The Candidates: Rep. Ron Paul
Friday, October 12, 2007; 10:00 AM
The Concord Monitor, Cedar Rapids Gazette and washingtonpost.com will host a series of live discussions with Republicans and Democrats running for president to give readers the opportunity to share thoughts and questions directly with the candidates.
Rep. Ron Paul was online Friday, Oct. 12 at 10 a.m. ET to take your questions on the campaign and his vision for the United States.
The transcript follows.
Paul is a 10-term U.S. representative from Texas, from 1976 to 1984 and from 1996 to present. When not in elected office, he has been an obstetric physician. This is his second run for the presidency, following a 1988 candidacy with the Libertarian Party.
Rep. Ron Paul: Glad to visit with you and I'll be glad to entertain any questions.
Keokuk, Iowa: How does your view on Roe v. Wade square with your passion for a limited state? Is there a right to privacy in the Constitution?
Rep. Ron Paul: Yeah, there's a a right to privacy for all individuals and all who have legal rights -- and that includes the unborn. As an obstetrician, if I cause any harm to a fetus, I will be sued. If someone kills or harms a fetus they're liable in a court of law. Being opposed to Roe v. Wade has nothing to do with privacy, it has to do with state's rights. We don't deal with any other acts of violence at the federal level -- these are local and state issues and that's where these should be taken care of.
Jacksonville, Fla.: Dr. Paul, what is your caesarean rate as a practicing OB-GYN and how do you feel about the nation's current near-30 percent C-section rate? Do you feel our need for intervention in the world has reached too far into our lives?
Rep. Ron Paul: The C-section rate throughout the time I practiced medicine was either too high or too low. When I first was taught, it was 3 percent, which meant a lot of the babies born had damage done. Now there are way too many ceasareans. It's a complicated issue the main reason there are so many is because of attorneys and how medicine has evolved. The doctors can be sued or blamed for the most minor problem. The doctor's in a position where he's trying to out-guess the attorneys. It's a horrible feeling, and the doctor's under pressure to do more C-sections than he should. I would guess I had about a 15 percent rate, which is about where it should be. At the same time, right now we have more than their should be, because of convenience and attorneys. But if it went down to 3 percent again I think there would be other problems.
Contoocook, N.H.: The Concord Monitor had an article asking you to move to New Hampshire to secure your win in the state. Would you consider commuting from the District to N.H. for the next 90 days? Thank you for running!
washingtonpost.com: Paul would improve his odds by moving to New Hampshire (Concord Monitor, Oct. 6)
Rep. Ron Paul: Not on a daily basis, but I'll be going there a lot more. The more I'm up there, the better we do in New Hampshire, and of course it could be the real event that could propel us into a much more viable position. It's good advice and I'm going to follow it to a degree, but literally moving there is not likely to happen.
Alstead, N.H.: Sir, under "Debt and Taxes" your Web page states: "In addition, the Federal Reserve, our central bank, fosters runaway debt by increasing the money supply -- making each dollar in your pocket worth less. The Fed is a private bank run by unelected officials who are not required to be open or accountable to 'we the people.' " Do you favor giving control of the money supply to Congress; a body accountable to "we the people"? Do you believe that members of Congress will show more restraint or technical expertise than the members of the Fed's Board of Governors? What will stop members of Congress from manipulating the money supply for political benefit? What will stop members of Congress from ruining the economy through unsound monetary policy?
Rep. Ron Paul: Well, the first half, taking this secretive power and authority away from the Federal Reserve I agree with 100 percent. I don't quite totally agree with what he's implying, that Congress has the authority to regulate the money system. They are required to ensure a valid weight to the currency and ensuring the gold and silver will be legal tender. The Congress should not be creating money out of thin air, which is what Lincoln did when he created greenbacks. But it is a congressional responsibility to maintain gold and silver as a legal tender.
Aliquippa, Pa.: Dr. Paul, how soon would you withdraw U.S. forces, and to what extent, from countries like Germany and South Korea? And how much money do you estimate the U.S. taxpayers will save annually once such a move is complete?
Rep. Ron Paul: Because I did not do a full study of that I don't have an exact number, but I'd bring home those troops as quickly as feasible (and also from the Middle East as well). But I think if you brought all those troops home, you might save $400 billion a year. We're spending $1 trillion a year on the military overseas. This money would reduce the deficit and of course make the dollar more secure, so the sooner we can do that the better.
Boulder, Colo.: If elected President, would you pledge not to use signing statements to avoid enforcing legislation with which you do not agree?
Rep. Ron Paul: Absolutely. If there was a bad piece of legislation I didn't like, I would have to veto the bill. On a rare occasion, if it's the interpretation of a word or phrase that could go either way, I could see that as a use of a signing statement. But that shouldn't have the force of law -- the Congress writes the laws, not the president.
Los Angeles: You voted for the federal ban on partial-birth abortion. Where in the Constitution does it grant the federal government the power to regulate medical procedures?
Rep. Ron Paul: I think that's a good point, because I don't brag about that vote. People could argue that there's a contradiction there. My only argument was that abortion-on-demand nationally was created by a court order, not Congress, so I was trying to reverse that. I would not argue, though, that it was a perfect way of doing that. If the court had not already ruled and legalized it, I would not have voted that way.
Jonesboro, Ark.: Congressman, although I admire many of your stances (not all), I do not understand how you will be allowed to accomplish most of those plans as president. How will you overcome the opposition of Congress on issues such as the IRS, the FED or the "war on drugs"?
Rep. Ron Paul: Not easily. On the war on drugs though you probably could do more than getting rid of the IRS. It's about the way you enforce these laws -- I never would force the Justice Department to go to California and arrest people getting medical marijuana, when that's the law there. Gov. Romney was asked about medical marijuana by someone in a wheelchair recently who uses it, and he couldn't even look them in the face and tell them he wouldn't have them arrested.
But with the IRS and the Fed you have to get congressional approval. But if you get elected to the presidency, that suggests a shift in sentiment in the country, and a lot of Congress tends to go with the flow, and if they perceive the country supports it they may well do it.
Syracuse, N.Y.: Food Security is an important issue in this country. You have stated you don't support agriculture subsidies. What is your vision for our food security and the future of American farming? Can we feed ourselves if we need to, and how can we ensure a safe local food supply in a time of rising oil prices and dwindling supply?
Rep. Ron Paul: I think we absolutely could supply our own food without subsidies. With them, you're paying for overproduction. I don't think there'd be a bit of a problem with food security -- if you reject that notion you reject the whole notion of the free market system. Once you get the government involved in agriculture you'll have nothing but problems and expenses -- now we're in an inflationary period again, and food prices are going up and they're going to continue to do so.
Richmond, Va.: Dr. Paul, is it true that the Michigan Coordinator, Paul Garfield, has been replaced -- and if so, how will the Official Campaign restructure your supporters through Dennis Fusaro, your National Field Director as he dismantles the grassroots efforts? In essence, how will the Official Campaign take over the grassroots efforts by eliminating those who started it? From a Virginia volunteer coordinator for Ron Paul 2008.
Rep. Ron Paul: I don't have an answer for that because I didn't know Paul before he was hired or the details of what is going on there. If there is a replacement it just means there's an adjustment and we have a lot of adjustments to do all around. We have to concentrate on the early primary states so there may well be some adjustments here.
Arlington, Va.: Rep. Paul, thank you for your time today. I agree with many of your positions (as do my in-laws, who live in your district), but there is no mention on your Web site of environmental issues. Regardless of your stance, this is one of the most important issues of our time. Can you please explain your thoughts on environmental regulation and the government's role in the fight against global warming? Thank you.
Rep. Ron Paul: If global warming is because of weather changes -- which a lot of people believe -- there's not much we can do to change the weather pattern. When it comes to the environment and global warming from emissions, it has to be dealt with in one of two ways -- preemptive regulations, which I don't agree with, or with private property principles. Nobody has the right to pollute their neighbors' air or water or land. People who pollute should be taken to court and closed down, but we have 150 years of traditions where they have been able to get away with this. We don't need government regulations to solve these problems. I grew up in Pittsburgh, where you couldn't even see the noon sun in the sky, and that whole city was cleaned up without the federal government needing to be involved. I think we would have been much better served from the start if people would have better understood the principles of private property.
New London, N.H.: Rep. Paul, as you saw in your '88 presidential run, our political system has numerous disadvantages for anyone not running as a Democrat or a Republican. This firmly entrenched duopoly stifles debate and encourages a my-team-versus-your-team mentality in legislation. Do you think anything could be done to better encourage Americans to vote for principled individuals (rather just than a party), and if so, can any part of the solution come from a president, or must change come from individuals and state laws?
Rep. Ron Paul: I have some bills that I've introduced -- mostly to do with getting on ballots -- and Congress has something to say on congressional but not presidential elections. There also are some techniques to be used with regard to public funding for debates. I agree with everything I said back then about the system making it very hard for alternative views to come about. It's also done with exclusion from debates and making it very hard to get on the ballot for a grassroots candidate. If were nominated I certainly would encourage the general election debates to include third-party candidates.
McLean, Va.: Given your staunch opposition to U.S. intervention in the affairs of foreign countries, how would your administration actually implement such a vision vis a vis countries other than Iraq? Would you advocate ending foreign military aid to countries like Pakistan and Colombia? Would you end foreign aid to major recipients, such as Israel and Egypt? Would you stop sending money to Mexico to combat their drug gangs?
Rep. Ron Paul: Yes, those would be the goals. Most of that you could do as a president. My position would be no, stop all of that, treat everyone equally, be friendly with everyone, trade with everyone, no sanctions for anyone unless mandated by Congress. We need to be friendly with everyone -- when we opened up to China there were tremendous benefits. So yes, I would end the funding to all those countries -- I think the billions going down to Colombia is very detrimental -- and we should treat everyone equally.
Indianola, Iowa: I am a disenfranchised Democrat who is considering switching parties for the first time to vote for you at the Republican caucus. I understand your wish to get rid of the Federal Reserve and go back to the gold standard and stop printing worthless paper money. However, not having lived in a time without the Federal Reserve I can't visualize what this would look like. Can you draw a picture of what our economic condition would be without the Federal Reserve and how inflation would be controlled without them setting interest rates? Thank you.
Rep. Ron Paul: The inflation would be immediately controlled -- the Federal Reserve creates inflation by creating money out of thin air. People would save more money, the money would retain its value and their would be no inflation. Prices would fluctuate up and down depending what you were looking at. You can't have a healthy economy without sound money, which is why we're on the verge of very serious economic problem. It also would be virtually impossible to finance wars without taxing the people, and the welfare system would be limited because there wouldn't be enough money in the bank to sustain it as it is, and that would help prices stay under control.
Strafford, N.H.: Do you think Congress should have to read the bills they pass? Do you support Downsize DC's Read the Bills act?
Rep. Ron Paul: I do support that and had my own bill like that once before that was a little more extensive -- read the bill, sign something saying you understood it and make sure the money is there. The bills are kind of to make a point -- it's not going to pass, most of the bills are nearly unreadable and a lot of bills don't arrive until an hour before you vote on it (as the Patriot Act did). But this bill and mine make a valuable point.
Reading, Pa.: Any thoughts on Al Gore and the Nobel Peace Prize ? or on President Carter's recent comments about Dick Cheney ?
Rep. Ron Paul: I guess I heard a little about the Cheney comments but I don't know about that in detail -- neither are my favorite president or vice president. I'm not sure what Al Gore did for peace -- that would be the first question I have. I don't think he'd have been high on my list for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Chicago: Dr. Paul, I have had one question I have never found an answer too since I began supporting you months ago. You talk about bringing the troops home, and I understand to some extent that will save us money. But what will the troops do once they come home? What will a domestically-based military look like and how will it keep the budget down as troops still need to be supported, equipment purchased etc.?
Rep. Ron Paul: What you want to do is not have so many troops -- the founders indicated that we don't need a standing army, and to an extent that is true. What we need is a strong defense, but right now there is zero chance of an invasion by another country and right now we have more firepower than all other countries put together. Once you change the policy you don't need these numbers of troops. We need a smaller and elite military, as Rumsfeld said -- and also a smaller and elite foreign policy. If you bring troops home from Korea we don't need them marching around here -- you can save that money and have a much smaller military.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Mr. Paul, how do you plan to stop the outsourcing of jobs? If you do not plan to stop outsourcing, how will you help Americans who lose their jobs to outsourcing? Also, what can be done about the monopoly and bias of the media? Thank you.
Rep. Ron Paul: There's not much you can do about the bias of the media other than try to counteract it by putting the truth out best you can, and the Internet has been a great weapon for holding the media accountable.
Outsourcing is a reflection of a bad economic environment domestically. If you fix that, you fix outsourcing. Our primary export is paper money, and that should change if you change the monetary policy. We should drop the Overseas Investment Protection Corporation -- which makes taxpayers cover losses for U.S. companies doing business in foreign countries -- have a sound currency and lower taxes. With that we could become competitive again, but that is going to be very very difficult.
Manchester, N.H.: It's hard to drive around the Manchester area without seeing Ron Paul yard signs, bumper stickers and banners. Your supporters are everywhere and they talk about you like a rock star. What makes you so popular?
Rep. Ron Paul: I think I'm secondary to a message that they've been hungry for. It's not new, it's a message of those ideas that made America great -- small government, self-reliance, peace, free trade. People think that makes a whole lot of sense -- it's American, it's not the extremists who have taken over, who are threatening war and nuclear attacks against countries that are no credible threat to us. I get a lot of credit for it but I think it's the message itself that's the draw.
Iowa City, Iowa: Rep. Paul, you claim to support the FairTax Act and say you would sign it into law if it came to your desk as president. If you support the FairTax, why haven't you signed on as a cosponsor of the FairTax bill? The FairTax bill would accomplish your goal of elimination of the IRS.
Rep. Ron Paul: Because I don't think it's strong enough. I don't think it emphasizes the fact that we need to get rid of the IRS and not replace it. Let's say the FairTax really worked; that would endorse all the spending we have and let us raise money to fight these wars. I don't want that -- I want to reduce the size and scope of government. I think it's better than the current system but not as good as where we need to be. We need to deal with the spending issue as much as with the tax issue.
Philadelphia: As a physician, you have operated in the increasingly regulated private sector of medicine and in the government-run VA hospitals. Can you speak more in-depth on the problems with our current semi-private health care system and compare and contrast the two possible options -- namely, more government involvement or less government involvement? Thank you.
Rep. Ron Paul: That's easy for me -- less government involvement. Government got involved in the early '70s and directed medical care be delivered by corporations, which is failing and nobody is happy and it's very costly. We need a lot less government and to have confidence that in a free society medical care can be delivered as well as computers are. We have to restore confidence that the marketplace can deliver services as well as it can goods. In Washington if we have a bill come up for a prescription drug program, it's the corporations, not the people lobbying for it. You don't need the government or huge corporations out of Wall Street between patients and doctors. We need to make sure that people can save all the money they spend on medical care by getting it back from their taxes, by reducing their tax burden.
Rep. Ron Paul: All I can say is I'm delighted to reach as many people as possible. I thought the questions were great and challenging at times. I was very much impressed.
My message is simple -- freedom works a lot better than the authoritarian style of government. I'm running for the president because I don't want to tell people what do with their lives, I don't pretend I know how to run the economy, and I don't want to go along with this pretense that we can tell the rest of the world how they should live.
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