Thursday, July 21, 2011

2012 Contender: Ron Paul

As we turn into the home stretch of our 2012 Contender series, we come upon Ron Paul. We owe Ron Paul a huge debt for giving fiscal conservatives a voice within the Republican Party. In many ways, he is the “intellectual godfather” of the Tea Party movement. Unfortunately, while much of what Paul advocates would be very good for the country, some of it would be disastrous, and none of it has a chance of passing.

1. Economics: Paul has no chance of passing his economic policy. Thus, it’s little more than a pipe dream and it gives us nothing to use to judge what kind of President he would make. That said, however, his record of voting against almost everything tells us to expect a record number of vetoes, a death struggle with Congress, and a continuing four-year budget crisis. Here are his views:

● Paul wants to shrink the government by eliminating everything that isn’t a “constitutionally authorized function.” This means he would eliminate the Departments of Education, Energy, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, as well as FEMA, the Interstate Commerce Commission and the IRS. He would also reduce the CIA to just an information gathering role. This is a nonstarter.

● He wants to eliminate the income tax and repeal the 16th Amendment. This is a nonstarter.

● He advocates elimination of the Federal Reserve. This would give the power to regulate the money supply to either Congress or the Treasury. Can you say “disaster”?

● He advocates allowing individual states to issue gold and silver backed currency to compete with the dollar. This would result in chaos and would give the dollar the same weaknesses the Euro is experiencing because of Greece. It would also bankrupt the country because of our trade imbalance.

● Paul opposes taxation and regulation of the internet, including net neutrality.
2. Foreign Policy: Paul’s foreign policy positions are a particular area of concern.
● He believes in non-intervention and would not intervene militarily, financially or covertly unless there is a direct territorial threat to the United States. He says he would withdraw American troops from Europe, Korea and Japan. This would likely start a war in Korea, a war between China and Vietnam, a war between China and Taiwan, get Japan, Korea and Taiwan to go nuclear, and cede Asia to Chinese influence.

● He does not support Israel: “is it really in the interest of the United States to guarantee the survival of any foreign country?” This would probably cause a series of wars in the Middle East.

● He advocates withdrawing from the UN, NATO, and various treaties, including the International Criminal Courts and the Law of the Sea Treaty. Some of these are good ideas.

● He claims to support free trade, but has opposed all free-trade agreements on the basis they are “really managed trade and serve the interests of big business,” and he wants to withdraw from the World Trade Organization, which has been breaking down trade barriers everywhere.
3. Social Conservatism: Paul mostly holds social conservative views personally, but believes the federal government has no place in dealing with these issues.
Gays: He opposes all efforts by the federal government to define marriage. He does favor DOMA as it allows states to define marriage. He opposes gay adoption. He would reformulate “don’t ask, don’t tell” to only kick out gays if they are being disruptive.

Abortion: Paul opposes abortion but says this is a state law issue and has introduced legislation to prevent federal courts from hearing any issue related to abortion.
4. Environmentalism: Paul does not consider climate change a serious threat. He does consider himself a free-market environmentalist, who believes that polluters should be held legally accountable under property-rights theories. This is actually a truly conservative position and is something the GOP should consider. He has voted against all subsidies for things like nuclear, ethanol, and oil and gas exploration.

5. Guns: Paul believes in a right to bear arms, including fully automatic weapons, and to carry concealed.

6. Civil Liberties: Paul opposes the Patriot Act, the creation of a federal identification card, conscription, and eminent domain by which the government seizes private property. He also opposes affirmative action. He favors drug legalization.

7. Immigration: Paul differs from doctrinaire libertarians on immigration. He thinks the borders should be sealed and voted for the fence. He opposes amnesty as he believes it undermines rule of law. He believes that federal law should no longer mandate that hospitals treat illegals. He wants to amend the 14th Amendment to end birthright citizenship.
Paul is a complex figure. There's no doubt he has a brilliant and principled mind or that his views on the Constitution are very close to original intent. Indeed, much of what he believes should be a model for modern conservatives. . . but not all of it. But the real problem with Paul is that the public just won't accept the leap he wants to make. And in trying to push too hard too fast, he will alienate the public and destroy the Republican Party.

I respect Ron Paul and I like a lot of what he believes, but if he were elected President, I think we would be looking at a disastrous four years of warfare between Paul and Congress -- which is often how power gets consolidated, i.e. through a crisis -- the breaking of the dollar, hyperinflation, and a series of foreign wars that would eventually drag the US in. Not to mention that nuclear weapons would spread like wildfire. You may see it differently, feel free to disagree, but that's my fear.


Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - For the very reasons you put in your conclusion, Ron Paul is perfect just where he is, as a voice and a conscience.

Unknown said...

Andrew: If we're getting nothing done now with Obama in office, I don't even want to think what it would be with Paul in the White House. he can't get along with anybody, including himself. I find him both amusing and dangerous. As Tennessee said, he's just fine right where he is. He livens up Congress, he'd kill the White House.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree. I think Paul's best place is in the House, where he can remind people of what they should be doing. I don't think he would be a good choice as President at all.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I have to think that Paul would be a disaster in the White House. Everything I've seen from him tells me that he would be vetoing things left and right, getting into fights with Congress which would lead Congress to do their best to stop him -- and that would result in a very bad era of power where the Congress would work together to defeat a president.

I also think it would explode the Republican Party as people would blame us for all of his eccentricities.

patti said...

ron paul is retiring from congress. the dude is all in for the presidential nominee race.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, True, and I'm sad about that. The House is where he belongs. He's a great principled voice in the House and I think he will be missed.

T-Rav said...

Yeah...keep that man as far away from the White House as possible. Anyone who advocates leaving South Korea and Israel to the tender mercy of their "neighbors," drug legalization, and so on is a "nonstarter" for me.

Incidentally, in regard to what Jed and LawHawk were saying, I'm pretty sure I read not long ago that Paul will not be running for his House seat this year, in order to concentrate on his presidential campaign. So it may be a complete "take him or leave him" scenario.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Yeah, those are really bad ideas. The Fed thing and the gold thing are bad ideas too. He should know better.

Still, there are some excellent ideas here that Republicans should consider.

I had heard that too the other day and Patti just confirmed it. He is retiring so this is all or nothing. I honestly don't think he sees himself having a chance to win.

(P.S. Nice troll hunting yesterday! You got him to the point that he was whipping out the troll talking points.)

T-Rav said...

Andrew, he does have some good ideas. Personally, I think it's a tossup whether Congress would handle the printing of money any worse than the Fed has up to now, but the thing about states printing their own money in competition with DC--yeah, that would just be a disaster.

Honestly, though, I don't think he bothers me as much as his supporters do. I've mentioned it before, but it's worth repeating--some of them are just plain nuts, and I suspect a lot of the rest are liberals who latch on to his drug legalization and anti-war schemes. (Which, incidentally, is part of why I dispute this notion that Paul is the "intellectual godfather" of the Tea Party.) It may be unfair to judge a man by his supporters, but there you go.

(Thanks on the troll-hunting compliments. I just got done replying to him, after he spouted the usual talking points, and insisted, among other things, that Obama's lead on Bachmann shrinking from 15 points to 7 didn't mean a thing, because he's still winning. But don't worry, he's, like, totally a moderate and stuff.)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Letting Congress decide the money supply would be a disaster. Every election cycle they would be opening the spigots, which spurs economic activity and also generates inflation. Our currency would start to look like something out of South American in the 1970s.

I agree about his supporters. Many are solid conservatives, but many more have attached themselves because of the conspiracy theory thinking regarding gold and the Fed. There is a cult-like quality to much of the support. I think that's unhealthy no matter how right (or wrong) the politician is. And, unfortunately, it keeps people from considering his better ideas.

I didn't create the term "intellectual godfather" and it may or may not be accurate. He was certainly pushing Tea Party ideas before the Tea Party came along, though I'm not 100% sold that they took their ideas from him so much as they had similar ideas. Much of what he says really is just common sense for conservatives.

On the troll, I had to laugh every time he kept saying "I'm just a moderate." Yeah, a troll who spits out far left propaganda.

I'm working on another article for next week. I'm thinking of talking about villains generally.

DUQ said...

Andrew, Nice break down as always. There are always things Paul says that I like, but then he always goes too far.

I agree with you and T-Rav as well that his supporters turn me off. I know that's not fair to Paul, but it is what it is.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Excellent post, Andrew!

I echo everyone else in saying Paul + WH= Mayhem.

Particularly his insane foreign policy plan (although I like getting us out of the UN, an organization that is worse than useless and will only mean trouble) and his few really bad economic ideas (although like you said, some of his ideas are good).

Unfortunately, his few bad ideas tend to paint him as the crazy uncle in the room and deservedly so.

It doesn't help that he doesn't condemn or distance himself from his more fringe flock. Particularly the ones that believe our government caused 9/11 or the anti-semetic ones (Paul himself has said and written anti-semetic crap so it's little wonder he attracts the neo-nazi crowd).

I would love to see the end (or a greatly diminished role) of the EPA, FDA, DOE, etc.
And a reduced role of the IRS (plus a flat tax) would be a good thing.

Of course, other conservatives have been saying the same thing but I do respect that Paul has been principled in that aspect.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, It's unfortunate that people often get judged by their followers, but that's life.

Paul does have a lot of good ideas and ultimately, I think his view of government is GENERALLY a good one -- though some parts are not. But the problem is his all or nothing approach, which invariably gets you nothing and can in fact result in a significant backlash.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I maintain that the Tea Party was really born out of the amnesty flap in the summer of '07. That was when you really started to see the conservative base publicly buck the GOP establishment and organize itself as something other than mere "Republican voters." I don't remember what Paul's involvement with that whole issue was, but in any case, it was before--and thus independent of--him catching fire with the libertarian wing of the party.

Oh boy, another article next week!

(I think you meant DUQ, not me.)

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, Thanks!

"Paul + WH = Mayhem"... LOL! Nice formula!

Paul actually has said that he does not believe our government caused 9/11, but he hasn't done very much to distance himself from the truthers. That is a problem.

I left out the anti-semitic and racism things because those are unclear in my mind if they are genuine, and even many liberals say that's not the Paul they have come to know.

I too would love to see those agencies (and others) greatly diminished. I want a smaller, limited, responsive and efficient government -- not a monster-sized government that gets its hands into everything, does things it should not, and does nothing well.

BUT I just don't see the public supporting us trying to wipe out these agencies. That's the bridge too far that angers the public and causes a backlash.

A better plan is to slowly neuter them by removing their teeth and eliminating their responsibilities. I think that a carefully planned process of reducing their duties and taking away their powers to enforce their rules is something the public would either not notice or would approve of. And when these agencies become little more than information processing agencies, then you do a reorganization to fold them all into some new agencies and essentially make them disappear.

That's not as sexy as shutting them down all at once, but it would actually work and wouldn't result in a public backlash.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, Ooops, yeah, sorry, I meant DUQ. My mistake.

Yeah, I'm working on another article -- something about villains. First though, I need to do a film review for tomorrow. The Green Hornet... blech!!

On the Tea Party, that's a really good question when they got started. It's clear that by 2009, they were in the streets in response to ObamaCare. In 2004, conservatives were already calling out Bush and the Congress, but I don't think the anger level was there yet to mobilize people. 2007 definitely saw a massive outpouring of conservative + moderate anger at the amnesty thing. But that seemed to be mainly just calling in to talk shows and Congress. In 2008 though, with the TARP/TALP and bail out, people were showing up very upset at town hall meetings and that's when Santelli gave them the official start with his rant about needing a second tea party.

So I would say that was the official start (TARP), but it definitely was drawing on prior anger, i.e. the amnesty and a lot of what Bush did.

Ed said...

I like Paul, I really do. But I don't want to see him as President. To me, he's like Palin. He does somethings really well, but should not be made out standard bearer. Let him remain the voice of principle and let Palin whip up the base, but don't try to put either into the White House.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Not all politicians are suited for all jobs. The best thing to do is to figure out who is best as a Congressman, a President, a Senator, a governor or unemployed and then try to keep them in the spot they are best at. Few are good at all of it.

AndrewPrice said...

BTW, For those of you scoring this race at home, we got a new entrant into the race today. Buddy Roemer, the former Gov. of Louisiana.

He's a former Democrat and he seems to be in the race simply to argue for campaign finance reform.

Ed said...

Andrew, This debt stuff is getting really confusing. I tried to read several articles about it tonight and no one seems to know who is proposing what or who will accept what. I'm starting to think we're going to end up with a default by default.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, It is a mess. Check out my article from the other day about some of the details. But by and large, they keep changing by the minute. It sounds like the Gang of 6 and the McConnell plan are dead. The Tea Party plan will be shot down by the Senate.

So we're getting the point of either a small or large deal with Obama or a shutdown. I have no idea where things are going.

BUT Grover Norquist today strangely said that letting the Bush tax cuts expire would not be a "tax hike".... weird. But talk radio is going insane about any plan to lower rates but eliminate corporate deductions.

It's a strange world right now.

On the left, they are furious at Medicare cuts.

Koshcat said...

Love these candidate reviews. Love Paul but he make me cringe at times.

As for the debt ceiling, I liked your idea of the house just passing multiple bills one after another tying the ceiling with something substantial. They could aim for individual things such as:

Repeal Obamacare
Reform tax code
Increase age to collect social security
Reform Medicare

Just keep doing it so Obama looks like the "party of no".

CrispyRice said...

Oh my gosh, Andrew, I had no idea! I'm sorry I didn't comment last night. I read your piece and it convinced me that Ron Paul has all the answers. I immediately ran off to join his cult and open a "bookstore" downtown.

There is no gold in Fort Knox... there is no gold in Fort Knox... there is no gold...

T-Rav said...

On the debt issue, the Senate just defeated the House bill 51-46. Apparently having the support of two-thirds of voters doesn't mean a thing to Harry Reid.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Koshkat! I've enjoyed doing them, though they are a lot of work -- especially a guy like Paul where there's just so much information. Plus, he's such a lighening rod that sorting out what is real and what isn't is very hard with Paul.

What's been interesting to me is finding out that my initial opinions of a lot of the candidates were wrong. Some have been much better and some much worse than I expected. Some (like Trump) were exactly what I expected. It's been interesting, that's for sure.

On Paul, there are things I absolutely agree with and I love the fact he's out there beating the drum for the Constitution and civil liberties and freedom. But like you, he also makes me cringe at times.

If we could find someone who advocates the good about Paul without the bad, that would be huge. That person would make a heck of a conservative standard bearer!

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, I'm glad you've found a home! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That's no surprise. That's why the Republicans always needed a backup plan. The question is what happens next?

I think everyone is backed into a corner at this point and no one has good options. There is no plan the right will accept from the Republicans except pure cuts. There is no plan the left will accept except pure taxes. And a default would be a total disaster.

So what to do? They're damned if they do, damned if they don't. So frankly, the best answer from their perspective is to make a huge deal that they think is best for the country and then suffer the wrath of the voters.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshkat, P.S. On the idea of sending cuts to the Obama, I think they should have been doing that all along.

Start with things like ObamaCare, etc. And then take it down to the level of "elimination $X billion from the budget of DOE", "elimination of Y program," etc. Just send them dozens and dozens of these things. Then the Democrats either need to start accepting the cuts, blocking the cuts or vetoing them. We win either way.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I read that Jim DeMint is going to bring the bill up for another vote. That might work, if the GOP uses the time to put more pressure on moderate Dems. And if it passed the Senate, then all the pressure would be on "Option D." Not a likely scenario at this point, but hey, I can dream.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I just read something very interesting. The "big deal" they're talking about would involve immediate cuts, future cuts and future hikes. That sounds a lot like Joel's idea of the other day -- use the Democrat's trick against them: agree to tax hikes in the future, then prevent them from happening after the elections.

I'm not sure how likely Obama is to go for that, but I'm reading a LOT of articles about the left being furious at him right now.

T-Rav said...

Also, still somewhat in regard to Ron Paul, this is why isolationism is not a good idea:

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Isolationism is not a good idea. You either make your own destiny or you trust your future to random chance and the good natures of your enemies.

Here's your link: LINK

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I would be feeling a lot of Schadenfreude if the GOP managed to play that on them. More than anything, though, our side has to get on the messaging. He's the one who essentially stood by and demanded that others work out a deal for him, without lifting a finger himself; he's the one who refused to compromise; he's the one who's willing to let the country default for the sake of political benefits. A few Republicans have been hitting him on this, but not as many as there need to be.

T-Rav said...

Just to be clear what I'm referencing in the link, what appears to be a car bomb tore apart downtown Oslo, Norway several hours ago. Powerful enough to reportedly shatter windows five blocks away, at least four people were killed, more injured, and there may still be people trapped in the rubble. And then an hour or two ago, a man dressed as a cop opened fire at a Labour Party youth conference outside the city and may have killed several more.

Oh, and the British and Norwegian press aren't even trying to pretend anyone other than Islamic terrorists are behind this. So they must have some pretty freaking obvious evidence over there that that's the case.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, If I were running the Republicans, here is what I would have done:

1. Get them together first, before you ever say a word (Senate, House, Candidates).

2. Get them on the same page for the ultimate goals. Share those goals with guys like Rush and National Review.

3. Send them out to tell every camera they can find that Obama is endangering the country and playing politics. ALWAYS remind people this is a Democratic mess we are trying to fix.

4. Start sending dozens of spending bills to the Senate. Every time they refuse to vote or vote one down, have everyone hit the press complaining about their unwillingness to consider any cuts.

5. Make the point very clearly that some deductions need to come out of the tax code (and that these are not tax hike), but that you will only agree to those if rates are lowered across the board and cuts far exceed these cuts.

That's the only way to do something like this.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, The Oslo thing is related to the deportation of an Imam -- which is how Norway deals with terrorists, it deports them.

I don't know what the Labor Party thing is about yet. But I will not be surprised at all if it's Islam related or even if it's just some crazed laborite.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, It turns out the Norwegian Prime Minister was supposed to attend the youth camp.

T-Rav said...

Well, it's official--an Islamic group with a name I can't pronounce but which translates to Helpers of the Global Jihad or something has claimed responsibility for the Norway attacks. Can't sweep that under the rug.

Certain eyewitness reports for the Guardian and the Telegraph say there are over 20 bodies at the camp shooting--some of them shot while swimming in the sea after they had jumped in to escape. And maybe seven more at the bombing site. I'm trying to be a proper Christian and avoid saying I hate these twisted freaks, but...

AndrewPrice said...


Jihad's Little Helpers. . . sounds like a collection of morons. But then what isn't when it comes to anything "Islam-based."

Yeah, there's no way to sweep this one under the rug. What's interesting is hearing all the Norwegians waking up to reality with this "but we thought our cowardice protected us" line of lament. Why do people actually believe that if they cower to someone who want to kill them that they will be left alone?

T-Rav said...

Andrew, all of Europe (western Europe, at least) is morally rotted. It was inevitable that it would reach their brains. Some parts of Europe have a worse problem with Muslims than others; I don't know much about Norway, but next door in Sweden, at least one major city is 25 percent Muslim thanks to immigration and a high birth rate, and as a general rule, ambulances will not go into their neighborhoods because of the rampant crime. And yet their press claims it's "cowboys" like us who are the source of all the trouble. I hope to God Norway doesn't roll over and take this; if they do, it may well be all over with them.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I think that's right. Europe has rotted from the inside out and now seems incapable of doing anything except waiting to die.

It will be interesting to see if they wake up before it's too late, but I suspect that even if they do wake up, they no longer have the moral strength or courage to do anything about it.

Anonymous said...

Andrew: "The best thing to do is to figure out who is best as a Congressman, a President, a Senator, a governor or unemployed and then try to keep them in the spot they are best at. Few are good at all of it." What attributes do you think make a good Congressman, President, Senator, and Governor?

AndrewPrice said...

Anon, That's a good question.

I would say we start with the idea of who each job represents. A House member represents a very small district within a state. Their goal is to put forward the interests of their district. A Senator, by comparison, must look a little more broadly at their whole state. And the President need to represent all of the people of the United States.

Based on this, I would say that to become a President, you need a definite statesmen-like quality that lets you put the good of the country above just the people who voted for you. I would also say (based on the job requirements) that you need a great deal of knowledge of politics, ideology, economics, culture and foreign affairs. Otherwise you will get rolled.

I would then add that a successful President must have solid executive abilities, i.e. the ability to find quality "employees", to delegate responsibilities to the right people, to know when to step in or let the employees work, and an ability to manage a massive bureaucracy.

I would further add that a President needs to be a talented negotiator who can gain the trust of all sides, and someone who has a good feel for the mood of the public so they know how to make people comfortable that the right decisions are being made.

Personally, I'd also like to see anyone in the job have a solid grasp of their own ideology so that they aren't just lurching from issue to issue.

Neither a Senator nor a House member needs any of that.

To be a good Senator and House member is roughly similar. First, you need to understand what the people of your state/district want you to achieve.

Secondly, you need "legislative insight," by which I mean an ability to craft legislation to achieve your goals AND the ability to build coalitions to get that legislation in place. With rare exceptions, it doesn't do anyone any good if all you can do is talk a big game, but can't ever get anything done.

The except to this is someone like Paul (or Sanders on the other side) who act as ideological sparks to remind people of what their ideology really wants them to do.

I supposed you could do the job by just being a party lackey, but frankly I'd rather have 200 dynamic conservatives than 300 empty suit party-line voters.

Where the House and Senate split (and this isn't much of a split) is mainly in who they represent. Presumably, a Senator would be more aware of all the interests of their state, whereas House members need not look outside their districts. I'm not saying necessarily be more moderate, but just keep in mind that states have more issues to consider than districts do and so they need to think a little broader. For example, a Senator can't just concentrate on the farms in a single district like a House member could.

Governors are like mini-presidents. The biggest difference really is that governors tends to be advocates for the interests of their states (like Congressmen) whereas Presidents shouldn't be advocates for any one part of the country. They can also be a lot more partisan in the sense of not caring about the other party) than Presidents because they can't make decisions that affect things like the dollar or whether or not we go to war.

I think when you look at politicians, the questions to ask are (1) have they shown the leadership abilities to be president, (2) have they shown the ability to create and pass legislation to make them good legislators, or (3) have they shown both. Both is great. And if they have neither, then they are probably best sent back to where ever they came from.

Does that answer your question?

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