Reporter: To get some answers on our debt-reducing Super Committee, and the dispute that’s costing the government 30 million dollars a day, I want to bring in a man who knows the ways of Washington and has spent his career, in fact, trying to change them. Ron Paul is a long-time GOP Congressman from Texas whose 2008 run for president inspired a movement – you know it today as the Tea Party. Paul is winding down his congressional career, but running once more for President. He joins me now on the telephone from Lake Jackson, Texas. Thank you for your time, sir. I want to start with the debt deal and the big decisions that you and your colleagues decided to put off. You write today that balancing the federal budget isn’t as hard as most people think. What do you think is the secret?
Ron Paul: We have to just live within our means and live with our income like people are supposed to do. But, you know, what really is difficult is the semantics are so bad because everybody’s talking about cuts and, “Why didn’t we cut this and did we cut this much, and set up this Super Commission, we’re going to cut some more”. No place have we ever discussed any cuts whatsoever, it’s always cuts in the proposed increases.
So this is a difficulty for a person like myself who actually wants to have cuts. But you can’t have cuts unless you change the attitude of the people about what they want from their government. If they think we have to be the policeman of the world and you can’t challenge the entitlement system, there’s no way that we can do this, default is inevitable. And I think the only argument about the default was whether it would be by deflationary pressures – by just not sending out the checks – or what we’re doing today; everybody opted for just printing the money. So the default is coming, we liquidate debt by printing money and having a devalued currency, and I think that’s what the gold is telling us today. We went with the option of the printing press rather than actually facing up to the fact that we are bankrupt.
Reporter: I know that you voted against raising the debt ceiling and you also believe that a freeze in spending would be better than making these cuts at all. Is that correct?
Ron Paul: Well, yes. I would actually have cuts but since nobody is about to do that, why don’t we just settle for freezing it, give everybody what they got last year. But it seems like that would be an easy sell to the American people and it wouldn’t be so threatening. Now everybody says, “Whoa, they’re going to slash all these entitlements”. But they’re not, they’re just cutting what the proposed increases are.
But you know, even if they talk about cutting the military, they get hysterical. But they’re not cuts in the military, they’re actually cuts in proposed increases. So it takes about 4 or 5 years. If we would have frozen the budget about 5 years ago, it would be balanced right now. That is one thing.
The other thing you could do is if you’re so brave as to actually cut something, all you need to do is cut 1% of the budget and do it for about 5 years and you’d get to a balanced budget.
Reporter: What about this super committee, I take it you’re not a fan. Would you join this super committee and be a part of it if asked?
Ron Paul: Well, I’m not going to be asked, I never even thought that through, but it’s a totally unconstitutional committee, so I would have my reservations.
Reporter: Why is it unconstitutional?
Ron Paul: Reneging on our responsibilities and giving it to a small number of people, authority that the Congress should have. But this is a trend that we’ve been going through for a long time, we always deliver more authority to the executive branch and certain commissions and taking the responsibility away from the Congress. I think it’s very, very dangerous.
Reporter: What are you concerned the super-committee will fast-track?
Ron Paul: I think it’s the wrong way to go, so I doubt very much. I know they will never ask me, and I doubt very much if I would want to serve on something like that.
Reporter: I also want to ask you about this, just this tiny dispute that apparently has now 4,000 workers at the FAA furloughed, the federal government isn’t collecting more than a billion dollars now in taxes from the FAA. The administration certainly thinks that you and your colleagues should go back to work and figure this out. I want you to listen to a sound bite here and then we’ll talk about that.
Ray Lahood: We’ve heard a lot of great speeches from members of Congress about creating jobs. They talk the talk but they have not walked the walk. Their speeches ring very hallow to 4,000 FAA employees who were furloughed. Their speeches about jobs ring very hallow to 70,000 construction workers who are not working right in the middle of the construction season on construction projects all over America.
Reporter: Congressman, how is it that you now have 74,000 workers who are not collecting a paycheck, yet Congress is on vacation? How did this happen?
Ron Paul: Well, it’s part of the process and it’s the inability to admit that we’re bankrupt and we do have to cut. So the House did pass a bill recognizing the fact that some of these smaller airports are nothing more than boondoggles, tens of thousands of dollars are being spent per trip by these airplanes going in, so it’s far from a market-oriented program.
And the Senate could have passed it and it would have been more conservative and maybe backed off on some of these programs that aren’t paying, that are just draining the economy. So it’s not exactly that the Congress wouldn’t do anything, it’s the Senate that hasn’t done it. But then again, anytime there’s an attempt, everybody is screaming, “Cut back, cut back”. So they find something where there’s real waste and we shouldn’t be overspending in certain areas, and then the special interests come in and they yell and scream and demagogue the whole issue. So nothing happens.
So sure, the Congress is inapt and I complain about that all the time and I’m voting against all that, but the special interests are part of the problem too. Even like Paul Ryan made an attempt to propose something, I didn’t vote for it because I didn’t think it was enough. But he got really hit hard for this, like, “Oh, you can’t do this”. So the people whose programs are being cut come back in and this is why it is going to be very, very tough and this is the reason why I don’t predict we’re going to get this under control. It’s going to continue and we’re going to continue printing money. And it’s going to stop by economic law, which means the dollars won’t work and that’s what we should be concerned about, not some of these technical factors.
Reporter: Well, I think the people who are furloughed right now are certainly very concerned about this. You heard the administration there, transportation secretary Ray Lahood saying Congress should come back to work and figure this out. You’re running for President, would you want to bring Congress back?
Ron Paul: For this, I think we could have accomplished it before, I think pressure should have been put on the Senate to pass the bill.
Reporter: Alright, Congressman Ron Paul, I appreciate your time and your insight into these issues. We always enjoy having you on the program, thank you very much.