Daniel Gross: The Republican presidential primary is heating up, the fund raising numbers have come in, and Ron Paul, who is the Libertarian-inclined GOP candidate, raised 4.5 million dollars, putting him second behind Mitt Romney. Congressman Paul joins us today from Washington. How is your campaign going so far?
Ron Paul: Very well, and really, part of that question ought to be, “… compared to what?” Compared to 4 years ago, it’s extremely well. But this is what we have expected, this is what we anticipated, because the country has changed, the economy has changed, there’s an acknowledgement now that we did have a financial bubble and that we’re in the midst of a crisis. We’re now in a discussion that we can’t solve these problems without at least talking about and dealing with our foreign expenditures. So I would say the campaign is going exceptionally well, our numbers are good, we know exactly where we are in the polls. We’re not at the top, but if you compare the number of supporters and the ability to raise money, it’s so much better now than it was 4 years ago.
Daniel Gross: Now, of course, the campaign is likely to focus more on domestic affairs, and in particular, the economy. Everybody is talking about jobs, we have a real dearth of them, we had a very poor jobs report; what is the Ron Paul prescription for returning job growth and reducing unemployment.
Ron Paul: Well, first off, you can’t think of domestic economy without thinking about the whole picture, and, of course, if you have excessive spending overseas, that contributes to our deficits, and that’s a big part of the problem. But immediately, what do you do about the jobs? Well, first, you have to understand why you have a recession, and you can’t understand that unless you know why there’s an economic boom when there is a bubble. And that’s caused by the business cycle coming from the way the Federal Reserve manipulates money and credit and artificially low interest rates. So if we don’t understand that, we can’t even come close to solving the problems. Because so far now, the people in the Congress and the executive branch, as well as the Fed, think it’s a lack of spending and we need to spend more money and we need to print more money and we need to do more. But what you need is the correction. Mistakes were made, all the excessive debt and the mal-investment accumulated because of this artificially low interest rates. So you have to allow the correction, or you won’t get growth back, which means liquidation, bankruptcies, don’t go in there and let the tax payer get stuck with buying up all the bad assets. It was a terrible thing. They said if we hadn’t done this, there would have been a depression; the depression would have been on the people who were making all the money on Wall Street. But they gave the depression to the people in the middle class who lost their jobs, and lost their houses. So no, you need the correction, and then you need to correct a few other things. We have to have a lot less regulations to invite our corporations back, you have to change the tax code, you can’t chase our capital overseas, and the currency itself — a strong currency is good, but we’ve been thought for so long that you have to have a weak currency because that will encourage exports.
Daniel Gross: Right.
Ron Paul: That is not necessarily true, that’s a temporary solution. So there’s a lot we have to do, but overall, there has to be a change in policy and understanding exactly how we got into this mess.
Daniel Gross: Can you kind of walk me through this? Because obviously the big change needed in monetary policy from your view, you would like to see, I’m guessing, the Fed obviously have a much smaller balance sheet, but also normalize higher interest rates, and that would help strengthen the dollar?
Ron Paul: I want market interest rates and I want the Fed out of the business of manipulating interest rates and the money supply, because capital comes from savings, but we’ve never saved. Capital comes from the printing press, and that is the source of the distortion. So the people who want to save and are skittish about the market, and if they’re elderly and they put their money in the bank and they want to earn interest, they get 1% where the market might say they deserve 6%. So people, you know, are naturally hesitant to save. So we want to get the market back to establishing these rates because price controls are wicked. Most people understand wage and price controls are very bad, but they never say, “What about interest rates control? That’s half of the economy.” Controlling the interest rates, that’s central economic planning, and it fails. The Fed has been designed to give us stable prices and high unemployment, they have totally failed in both areas. So we have to address that if you want to have job growth again.
Daniel Gross: Ok briefly, the polls are showing that the two frontrunners at this point seem to be Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann, at least in Iowa. How does your economic agenda differ from theirs?
Ron Paul: Well, dramatically so, because I think both of them, plus the rest of the candidates, represent the status quo. They vary their approach, but they don’t talk about a change in foreign policy, it’s continue the wars, finance the wars, keep the troops in Korea, leave them in Europe. So that stays the same. When it comes to personal liberty, they’re supportive. And no other candidates, except maybe one, are in favor of the Patriot Act. They allow this nonsense that we have at the airports with the TSA and that they don’t have a personal concern about liberty and the way in which the government interferes with our privacy. And, of course, I reject the whole notion that the government should have secrecy; they should be protecting our privacy and the government shouldn’t be secret. Then of course, dealing with the Federal Reserve to the point where we can’t have this paper fiat standard which has created the greatest debtor nation in the history of the world. So those are the subjects that separate me completely from them, but I defend everything I do by reading and defending the constitution.
Daniel Gross: Other than that, you’re all on the same page.