What to Read on Ron Paul

Ron Paul: The Alternative Candidate Is a Force to Be Reckoned With — Joel Achenbach

He’s 76 — the only one in the race who was born during the Great Depression.

He’s by far the most radically anti-government candidate in the running. He’d boil the federal government down to a few, skeletal functions. He’d end the welfare state, cut every dime of foreign aid, halt overseas military action and bring home all the troops. He’d return to the gold standard and abolish the Federal Reserve.

Paul opposes not only recent government shenanigans but also stuff that happened 50 or 70 or 90 years ago, such as the creation of Medicare (1965), Social Security (1935) and the federal income tax (1913). He’s against national banks, the first of which was the handiwork of Alexander Hamilton in 1791.

Paul believes that powerful and secretive forces (the Fed being the best example) have manipulated human events and bankrolled wars. He fears that the nation is turning into an Orwellian police state.

He’s a stalwart opponent of the USA Patriot Act and regularly condemns post-Sept. 11 security measures, as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From modest ­beginnings he became a highly successful obstetrician/gynecologist, delivered about 4,000 babies, became the patriarch of a sprawling family and was elected to Congress 12 times.

He bemoans the decline of the dollar and blames the printing of money “out of thin air.”

He’s not a dealmaker and is not interested in forging bipartisan compromises.

When someone…asked him what he’d do to overcome the partisan divide in Congress, he said the gridlock was a blessing. […] In his view, the moderates are the most dangerous people in Washington.

G.O.P. Monetary Madness — Paul Krugman

[Ron] Paul…fiercely [opposes] the kind of monetary expansion [Milton] Friedman claimed could have prevented the Great Depression — and which was actually carried out by Ben Bernanke this time around.

After Lehman Brothers fell,…the monetary base more than tripled in size.

[Ron Paul was] sure about what would happen as a result: There would be devastating inflation.

So here we are, three years later. How’s it going? Inflation has fluctuated, but, at the end of the day, consumer prices have risen just 4.5 percent, meaning an average annual inflation rate of only 1.5 percent. Who could have predicted that printing so much money would cause so little inflation? Well, I could. And did. And so did others who understood the Keynesian economics Mr. Paul reviles.

And what will happen if [Ron Paul’s] doctrine actually ends up being put into action? Great Depression, here we come.

The Presidential Candidates on Taxes — Citizens for Tax Justice

A proposal that anti-tax radicals call a “Fair Tax” is basically a national sales tax that replaces all other federal taxes. …in order to maintain current revenue levels, this sales tax would have to be around 50 percent. It is also very regressive. Low-income households would pay more for everything they buy, while the wealthy would hit the jackpot with tax-free capital gains, dividends and interest. We are fairly confident that this proposal will go nowhere when people realize that a house that costs, say, $200,000 would cost $300,000 under this plan.

[Ron Paul has] expressed support for the “Fair Tax” proposal.

[Ron Paul is] in favor of abolishing the Internal Revenue Service. It’s not entirely clear who would administer the national sales tax [he supports] if there was no IRS.

Republican Debate Reality Check Shows Misfire — Bloomberg News

…Ron Paul saying he would close the Department of Interior in addition to [the Departments of Commerce, Education, and Energy.]

Why Libertarianism Fails in Health Care — Ezra Klein

…CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked whether an uninsured 30-year-old who had chosen to go without insurance should be left to die if he falls unexpectedly ill. Ron Paul dodged the question. “What he should do is whatever he wants to do and take responsibility for himself,” Paul said. “That’s what freedom is about.” Blitzer pressed the issue. “But, Congressman, are you saying the society should just let him die?” “Yeah!” whooped the crowd. But Paul stammered out a “no.”

House Conservatives Contradict Themselves on Tax Increases — Suzy Khimm

[In November, Ron Paul and 71 other Republicans] sent a letter to the debt-reduction supercommittee that urged them to rule out any tax increases whatsoever as part of the deal…

But just two weeks [earlier, he was] among the 100-plus House members who signed a “go-big” letter that asked the supercommittee to keep everything on the table, including revenues.

Why Ron Paul Challenges Liberals — Matt Stoller

…while old newsletters bearing his name showcase obvious white supremacy, he is also the only prominent politician, let alone Presidential candidate, saying that the drug war has racist origins. You cannot honestly look at this figure without acknowledging both elements…

My perspective of Paul comes from working with his staff in 2009-2010 on issues of war and the Federal Reserve. Paul was one of my then-boss Alan Grayson’s key allies in Congress on these issues, though on most issues of course he and Paul were diametrically opposed. How Paul operated his office was different than most Republicans, and Democrats.

Paul’s office was dedicated, first and foremost, to his political principles, and his work with his grassroots base reflects that. Politics and procedure simply didn’t matter to him. My main contact in Paul’s office even had his voicemail set up with special instructions for those calling about HR 1207, which was the number of the House bill to audit the Federal Reserve. But it wasn’t just the Fed audit — any competent liberal Democratic staffer in Congress can tell you that Paul will work with anyone who seeks his ends of rolling back American Empire and its reach into foreign countries, auditing the Federal Reserve, and stopping the drug war.

…when considering questions about Ron Paul, you have to ask yourself whether you prefer a libertarian who will tell you upfront about his opposition to civil rights statutes, or authoritarian Democratic leaders who will expand healthcare to children and then aggressively enforce a racist war on drugs and shield multi-trillion dollar transactions from public scrutiny. I can see merits in both approaches, and of course, neither is ideal. Perhaps it’s worthy to argue that lives saved by presumed expanded health care coverage in 2013 are worth the lives lost in the drug war. It is potentially a tough calculation (depending on whether you think coverage will in fact expand in 2013). When I worked with Paul’s staff, they pursued our joint end goals with vigor and principle, and because of their work, we got to force central banking practices into a more public and democratic light.

Marginalizing Ron Paul — Robert Scheer

[Ron] Paul marshaled bipartisan support to pass a bill requiring the first-ever public audit of the Federal Reserve. That audit is how [Americans] first learned of the Fed’s trillions of dollars in secret loans and aid given to the banks as a reward for screwing over the public.

…his is a rare voice in challenging irrationally high military spending. At a time when the president has signed off on a cold war-level defense budget and his potential opponents in the Republican field want to waste even more on high-tech weapons to fight a sophisticated enemy that doesn’t exist, Paul has emerged as the only serious peace candidate. As the Wall Street Journal reported, Paul last week warned an Iowa audience, “Watch out for the military-industrial complex — they always have an enemy. Nobody is going to invade us. We don’t need any more [weapons systems].”

Paul said: “Little by little, in the name of fighting terrorism, our Bill of Rights is being repealed…. The Patriot Act, as bad as its violation of the 4th Amendment, was just one step down the slippery slope. The recently passed [National Defense Authorization Act, would allow the president to order indeterminate military imprisonment without trial of those accused of supporting terrorism,] continues that slip toward tyranny and in fact accelerates it significantly…. The Bill of Rights has no exemption for ‘really bad people’ or terrorists or even non-citizens. It is a key check on government power against any person. This is not a weakness in our legal system; it is the very strength of our legal system.”

What to Read on Rick Perry

In Texas, Perry Rides an Energy Boom — Clifford Krauss

[The] state’s economic health came at a steep price: a long-term hollowing out of its prospects because of deep cuts to education spending, low rates of investment in research and development, and a disparity in the job market that confines many blacks and Hispanics to minimum-wage jobs without health insurance.

When Mr. Perry succeeded Mr. Bush, a barrel of oil was $25. [During] his first term, global market forces began driving oil prices up. They peaked at $147 a barrel in 2008 and have largely remained above $80 over the last two years.

The oil and gas industry now delivers roughly $325 billion a year to the state, directly and indirectly. It brings in $13 billion in state tax receipts, or roughly 40 percent of the total, financing up to 20 percent of the state budget.

The federal government has also helped support Texas. Federal spending in the state, home of NASA and large Army bases, more than doubled over the last decade to over $200 billion a year.

[Before Perry entered office,] the Legislature enacted tight restrictions on mortgage lending, which helped Texas avoid the kind of real estate bubble that devastated states like Florida and Arizona.

The Ten Weirdest Ideas in Rick Perry’s “Fed Up” — Matthew Yglesias

10. Social Security is evil.
9. Private enterprise blossomed under conscription and wartime price controls.
8. Medicare is too expensive but must never be cut.
7. All bank regulation is unconstitutional.
6. Consumer financial protection is unconstitutional.
5. Almost everything is unconstitutional.
4. Federal education policy is unconstitutional.
3. Al Gore is part of a conspiracy to deny the existence of global cooling.
2. Not only is everything unconstitutional; activist judges are a problem.
1. The Civil War was caused by slaveowners trampling on Northern states’ rights.

Rick Perry’s Neocon Friends — Robert Dreyfuss

…Perry declares that “exceptional” America has to be prepared for war with China and India.

Perry is consorting with left-over neocons from the Bush administration,…such as Douglas Feith, the uber-hawk who oversaw the war in Iraq, and Bill Luti, Feith’s compatriot in the Bush White House, who joined with Vice President Cheney to persuade Bush that an unprovoked attack on Iraq was the right thing to do, and Dan Blumenthal, another Bush veteran…

Rick Perry’s Budget Sleight-of-Hand — Suzy Khimm

The Texas governor…used accounting sleights-of-hand that deferred payments and papered over enormous expenditures that will soon come due…though not until the 2012 election is over.

Perry’s budget assumes that the student population will remain constant, when more than 160,000 new students are projected to enroll in Texas public schools over the next two years.

Perry’s budget only covers Medicaid funding through the spring of 2013, coming up $4.8 billion short.

Finally, Perry’s budget ignores a $4.5 billion structural deficit that happens every year due to a 2006 tax reform that’s never generated as much revenue as expected.

Rick Perry’s Environmental Record — Dylan Matthews

[Unlike] Mitt Romney, [Perry] does not believe in the science behind climate change…

He filed a lawsuitagainst the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions regulations on behalf of the state, a suit widely expected to fail. Perry has said that he prays daily for the EPA rules to be reversed. He has consistently defended oil and coal interests in Texas, notably dubbing the BP oil well blowout an “act of God” and opposing the Obama administration’s efforts to regulate offshore drilling in the wake of the disaster. He also fast-tracked environmental permits for a number of coal plants in 2005, cutting in half the normal review period. His transportation agenda similarly does not reflect any concern about emissions, as he did not compete for federal high speed rail funding and has kept state funds focused on roads rather than mass transit.

Rick Perry’s Medicaid Record — Sarah Kliff

Perry [said] that he’d “like to see the states be given the opportunity to opt out of the Medicaid program that we are looking at today.”

In 2008,…Texas applied for a waiver allowing it to limit the number of beneficiaries and create a comparatively sparse benefits plan, among other changes.

The Bush administration rejected Texas’s…waiver request. There was “no precedent,” an administration official said in explaining the decision, in approving an “annual benefit limit as low as” the Perry administration proposed.

Perry Threatens Bernanke — ThinkProgress

…Perry said, “If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion.” Treason is a capital offense.

Best of the Week: December 6-12, 2009