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Rick Green: Good morning, my name is Rick Green, I’m editor and vice president of news for the Des Moines Register. With us today on our editorial board here in the Des Moines Register newsroom is Ron Paul, Representative from the 14th district of Texas. Congressman Paul, of course, is a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for the presidency of the United States in the 2012 election. Congressman, it’s a pleasure to have you here with us today, thanks for coming in.
Ron Paul: Thank you very much, I appreciate it.
Rick Green: We wanted to give you a couple of moments, just a couple of minutes, to talk a little bit about where you are with the campaign, some of the key points that you are making out there to your supporters, and we’ll start asking you some questions right after that.
Ron Paul: Well, my campaign has been going on for a long time, and I’ve been campaigning since the early 1970s for liberty; I want limited government, I want the rule of law, I want the constitution. And I got involved in politics probably inadvertently because it was a place where I could express myself. So those issues have been very important to me, I’ve been working on them for a long time, and there’s been a tremendous change in the country and the interest in what I’ve been doing since the 1970s. I was worried, even in the early 1970s, of a financial crisis of the type which we’re suffering from right now. So it’s very appropriate that I continue this effort, and especially in this campaign, because the whole country is looking for a new direction. But not only is it different from the 1970s, it’s different from 1994 when there was a change in Congress, there’s a difference from the year 2000. But the big change in attitude which reflects upon our campaign, has been the financial crisis which has been recognized now by just about everybody from 2008 – the collapse of the financial system, which we’re in the middle of. And that that is ongoing and is very, very serious and I think the people in Washington I know, whether it’s the administration or Congress, are just floundering, because they haven’t addressed it properly from my viewpoint. And, therefore, the views I express aren’t exactly the most popular in Washington, but in the last 4 years, the interest has just exploded, which pleases me to no end.
You take, for instance, the subject of monetary policy. We who follow the Austrian School of Economics thought that was important as far back as 1912. They were writing about this, Mises explained the business cycle and why you have booms and busts, but it’s been totally ignored for another school of thought. And we have always been convinced that it would fail, and we believe that’s what’s happening right now. So that has been around, but now a lot of people are looking, because the usual answers of, “You know, you have a little recession, and you spend more money, you print more money, you borrow a bit more money, Congress spends a little more money, and you can snap back to a degree”, not realizing that all you have done is patch the leak in the bubble and delay the inevitable. The inevitable is now here, and there’s no patching up the bubble. Actually the so called success of those who believe differently than we do allowed the bubble to get bigger than ever. So we have a worldwide bubble, biggest in the history of the world, and now we’re facing it. So this has allowed the popularity of the views that I have been working on to be much more acceptable because of the failure. So when I leave Washington, when I come to Iowa, when I go to the university campuses and talk to the young people … and lately the last couple of visits we’ve had in these Town Hall meetings have been slightly different because we’ve been getting at the middle of the day, and rightfully so, because we’re not on a campus. We’ve gotten a lot of people in the retirement age and they’re very, very open to what I’m talking about. But it is sort of the conditions of the country, where we are on the business cycle, the need for change and the openness that the people have now for different viewpoints: with foreign policy, with our civil liberties, as well as our economic problems and the unemployment. So, in that sense, I’m very, very encouraged, and of course, it reflects in our campaign. It’s easier to raise money, easier to get supporters, have better organization than ever before, our advertisements have been fantastic, we’re getting a lot of attention, and the volunteers are there. In our organization what we have done is something that I don’t watch day to day, my job is to keep doing what I’ve been doing and give people a little incentive and a little explanation of what our goals are. For that reason, I have become very optimistic in the political sense of what we’re doing. I also know very much that if we continue to do what we do in Washington and we don’t change our way, I am very much of a pessimist. But in the long term, I believe that we will turn this whole thing around and the country is going to be better off for it.
Rick Green: We want to talk to you briefly about the economy and your vision as it relates to creating jobs and getting the economic house back in order. But I just had a couple of questions about foreign policy. You introduced a bill in 2001 to repeal the 1973 War Powers Resolution, you sued President Clinton for some of his conduct during the Kosovo War, you voted against the Iraq War Resolution, you support the withdrawal from the United Nations and NATO. Are you an isolationist?
Ron Paul: No, I have nothing to do with isolation.
Rick Green: Talk a little bit about your foreign policy.
Ron Paul: I think the people who tend to be more isolationist than me are the people who criticize me for being isolationist, because they’re the ones who tend to be more internationalistic and think the opposite of isolationism: that you’re involved in NATO and you’re involved in the UN and we need a presence in 150 countries and 900 bases. But they are the ones who are the most anxious to put on tariffs and restrict trade and do what isolationist do, they become mercantilist, they’re the ones who promote trade barriers on Cuba. For how long do we have to have trade barriers against Cuba? So they’re the isolationist, I’m the free trader. Same way around the world, I want to make use of our 12,000 diplomats, you know, talk to people and try to work out problems and be more engaged in the world, and use military force and violence as a last resort and do it properly. Do it properly under the constitution and not allow a president to do it on his own or do it under authority from the United Nations or NATO, and congressmen reneging on their responsibilities. So I see myself as the freest trader in the Congress and I’m an internationalist in the sense that it would be all voluntary, that you have much more diplomacy with people. And this follows the constitution, it follows the strong advice of our founding fathers, they said that we shouldn’t be engaged in nation building and pushing ourselves around. Matter of fact, it really is George Bush’s foreign policy of the year 2000, when he argued, “We should be more humble, we should not be arrogant, they will not like us if we’re arrogant, we shouldn’t be in nation building”, as he was criticizing the Democrats. And too often both sides feed a little bit to the American people and say, “Yea, I’m for less war and all this”, and yet they end up doing more. But as far as being an isolationist goes, I think an isolationist is somebody that wants to wall themselves off and put on tariffs. The isolationists say – and you hear them in our own campaign, on our side – “We got to isolate China, blame China for everything, put on tariffs and punish China”. I don’t want to do, so I am not the isolationist, they are the isolationist and I think they’re making a lot of mistakes.
Rick Green: You say you support wars with clear missions, cite some examples of wars we’ve been engaged in where the mission was clear.
Ron Paul: World War II, Germany declared war against us and the Japanese bombed us, and that’s a good example of how it works. The President didn’t go to war in Iraq under the Congress. In World War II people knew about it, we knew who the enemy was, we made the declaration of war, everybody got behind it, and in four years or thereabouts, we won those wars. Today, because it’s nebulous, we don’t know who the enemy is and we go to war not against governments, but we go to war against a group of people that are causing trouble, and it lasts forever. And then we go into nation building and we go to war with false information, some people told lies when we went to war in Iraq, there was no Al-Qaida there, no weapons of mass destruction. Between the two wars, if you add up the men lost in the contract labor, we’ve lost 8,500 people during these wars. We have not had any real victories, we’ve had 40,000 people come back wounded seriously, filling up our veterans hospitals, we have hundreds of thousands who are begging for help. There is an epidemic, in many ways, of suicide from people who have returned. I had a young veteran tell me the other day that he was just so upset – because I do get the most support from military people, twice as much as everybody else put together – he was upset to see his buddies killed over there, and then he finally figures out, “What am I doing over here?” Then he comes home and he says, “I see some of my friends now committing suicide because their minds are all twisted up”. So this, to me, makes no sense whatsoever, and that’s completely different than declaring war when somebody attacks us, because we don’t declare, and the solution is, the President should ….
Rick Green: Could there be any other examples of sensible war, too, where you think the mission is clear?
Ron Paul: No, absolutely not, it was fudged, it was wrong, they were still suffering the consequences. In these last 10 years, 4 trillion dollars were added to our national debt for this, so no, they were all unconstitutional. That’s why I address the subject of the War Powers Resolution. Because the war powers resolution was a reaction to Vietnam, the intention was to restraint the president from doing this. But so often what happens in Washington is, when there’s a problem and you see the opportunity, what they do makes things worse. And that’s what the war powers resolution did, it literally legalized war for 90 days, and once you’re at war for 90 days, it’s pretty hard to come back out of it, you should get the permission before you go in. But the presidents all dislike it because they think they’re restrained too much, but a constitutionalist like myself will object to it, because we think they get too much license, and we believe that the constitution is quite adequate on going to war.
Rick Green: Roosevelt had to do some fudging early in World War II before Congress. Would you have opposed what he did?
Ron Paul: Absolutely, because he did us our maneuvering, but, you know, our policies are not well informed and they cause trouble, but once you get bombed, it’s a lot more difficult. I’ve mentioned that our foreign policy stimulates the hatred towards us and motivates Al-Qaida. But, you know, once 9/11 occurs you can’t say, “People in the past messed up, so we don’t care about this”, you can’t do that. But if you don’t learn a lesson from it and change the policy … matter of fact, I think two great examples of learning a lesson have been both, for Ronald Reagan as well as Robert McNamara. When McNamara wrote his memoirs, it was sort of a confession about the mistakes, and he wasn’t feeling good, this was when he was getting pretty old. So he was asked by a reporter, “Does that mean you what to apologize for Vietnam?”, because he was the motivator, and he said, “What good is an apology, if you don’t learn something from this and change your policy, it means nothing”. Ronald Reagan did something very similar when he sent the marines into Lebanon, and I remember that clearly because I was in the Congress I spoke out strongly against it, I said, “Why are we doing this, this will lead to trouble.” And Reagan at that time said, “I’ll never turn tail and leave”, that was tough. So he goes in there and we occupy, it stimulates the incentive to do suicide terrorism. The Israelis were there, the French were there if I’m not mistaken, it was either the French or the British. So suicide terrorism was going on, we lost 241 marines, and the marines came home. So Reagan did exactly what he said he wouldn’t do. He wrote in his memoirs, “I know I said that, but I changed my mind because I didn’t realize how irrational the politics of that region was “. And he said, “We should have been more neutral, if we had followed a position of neutrality, those marines would be alive today”. And those are powerful messages that we should pay attention to, these are people who pushed these policies. So I think we have to learn our lessons from this. So yes, some of the things that we did prior to World War II, history is showing that it wasn’t exactly the best thing for us, it motivated and gave an incentive for people to attack us. That’s probably more true with Japan than it is with Germany. But once you’re at war, you got to win them, and you got to get permission properly. Maybe there was some, but we didn’t have war dissent during World War II like we had during Vietnam, and today it’s not so bad, but there’s a lot of anti-war sentiment. About 65% or more of the American people want to get home from Afghanistan because we’re broke, we’re not winning the war, and there’s no end in sight, and we’re expanding these wars. So that is really a strong issue that’s going on, it’s an especially powerful issue when I talk to young people. But when I talk to the elderly people, I say, “Look, I have a plan where I can take care of the elderly who have become dependent, by cutting spending massively elsewhere. If we do nothing, you’re going to get nothing, because you’re just going to get printed money and it’s not going to be worth anything if we don’t cut back”. So I say cut this money overseas, and they’re with me on that, and the military is with me on that, the young people are with me on that, the majority of the Americans now are with me on this. And yet policies never change, the policies are one-party, it’s the same thing over and over again. No matter what they talk about, our presence around the world continues and expands, and it’s done in a moralistic way. They feel, “We have the moral imperative to spread our goodness around the world, we are the exceptional nation, and we have this obligation to do it”, and I consider that a very serious mistake. If we want to be an exceptional nation, which I think we are, and have been in the past, I think what we should do is set a good standard, have peace and prosperity and offer that to everybody around the world. Just think of what we’ve achieved with peace in Vietnam, and what failed: for more than 10 years, between us and the French, killing a million Vietnamese. And now we have peace, and they’re westernized. We didn’t have to fight the soviets, we didn’t have to fight the Chinese, we worked out a deal with Khrushchev at the height of the Cold War when they had missiles in Cuba. It was the month I was drafted, so I remember it well. so this idea that we can’t talk to people … and just think of the ridicule heaped on an individual like myself for saying, “Maybe we ought to talk to people before we start bombing them”, and that’s what we should do. And yet, people say, “No, you can’t talk to them”. Well, if we as a country can talk to the murdering communist of China and the Soviets, who killed hundreds of millions of people, and work out a deal, can’t we talk to somebody who doesn’t even have a nuclear weapon and try to work it out? Why should we be so anxious to resort to war and secret prisons and torture and assassinations? It makes me rather sad to see this being accepted as being a good American and patriotic. I just have a strong disagreement with those sentiments.
Rick Green: You talk about the peace dividend that you get from bringing the troops home, that’s not going to be enough to solve our financial problems in this country. What do we need to do beyond what the so called super-committee is apparently deadlocked over balancing the budget?
Ron Paul: Go back to 1991, and we would have had a tremendous one, because the Cold War had ended, and instead we expanded everything. No, right now, just brining the troops home alone doesn’t do it, but my plan does a lot more than, I’d cut hundreds of billions of dollars from overseas expenditure by changing the foreign policy. I’d bring all the troops home and, through attrition, I’d make the military more streamlined. So yes, it takes a lot of cutting, I want to cut 5 departments, I want to cut a trillion dollars, I want to cut the spending. Because I believe the debt burden is …
Rick Green: Well, those five departments doesn’t get you a trillion dollars, where’s the rest of it?
Ron Paul: Well, almost everything goes back to 2006 budget, so there are a lot of cuts. There are a lot of cuts in overseas spending, we call it foreign expenditures, foreign aid itself is just a small part of that. But it’s a whole different attitude.
Rick Green: How much does that total?
Ron Paul: In the military?
Rick Green: No, the foreign expenditure.
Ron Paul: Foreign expenditures are a couple of hundred billion.
Rick Green: That includes militarism?
Ron Paul: Yea, a lot of it is military, but not defense, I’d have a stronger defense. But no, there’s a lot in the military. But that’s where the dilemma is in Washington; Republicans are known to be historical if you cut a nickel, but the Democrats aren’t willing to cut it either. Obama wants more money, his secretary wants more money for this stuff. So, I’m wanting to bring all these troops home, and what is our President doing? He’s putting troops in Australia, because he’s afraid China is going to attack us. So it doesn’t make any sense, we don’t have any money. So if we want to take care of our people and if we want to preserve enough funding to take care of the children who are dependent and the elderly dependent on medical care and Social Security, which is a narrow group of people I want to protect, because we have conditioned them to be so dependent. And everything else is up for grabs for cutting. A budget sometimes can be thousands of pages long, ours isn’t, it’s more generalized, but it comes up with a trillion dollars worth of cuts.
Rick Green: If you preserve those programs that protect those groups, like the elderly, even then you haven’t cut a trillion dollar out of the budget.
Ron Paul: No, we do, we really do cut enough, and it wasn’t easy. Matter of fact, I wanted to balance the budget in one year, and I think your concerns or your point is that that’s really tough. It was tough for me to really do it. And we have some transition accounts for educational programs and some of these medical programs. It’s something like, if you get rid of the department of energy, what are you going to do with the control of nuclear power? We set aside funds for that. But no, we do come up with a trillion dollars, a lot of it is with the reduction back to the 2006 budget.
Rick Green: What about projected deficits that come?
Ron Paul: The only thing that counts for us is the first year, this first year. We go out three years because, by our projections and all, we would be to a balanced budget. That would take care of the other 600. Now, we don’t push this, but the truth is, if we gave reassurances and did everything right, business would boom. They would get the reassurance, we’d have low axes, less regulations, we’d bring capital back in this country, we wouldn’t be putting money into bombs that go over and blow up something and you don’t have an increase in standard of living here, that money would all be spent here. So, yes, it would be very encouraging because there would be a lot of deregulations, and the businessman might decide to come back here and spend money here. But there’s no incentive right now, business people are not very anxious to start businesses here, they can do it easier in China than they can here. I had one businessman tell me that it took him 3 weeks in China, it would have taken him 3 years here to get the permits to open up a plant.
Interviewer 2: Do we want to turn the United States into a China where you read about the quality of the air and some of the urban areas there, the pollution? Part of the lack of regulatory involvement in China is almost like, “We don’t care what”.
Ron Paul: That’s certainly true, but it’s actually not getting worse. I mean, they’re doing some, but it’s still a big problem. No, you don’t want to, but if you have a free market economy and understand private property, it’s not going to happen, because nobody has a right to pollute. And we’re much further advanced on property rights. So yes, they will not have the right to pollute, and they would have to not pollute any air. So I would say that we can do it, we can be competitive, but if we don’t do it and we allow all our jobs to go overseas, it will be devastating, and that’s what’s happened. Because if somebody has made some money overseas and they want to bring it back in, we charge them 25%, 35% corporate tax, and re-tax them again. Why come back? Their job is to be productive, I mean, that’s what they’re in business for, to make money, that’s what markets are for. But if we change the conditions, you don’t have to give up on environmental controls. It would be done differently. I think it was the lack of an understanding of property rights that allowed the pollution to occur during the industrial revolution. And once again, it was the partnership of big government and big business, they got together. I lived in Pittsburgh, and the sewers were put in the rivers, and the air was polluted by permission of the courts. And Pittsburg had cleaned up with the EPA, it’s not like you need 10,000 bureaucrats from Washington to come down to Pittsburg and tell them what to do, they decided, “This is filthy”, and they cleaned up their act.
Interviewer 3: Just getting back to an earlier point, if you support diplomacy and multilateralism, why do you oppose membership in the United Nations?
Ron Paul: Because it’s a loss of our sovereignty. The first thing the United Nations did, was put us into a war that was undeclared, we went to war under UN resolution, Congress didn’t vote for it, the people didn’t care about it. And we went in and, 38,000, 40,000 Americans were killed.
Interviewer 2: The UN didn’t declare that war.
Ron Paul: Oh, it was a UN resolution, that’s the authority. The UN gave us the authority to go there, and Truman accepted it, so it didn’t come from the Congress. So I would say it’s a loss of sovereignty. How did we go into Libya? The president just flaunted it, he didn’t come to the Congress, he just said, “I’m going in, and NATO gave us the resolution, there was a UN resolution under NATO”. We’re in Afghanistan under NATO. And so that’s giving up our national sovereignty. Besides, it costs us a lot of money, we have to pay more than the rest, and it’s not a good investment, that money should be spent here at home. So those are the kinds of things I wouldn’t spend money on.
Interviewer 2: Is there any model of an international organization, peace organization, that you would support the U.S. joining?
Ron Paul: No, the organizations are just there for somebody to get control of it, then they fight over control: who’s going to be controlling the organization? And, so far, we have a lot of the control because we had a lot of the money, but orchestrating it doesn’t give us more peace, it just means they become tools of our foreign policy. So the idea that if you don’t have another government layer over and above our own government, doesn’t mean that you don’t want to use diplomacy and talk to people. It wasn’t the UN that saved us from a nuclear clash in October of 1962, it had to do with commonsense between two leaders that didn’t want to blow up the world, and fortunately it worked out.
Interviewer 3: Dr. Paul, a few minutes ago you criticized using moral imperative as a rationale for going to war. Is there any reason whatsoever that you would, any condition under which you would use moral imperative for going to war, or would you go to war only if the United States were attacked?
Ron Paul: The constitution is very clear, and the moral responsibility is to defend the people of this country and to obey the law, that’s the moral imperative. The moral imperative isn’t to say somebody needs us and you can draft somebody else’s kids and take your money and go over there and say, “We are going to make that a better place”. That was the motivation of the Jacobins, they had this moral imperative that was all well intentioned, but that ended badly. World War I was a moral imperative of making the world safe for democracy, but the world isn’t safer and it isn’t a greater democracy. Our moral imperative, they claim, for some of this Middle East stuff is to give them a democratic government, and at the same time, we’re the best of friends of the dictators of Saudi Arabia and the many other dictators we supported, even like we used to support the dictator Saddam Hussein. But the moral imperative is, “They need democracy and we’re going to force it upon them”, and our children die and we go broke on it. And guess what in this country, what about the democracy in this country? If you ever came to the conclusion that the two parties are similar, which they are, because they both endorse the foreign policy, they both endorse the Federal Reserve, they both endorse the entitlement system, and neither side cares about the debt. So where does somebody go, where do they go? Because you can’t go into a third party, I mean, it’s not available because the laws are written by the Republicans and the Democrats. In the major debates, who controls the debates when you have … Next November, it will be a commission made up of the Republicans and the Democrats, so even if you had, it’s not even like it used to be like when the League of Women Voters did it, now the parties control it. We don’t have democracy here, what right do we have to assume that we can go over, and have this moral imperative that we impose our goodness on them?
Interviewer 3: Say, the equivalent of a holocaust, you would deny this?
Ron Paul: Well, it depends on what the status is. We did do something, we were involved in World War II. The people who committed the holocaust declared war against us, so I don’t see the issue.
Interviewer 3: But if Germany were not at war then?
Ron Paul: No, our government doesn’t have it. But if there was a compulsion, if there was a public sentiment to it, believing that it was a threat to our national security, I wouldn’t be the decision maker, that’s the U.S. Congress. But no, I don’t think that is necessary, I think if people care, they should have the right to go over there and pick up a riffle, go send their money, do whatever they want. But I don’t have the moral authority to compel you to go over and settle a dispute. Think of the many other episodes, how many times does that happen in Africa? They’re killing millions of people in these wars in the poor countries of Africa and nobody even pays any attention to them. There has to be a moral imperative there, and if you follow that through, you have to get involved in every single thing, which ones are you going to pick and choose? So it is endless, and that’s more or less where we are, except it’s so inconsistent, it’s so hypocritical, because at the same time, we prop up the dictators. We propped up the Shah of Iran, they got a little upset with us there, we prop up all the kings that practice Sharia Law in Saudi Arabia. 15 out of 19 come here and try to kill us all, and then we pretend that we’re going to get rid of a dictator that hated the Iranians and hated the Al-Qaida. And we throw him out and then when we take over Iraq, we get rid of all the Christians, and the Al-Qaida comes in. The whole thing is totally foolish, it makes no sense whatsoever. I don’t believe I will persuade the majority of American people from the moral argument, but I’ll tell you what, the majority of the American people are with me right now because half of them understand exactly what I’m talking saying, the other half know we’re broke and we can’t afford it. And the group that knows exactly what I’m doing, are the military people. And they don’t want it, they want to come home, they see no future in this, and that is why they give me the support overwhelmingly.
Interviewer 2: So you’re ruling out a third-party run?
Ron Paul: Yea, I’m not doing that, I’m not planning to do anything like that.
Interviewer 2: Why?
Ron Paul: I don’t want to, I just don’t want to.
Interviewer 2: Well, why shouldn’t there be a third party alternative?
Ron Paul: Because of what I just described, because it’s a losing adventure, you probably wouldn’t have me in here. Would you have me in here if I was running on a third party right now? You wouldn’t be talking to me.
Interviewer 2: Well, a lot of Republicans say you don’t uphold a lot of Republican viewpoints.
Ron Paul: I think that’s a funniest thing in the world. Take a look at the Republican platform, they talk about personal liberty, balanced budget, limited government, strong national defense, free markets. I’m the best on all of those, I’m the one that wants to balance the budget, I voted against all the spending, I care about personal liberty and all the things they talk about. And then they say I’m not a Republican? I mean, if anybody buys into that, they’re not listening, because I am closer to the Republican platform than any of the others.
Interviewer 2: So they are Republicans in name only, is that what you’re saying?
Ron Paul: Well, they don’t follow the platform or what Republicans profess to believe in as I do, and they should be called on it.
Interviewer 3: You’re going to participating in the Founding Leaders Debate later today, which is basically a test of Christian social conservative principles. Where would you say you fall in the spectrum of candidates on that issue, on social conservatism?
Ron Paul: I’m very conservative on social issues, I strongly believe that life is precious and it’s a gift from our creator and that if you don’t believe in protecting life, you can’t protect liberty, and I’m a champion of protecting liberty. If you don’t understand the essence of life, you cannot protect liberty.
Interviewer 3: So women shouldn’t have the right to chose abortion?
Ron Paul: Well, I think somebody has to speak for the fetus, doesn’t the fetus have a right to chose, too? I’ve seen babies in the 8 and 9 month of pregnancy, and that’s pretty much a human being, who speaks for them? Somebody has to speak for them. Who speaks for a 1 minute old baby, does a 1 minute old baby have a right that somebody speaks for him? What if there’s no mother, what if the baby is just left there, do you throw it in the garbage and kill it? No, you don’t, somebody speaks for a 1 minute old baby. Who speaks for a fetus 1 month or 2 months before birth? So why does the fetus get excluded? Is it not a human being, or is it not alive? What is it, who speaks for it?
Interviewer 2: So we have no moral imperative for a holocaust, but we have a moral imperative for a fetus? Is that what you’re saying?
Ron Paul: No, I don’t see the connection at all. I think life is life, we’re not going over to China to say that you shouldn’t abort female fetuses, that would be the description of a moral imperative. If you say, does the state of Iowa have the right to protect a fetus a minute before birth because the fetus deserves protection and has a freedom of choice to live or not? Under our constitution, does it permit Iowa to have a law that prevents that? To argue to other side is, “Oh, it’s not a life, it’s not human, and it’s not an act of violence to destroy the unborn”. And the federal government has no authority whatsoever to tell Iowa to decide what they should do with what they construe as violent acts, that would be like saying, “Well, you’re allowed to prosecute people for first degree murder, but not for manslaughter”, and that sort of thing. These are difficult subjects, the founders were geniuses who said this: not having one monolithic solution for the whole country because different states would do it in different ways. So yes, there’s a very strong argument. I am very much aware of it because if that unborn and the mother come to my office, and I give the wrong drug and if I damage or hurt or kill the fetus, I’m in big trouble. If you’re in a car accident and the mother doesn’t get hurt but the fetus dies and she aborts, you’re in big trouble because you’ve committed an act of violence. If you want to deal with the legality of when does a fetus get legal rights, it really is at conception. So what if there’s a conception and the father dies, inheritance rights are determined by the date of conception and it would be determined by the father, the father would be involved. So there’s every precedent in the world that there is a legal being there that has qualified for protection, but you can’t just say, “Well, its okay, it’s legal here now”, but under other conditions if the mother makes her argument and says, “Well, you can’t tell me what to do”, it becomes difficult. But, believe me, I’ve been in the OBGYN business for a long time, I know all the pros and cons and the difficult situations, and that’s why I don’t want one answer for all. I want federal laws, I don’t want amendments to the constitution, and I just don’t think it’s the prerogative of the federal government to be involved.
Interviewer 3: So as President, would you select Supreme Court justices who are opposed to abortion?
Ron Paul: I would select the Supreme Court justices on their understanding of the constitution, because if they describe what I just described, their personal position would not be quite as important. But I want to know what they think about the first amendment, I want to know how they reflect on all the bill of rights, on property rights, on the general welfare clause, the interstate commerce clause; I want them to think about this; I want to know what they think about the necessary and proper clause. And then, their whole issue on abortion would be less important, because their proper position would have been on Roe versus Wade: they wouldn’t hear the case and the states would make their own decisions.
Interviewer 2: In describing yourself as a constitutionalist, you say that no law should be passed unless you can cite specifically in the constitution where it’s authorized. You’ve read the document and it doesn’t specify very much, so am I right in saying that you would agree that most laws don’t have a constitutional basis?
Ron Paul: That’s true, and all the regulations, and all the legislation done by executive orders. And that’s why we’re in this mess, because we do not have the rule of law. That is why we have a government now that is known to have endorsed torture, we’ve rejected the defense of Habeas Corpus, we have endorsed assassinations by our presidents; one person deciding which Americans can be assassinated, and nobody is saying anything?
Interviewer 3: With drones, you mean?
Ron Paul: Well, however. And even when they kill a 16 year old boy that happens to be the son of a guy that wasn’t very nice, but he was never convicted of anything, never tried, there were no charges made, and the American people aren’t saying anything? We should be outraged over this. If we accept this without saying anything, we’re in big trouble. And that is why the rule of law is so important. That, to me, is very, very discouraging, but I can go out, and I talk like this to the college kids and I talked yesterday to older groups, and I talked to them about bringing our troops home; the reception was very good.
Rick Green: If you were in the White House during the past three years or so, would you have had a different strategy as related to Saddam Hussein than the president had?
Rick Green: If you were in the White House during the past three years or so, would you have had a different strategy as related to Saddam Hussein than the president had?
Ron Paul: No, because I voted for that, I would have been different 10 years ago. I voted for the authority, because we voted for the authority of going after those individuals responsible for 9/11. We had him more or less trapped in Tora Bora. Matter of fact, I was in that region when I was in the air force, I have a little image in my mind about that region. But they had him essentially trapped, and they just sort of forgot about him and said, “Oh, we got to go after Iraq” and Iraq had nothing to do with it, that was just horrible. So yes, I voted for the authority, I lament the fact that it took 10 years, but I also introduced something to try to prevent them from going into this endless war, and that was, I restored the idea of the Letter of Mark and Reprisal, you know, the effort where you can literally hire people to go out. Jefferson and others did that when they went after the pirates, because it wasn’t the government that was attacking us on the high seas, they were pirates. So we would hire people, and this was legally recognized internationally. And even though you would have this authority, the authority was very limited to go after certain people. But it wasn’t an authority to just go and be lawless. So I wanted them to do that. Just remember how Ross Perot dealt with his hostages in Iran, everybody remembers that? He hired some ex-military special forces and he went over there and he pulled it off, he got his people out. And, of course, when we attempted to do it, it ended up in a disaster. So I thought the Letter of Mark and Reprisal, somebody like Ross Perot, just think of what 500 million or billion dollars would have meant in saving the lives of how many Americans and how many casualties now and how many innocent Iraqis? Close to a million Iraqis have died. So there are alternatives, and that’s when you live within the confines of the constitution and always try to hold back on the military, rather than saying, “Oh, we are powerful, we’re going to do it”. Weapons themselves will not bring peace if you don’t know how to use them, weapons can be used for defending our country and keeping people from threatening us, but that in itself can’t solve all these problems. That’s why I think the Letter of Mark and Reprisal was a great idea, so I endorse that idea. If we arrested and captured and gave trials to people, to me it seems like it would have been a little fascinating to see what it would be like to find out what Bin Laden would tell us. But we give trials to people like Adolf Eichmann, Israel gave him trial. We gave trials to all the Nazi war criminals. Can you think of the height of anger at the war criminals that participated in the holocaust? We gave them trials
Interviewer 2: But if we had an opportunity to take them out during the war, we would have done it?
Ron Paul: Probably, if it is declared war it is certainly different.
Interviewer 2: You say you support the authorization, you’re talking about after 9/11.
Ron Paul: Yea.
Interviewer 2: That does not give authority for the drone strikes that you’re objecting to now?
Ron Paul: Now? No, they’re not bombing anybody that’s being charged with participating in 9/11.
Interviewer 2: But we’ve declared war on terrorists.
Ron Paul: Who did?
Interviewer 2: The United States, in the declaration.
Ron Paul: When? I’d like to see the document. And terrorism is nothing like criminality, terrorism is a tactic. And they want you to understand and think that you’re in a war atmosphere, and then they can violate your civil liberties, they can pass PATRIOT Acts and do anything they want, because the conditions are right. When war is going on, they can undermine your liberties here at home. So, no, I think it’s very dangerous, that’s just a concocted term to generate enough fear to get the people and the Congress to capitulate, and if you don’t agree with it, then you’re un-American, you’re unconstitutional, you don’t care, you’re weak on national defense – because you want to defend the constitution. So I think that’s wrong.
Interviewer 3: How do you reconcile the interest in gay marriage with the old liberty pursuit of happiness? What’s the role of government in there?
Ron Paul: None.
Interviewer 3: Not at all?
Ron Paul: That’s my ideal, just to butt out, I think it’s a very important thing. I happen to be married for 54 years, so I think a lot about the importance of marriage. And I think a lot about the dictionary too, I know what the dictionary says marriage should be, and is. But I didn’t vote for the marriage amendment, to me it’s defining a word. If you want to define it one way, and me another way, it sounds like a first amendment issue. And why should I try to convince you of my definition, or why do I want somebody else to impose their ideas on me and make me accept their definition? So I want the government out. If you’re going to have government under the constitution, the states have a lot more authority than the federal government has to define it. But I’d rather see it be outside of government, and then we would not be arguing about this.
Interviewer 3: The state of marriage under tax laws, etc, conveys certain privileges that don’t go to those who are unmarried.
Ron Paul: Probably change the tax code and get rid of all the taxes, that would be a solution for that.
Interviewer 2: So you’d get government out of the business of authorizing marriage?
Ron Paul: I would, I personally would. You know, traditionally, if you go back in history and you want to find out the tradition, if you went to the bible and follow it back, people would be married in their churches. But to me it seems like such a wonderful solution; that you can have your definition, I will have my definition; I won’t tell you what to believe, you don’t tell me what to believe; you don’t force your views on me, I don’t force my views on you. I think it’s wonderful.
Interviewer 2: Isn’t that, in effect, what the Iowa Supreme Court did in Iowa?
Ron Paul: I’m not familiar enough to know exactly what they did.
Interviewer 2: They said the states can grant the rights under this definition.
Ron Paul: The states wouldn’t necessarily agree with what I say, I’m giving my personal opinion of what I think should be done. But under the constitution, the federal government should not have a say on it, but the states would still have authority to do what they wanted.
Interviewer 3: Is there any federal rule to sort of bring a sense of equality across the country, so that the person who lives in Texas isn’t left with fewer rights and liberties than the person who lives in Iowa? Because there are some states in the south probably where there would be a sense of, “We really don’t think that blacks are the same as whites”.
Ron Paul: That problem has been taken care of.
Interviewer 3: But it was the courts and the government that did it.
Ron Paul: Yea, the government was at fault, the government was at fault with the slave issue as well as these discriminations. So the government was at fault. And national laws, the 14th amendment, did apply; you can’t take a group of people and deny them certain rights. I think where the biggest discrimination occurs now, is in the judicial system. Have you ever looked at the that people who end up getting the death penalty? It doesn’t seem to be fair and balanced. And look at the number of people who have been in prison for drug usage, 12% or so are blacks, and some 30% are arrested, 50% are in prison. The people who don’t get the death penalty and don’t get arrested are the people who are wealthy and tend to be white. So that is still where there’s a lot of discrimination where the federal government could have some influence on that, because you’re not allowed to discriminate in that sense. You can’t have discriminatory laws and treat black people a certain way than you should under the 14th amendment.
Interviewer 2: You define yourself as a free market person, believer; why shouldn’t that apply to immigration as well?
Ron Paul: I think there’s a pretty good argument for that, that’s the ideal. A lLot of free market people would argue that.
Interviewer 2: Would you?
Ron Paul: And, in a way, that’s what the founders argued, and that’s why they gave us the interstate commerce clause. But now the interstate commerce clause has been grossly distorted, it’s used now to regulate rather than deregulate; they want a free market zone. I would argue in that sense, but conditions today are really, really tough for economic reasons. Because we have people that come over our borders, and I’d be in a hospital, I’d deliver a new born baby, the baby becomes an automatic citizen. And the next day, the hospital needs money, so they sign them up for welfare programs and then they get charged a lot of money and the process continues. The welfare state interferes with it. If you had a true free market healthy economy, I believe that we should have a much more generous approach to immigration in our workforce. I would not say that just walking in and out under today’s circumstances would be a good idea.
Interviewer 2: But if the market calls for x number of workers from Mexico?
Ron Paul: Oh yea, I think that’s what we should really work for, because even with the problems we have today, I still have people coming into my office looking for workers. There are jobs out there for which people have to be trained, but our system of education, since it’s been taken over by the federal government, they’re coming out of college and all they have to show for is debt and a poor education and they can’t take these technological jobs that they need. So they say, “Give me somebody from Japan or India to fill these up, these jobs are going away”. So we’ve messed up our economy so badly, that just bringing more people in that will bring their families over and go on the welfare rolls, that compounds our problems. That’s part of the problem that hit California, and it’s hitting Texas. Literally because there’s no control at all, our hospitals had to close, our school districts are going bankrupt, and it’s a real big economic problem. But a free and prosperous economy would be very, very generous for immigration. Even though we were very generous in our early history, we never had just free immigration. Everybody came in and they went through at least some ritual back then that was on health reason.
Interviewer 1: Can you think of any case where there’s a position to regulate beyond the constitutional restriction? Might be that we have evolved a national consensus, something that happens with a democratic process, people chose not to contest it because they think it’s so important that we have a national standard for something. Would you make allowances for that?
Ron Paul: Yea, if we did properly. It’s sort of like on education, let’s say the consensus of the country is that we love the federal government controlling our education, Iowa doesn’t know how to do it, so we need a consensus to instruct you what to do. You should change the constitution, so if you want national laws, you have to change the constitution. If you do it without changing the constitution, you diminish the importance of the rule of law, and that’s why if you go to war without a declaration and write these declarations and make them national … guess who wants national regulations the most? It’s the corporation industries, they’re the ones who do it. The consumers never ask for it, and if they do, it never is too strong. But most of the time, matter of fact, the Left in the Congress mock the Republicans because they’re opposed to some of the states’ rights issue because the Republicans tend to support nationalizing regulations, they want more regulations because big businesses want this and they don’t want more stringent regulations by the states. So if you want the federal government to do it, you should modify the constitution, otherwise you just throw the constitution out, there’s not much left to it. If you can throw bits and pieces out … this thing is going to be so out of control, the privacy is gone, the PATRIOT Act control, the TSA just mauls us and we don’t care; it’s just going to go on and on. So no, you have to be cautious, if you want federal regulations, you have to change the constitution.
Interviewer 2: How would you balance the desire for free trading against American business interests?
Ron Paul: Free trade is good for American businesses. This cliché or myth is that if you have free trade, it hurts us, and therefore we have to manipulate interest rates. No, if you don’t have free trade, you go to protectionism, you manipulate interest rates. That’s why fluctuating fiat currencies worldwide are a detriment because everybody is competing: we lower ours, China lowers ours, we scream at them, that leads to trade wars and then there is the protectionism and they raise tariffs. You go to the WTO, matter of fact, right now that’s the argument: China is unfair, so I think one candidate wants to go to the WTO and get sanctions put on for the benefit of the business people. It’s all a myth, it might help for a couple of weeks or a month or so, but then the prices adjust and prices go up. so, no. Let’s say that you have true free markets, but still somebody can produce something cheaper than us, that’s good, we’re getting a better deal. And we have to take those resources and go into something else, or improve our productivity and our efficiency so that we can compete. We did that in our early history, we were the great producers, we produced steel and the cars and everything else. But now, we can’t compete because we’ve undermined this whole concept of the market economy.
Interviewer 2: What is the government’s responsibility with regard to providing income support to people in poverty?
Ron Paul: The government’s responsibility?
Interviewer 2: Well, we’re talking about public welfare programs.
Ron Paul: Their responsibility to the poor is to provide the maximum prosperity and the maximum jobs for people so that there are very few poor. But if you are indicating that maybe this would invite the force of government to come and extract funds from one group and give to another group, that’s very bad, because it ends up like the housing program did. That was the principle that the housing program was based on: print money, and then have affirmative action programs, force banks to give bad loans, risky loans, and everybody gets a house. So it gets out of control, the big industries, the mortgage companies (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), rip us off, the banks makes billions, they get into derivatives, and then the housing bubble burst. So who got the bailout? They got the bailout. What happened to the people you wanted to help, they lost their jobs and they lost their houses, it doesn’t work.
Interviewer 2: But regardless of how we got there, there are an estimated 15% of Americans who are living in poverty right now. Should they not be entitled to welfare benefits?
Ron Paul: Well, under my program, I have a transition program. All my cuts are cuts from the big industries, the corporate welfare, the overseas spending. And what I do, is the only you can protect these people who have become dependent, is to doing what I’m talking about. That doesn’t mean that I endorse this forever, but if we continue to do this, everybody is going to suffer, because there will be less wealth and more poverty. So in my program, I preserve taking care of those who are indigent, who need medical care, the elderly, the Medicare and Social Security. And this program can do it. But it won’t happen if the people don’t endorse a changed foreign policy. If you still think you have to be the policeman of the world and say, “Oh, let the President send 15,000 troops to Australia”, and stir up a fight with China and never ask any questions; no, you can’t do it. The poor people will become more numerous. And this is the whole thing, cutting from overseas, you can help save and work. But we have to change the program, we have to change the monetary system, the tax code, the regulatory code to get production back. We are not producing, and you can’t borrow forever. We have been led to believe that we can get away with this by just printing more money, because the world has accepted our money because it’s the reserve currency in the world, but less so every day. And now, we’re destined to have another downgrading on our credit rating, and that means it’s not in the too distant future when interest rates are going to go up, and prices are going up. Guess who gets hurt, the poor people, because they always still have to go and buy stuff, they have to buy clothes and they have to buy gasoline, and they are the ones who suffer from this the most. So if anybody cares and has a humanitarian instinct, they have to really study the market. Because if you think it’s government, and you’re wrong, you’re going to make things worse. And that’s why I think it’s so crucial to understand how the market works, how valuable freedom is, and how important monetary policy is.
Rick Green: Tell me real quickly what are your thoughts about the super-committee, it’s work, what’s going to happen next week, and what are the ramifications?
Ron Paul: I’m against the super-committee, it’s not going to work, nor will the Congress work, because they’re deadlocked because they won’t admit the problem is serious. They won’t admit that we’re bankrupt, either side won’t admit that we have to cut something. So if it goes into sequestration and there’s a nickel and a dime taken away from the military projected increases, there’ no real cuts. Even if they fail and there are the automatic cuts, there’s no actual cuts, they’re all cuts in the proposed increases. And there are several in Washington, a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, that will introduce a resolution and will exempt all those military expenditures and make sure that nothing gets cut. They are more sacred than child healthcare. My argument is, no, the child healthcare should be more sacred than the military spending that just gets us into trouble. So I don’t think it should have been established, and I don’t think it’s going to work because they’re not admitting the truth.
Interviewer 3: What cuts would you make in Medicare and Social Security?
Ron Paul: At the present, nothing.
Interviewer 3: I’m talking about the future.
Ron Paul: Well, I think eventually, let’s say we did get the people to endorse what I want to do, I’d let young people get out, we can still do it. But then, eventually, if the numbers are up against the wall … it depends on how productive we are. Productivity is unpredictable, unemployment rates are unpredictable, interest rates are unpredictable, but if it all went favorable, it might not be till 5 or 10 years when you’d have to do something. Then you might have to change the ages and the benefits. But the problem now is that the benefits are going down automatically, because the value of the dollar is going down automatically, and that’s what has to be stopped. So yes, there should be some proposals, I don’t detail that. But in the future you probably would have to do it, but it depends on how well the economy recovers.
Rick Green: Great. Okay, we’ve almost run out of time. You’ve got about 6 weeks, sir, before caucus day. I’m wondering if you have any final comments here about whether the Iowa caucus goers should support you that night, and why you’re in the Register’s endorsement?
Ron Paul: If they care about freedom and prosperity and peace, they’ll be there. And there’s a large number that have already indicated they will be there. We had a function this morning, and I got a little charge out of it. The MC was saying, “Well, one thing we know is he has a lot of supporters”. And he was not an announced supporter of mine, which made it even more interesting. He said, “One thing we know is that, if on January 3rd it’s 10 degrees below zero, and there’s 10 inches of snow, Ron Paul supporters will be there”. So that made me feel good.
Rick Green: Dr. Paul, thank you for being with us, we appreciate it.
Ron Paul: Thank you, I enjoyed it.