Ron Paul actually believes what he says and says what he believes

… which is why I respect him.

I don’t agree with him on much besides his certifiably insane views on foreign and military policy. Those I generally share.

And, while I have been reluctant to join the punditocracy’s growing he-can’t-be-nominated consensus on Herman Cain, I do assume that Congressman Paul can’t be the presidential nominee of any party other than the Libertarian Party.

But, as he demonstrated again on Meet the Press, he routinely achieves a level of politically incorrect candor that puts the others to shame. When Meet the Press star David Gregory asked him how he feels about the use of pilotless drones to assassinate individual bad guys in foreign countries, Paul says they are illegal, unconstitutional and asks how we would feel if any other nation arrogated to itself the right to do that in our country. Insane, like I said.

On the domestic side, Paul doesn’t just talk about the need for spending cuts like the others do. He specifies $1 trillion in cuts in the first year of his presidency, including the complete elimination of the Departments of Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education (some of the functions would be transferred to other agencies, but most of what they do would simply not be done). When Gregory tries to get him him gag on the specific government functions that would disappear under his plan (all federal aid to keep people from defaulting on their mortgages,  all aid to kids paying for college) he doesn’t back down. Federal activities in the housing market are a “distortion of the market,” he says. Removing that distortion will produce a “sharp correction,” but that’s what’s needed to “cleanse” the market.

He also proposes to allow people under 25 to opt out of all the big entitlement programs. He would honor the commitments to those already in the system and pay for the transition with the savings from his truly massive cuts to other programs.

Other candidates claim to be fiscal conservatives and to have big ideas for modifying the big entitlement programs, but they are usually willing to be specific only about the happy parts of their program and often not even on those parts because all those tax cuts raise such troubling questions.

Here is Paul’s “Plan to Restore America.” If other candidates were this straightforward, we could have a real debate.

Comments (25)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/25/2011 - 09:55 am.

    Refreshing, but scary.
    He wants people to be able to game the health care system by being able to opt out when they are not likely to need it, then opt if and when they do need it. There is nothing in the document you cite that says that opting out is permanent.

  2. Submitted by Ross Williams on 10/25/2011 - 10:27 am.

    I think you miss the point. Paul is just expressing what he wants to believe. He doesn’t really care if they are true or whether he would really do them if given the chance. Like most ideologues, he describes a world that fits his fantasies.

    All you have to do is look at his response of what he would do if someone who had decided not to buy health insurance would die because they couldn’t pay for necessary health care. He just imagined someone would provide it. In an ideological fantasy world, inconsistencies are just inconveniences to be wished away.

  3. Submitted by Matt Bagot on 10/25/2011 - 11:10 am.

    Paul, in regards to your post, if you look closely at Ron Paul’s plan he states that the opt out is for ages 25 and under, so once you turn 26 your decision is set, therefore, you could no longer “opt-in” or “opt-out” thereafter. So, in his plan, it shows the decision IS permanent.
    Ross, I think you underestimate healthcare professionals and charitable organizations including Salvation Army and various churches through-out the nation. To say that no one would step in to save a stranger not only is outrageous, but not historically accurate. If someone says, “no one would help a stranger” they are including themselves in that set of individuals, and because other individuals DO help strangers (see examples above) those “other” individuals have to be removed from said statement due to misrepresentation, therefore, what they really mean is, “I will not help a stranger”, and I know that is not the national sentiment when it comes to this issue, so I believe you are misinformed or maybe unwilling to except personal responsibility in this matter. Either way it might be best to look at the plan as an individual and not on the basis of what “other people” might or might not do.

  4. Submitted by Jay Hershberger on 10/25/2011 - 11:28 am.

    In fairness, Ron Paul actually lives by what he believes as a congressman about federal spending, so his proposal is not fantasy or abstract ideology:

    1. He does not participate in the lucrative Congressional pension plan.
    2. He turns back a portion of the yearly congressional staff salary budget allotted to his office staff.
    3. He refuses all political junkets, meals, and perks associated with the lobby industry.
    4. His proposed budget plan designates his presidential salary at $39,000, which is the median income of the American worker.

    If you scrutinize the budget plan he has put forward he does not eliminate social-contract spending on Medicare, Veterans Benefits, and Social Security. In point of fact, spending actually increases in these categories year by year through 2016 according to his budget plan. Nor does he eliminate social safety nets like Medicaid, food stamps, and child nutrition, but turns them over to the states in the form of block grants. Quite frankly, I trust my fellow Minnesotans through their elected legislature to more efficiently and justly administer such block grants than to leave them in the hands of DC bureaucrats.

    I don’t believe his “opt-out” plan for younger workers concerning Social Security and healthcare provide for an “opt-back-in” after the fact. Given his consistent libertarian views on the Constitution, that would be uncharacteristic and unlikely, so that observation is not rooted in familiarity with Ron Paul’s approach to governance.

    I agree that Ron Paul’s budget is an “ideal” budget. But ideals spring from ideas, and at least he has actually put a full-fledged budget out on the table based upon a substantive philosophy of governance for specific scrutiny. Political realities will wreak havoc on this budget, should RP miraculously win the White House, but at least he has offered a line-by-line specific plan to examine.

    It should be clear by now that I support this man’s candidacy. I may not agree with all he proposes, but it is clear to me that the establishment on both sides of the aisle are not interested in a sustainable budget, whether it be the progressive insistence upon ever-increasing domestic entitlements, or the conservative insistence upon a profligate imperial foreign policy of militarism and interventionism.

    If the nation does not pull back from the brink of financial collapse that looms ahead, the pain suffered then–mostly by those who can least afford it–will be far greater than the pain that would result from Ron Paul’s draconian budget proposal. The coming pain to the economy is unavoidable, the question is, are we willing to stave it off now, or wait for a catastrophic collapse. I would take my chances with the former, rather than risk the latter. Given what I know about my fellow Minnesotans, neighborliness and community solidarity would rise to the occasion during the short period of economic pain that would result from the necessary cleansing of the mal-investment and corporatism that now threaten the nation’s economic survival.

  5. Submitted by cooper jackson on 10/25/2011 - 12:46 pm.

    I disagree with those negative comments below, this was a very well written article. I believe that Ron Paul is a very wise and optimistic candidate. His patriotism has been tested time and time again and he never falters. He is a true old school American in politicians clothing NOT the other way around. Thank you again.

    Ron Paul 2012,
    Cooper
    Houston, TX

  6. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 10/25/2011 - 01:46 pm.

    The reason Ron Paul would never leave the republican party, as he’s said, is because most of his views are the basis of traditional republicanism. The other candiates in this race are simply moderates. Even his Jeffersonian distaste for “foreign entanglements” was a traditional repubican position right up to World War II.

    But as an obstetrician, he’s pro-life and even somewhat religious, views that most LPers don’t support.

  7. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 10/25/2011 - 01:48 pm.

    I forgot to add that, in a nutshell, Ron Paul’s philosophy is that you either believe in freedom or you don’t.

  8. Submitted by Derrick Schluck on 10/25/2011 - 02:08 pm.

    “Ron Paul actually believes what he says and says what he believes”

    Which is exactly what makes me leary of him and his beliefs.

  9. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 10/25/2011 - 05:24 pm.

    Conservatives prefer markets to centrally planned economies.

    Markets are inherently uncertain, with wild and unpredictable fluctuations (aka “risk” or “volatility”), even when this means that there will be serious “losers”. Centrally planned economies are, well, planned and much less volatile.

    Therefore conservatives prefer wild uncertainty to calm predictability.

    Unless, of course, they think they can score a political point and line their pockets simultaneously. At the end of the day, Republicans aren’t discussing economics, they are making the case that our unhappiness is the president’s fault.

    But we can discuss economics and politics, two topics the politicians avoid.

  10. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 10/25/2011 - 05:56 pm.

    Mr. Paul and his ideas are old hat.

    Everyone knows what he will say, as it’s a rerun of 2008. (Same for Romney.)

    Bachmann and Perry are the new kids on the block, so they will warrant extra attention. Toss in the fact that they say silly stuff – $2/gallon gas, and tar & feather Bernanke – to get more attention.

  11. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/25/2011 - 06:13 pm.

    Dennis–
    Good choice of words in #7.

    And I see a number of new posters here.
    I wonder if they’ve been Googling on ‘Ron Paul’?

  12. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 10/25/2011 - 06:29 pm.

    Jay H (#4) — Giving the states block grants to administer essential programs like Medicare, Social Security and Veterans benefits is to invite governors like Scott Walker of Wisconsin and legislators like our 30-or-so very own ALEC members, is to invite them to reduce taxes on the wealthy yet again and to balance the budget by reducing payouts for federal programs. It is NOT a safe thing to do.

    Social Security is fully funded by workers’ contributions. It is not a general fund item and it is not in danger of being unable to meet its obligations. There would be a small reduction in 20 years or so, however, which can be headed off in five minutes if Congress just raised the cap on which the tax is withheld.

    We could save something like $86 billion per year on Medicare spending by negotiating drug prices instead of requiring Medicare to pay retail prices (economist Dean Baker, http://www.cepr.net). High drug prices also lead to many seniors falling into the doughnut hole and paying the full cost themselves until they have spent enough for their drug expenses to be considered “catastrophic.”

    There are actually some right-wing types in Washington who want to switch veterans’ retirement plans from a guaranteed benefit to a 401K-type plan, leaving veterans at the mercy of volatile stock market that could wipe out their entire retirement package on one bad day. Do we really want to treat veterans so badly?

  13. Submitted by Jay Hershberger on 10/26/2011 - 07:28 am.

    @Bernice–Please reread my comments. Ron Paul does not advocate turning Social Security and Medicare over to the states through block grants. His budget keeps those programs under federal administration, because those programs are specifically funded by taxpayers directly out of their paychecks. His budget also keeps Veterans Benefits under federal control (I agree that making Veterans benefits a 401k is a bad idea).

    Ron Paul does advocate block grants for Medicaid, food stamps, and child nutrition. I am not particularly concerned about what Wisconsin does, for that is not my business since I do not live there. I am concerned about Minnesota, and I know Minnesotans well enough to know that our state could more equitably and justly administer those programs than the DC bureaucrats. The more local the control, the better participatory democracy works.

    Our economy is in shambles in part because we focus too much upon federal solutions–the problems of which were created by DC in the first place–rather than local solutions that take into account our specific region, demographics, geography, culture, and the unique make-up of our various communities. Some creative thinking is in order, and the sooner we can get the Federal government off our backs, the sooner we might be able to address the challenges our state faces, especially those challenges that dog the working poor in our communities.

  14. Submitted by Justin Adams on 10/26/2011 - 11:57 am.

    You will be hard pressed to find a more “socialist leftist” than me posting in this thread, but, assuming my state representative doesn’t face a serious primary challenge, I’m likely to participate in the GOP primary in this state so that I can vote for Congressman Paul.

    I’m about with Eric, as far as my agreement with Mr. Paul’s philosophy and policies goes, but I deeply respect this man’s integrity and the credibility of his views.

    And while I’m a raging redistributionist, I agree with a lot of the discussion in this thread that whenever possible, state administration of social programs is preferable to federal administration of such programs. As a nominee for the legislature in 2006, I advocated a single payer healthcare plan for just Minnesota, for example.

    I honestly believe Mr. Paul would happliy cede powers exercised by the federal government currently to the states, and even facilitate the states in the pursuit of policies favorable to their electorates, even if he personally opposes those policies.

    And lastly, the power of the presidency under Bush and Obama is not balanced to the power of congress. I think Ron Paul is the only person seeking the presidency who would actually seek to restrict rather than expand the power of the president. And I personally would find that very welcome.

  15. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/26/2011 - 12:47 pm.

    So, Jay–
    You (and Ron Paul) advocate outsourcing more jobs to India and China, thus further reducing domestic private income, and thus demand.
    THAT is what has been tanking our economy; private industry is responsible.
    It’s not government regulation; it’s the relative cost of wages and benefits that make outsourcing profitable.

  16. Submitted by Jim Roth on 10/26/2011 - 08:15 pm.

    Ron Paul is a true believer and hence consistent. So were Stalin and Hitler and many others too numerous to mention. (I’m not saying that he is Stalin or Hitler). It’s comfortable to be a purist but I believe that compromising the good because it’s not perfect is not always the best policy in a complex world.

  17. Submitted by Jay Hershberger on 10/26/2011 - 11:57 pm.

    Paul, you assert that Ron Paul advocates outsourcing. Please provide evidence for this. I would curious to know Congressman Paul’s exact words–whether written or spoken–to this effect.

  18. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/27/2011 - 10:36 am.

    Jay–
    You are correct that he does not explicitly say this. However, he does advocate taking money out of the economy by reducing government revenue and spending (most government spending is in the form of salaries; directly or indirectly). This would reduce domestic demand; businesses go where the market (demand) is.
    And of course, gutting the public education system will also make our work force less competitive.
    His statements of goals sound nice until you look at what they would entail.

  19. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/27/2011 - 03:18 pm.

    Suggestion:
    Follow the links through Jay and Justin’s highlighted names in the headers of their posts.

  20. Submitted by Jay Hershberger on 10/27/2011 - 08:50 pm.

    Paul, good to interact with you.

    I am not sure your assertions are correct.

    1). The federal workforce. It is too big. It cannot be sustained financially, especially given the pensions, healthcare, and other benefits federal employees receive that those–especially the working poor–do not receive in the private sector. And yet, working poor taxes, even if ultimately refunded, go into the federal coffers for enough period of time for the government to take advantage of the working poor’s cash. Ron Paul’s budget freezes spending, and savings in this area over the next 5 years would occur primarily through retirement attrition. Would some lose their jobs. Perhaps. But how is that different from economic downturns in the private sector?

    2). You assert that Ron Paul would “gut the education system.” No, he would simply remove the federal government from oversight and funding of education. By now, you should be so infuriated with No Child Left Behind, which is a disaster for both teachers and students in Minnesota, that the sooner the Dept. of Education is cut, and Minnesota is allowed to pursue education as its teachers, principals, school boards, and PTA groups see fit, Minnesota students will be better off. The educrats in DC, in collusion with Capitol Hill, are now considering a bill that would mandate the firing of teachers whose students don’t measure up to specific standardized test scores. But if you know anything about what school teachers face, such a move would be the real disaster for Minnesota education. So, there is no “gutting” of the system, just a return of funding and control to the state and its school districts. Would there be budget issues as a result? Of course. But remove the federally mandated, yet unfunded regulations, and I’ll bet Minnesotans would actually be willing to pony up a bit more to make up the difference, especially if it means genuine reform and control by the local educators, parents, and school boards. I would vote for such a measure. My school-age children would benefit from such change and I would not mind paying higher taxes for it. My local school district would be better off, and the teachers actually free to pursue teaching.

    3). I think there is a lot of confusion about the term “free market.” Progressives and Conservatives alike define this term to mean unfettered corporate capitalism. Our current economy is more accurately described as “corporatism.” It is rapacious, protects the wealthy, and transfers wealth from the working class. The government subsidizes corporations, protects them from competition, and awards them personhood status before the courts. In essence, the federal government socializes corporate risk, while privatizing corporate profits for shareholders. Ron Paul opposes ALL of this. In his view, a free market would mean that corporate CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and boards would be liable for any harm done to citizens, because there would be no personhood status before the courts, governments would not subsidize corporations with tax-payer money, nor protect corporations from competition. Such an environment would probably bring back many jobs lost overseas.

    All in all, you seem to be arguing for the status quo, which is supported by both sides of the aisle. Meanwhile the policies put in place by both sides of the aisle oppress the working class, squeeze the middle class, and maintain a steady flow of wealth to the wealthiest, who do not have to worry about a free market. I would encourage you to rethink some things. You seem interested in the little guy. So am I. I think Ron Paul’s economic plan and basic principles of sound money will be a boon to the little guy, lift up those in the working class who have dreams and plans, and prevent the uber rich from continuing their free ride. Achieving great wealth is legitimate if it is through hard work, competition, and doing no harm through the initiation of economic force against others.

    Sorry for the verbosity. It is hard to be concise when attempting to dissect the status quo, which both progressives and conservatives seem so often to miss.

  21. Submitted by Jay Hershberger on 10/27/2011 - 08:52 pm.

    Paul,

    Thanks for the plug for my blog. I don’t write very often, but I appreciate the traffic nonetheless.

  22. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/28/2011 - 05:35 pm.

    Jay–

    I’m not going to deal with all of your statements in detail right now, but as to education:
    I’ve been married to a (now retired) elementary school principle and now school board member for 40 years, so I’ve some idea of what the educational system looks like from the inside.

    The problem with NCLB is not that it was a product of a Federal agency; educators on any level had little to do with it.
    It was primarily an attempt by the second Bush administration to strengthen private (religious) education by devising a way to designate public schools as ‘failing’.

    I’m not sure that Adam Smith would recognize your definition of a free market (I’ve read The Wealth of Nations — have you? He was amazingly prescient).

    I agree with the problem of corporate abuses and insulation from responsibility/accountability. But — you mention corporate status before the courts. Would Ron Paul attempt to pack the Supreme court to overturn this? Congress can do it through legislation; the President cannot.

  23. Submitted by Jay Hershberger on 10/29/2011 - 10:52 am.

    Paul,

    Thanks for your response. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

    I understand the motivations of Bush II and his base regarding education. Both of my parents were teachers (one passed away, the other now retired) so I too have an insider’s perspective on the education system. I simply maintain that a one-size-fits-all approach to public education is unwise, inefficient, and, especially at the federal level, bound to actually harm day-to-day teaching by teachers who now are expected to be surrogate parents, psychologists, counselors, baby-sitters, and enforcers. The problems rural Minnesota faces regarding the education of children are different than the problems faced by inner-city Philadelphia. I trust that Minnesotans are better informed and qualified to solve those problems than the DC bureaucracy. I have not yet looked at the details of the “Race to the Top” program the president signed in 2009. But our deficit spending cannot sustain such a program (I admit the 3.5billion set aside for it is pennies compared to defense spending and corporate welfare, though that doesn’t mitigate the fact the we cannot afford yet another bureaucratic program and lower taxes at the same time).

    I think Ron Paul would ask Congress to change corporate status. I think he would use the bully pulpit as well. Of course, Congress would not be easily swayed because both progressives and conservatives are neck-deep in corporate lobbying, so Ron Paul would have to swim upstream in order to see any substantive change.

    I have not read Adam Smith, so I cannot speak to his “prescience.” I am not concerned that my definition of a free market is different than his. This is not the 1700s. I do not think we have a free market, nor have we ever had one (the Robber Barons and the Roaring 20s were not examples of a truly a free market). I have read enough economics, history, and current affairs to know that the Wealth of Nations is easily conscripted to anyone’s particular point of view. I should read Smith, if only to understand how his view of an “invisible hand” is similar to or different from the unjust corporatism that plagues our economy and social fabric today. I might find that my reaction to Smith might include “he doesn’t understand what a free market is either.” ;>)

    A Ron Paul presidency would bring this situation into sharp relief because both progressives and conservatives would find themselves on the same side of the argument, which in addition to being highly entertaining, would finally demonstrate that they are both sides of the same coin. We need a different coin.

    Good to interact with you. Have a good day.

  24. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/29/2011 - 08:54 pm.

    Hi, Jay–

    I agree with you on Adam Smith — I have posted elsewhere that, like the Bible, you can find anything that you want in his writing. But I do think that he’s as responsible as anyone for the concept of a ‘free’ market.
    And I agree with you that there has never been a completely ‘free’ market (whatever that means), just as a truly Socialist state has never been tried.
    The closest thing is the Israeli Kibbutzim, which have not scaled well.

    The problem with Socialism is that it is in direct contradiction with the basic psychology of human behavior; the principle that behavior is governed by its consequences. If you ask people to work for nothing they won’t do it — you’ll have to impose aversive consequences (negative reinforcement).

    A planned economy is something else — in practice some (the planners) do in fact receive more than they need, at the expense of those who are more productive. This is why ‘Communism’ (again, real communism has never been tried) is inherently unstable. Note that the Chinese have combined a planned economy with ‘private capitalism’ — individual profits on the small scale; trading economic freedom for political control.

    Finally, Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’ has basically decentralized educational planning. Waivers have been given to virtually any state that applied for one, letting them set their own standards and assessments.
    One of Tim Pawlenty’s many sins was refusing to request such a waiver.

  25. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/30/2011 - 10:40 am.

    Jay–

    Final point on deficits and taxes(credit to Paul Krugman; Nobel laureate economist):

    Cutting taxes actually reduces the flow of money in the economy by taking money out of the hands of people most likely to spend it, since most tax revenue goes in turn to salaries.

    When taxes are increased, governments (Federal, state or local) respond by hiring people and by contracting for goods and services (which also results in people being hired).

    Since cutting taxes would reduce inflation it is desirable _in the long run_, but during a recession (meaning right now) it would further depress the economy.

    Basically, this is ‘demand side’ economics:
    the way to increase business production (and thus hiring) is to increase demand for products and services, which means putting money into the hands of the people who will most likely immediately spend it on those goods and services. In other words, the lower and middle classes.

    Lacking an increase in demand, tax cuts to businesses will result in those businesses investing where they can get the most return.

    And beware of treating progressives and conservatives as mirror images; it’s not that simple.

    Have a good day!

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