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.
Host: Congressman Paul joins us on the phone. And it’s nice to have you back on “Talk of the Nation”.
Ron Paul: Thank you, it’s good to be with you.
Host: And you’ve defined your campaign as being the candidate who wants to most limit the role of the federal government. You represent a coastal congressional district in Texas, yet you’ve consistently argued that we should slash FEMA, the federal agency responsible for responding to disasters in the aftermath of a hurricane; you’ve repeated that.
Ron Paul: Yes, I just think it’s a serious problem, and that’s why I don’t think we should let it be dealt with by bureaucrats in Washington because they don’t have a very good record. A lot of people would like to paint myself with a brush that says, “If you don’t want the federal government to do it, then you don’t want to solve the problem”, but sometimes when the federal government gets involved, they don’t do a very good job and that is my point. Matter of fact, the federal government invites more problems by offering what they call insurance against flooding and wind. But the truth is it’s no longer insurance if the government says they’re always going to bail you out. So people who enjoy the benefits of living on the beach and close to the water, really are guaranteed that their houses will be rebuilt. And they say, “Well, we can’t get insurance otherwise”. Well, they can’t get it because it’s real expensive because it’s very dangerous. So it’s a matter of risk and I think that’s an objection that I had. Besides, I’ve had more complaints about FEMA than any other agencies the whole time I’ve been in Congress, and I have a coastal district and there are too many stories about what FEMA did down with Katrina. So there are so many arguments that that’s not the most efficient way to deal with a problem like natural disasters.
Host: Well, if FEMA does not provide disaster relief, who should?
Ron Paul: Well, who’s FEMA? FEMA is the tax payer and it’s dead, they’re 20 billion dollars in debt already. I think the states should do it. You know, when Katrina was such a disaster, there were a lot of complaints that the guard units for the states that were involved, many of their guard unit people were overseas worrying about war disasters. Matter of fact, I think it would better if they were home worrying about our kind of problems here at home. But I’d also bring some of the money home. See, I’m not opposed, under the conditions, because I was opposed to the concept even when it was imposed on us by an executive order; not by the Congress, by executive order. But I’ve always said that once we get involved in a program, you just don’t walk away from it if you can come up with another way of dealing with it. But we don’t have any money, we have to borrow the money, we’re just kidding ourselves. And I consider the fiscal mess we’re in to be very, very serious. So what I have said is, why don’t we cut 10 billion dollars a month out of the war going on going on over in Afghanistan, which is a total disaster, put half of that towards the deficit and put half of it back into our infrastructure or for the needs of the people we’ve taught to be dependent and actually try to work our way out of this. So I think that approach is a very responsible way of trying to deal with both the crisis as well as our financial mess that we’re in.
Host: And I don’t know if you’re heard the news today, but President Obama has asked to address a joint meeting of Congress on the evening of September 7, which coincidently, according to the White House, happens to be the date of the next GOP presidential debate. Which event do you plan to attend?
Ron Paul: I haven’t thought much about it. I guess I heard about that just a few minutes ago, but I just wonder what motivations, because in the Republican primary there were people who always tried to upstage the other members. We had Perry doing something when we had the straw vote, and then we had Palin doing things in order to get attention. So I don’t know, I just wondered what the motivation of all this is. I mean, it’s very obvious that he’s picking a time when a debate is going on. Why didn’t he do it on Tuesday? So I have no idea what the answer seems a little bit unusual to do something like this.
Ken: Congressman, the headline about a month or so ago was Michele Bachmann wins the Iowa Straw Poll with very little mention that Ron Paul finished closely behind her. And other headline was that Tm Pawlenty drops out of the race. Then the more recent headline was that Rick Perry is taking over Mitt Romney’s role as frontrunner. As a member of Congress from Texas, you’ve obviously had some dealings with Rick Perry and, of course, we’ll see Perry in the debate next week. But what’s your sense, what’s your relationship with Rick Perry and how do you see him as a presidential candidate?
Ron Paul: Well, I think he’s a formidable candidate. I mean, he’s a Governor of a big state. I don’t agree with his politics. The Tea Party people had a candidate running against him for Governor last go around and she had no money and got 20%. But I haven’t met the Governor and I don’t know him personally and we haven’t had any personal dealings, so I can’t comment on that. But I know that so many of his political positions are not the same as mine.
Ken: Could you point out one or two?
Ron Paul: Well, Politically speaking he was the chairman here in Texas for Al Gore’s campaign in 1988 and he was compelling 12 year old or 10 year old girls all to get inoculations for HPV and he did that by executive order, I don’t believe in executive orders. That was overwritten by the legislature, and there are quite a few other things in his past that philosophically I wouldn’t agree with. His comments on foreign policy haven’t been exactly what I would like.
Host: Alright, let’s get some callers in on the conversation. We’re speaking, of course, with the presidential candidate, Ron Paul, a congressman from Texas at 800-9898-255 and email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Josh is on the line from Milwaukee.
Josh: Hey, congressman and Neil. Just a quick question: Do you feel at all vindicated in the wake of your last campaign that maybe you saw the debt crisis coming from a mile away and maybe you deserved a little more platform for speaking in the last election. And I’ll take my answer off the air?
Host: Thanks, Josh.
Ron Paul: I get that question asked a lot, and I never put it in personal terms because I think the views that I’ve expressed are vindicated, I think Austrian economics has been vindicated; something that I have followed since the 1960s. Because it was the Austrian economist that predicted that the Bretton-Woods Agreement, the monetary system, the gold standard, would break down, which it did in August of 1971. So yes, if you understand Austrian economics, you can anticipate bubbles, you can’t tell when the crisis actually will hit because there are other things that determine the precise timing. But we do know that if you run up debt and print money, that the dollar will lose value and it will wipe out the middle class eventually and that is what I fear we’re facing, that’s why I’m so determined to try to pay for the things that we do; whether it’s war or whatever. Of course, I don’t want the wars to go on because I think they’re all so unnecessary. So yes, I think the philosophy of liberty and the constitution hopefully has been vindicated to some degree because it was the predictions by those of us who believed in it that some of these problems would come and they certainly are here and they’re going to get a lot worse. I mean, next year the financial problems are going to be much worse because we’re doing nothing in Washington, nobody will consider cutting the spending, the 10 billion dollars a month, and the war is accelerating in Afghanistan. This is one place where the American people, the majority, want us to come home, they’re tired of it all. But both party leaders are all for this. No matter what they say on their campaigns, they get in office and they pursue this global warmongering stuff that I think is bankrupting our country.
Ken: Congressman, one of the most memorable moments of the 2008 campaign I think was your clash at the debate with Rudy Giuliani over maybe the cause of 9/11. As we approach the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, what does it mean to you and how do you think that the American people are seeing it? What vantage point do you see the American people viewing 9/11 from 10 years later?
Ron Paul: Well, I’m saddened by it all because we haven’t changed anything and we made things much worse. For instance, suicide terrorism is one of the greatest threat we have, people who want to commit these kinds of acts; it’s so difficult to defend ourselves against. But you know before we invaded Iraq for the wrong reasons – there was no Al-Qaida there and they had nothing to do with 9/11 – but before invaded Iraq, the Iraqis had never committed any acts of suicide terrorism. By 2007, they were committing over 300 acts of terrorism against Americans or allies of America. So suicide terrorism, our greatest threat, is directly related to our presence in Arab countries, and propping up puppet governments in that region. And there’s been total denial of this, they won’t pay any attention, so we’re not safer, we’re more broke than ever, and the evidence is out there to explain exactly the direct correlation between our presence over there and the dangers we face.
Host: An email from Christopher in Fort Bragg, North Carolina: “I understand and agree with most of your positions on issues currently concerning the people of the United States. An issue I have not heard you talk about much and which I also didn’t see on your website is the environment. I believe certain environmental issues require governmental oversight; things like water sources and federally protect land can be misused and abused if each state is left to fend for itself and regulate itself. What’s your stand on the environment, how do you recommend we protect things like water tables and shared water sources, such as the great lake?”
Ron Paul: Well, I think it’s an important question because I have written somewhat about this, I don’t probably talk about it as much as I should. But my contention is that during the industrial revolution, big government and big corporations became pretty good buddies and they quite freely polluted our air and our water. I was raised in the city of Pittsburg, our rivers were sewers and our skies were not much better. They were essentially cleaned up with local city ordinances a long time before the EPA. But this could be managed in a free market society if you have strict respect for private property. Because if you and I have property next to each other, neither of us have a right to pollute your air or your waters. So property rights are very, very important. But even when it comes to water, in Texas they developed pretty clearly the property rights of oil. So people can’t drill oil next to your farm and suck out all the oil under your land because it’s your property. And the laws are written pretty good for that. So property rights can do this. The basic principle that you cannot pollute your neighbor’s property is a pretty good one, but I think there are times when you do need the government to enforce those laws, and the more local, the better. But there will be times when the federal government has to be involved because our air goes across state boundaries, water goes from one state to another. So under those circumstances, I think that we should have the federal government involved.
Host: Presidential candidate, Ron Paul. Political Junky Ken Rudin is with us, you’re listening to “Talk of the Nation” from NPR News. Let’s go next to John, John is with us from Alexandria, Virginia.
John: Hi, congressman. I’m calling because I’m an entrepreneur, I run my own business and I love doing that. But one of the concerns that I have is that it seems like a lot of the discussion in Washington focuses on what’s best for big businesses and there’s talk about people who make lots of money as job creators. But a lot of the proposals that are out there to do anything for changing the tax code to altering Social Security so that you can invest in big businesses, don’t necessarily affect me. So I wanted to know what would you think you could do and what’s the federal government should do for people like me? And would you be willing to take that to your competitors during the debates and challenge them to make changes to the tax code and to entitlements that don’t just benefit the biggest out there, but also benefit those who are seeking to innovate on their own?
Ron Paul: I think you’re right about that, I think the system in DC is very much controlled by big banks and big corporations; the military-industrial complex, giant farms that get their subsidies. So they have lobbyist and they get their tax codes and the regulatory system benefiting them. Very often, corporations come to Washington for regulations, because they know if you’re a small businessman, you don’t have the same ability to get around the system and have your tax attorneys and different attorneys. But in talking about subsidies, though, I don’t want any subsidies, so I don’t want to give them to the big guys to take an advantage of the smaller people. And I want the regulations to be the same way, we should not allow the big companies to dictate the regulations. For instances, both, the Democrats and the Republicans, when they have medical care reforms, they protect drug companies and the insurance companies, and that shouldn’t be so. Everybody should be protected equally, nobody should get any special privileges, everybody should obey the rules of contracts and private property rights.
Host: John, thanks very much for the call.
John: Thank you.
Host: And we just have a minute or so left with you, Congressman, but I wanted to ask: your supporters claim that we in the media don’t take you seriously enough, you’re dismissed as a second-tier candidate. What do you have to do to be taken seriously as a first-tier candidate, where you going to get and win something?
Ron Paul: Well, there’ll be plenty of changes pretty soon. We do pretty darn well in all the straw votes which proves that we have support, we can raise money, we can organize and people are energized. But the numbers still have to come out in elections which probably will be the real test will be in January. But from our inside, the campaign organization, we do know that it’s easy to raise money, the volunteers are more than ever, the country has sifted, the attitudes have changed, the majority of American people don’t like the war and they’re looking at the monetary system.
Host: Well, Congressman Paul, good luck to you in your campaign and thanks very much for being with us again on Talk of The Nation.
Ron Paul: Thank you.