The Ron Paul Interview

Reason Magazine’s Brian Doherty interviewed Texas Congressman, and possible Presidential candidate, Ron Paul and, as is usually the case with Congressman Paul, the results were interesting:

First, Paul clarified the status of his Presidential campaign:

Reason: Does launching an official exploratory committee necessarily mean you will end up launching an official campaign?

Ron Paul: Last week it leaked that we were getting ready to organize an exploratory committee. I haven’t even officially announced that yet. If I find with the exploratory committee that there is some support out there, that we can raise the money you need, then [I’d] declare that [I’m] running.

Reason: Now that it has leaked, what have you thought of the response so far?

Paul: I think it’s been impressive. I’ve been pleased and surprised.

In other words, Paul not only hasn’t announced he’s running for President, he hasn’t even officially announced that he’s thinking about running for President. Yes, there’s a fair degree of political gamesmanship in his response to these questions, but it should reveal an underlying truth — much of the talk we’ve seen in the libertarian-oriented blogosphere about the Ron Paul for President campaign is just that, talk.

Congressman Paul also addresses the criticism he’s received from some libertarians, including my fellow contributor Kevin, over his vote in favor of allowing the Federal Government to negotiate prescription drug prices paid by Medicare:

Reason: Some of your libertarian fans were also upset about your vote on government price negotiations for Medicare drugs.

Paul: The government is already involved in giving out prescription drugs, in a program that the drug companies love and spend hundreds of millions lobbying for, this interventionist program. The drug corporations love it. Should government say something about controlling prices since it’s a government program? I want to cut down spending, so why not say that government has a responsibility to get a better bargain? Both choices were horrible, but the person who complained on the Internet did not understand the vote. I don’t vote for price controls, obviously, but if government has to buy something, even if they shouldn’t be buying it!–they have a responsibility to get the best price. But most importantly, we shouldn’t be in that business [of buying drugs].

Sorry, but this sounds a lot like some of the same justification and obsfucation I’d expect to hear from any other Republican or Democratic politician. Except Ron Paul has always differentiated himself from the rest of Washington. I just can’t see how he can reconcile this vote with his principles.

Paul also addresses the objection some libertarians have noted to his stance on immigration:

Reason: What do you have to say to libertarians who disagree with your immigration position, such as on amnesty, birthright citizenship, and a concentration of federal money on border security?

Paul: If they don’t agree, they’d have to be anarchists, and I’m not. I believe in national borders and national security. My position is, take away incentives–why are states compelled to give free education and medical care? I don’t endorse easy automatic citizenship for people who break the law. They shouldn’t be able to come reap the benefits of welfare state. I don’t think libertarians can endorse that. I think removing the incentives is very important, but I don’t think you can solve the immigration problem until you deal with the welfare state and the need for labor created by a government that interferes with the market economy. We’re short of labor at the same time lots of people are paid not to work. Take away [illegal immigrants’] incentives. I do believe in a responsibility to protect our borders, rather than worrying about the border between North and South Korea or Iraq and Syria, and I think that’s a reasonable position.

I think Paul is confusing two, or perhaps more, completely different issues here.

I agree that border security is a top priority issue, especially given the way the world is today. The concern I have, though, is not keeping Mexicans who want to come here and hang drywall out of the country; it’s keeping people who want to kill us out of the country. Similarly, while I oppose the welfare state, I think it’s absurd to say that immigration should be controlled, or, as some have suggested, eliminated until the welfare state is abolished. Immigrants have contributed greatly to making America the nation it is today; cutting off those masses yearning to breath free would be a repudiation of everything this country stands for.

Notwithstanding my disagreements with him, though, Congressman Paul remains, as always, an interesting man.

Related Posts:

Ron Paul For President !
Ron Paul’s Presidential Chances
Ron Paul Votes For Price Fixing Prescription Drugs
A Moment of Hubris On the Ron Paul For President Campaign
Further Thoughts On The Ron Paul For President Campaign