Time: 8:00 – 10:00 PM ET
Moderator: Mike Huckabee
Participants: Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum,
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.
Mike Huckabee: Welcome back to Huckabee, this is our special Republican presidential forum, and joining us now is Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. Congressman, it’s good to have you here.
Ron Paul: Thank you, it’s nice to be here.
Mike Huckabee: Your first question comes from Ken Cuccinelli. Ken?
Ken Cuccinelli: Congressman, you advocate for pure constitutionalism. Given that filter, what do you think are the three primary domestic responsibilities of the federal government?
Ron Paul: Domestic responsibilities?
Ken Cuccinelli: Domestic responsibilities.
Ron Paul: Well, protecting the borders, providing a sound economy, a sound currency; that’s in the constitution very clearly and that’s a major issue. And really, enforcing the Bill of Rights, those are very specific in looking at all, and that would be property rights as well as freedom of speech and all those other things. So those would be the major issues. Of course, the constitution overall would be a major issue as well.
Scott Pruitt: Congressman, good evening to you. In 1995, we lost a 168 Oklahomans in a domestic terrorist attack. My assistant attorney general, Melisa Houston, is a survivor of that blast, and has spent many years after that, utilizing tools in the PATRIOT Act, fighting domestic terrorism. You have come out opposed to the PATRIOT Act based upon constitutional privacy concerns, and I, too, share some of your concerns with respect to privacy. But what [substitute] or thoughtful alternative do you have to the Patriot Act to prevent further acts of domestic terrorism in the future?
Ron Paul: The one thing is, if you say your goal is preventing all crimes and all criminal acts, you destroy liberty by doing that. But if the PATRIOT Act would have been called the “Repeal the 4th Amendment [Act]”, it wouldn’t have passed. That’s essentially what that does. So that’s way too much sacrifice of liberty. But, you know, there are laws in the books for violent acts, but if you think you can pass enough laws to prevent all crimes and all acts of violence, just think of the acts of violence occurring in our households? Are you going to put cameras in every household or whatever? So I don’t think it’s a lack of laws that is our problem.
Scott Pruitt: So, Congressman, you don’t believe that there needs to be a comprehensive law at the federal level, equipping law enforcement to prevent domestic terrorism in this country?
Ron Paul: I don’t believe we need a comprehensive law at the federal level, I believe we need state laws against violence. The one law that we do have at the national level that we totally ignore, is that terrorism is a crime and it’s not a war. And yet we have drifted off to it being called, “This is a war on terrorism” and it’s a justification to pursue war not only around the world, but even domestically. So I would say it’s a crime. But the constitution, I think, is very clear, there’s nothing in our constitution that says that violent acts should be a prerogative of the government. They didn’t offer a national police force. Even today, if you’re talking about criminal acts of violence, murder, manslaughter, robbery, that’s all a state issue. This nationalization of law enforcement … we have already a 100,000 federal bureaucrats carrying guns, we don’t need any more federal policemen. And I think that the problem isn’t a lack of federal laws and federal policemen.
Pam Bondi: Congressman, what would you call the attacks right around the corner on the Twin Towers in New York City, what would you call those?
Ron Paul: Well, that’s an act of violence.
Pam Bondi: Was that an act of terrorism, Congressman?
Ron Paul: Yea, it’s a terrorist attack. And we do have responsibility in protecting our borders and all. But it’s an act of terrorism, and we have responsibility, we should be checking our borders and finding out who’s coming in. But we ought to understand that whole problem, rather than just saying that what we need is more federal policemen, and it’s a lack of federal police activity and federal guns that will make us safer. But if you don’t understand exactly the motivation and all the problems of why we’re facing this crisis and why people want to come here and kill us, just more laws won’t do it. I mean, this whole thing is all messed up because what we have been told for 10 years is that people want to come here and commit acts of terrorism against us because we’re free and prosperous. As long as people believe that, believe me, you’re not going to solve the problem, you’re not going to make the people any safer.
Pam Bondi: We don’t want you to run out of time; different topic, Congressman Paul. President Obama has had the audacity to say that the Republican approach to the economy means, “Dirtier air, dirtier water, and less people with health insurance”. Is that really what less federal regulation means?
Ron Paul: Hardly. Matter of fact, I get charged with that all the time, you know, because I don’t want the federal regulations, and most Republicans conservatives don’t need, or think we need, more federal regulations, and say, “Oh, you’re going to have people in the streets and no medical care”. The whole thing is, if you don’t have regulations, say, in the environment, or banking regulations, actually, the market is a real strict regulator, it’s strict at regulations. Our problem today is when you write the regulations, say, on drugs, the drug companies get involved and they write the regulations. Banking regulations are written by the banking community, they become the lobbyist. So it isn’t the lack of regulations. But if you have the market, you have property rights, you have contract rights, and you have bankruptcy laws, and those are strictly enforced. It wasn’t the lack of regulations that caused the ENRON scandal, but it was the market that took care of it. Those individuals were convicted in Texas court for fraud, and they went to prison. So, no, we have to answer back, I think we do a lousy job on that. The liberals grab moral high ground and say, “We’re going to take care of everybody, if we don’t do it, people are going to be suffering, there won’t be any medical care.” So it is up to us to argue the case that the market can answer that. The free market and property rights can solve just about all these problems, much better than more bureaucrats in Washington.
Mike Huckabee: Congressman, we have to take a break at this point, we will come back for more with Congressman Ron Paul, right after this break. So stay with us.
Let’s continue with Texas congressman Ron Paul, and for the next question, Scott Pruitt.
Scott Pruitt: Congressman, you have said on Fox News Sunday that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are unconstitutional. I presume that that means that you will eliminate those programs, how will you do it? Tell me how.
Ron Paul: You think so? Yea, I do believe. You all work on Obama Care, you talk about it being unconstitutional because there’s a mandate. But how many other programs in medicine do we have that are all mandates? Does anybody get to not have to pay Medicare taxes? No. I looked at Article 1 Section 8, where does it say anything that the government should be involved in education or medicine? So the question is, how do you get rid of it?
Scott Pruitt: How do you get rid of it?
Ron Paul: Well, you can’t do that overnight, matter of fact, I go to the extreme of saying that, for those individuals who have been totally dependent (the children and the elderly right now), to start with that to cut our budget – because we have this horrible budget crisis – I said it would just create anarchy, it would be so bad. But if we want to save this country, we have to cut. So I have a program where I want to cut a trillion dollars. A bunch of it comes from overseas, and a bunch of it comes from five departments; going back to the budget of 2006. Actually I would preserve some of these programs. And when I present this program, I say, “… for the purpose of phasing them out”. For instance, my program actually allows people under 25 to get out of Social Security. But to cut that off and think you can do that over night, isn’t going to work. So you have to have a transition program. But technically speaking, they ask me if it’s constitutional? No, where is the authority, I don’t know where the authority is. There’s no authority for one penny to be spent at the federal government to run education. And I think that that’s why we’re in such trouble, there’s no respect at all for the constitution.
Ken Cuccinelli: Congressman, if you’re very clear you think they’re unconstitutional, why would you sign a budget that contains something unconstitutional?
Ron Paul: Because other than that, you have two choices: you either can work your way out of this, or you wait until it collapses and we have to rebuild it. And I’m just saying that even when the Federal Reserve – everybody knows my position on the Federal Reserve, and it’s unconstitutional – but I don’t advocate that you close down the Federal Reserve tomorrow. I advocate competing currencies and work out of it. So I have transitions programs, and that makes a big difference.
Ken Cuccinelli: Okay, let me move to another topic. Which comes first in your mind, the sovereignty of the people, the sovereignty of the states, or the sovereignty of the federal government, and please put them in order?
Ron Paul: Well, the people and the states, and then the federal government; very little for the federal government. And none for international governments like the UN and NATO to get authority for the things that we do around the world.
Scott Pruitt: Okay. Congressman, are there any amendments to the constitution that you believe are mistakes? Try to keep it to a few.
Ron Paul: Pardon me?
Scott Pruitt: Try to keep it to a few.
Ron Paul: I’m not quite hearing you.
Mike Huckabee: He said, try to keep it to a few.
Ron Paul: Oh, a few. And you said, ‘amendments to the constitution’. Well, one of the worst was the prohibition, which led to a horrible decade, and then we repealed that one; the repeal [amendment] was very great. There’s not much, but obviously, the Bill of Rights, those are amendments and they’re great. The other ones are sort of not enough for me to get rattled up about, but I’m so concerned about not following the constitution that we have on property rights and rule of law and the monetary issues and going to war issues; those are the kind of things I’m very concerned about in the constitution.
Mike Huckabee: We’re in our final minute, by the way.
Pam Bondi: We’re short on time, quick question. If you could suggest every American read one book, what would it be?
Ron Paul: One book excluding something religiously oriented?
Pam Bondi: It could be.
Ron Paul: Well, I think, to simplify things, to get a message out, since we’re talking about politics and the law, if people want to read a short book to really wake them up on what the law should be, they should read a book called “The Law” by Bastiat. If they read that and find out the moral principle behind law, saying that you, as an individual, can’t do certain things. But if you can’t do it, the government can’t do it. If you can’t steal from your neighbor, you can’t send the politician to steal from your neighbor. The law is a basic principle worth starting with, and I think it would introduce a great idea to a lot of people.
Mike Huckabee: Thank you, Congressman Ron Paul, and also we will have a chance to visit with you at the end of the forum.
Thank you Governor Rick Perry. Our next candidate is Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. Congressman Paul?
Ron Paul: Thank you, Mike. Tonight we talked a lot about the relationship of the federal government with the state government, and we’ve realized it’s such a mess because we’ve turned the constitution on its head. Today, the federal government is very big and the states are very little and it is a consequence of our carelessness with the constitution. Our Congresses, our courts, as well as the executive branch, have taken over too much of the power. Now it falls upon the states, because they are suffering the consequences. And the states have this responsibility to do something about it. But the one issue that I think we have to revisit, because the founders understood it but we have forgotten about it, and that is the principle of nullification. If the federal government won’t respond, and I would if I can, I would respond in the favorable way of reinstituting the principle of nullification. The states have to be able to nullify this, this would reverse the trend, and this would stop the usurpation of all the powers and privileges from the states to the federal government.
Mike Huckabee: Thank you very much, Congressman Ron Paul.