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Chris Wallace: Joining us now from Houston, Texas, and continuing our 2012 One on One series, is Republican Congressman and presidential candidate, Ron Paul. Congressman, welcome back to Fox News Sunday, sir.
Ron Paul: Thank you, Chris, it’s good to be with you.
Chris Wallace: You just heard Director Fugate talk about all the things that FEMA is doing to help people in the path of Irene, but you talked a couple of days ago about how we should do things the way we did all the way back in 1900. Let’s take a look at what you said.
Ron Paul: FEMA is not a good friend of most people in Texas because all they do is come in and tell you what you can do and can’t do, you can’t get in your houses, and they hinder the local people and they hinder volunteers from going in. So there’s no magic about FEMA.
Chris Wallace: Congressman, you would really, at this point, do away with FEMA and all the things it’s doing to help hundreds of thousands of people along the East Coast?
Ron Paul: Have you read the reports that came out of New Orleans, all those wonderful things they did, giving checks to people who didn’t even live there, sending in 100s of millions of dollars worth of trailer that they had to junk because they didn’t meet FEMA standards? No, it’s a system of bureaucratic central economic planning, which is a fallacy that is deeply flawed. So no, you don’t get rid of something like that in one day, matter of fact, I’ve had this position for a long time and the people kept re-electing me, and I have a coastal district. But I’ve also suggested that there are different ways to finance this, because actually FEMA is in big trouble financially, their flood program is about 20 million dollars in debt. So it’s deeply flawed, but even back then when I refused to vote for the bail out money – because we didn’t have any money, I mean this idea that government can just bail out everybody and vote for money – but I proposed that we save a billion dollars from overseas warmongering, bring half that home, put it against the deficit, and yes, tide people over until we come to our senses and realize that FEMA has been around since 1978, it has one of the worst reputations for a bureaucracy ever. I win elections because I fight for the constituents to overcome the bureaucracy. You can’t imagine how many calls we get because FEMA is getting in the way and they can’t get their checks, they can’t get their bail out. Then these checks go to contractors, and the people don’t end up with the money, the contractors end up with the money, sometimes in no big contract. Anybody who wants to defend this department and this agency, have a tough argument to argue for.
Chris Wallace: So briefly, Congressman, I assume that if the administration comes – because as we say, FEMA is running out of the money, it’s the end of the fiscal year and they may have a lot of costs right now – I assume if the Obama administration comes and asks for an emergency funding bill for FEMA, you’re a definite no?
Ron Paul: Well, where would the money come from? We don’t have any money, what are we going to do? Go hat in hand in China and borrow the money? But I would consider what I just said, because I have precise beliefs in what we should do and I want to transition out of this dependency on the federal government. But I would say, “Yes, Obama, you want a billion dollars? Cut 2 billion dollars, quit that war in Libya that is undeclared and unconstitutional, bring those troops home. Save 2 billion dollars, put a billion against the deficit, and yes, tide our people over”. I mean, we’ve conditioned our people that FEMA will take care of us and everything will be okay. But you try to make these programs work the best you can, but you can’t just keep saying, “Oh, they need money”. Well, we’re out of money, this country is bankrupt. So this idea that a bleeding heart will say, “We have to take care of them”. I mean the whole idea of FEMA is a gross distortion of insurance. Matter of fact, FEMA creates many of our problems because they sell the insurance because you can’t buy it from a private company, which means there’s a lot of danger. So we pay people to build on beaches and then we have to go and rescue them. So it’s so far removed from the market and the understanding of what insurance should be about. Insurance should measure risk, it shouldn’t be a bailout program endlessly and encourage people to make mistakes. And that’s what we continuously do in the flood prone areas.
Chris Wallace: Congressman, you’ve expressed them here, your libertarian views are certainly somewhat unconventional, but they have picked up growing support in this race. Let’s take a look at the numbers if we can. The latest Gallup poll shows you in third place in the GOP presidential race with 13% behind Perry and Romney, but ahead of Bachmann and all the other candidates. And in a match up with President Obama, you’re now basically even at 47% to 45%. Question: what’s going on here, why are you gaining such traction this year?
Ron Paul: Well, because it’s a good idea, it’s the American idea. But I’m fascinated with you your word “unconventional”. Isn’t it strange that we can apply that term to freedom and liberty and a constitutionally limited government and a balanced government? You’re proposing this unconventional idea of government. Well, I think you’re right about it, under today’s circumstances it has been unconventional for probably about 50 years. But right now the Tea Party Movement and the independents in this country and the people who are caring about our bankruptcy, they think that what we’ve had is unconventional with regards to our constitution and the principles of liberty. So yes, people are waking up and they’re saying, “Yea, Ron Paul is right. Why are we fighting all these undeclared wars and why do we have a Federal Reserve that bails out the rich and dumps on the poor, and why is it that deficits don’t really matter and politicians just stand around and talk that they’re going to nibble away at the budget deficit that’ 10 years out. So no, this is a very popular philosophy, and it’s not my philosophy, it’s the philosophy of the constitution, it’s the philosophy of liberty and private property rights and not dependency on government; that is the big thing. People are forced to assume some responsibility for themselves in a free society.
Chris Wallace: Congressman, I want to explore what your goal is in this campaign, and I want to read from an interesting profile of you in the latest issue of Time Magazine. Let’s put it up on the screen: “As presidential contender, Paul remains an extreme long shot… But as prophet, he is still defining the GOP race… Paul’s allies say he’s more interested in influence than political power… ‘He does not have a great personal desire to be the President’, says Jesse Benton, Paul’s campaign chairman”. My question is, are you in this to win it, or is it enough for you just to shake the debate?
Ron Paul: Yes, I’m in it to win it, and you’re absolutely right, I do say that I’m more interested in influencing power. Matter of fact, as President I would reduce the power of government, I wouldn’t seek it. I would never take the power from the Congress, I would not go to war without congressional approval. So yea, I resent the power that has galvanized in the executive branch and the judicial system, and I would want to shrink the size of government. So that is exactly right. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to win, it means I want a new approach, at least from current standards, for the presidency. I want to obey the constitution and follow its very great restrictions on the government. The constitution was written to restrict the government, not to restrict the people. Now it’s turned around, we use government restrict the people in all manners. So I would like to reverse that.
Chris Wallace: Let’s turn to foreign policy, which you’ve addressed a couple of times already in this conversation. While most people celebrated the toppling of Libyan leader, Qaddafi, this week, you did not. You said this, “The current situation in Libya may be a short term victory for Empire, but it is a loss for our American Republic. Worse still, Qaddafi’s successor is likely to be just as bad, or worse, than Qaddafi himself.” Question: You really don’t think that getting rid of this murderer, as Reagan called him, “The mad dog of the Middle East, the architect of Pan Am 103, you don’t think getting rid of Qaddafi is a good thing?
Ron Paul: Oh, I think it’s a good thing, I think it’s the way we did it. But why is it that we started doing business with him 5 years ago? Was that a good thing? I think that was silly too. But was it a great thing to get rid of Saddam Hussein? Yes. But do we have a great result in Iraq? No. We’ve delivered Iraq to the Iranians. So I would say long term consequences are very, very important. We have no idea what’s going to come out of Libya. I’m very skeptical, but maybe it will be a miracle and everybody will be wonderful and they’ll have western democracy and everybody will be in peace. But I’m predicting that’s not going to happen because we’ve already said, “Troops are needed now to maintain order”. Nobody even knows who the rebels represent, and there’s good evidence that the Al-Qaida is there. So we may be delivering Al-Qaida another prize, they’ll be in Libya, they weren’t there before. And also, the Al-Qaida is in Iraq now. So these unintended consequences of our foreign policy are so overwhelming. Logic tell us that we shouldn’t be dealing with our foreign policy in this manner, we should be dealing for national security and defense of our country and not pretending that we can pick the dictators around the world. It’s been very unsuccessful and American people are waking up to this. The one telltale sign of the support I’m getting is because of my foreign policy. I get more donations from active military duty people than all the other candidates put together, which tells me a lot and it should tell the American people a lot. And having been in the military for 5 years, believe me, I have a little bit of understanding. In the 1960s I wasn’t anxious for Johnson to expand the war in Vietnam, there was no way I was … Military people want to defend this country, but they don’t want perpetual war when they’re undeclared and you don’t see the end and you don’t know who the enemy is and there are too many restrictions on how they retaliate against the enemies and they get tired. Our guard units are over there, guard units should be here taking care of us when we have floods. But no, they’re overseas and the military is worn out. It’s time for a change, if for no other reason, we’re flat-out broke and we can’t afford the Empire.
Chris Wallace: Congressman, I’m sorry to interrupt. But I’ve got a couple more questions I want to ask you and we’re running out of time. You are a disciple of what’s called “The Austrian School of Economics”. What is that, briefly, and what would economist like Ludwig von Mises and Friedrick Hayek, who were two of the leaders of the Austrian school of economics, what would they say is the right way to deal with boosting the economy now and with dealing with our national debt?
Ron Paul: Well, they asked Mises that one time when they were having runaway inflation in Austria. It’s called Austrian economics because main leaders of the school came, they escaped, they were mostly Jewish and they came over here to escape Nazism. And they asked him once at the height of a crisis like this and there was a bit more inflation, and they said to Mises, “What would you do?” And he said, “I’d resign”. Other words, take your hands off it, let the people take care of it, let the people who have lived beyond their means, let them go bankrupt, let the liquidation occur, get rid of the mal-investment like we did in 1921. We recovered, and it’s hardly even in our textbooks about the depression of 1921, which was a natural consequence of the inflation from World War I. So we want our hands. The depression lasted 17 years because we wouldn’t do that. Japan has had hands on, they’ve been in the doldrums for 20 years. We’re now into this one, it’s a lot more than 5 years, we’re basically over 10 years since our economy has been slipping. So they would say, “Hands off, give us a sound currency, free up the markets, enforce property rights, enforce contracts, make sure people go bankrupt when they’re bankrupt, and don’t bail out their buddies, don’t let the Federal Reserve create money out of thin air and bail out their buddies. But the most important thing about Austrian economics is the artificially low interest rates which caused business people, savers and consumers, to do the wrong things; they make mistakes. So it’s sort of like a price control that causes all the problem.
Chris Wallace: And, Congressman, we have less than a minute left. Fed Chairman, Bernanke, announced this week that he is not going to take any immediate action to boost the economy. Do you think that your criticism, which is now being echoed by some other Republicans, both in the presidential race and in Congress, do you think your criticism may have led him to pull back?
Ron Paul: Well, he really hasn’t pulled back. Symbolically he has, and he’s not having another QE3. But he has maintained that he will keep interest rates low up until 2013. He can’t keep interest rates low without monetizing debt, because if somebody else doesn’t buy it, he has to buy it. So he’s continuously quantitatively easing. So Greenspan did that when he held interest rates too low for too long and he was instrumental in creating the bubble. So it is not a big change in things, but he sort of said, “Oh, it’s up to the Congress, it’s all the Congress’s fault, they need to deal with this” because he’s sort of throwing up his hands. But all he needs to do is quit monetizing debt. Interest rates would go up and Congress would be forced to cut. That is why gold backing a currency, a gold standard restraints big government, governments can’t spend endlessly for entitlements and they can’t spend by deficit financing to fight these endless wars.
Chris Wallace: Congressman Paul, we’re going to have to leave it there, we want to thank you so much for joining us and for the economics lesson as well, sir. Always a pleasure to talk with you, and we’ll see you on the campaign trail.
Ron Paul: Thank you, I appreciate it, Chris.