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News Anchor: Ron Paul, Republican Congressman from Texas and candidate for President. Congressman, good to see you.
Ron Paul: Thank you very much.
News Anchor: Congressman, you’ve created a stir by proposing the elimination of an agency that’s gotten very high marks in this part of the country over the last few days. If you were successful in getting rid of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, what or who would carry out its functions?
Ron Paul: Well, the states would, you know. Your state guards would be within the states and they wouldn’t have to go out looking for more help. Since the helicopters from Vermont are over in Iraq, that would be one thing that could help, we could have the troops here at home that would help with recovery. But not high on my agenda is getting rid of FEMA, it’s just that it’s only been around for a short period of time and it’s developed a very budget reputation. I live in a coastal district and we deal with FEMA all the time. It’s the agency of government that I get the most complaints about. And there are better ways to solve these problems and they don’t have a very good record. All you have to do is go and look at all the articles written about Katrina and some of the mix ups that FEMA got involved in there. I’m just saying there’s a better way of doing it.
News Anchor: But if I may, FEMA has gotten rave reviews over the last couple of days in some of the states and from some of governors, who say they should take over. The Governor of Vermont today, Peter Shumlin, said he’d like to see you come there. The Democratic Governor in Connecticut, as you know, called you an idiot. The Republican Governor of Jersey, Chris Christy, and of Virginia, ridiculed the notion that you and Eric Cantor in Congress are advancing that for every dollar in disaster relief, there should be an offsetting dollar in tax cuts. What do you know that they don’t, Congressman?
Ron Paul: Doesn’t that sound like a rather reasonable thing when we’re in a financial crisis because the debt is unmanageable, nobody will even raise the debt limit. So why isn’t it reasonable to say that if you need it, I’m all for that. Matter of fact, even back when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and Texas, I proposed that very thing; save a couple billion dollars from overseas, put half of it to the deficit and put the other half towards taking care of the problems we have. When people talk like this and dismiss the deficit as not a problem, I’ve heard this Governor say, “Get the aid here”. What they want to do is they want to pass the buck, that’s why they like the federal government. That means if anything fails, it’s not the Governor’s fault, no local people, it’s always the federal government. Go after the President, if it doesn’t work, it’s the President’s fault.
News Anchor: But it’s even fiscally conservative Republicans who’ve chimed in. Let’s go back, you mentioned your district Galveston, a coastal community is in your district. Totally true to your beliefs, when hurricane Ike hit in 2008 you voted against the multi-million dollar appropriation for federal disaster relief. Despite that, hundreds of millions of federal dollars came into your district, what, a hundred some million were paid for a waste water treatment plant. So didn’t your constituents benefit with funding despite your opposition to it?
Ron Paul: Well, some people think short term and in front of their nose and the next election, and I think when they take your money, you should try to get some of your money back. But I’m trying to reform the system, so it’s more efficient. But overall, FEMA’s broke, they’re 20 million dollars in debt, so for anybody to say, “Well, we don’t want to raise the money, we’re not responsible, the federal government is”. Who’s the federal government? It’s the tax payers. So put them into 10 billion dollars more debt. Eventually that all ends. I’m trying to prevent this catastrophic financial crisis that’s on our doorstep, it’s hardly even gotten started yet, it’s going to get much worse because nobody really cares about the deficit. If they did in Washington, they wouldn’t allow it to happen. And if you get somebody like Erick Canter who gets up and says, “Maybe we ought to pay for this”, and the media comes down hard on him. All he’s trying to do is act responsible. To me, that’s commonsense.
News Anchor: Let’s talk about paying for things if we can. The President’s going to giving a job speech next Thursday, assuming the National Football League doesn’t say no. But putting that aside for a second, I’m assuming he will yet again call for an end to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and say, “Let’s use that money for investment in infrastructure and deficit reduction”. The vast majority of American people support raising taxes on the wealthy. Aren’t you out of step with mainstream America on that pretty critical issue?
Ron Paul: Well, if I’d be out of step my numbers wouldn’t be going up and I wouldn’t have gotten re-elected so often with growing numbers. But I would say the better way to do this, rather than destroying the economy by raising taxes on the people who produce jobs, is quit these wars, bring the troops home, let them spend their money here, let us have a real stimulus package. We’re up to our ears in debt, trillions and trillions of dollars and there’s no end in sight for these wars. Then we could take care of our people. Matter of fact, I even proposed on many of these programs that I don’t fully endorse because technically they’re not permissible under the constitution, but taking care of sick people, the elderly and the children, I have nothing against that if you cut the spending. But to raise taxes on the rich and chase more capital overseas, that’s one of the basic problems with the economy right now. 1.5 trillion dollars of capital sits overseas because there’s no incentive to come home here because of all the regulations that are bearing down on them. You have to change that or you’re not going to get any jobs; that’s what my argument is.
News Anchor: Congressman, I cannot agree with you more on the wars, but let’s talk about some people who don’t agree. I think most people agree with you that you’re the founding father of the Tea Party Movement, you support small government across the board. But I think it’s safe to say that many Tea Party members, lots of them, including some Tea Party leaders like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, want small government here, but want large government overseas, specifically things like support for the Afghanistan war. So isn’t it safe to say that their voice on issues of fiscal responsibility, the Tea Party, is simply not credible when they’re saying, “Let’s continue to spend those tens of billions of dollars that you and I both agree is money wasted”. So who should listen to the Tea Party on money issues?
Ron Paul: Well, that’s one thing for sure, the Tea Party is not monolithic. Obviously, it was started in our campaign 4 years ago, but there were a lot of people who joined who saw a wave coming, which was an anti-Washington wave and it’s an anti-deficit wave. But you’re right, and this is what the election is all about because it’s going to be sorted out. And I think my views will prevail, but I have to prove myself, I have to be credible, I have to get the support, I have to get the votes. If I don’t, then, as I’ve said, well the people want the wars and they want to run up the debt and they want to keep having all these program, and then it’s all going to end because of the financial crisis. When the dollar quits functioning, the troops will come home. Just like the Soviet system collapsed, empires do not last when they’re over extended, and we’re over extended and nobody wants to admit it; this country is bankrupt. So when you’re bankrupt and you’re facing this crisis, you have to admit it and you have to change your ways. And all I’m asking for is to change our ways and solve these problems, and we can do it in a transitional fashion if we wise up and do it gracefully rather than waiting for a collapse.
News Anchor: Let’s talk about consistency and credibility; and you raised the concept a minute ago. I’m a big government kind of guy, but I have a lot of respect for you and a lot of your libertarian views, particularly around foreign policy. But can you explain to me how someone like you, who believes government should stay out of our lives, also believes government should be able to tell a woman that she should have a child that she doesn’t want. I don’t understand how those two things fit together.
Ron Paul: Well, the libertarian principle is you’re not allowed to use aggression against a person. And I’m an OB doctor and to me it was a person because I had legal responsibility for it. A woman that’s carrying a baby that’s 3, 4, 5, 6 pounds, if I do anything to it, I get sued. And if you’re in an accident and you are involved and that baby is killed, you have a big problem on your hands, this is a serious legal matter. So I would say that it isn’t a question of the woman and protecting her privacy, as much as whether or not you can see a 2 or 3 or 4 or 4 pound baby that’s not yet being born deserves legal rights. I come down on the side of saying that it’s a legal person, it’s a human being, and it deserves to live.
News Anchor: But your position goes beyond both, the philosophical and pragmatic, as a former OBGYM. You will see this as a constitutional issue, do you not?
Ron Paul: No, I’ve never brought up the constitution, it’s the pro-abortion people that always bring it up and they introduce this idea of privacy. No, constitutionally I bring it up only in the fact that I say the federal government shouldn’t be in it, I don’t believe in a federal abortion police, I don’t want them to have anything to do with it because I know how difficult it is. And although I think those who believe in abortion have to deal with an 8 pound baby one minute before birth, which they refuse to because right before birth the mother’s body is still precious and you should protect it. But they want to think on the other end. Because there are so many difficult positions on that, I think it should be local. Different states have different viewpoints and I don’t have a monolithic approach and I don’t talk about murder and I don’t talk about putting people in prison. I talk about respect for life. If you do not have respect for life, how can you have respect for liberty? I am the greatest defender for liberty, but I can’t see how I can justify all this defense of liberty if I don’t defend life.
News Anchor: But very quickly, like you said, if you don’t want a federal abortion police, then I believe, why did you vote for a ban on partial birth abortion at the federal level if you want it left to the states? I don’t understand that?
Ron Paul: Because it was already nationalized by the courts, so I was trying to balance out the nationalizations by the courts. They made it a national permission, I wanted to cancel out the national permission and legalization by the courts.
News Anchor: Two final questions if I can just finish up. You have a big debate, obviously, next Wednesday night at the Ronald Reagan Library. Correct me if I’m wrong, when you go there and you shake the hand of Governor Rick Perry, is it true that that will be the first time you’ve ever met the Governor of your state for the last 10 years?
Ron Paul: In my memory. You know, I’ve said that because I do not recall it, but he and I have been in Texas for a long time, and who knows, we might have passed some time along the way and we shook hands. But I honestly do not recall ever personally meeting him.
News Anchor: Do you not find that strange? It seems to me, tell me if you think this is unfair, that it is sort of symptomatic of two men who were more concerned maybe about going their own way than they are about working collaboratively for their constituents. You’ve both served Texans for the same ten years and beyond, no?
Ron Paul: Well, he worked a lot in Austin, I worked a lot in Washington. But it is true, that President both George Bushes, I did get to know them, and I thought they were very cordial and I got along with them quite well, even though we had our same disagreements. You can imagine how much I disagree with their foreign policy. But George Bush Junior, I knew him pretty well, but he was always very cordial and polite to me. But no, I did not have that relationship, but I wouldn’t say it was me deliberately saying, “I’m going my way, he’s going his way”. It just happened that way and I guess somebody else will have to sort it out exactly why.
News Anchor: 30 seconds, if you can. You just had a birthday, correct?
Ron Paul: That is correct.
News Anchor: Happy birthday. So if you’re elected President you’ll be 77 years old when you take office, oldest President to assume the office by far; 7 years. I know firsthand how many young people are huge supporters of yours. But at 77, Congressman, aren’t you too old to be President of the United States?
Ron Paul: No, matter of fact, I’m only 76.
News Anchor: I know, but you won’t be President until you’re 77.
Ron Paul: You know, I think people like you who do this, you should be careful about practicing age discrimination, that’s against the law, you know.
News Anchor: It is. I know good lawyers.
Ron Paul: You know what my answer is? What do I appeal to the young people, because I have young ideas. Freedom is a young idea. A lot of the other ones have old fashioned ideas, they want totalitarianism, they want power in government. So I am the youngest candidate with the youngest idea. And besides, tomorrow, to prove it, I’m having a bicycle ride and you’re welcome to come and I’ve challenged any of my opponents to come to Houston at noon time when the temperature is 100 and humidity is 100, and I’ll ride 20 miles with them and then you will the right to ask me about my age or challenge me about my age.
News Anchor: That’s a fair deal, you look fabulous too. Congressman Paul, thank you so much. I hope we get to talk to you a lot of you as the Campaign goes on.
Ron Paul: Thank you.