put them all in one category. I think they all fit in the category of promoting the status quo. They don’t challenge the foreign policy; they don’t challenge the Federal Reserve system; they don’t really challenge the deficit. If they did, and they cared, we wouldn’t have these kind of deficits. So I would say there’s no one individual that I sense as my #1 challenger. I think they’re lumped together, and for my benefit they’re all going to divide the Establishment vote up, and we’ll do quite well.
Fox News: Well, I’m sure they have their thoughts about that, as well, and that’s why we’re inviting all of them to come on with the Town Hall. Real quick, there’s a rumor on our chat that you could be tapping Judge Naplitano of Fox News as your Vice Presidential candidate. Is there any truth to that?
Ron Paul: Well, not so, because that’d have to be a little bit premature. But I do have to admit, somebody caught me off-guard and said, “What kind of people—who would you ever suggest to work with you and run as a Vice President candidate?” And I really admire Judge Napolitano, so I mentioned him. But I didn’t even confide in him, which is probably illegal or something: You don’t promise jobs. But I think he would good in any administration; I think he’d be grand on the Supreme Court
Fox News: I had no—John, did you know Congressman Paul was such a fan of Judge Napolitano? I had no idea! [To Ron Paul]: Well, you learn something new everyday, Congressman. We’ll pass that along. I’m sure he’ll be interested to hear that, and we appreciate you joining us on the chat, and our viewers do, as well. I’ll look forward to having back, sir. Thank you.