INTRO: A native of Pennsylvania, Dr. Paul graduated from the Duke University School of Medicine and served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force during the 1960s. In private practice as a specialist in obstetrics/gynecology, Dr. Paul has delivered more than 4,000 babies. First elected to Congress in 1976, he was one of only four members of Congress to endorse Ronald Reagan for president that year. He left Capitol Hill in 1984 to return to medicine, but was elected to Congress again in 1996. He has served a total of 19 years on Capitol Hill, and in 1988 was the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president.
Ron Paul has long worked to lower or abolish federal taxes, cut government spending, and limit regulation. He advocates a strict interpretation of the Constitution and works consistently to reduce the size and power of government. He has earned public praise from a wide variety of political observers, including left-wing talk show host Bill Maher who referred to Dr. Paul as his “new hero,” conservative columnist Pat Buchanan, former Rep. Bob Barr who is the Libertarian Party p;residential candidate, and 2004 Constitution Party Vice Presidential nominee Chuck Baldwin, who said, “Unlike the GOP frontrunners, Paul is the real deal.”
Peter Gemma: Congressman thanks so much for taking time off the campaign trail to visit with the readers of Middle American News. In eleven years of publishing, we’ve found that while the immigration crisis has dominated the rhetoric of politics, the situation is worse than ever. Are there pragmatic steps that can be taken—immediately—to stem the tide of illegal aliens entering the U.S?
Ron Paul: First, we need to bring home our border patrol agents we have sent to Iraq and get them back guarding our border. I think it is absurd that we are worried more about the borders of Iraq and Syria than we are about our own. Next, we need to immediately end federal mandates compelling states to give state welfare benefits to illegals. Right now, states are required to provide free medical care, education and sometimes even food assistance to illegal immigrants, and this acts as a subsidy for illegal immigration. Free education and medical care? This is a powerful incentive to come here illegally. Why wouldn’t people bring their families here? If we cut off the subsidies, a lot of people here illegally would just leave.
PG: Do you support the idea of ending birthright citizenship, one of the spoils of war from the invasion of illegals?
RP: Absolutely, Peter. I have a bill in Congress right now that would do just that. [Editor’s note: Representative Paul’s bill, H.J. Res. 46, introduced on 6/13/2007, states that “a person born to a mother and father, neither of whom is a citizen of the United States nor a person who owes permanent allegiance to the United States, shall not be a citizen of the United States or of any state solely by reason of U.S. birth.”]
PG: Is there something Washington should be doing or not be doing that can entice Mexico—a corrupt, socialist, economic basket case—into becoming a responsible neighbor?
RP: While we don’t have the right to infringe on Mexico’s sovereignty and tell them what to do, at the same time, we need to protect our own. That is why I oppose the NAFTA super highway and any sort of “North American Union.” We need to have true free markets, and then all of our good jobs wouldn’t go overseas. We also need to enforce the law so that employers do not hire illegal workers. Rule of law must be paramount.
PG: Do such pacts and treaties as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement, the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), and “most favored nation” trade policies ultimately help or hurt American workers?
RP: I oppose these so-called “free trade” agreements. As Middle American News readers know better than most people, they are not free trade, they are government managed trade and they are ultimately bad for American workers. Such agreements are full of regulations and special deals, and lead to unfair deals and restrictions. The WTO is not a free trading body. You go the WTO to request that tariffs be placed on other countries. I believe in true free trade, not the surrender of American sovereignty to any treaty or organization.
PG: Your campaign has inspired many traditional and conservative Republicans to speak out against the Bush administration’s neo-conservative foreign policy initiatives. How can the U.S. occupation of Iraq end prudently? How can we avoid a military confrontation with Iran?
RP: American troops should immediately cease patrolling the Iraqi streets. Our Army is the best in the world and trained to destroy other armies, not act as policemen. We should then consult our generals about the fastest and safest way to bring our troops home.
As far as Iran, we need to simply back off. We need sail our navy away from their shores. Sanctions are strengthening their extremist leaders, not hurting them. Our harsh rhetoric helps inflame nationalistic sentiment among a young and energetic population that would otherwise be pro-American. If we trade with Iran and have open communication, their people are likely to vote [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad out, and elect a much more favorable government.
PG: I’m old enough (and I’m not that old, thank you) to remember a GOP platform that called for the dismantling of the federal Departments of Energy and Education. In today’s political climate, that sounds like heresy or even lunacy. What are your ideas on how the size and scope of government can be reduced practically and effectively?
RP: The first thing to do is to focus on overall spending. Bring the troops home from around the globe, stop policing the world, and use the savings to eliminate deficits and tide over those who have become dependant on the welfare state, while allowing younger people to opt out. I’d then focus on transparency, showing the people what they really get for their money. I think they won’t like it when they see. Virtually every [government agency] budget can be cut. But it will take a lot of work, educating and talking to people, and working with the Congress.
We have to change people’s assumptions about government. If people continue to expect government to take care of us from cradle to grave, then it will be impossible. But if we spread the message of freedom, tell people that we can eliminate the IRS, keep the fruits of our labor and regain local control, then we can cut the size of government in half.
PG: What keeps you hopeful and positive in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds? I’m not just talking about election politics: there are larger issues—Middle American values and ideals—that are at stake. How do we stay relevant, confident, and even optimistic?
RP: Well, Peter, this campaign has made me extremely hopeful. When people were trying to convince me to run, they said that there were people out there that would respond to the message of freedom and the Constitution. I was skeptical about how big that remnant was, but it turns out it is bigger than I ever expected. And what has been really great has been the response of young people. People in their teens and twenties have really responded to our campaign and our message, and they are getting involved and persuading their parents to vote for me. This gives me great hope for the future.
This interview appeared in the March, 2007 issue of Middle American News