This is a rush transcript. If you notice any errors please report them using the “Help improve this post” link at the bottom of this post.
News Anchor: Live by telephone, good morning, Congressman Paul, thanks for getting up early and coming on with us. We appreciate it.
Ron Paul: Good morning, good to be with you.
News Anchor: We talk to you all the time when you’re on about the Federal Reserve, and I actually may get to that in a moment, but I wanted to ask your view on FEMA in the wake of what’s happened with hurricane Irene before we get that to that. You, from what I’ve read and what I’ve seen in your comments, think we’d almost be better off without this agency which was set up to help out with disasters. But tell us your own view, before I put words in your mouth, about what should happen with FEMA?
Ron Paul: Well, during the 1970s, FEMA was created by an executive order by Carter. I was in the Congress at the time, and I opposed it because I thought it was bad economic policy to have government buy insurance for people because they couldn’t afford it in low areas, which to mean meant that they would encourage more building and take more risks. Insurance is a good idea because it tells you how much risk you’re taking, but once you destroy the principle of insurance, you invite more trouble, and we’ve been doing it, it’s been very, very expensive. And we’re not only as a country broke, but FEMA is broke too. So economically I think it’s a very bad thing to do. But the big problem is people like to pull that stuff up, you know, all of a sudden they see a lot of suffering and a lot of problems and they think, “Well, this is the only way you can do it”. The government actually makes problems worse so often rather than solving problems. FEMA’s really an inefficient agency when you look at it in detail too.
News Anchor: Well, it may be, but what about the people up in just one isolated area in Vermont today, for example? And I bring up Vermont because we were talking, just in the last hour, to one of the emergency management officials up there and they were telling me about all these towns that are isolated. And I said to him at the end of the interview, “How are you paying for this?” And he said, “We’re getting a lot of help from the federal government to do it”. A lot of these states, as you know, are strapped for cash, doesn’t FEMA help out in this particular situation when things are so bad.
Ron Paul: You don’t think the federal government is strapped for cash?
News Anchor: Well, of course it is.
Ron Paul: They don’t have any money at all, every penny we spend we borrow. So this whole thing about states being strapped for cash…. Of course, sure there is a humanitarian concern that people have. Matter of fact, I’ve been very open to taking care of these problems even though in principle I think it was in the wrong direction, because I live on the coast and we have hurricanes here and in my district. But I’ve had this position all along and yet the position really is a very popular position because the people get so disgusted with FEMA. I’ve had more complaints about FEMA than all the other agencies of government put together.
News Anchor: I can understand it from an ideological point of view, but you’re saying in these situations we have to help the people?
Ron Paul: Yea, and this is what I would do, and this is what I proposed in the past: is since we don’t have any money in the bank and it’s a very, very serious economic problem that we face, I say cut spending someplace. Cut enough where you can cut some deficits, such as overseas. Just think of the 1.4 trillion dollars we’re spending to maintain an empire. I can find 5 billion dollars pretty easily; put half of it towards the deficit and put half of it towards our infrastructure. So yes, I understand how we get … I mean just think of all the programs that are technically unconstitutional in this country that people are so dependent on; whether it’s medical care for the elderly or whatever, and yet there is no money. So I would say that if you care about the economy and if you think there’s any concern at all about our economic system and our financial system, we have to quit some of this spending. So all I’m saying is use some commonsense, take care of these people, save the money, cut the deficit, and I think the world would be better for it.
News Anchor: A quick question on the Federal Reserve, just to change topics on you real quick, Congressman Paul. A lot of people pointed to the markets this morning and it’s what we’re covering and saying. “The Federal Reserve might take even more action”: that seems to be their takeaway from watching Ben Bernanke make his speech last week and the minutes of the meeting that were released yesterday. Your thoughts, being a long time critic of the Fed, in terms of more action that can be taken to help the economy?
Ron Paul: Well, I think they take action steadily, you know, he announced that he would keep interest rates down to practically 0% up until 2013. Well, that’s major action. He doesn’t call it QE, but in a way it is. How do you keep interest rates down that low? You have to steadily buy debt. He has guaranteed that there would be no relinquishing on his efforts to continue the monetization of debt, so that’s it, that’s how we got into trouble. Even when Greenspan was in, it was said that he kept interest rates too low for too long. Well, that was in a way a quantitative easing. That’s all the Fed can do, they do it steadily, that’s the only tool that they have and at times they have surges in their buying of debt and in injecting more money. But the problems are always there, it’s always covered up, and that is the problem, it cannot be a solution.
News Anchor: How would a President Ron Paul work with Ben Bernanke, because as critical as you’ve been, you guys would be stuck working together if you were elected, Congressman Paul, wouldn’t you be?
Ron Paul: Yea, I thought the Fed was supposed to be independent, that’s what they argue all the time. Of course, the President always works with them. And it isn’t Bernanke himself that’s the problem, it’s the system. It’s the system that you have of no restraints on monetary authority, which means you have no restraints on spending because the Congress does not have to be responsible. So in a way, Bernanke was somewhat correct the other day when he said, “I throw up my hands, I can’t do it anymore, it’s all up to the Congress”. But he could do a lot more. Congress should quit spending and then they don’t put the pressure on the Fed to monetize. But if the Federal Reserve was not allowed to monetize, the Congress would see the interest rates rising and there would be an automatic check on it. So no, Bernanke, you’re not supposed to run the Federal Reserve, that is all a farce. They complained and I always argued that they’re independent, but it’s the system that you have to address and someday we’ll have to. Not because all of a sudden people will gain wisdom, but because this system is on its last legs. The dollar reserve standard of the world is failing and that’s why the world is in chaos.
News Anchor: Let me ask you a little bit about the campaign then. You’ve had success certainly in Iowa in the straw poll, and we were talking earlier about how you’ve moved up in some of the other polls. It will be interesting to see – and we talk about this all the time -how the campaign develops over time. People always try to make it into top tier and bottom tier; all this kind of handicapping so early in the race. But how do you see it developing, because inevitably somebody is going to drop out, it already happened with Tim Pawlenty. As that happens, do supporters of certain candidates go to you? Or is this theory that some have thrown out correct that the supporters that Ron Paul is going to get already support him, it’s such a strong base of support. But how will you be able to expand upon that base?
Ron Paul: All I know is my job is to keep doing what I have been doing for 30 years, and all of a sudden there has been a surge of interests in what I’ve been doing, and there’s certainly a need. The people are tired of the wars, they know there’s something wrong with the Federal Reserve, they know the spending is a tremendous hazard to us, so people are coming over. And the one thing that all the polls show is that if you are a Ron Paul supporter, you usually don’t leave, so there’s no bouncing up and down. With the other ones, you know, there’s a lot of shifting around. So when new people enter the race, they say, “Oh, what’s he going to do to him?” Well, it doesn’t do anything to me, it just dilutes the other field. But I think we have steady growth, that’s about all I can say, and it’s been that way over many years and certainly over the last 4 years we have seen this happening.
News Anchor: Well, let me follow up on that point because you’re probably right about that in terms of you’re not losing support. So let’s say Rick Perry enters the race or whoever might still make a late entry into the race, you don’t necessarily lose any of your core supporters there. But when someone leaves the race, are you able to kind of broaden the scope enough or be attractive enough to people who don’t currently support you and may support somebody else who’s still running but will still at some point drop out? For example, a Pawlenty supporter coming to you; do you see enough of that or will you be able to do enough of that?
Ron Paul: Well, it remains to be seen, but yes we see it all the time because that’s where our growth would have to come from, but I don’t know if anybody can actually measure that. We’re always reaching out to people and the longer the time goes on, the more appropriate our view seems to be.
News Anchor: Alright, Congressman Paul, it was good to talk to you again. We’ll check back as the campaign continues. Thanks for coming on.
Ron Paul: Sure thing.
News Anchor: Congressman Ron Paul running for President on the Republican side.