Monthly Archives: October 2007

The Club For Growth Grades Ron Paul’s Economic Record

The Club For Growth released another White Paper on the economic policies and records of the various Presidential candidates, and this time it’s all about Ron Paul.

“Ron Paul’s record contains some very laudable components,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “On taxes, regulation, and political speech, his record is superb. His spending record is impressive, though Paul has recently embraced pork-barrel projects in direct contradiction to his vociferous opposition to unconstitutional appropriations by the federal government.”

Unfortunately, his stubborn idealism often takes Ron Paul further away from achieving the limited-government, pro-growth philosophy he advocates. This is certainly the case with school choice, free trade, tort reform, and entitlement reform, in which he votes against vital free trade agreements, competitive school choice initiatives, and tort reform proposals.

“While we give Ron Paul credit for his philosophical ideals, politicians have the responsibility of making progress, and often, Ron Paul votes against making progress because, in his mind, the progress is not perfect,” Mr. Toomey continued. “In these cases, although for very different reasons, Ron Paul is practically often aligned with the most left-wing Democrats, voting against important, albeit imperfect, pro-growth legislation. Ron Paul is, undoubtedly, ideologically committed to pro-growth limited-government policies, but his insistence on opposing all but the perfect means that under a Ron Paul presidency we might never get a chance to pursue the good too.”

Now, before this sends all you Ron Paul supporters off on a rampage, there are a few things to keep in mind here. The Club for Growth is not a radical libertarian organization, and certainly not as radical as Ron Paul on economic issues. They describe themselves like this:

Club for Growth is a national network of thousands of Americans, from all walks of life, who believe that prosperity and opportunity come through economic freedom. We work to promote public policies that promote economic growth primarily through legislative involvement, issue advocacy, research, training and educational activity.

The primary tactic of the separate Club for Growth PAC is to provide financial support from Club members to viable pro-growth candidates to Congress, particularly in Republican primaries.

In other words, they are dedicated to working within the system to achieve progress toward economic freedom in a manner that might be described, in a non-pejorative sense, as realistic rather than radical. It’s not surprising that they’d be sympathetic too, but a little put off by, someone who talks about eliminating the Federal Reserve and returning to the gold standard.

And the CoG’s assessment isn’t totally negative in any respect. Take this on taxes (footnotes in original text omitted):

Ron Paul’s record on taxes is excellent, epitomized by his rallying cry for phasing out the IRS. A strong believer in the economic benefits of tax cuts, he declared in a 2006 article, “I reject the notion that tax cuts harm the economy. The economy suffers when government takes money from your paycheck that you otherwise spend, save, or invest. Taxes never create prosperity.” Over his career, he has backed up his speeches and articles with many pro-growth votes

And this on spending:

Rep. Paul’s strong belief in limited government translated into an impressive list of votes against increased federal spending

Although they do note the following (again, footnotes omitted):

Despite this impressive record, Ron Paul’s history contains some curious indiscretions, including a vote for $232 million for federally mandated election reform (only 1 of 21 Republicans to vote for it) and a vote against the line-item veto -even after it was modified to pass constitutional muster. Paul’s record on pork was outstanding in 2006, voting for all 19 of Jeff Flake’s anti-pork amendments in 2006, but his record took a stark turn for the worse in 2007, in which Paul received an embarrassing 29% on the Club for Growth’s RePORK Card, voting for only 12 of the 50 anti-pork amendments.

Others have criticized Paul’s record on earmarks and I won’t do so here. Instead, I’ll point out that I think that the CoG has it entirely wrong on the line-item veto issue. The Supreme Court emphatically decided, and Articles I and II of the Constitution make clear, that any attempt to expand the President’s veto power by allowing him to veto specific spending items in a bill cannot pass Constitutional muster; if you want a line-item veto, amend the Constitution to provide for one. Since I think that even legislators have a duty to vote against bills they believe are unconstitutional, Paul’s vote against the line-item veto was, I think, correct.

The Club also criticizes Paul on issues like trade, regulation, and entitlement reform; not so much because they disagree with him, but because they seem to think that his insistence on reforms that, at least at present, are not politically attainable, neglects support for measures that, while not perfect, do move toward the free market ideal:

When it comes to limited government, there are few champions as steadfast and principled as Representative Ron Paul. In the House of Representatives, he plays a very useful role constantly challenging the status quo and reminding his colleagues, despite their frequent indifference, that our Constitution was meant to limit the power of government. On taxes, regulation, and political free speech his record is outstanding. While his recent pork votes are troubling, the vast majority of his anti-spending votes reflect a longstanding desire to cut government down to size.

But Ron Paul is a purist, too often at the cost of real accomplishments on free trade, school choice, entitlement reform, and tort reform. It is perfectly legitimate, and in fact vital, that think tanks, free-market groups, and individual members of congress develop and propose idealized solutions. But presidents have the responsibility of making progress, and often, Ron Paul opposes progress because, in his mind, the progress is not perfect. In these cases, although for very different reasons, Ron Paul is practically often aligned with the most left-wing Democrats, voting against important, albeit imperfect, pro-growth legislation.

Ron Paul is, undoubtedly, ideologically committed to pro-growth limited government policies. But his insistence on opposing all but the perfect means that under a Ron Paul presidency we might never get a chance to pursue the good too.

It’s an interesting question, really, do you insist on the perfect or accept something less than perfect as an advance toward your ultimate goal ? As I’m learning as I read Brian Doherty’s book on the history of the libertarian movement in America, this is a debate that’s been going on for half a century now. Given the nature of the American political system, pursuit of the perfect while neglecting the good typically ends in failure — the American electorate is not revolutionary at the ballot box.

I’m sure that the most strident Ron Paul supporters out there will jump down the CoG’s throat over this but keep something in mind before you do —— we’re all on the same side in this fight folks, we just disagree about how to achieve the goal.

You can find the complete Club for Growth report here.

Genarlow Wilson: The Rest Of The Story

There’s an interesting post-script to the Genarlow Wilson story at this afternoon.

In it, Wilson discusses why he rejected a plea deal back in 2005 that would have kept him of prison.

The reason is pretty clear — pleading guilty would have ruined his life just as much as the prison sentence did:

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) — Genarlow Wilson, freed last week from a Georgia prison, said he’s glad he rejected a plea deal from prosecutors, even if it would have sprung him from prison months earlier.

The 21-year-old, who served two years of a 10-year sentence for aggravated child molestation, said the prospect of being labeled a sex offender drove him to turn down the deal. He had to think about his 9-year-old sister and having a family of his own one day, he said Sunday.

“It might’ve been lesser time, but then again, I would have nowhere to go because I would have no home,” Wilson said during a CNN interview scheduled to air Monday at 8 p.m.

“I wouldn’t be able to stay with my mother because I have a little sister. You know, when you’re a sex offender you can’t be around kids. Basically, I can’t even have kids myself, you know, so what is the point of life?” he asked.

And that raises all on it’s own the interesting question of whether we’ve gone over-board in the whole sex offender craze. In the criminal justice system, with the exception of murder, there is almost no crime that justifies a sentence of life in prison (or death), and most people who commit even the most violent felonies are eligible to be released at some point after serving their time. This is as true of sex offenders as it is of carjackers and thieves.

When felons are released from prison, they are required to report to parole or probation officers, but only for a set amount of time, not for life. Unless they offend again, the presumption is that they’ve served their debt to society, and reformed themselves to life within the bounds of the law. If that’s not the case, then they’ll end up back in prison.

What we’ve done, though, is create an entire classification of crime — the sex offense — that is considered so especially heinous that the people who are convicted of it are essentially branded for life. And the consequences of receiving such a classification are quite severe. Typically, they aren’t allowed to work around children, live in the same home as a child, or live within a certain distance from a school or other place where children gather. Depending on the type of offense, they may also be barred from owning or using a computer or accessing the Internet.

Viscerally, there is a certain amount of logic to this. Our society, like any other healthy society, is protective of it’s children (some might argue overly protective, but I won’t address that argument here). When someone harms a child in this way, the gut reaction of most people, including myself, is to do whatever it takes to punish them and make sure they can neverĀ  do it again.

The problem is that we’ve gotten to the point where the type of offense that can lead to someone being branded a child sex offender has become so broad and all encompassing that it snares the innocent act along with the cunning pedophile, and the Genarlow Wilson case is a prime example. Thanks to the Georgia Supreme Court, Wilson will not have to worry about spending the rest of his life branded with the scarlet letter of someone who has abused a child (a ridiculous designation under the facts of his case). However, had the Court not intervened, he would have not only spend the next eight years in prison, he would have spent the rest of his life branded a sex offender, all because he had oral sex with his girlfriend when he was 17.

The question is — how many other Genarlow Wilson’s are there out there ?

Fighting The Fairness Doctrine

In today’s Wall Street Journal, John Fund writes about the one-man war against the Fairness Doctrine being fought by Congressman Mike Pence:

Mr. Pence is proposing the Broadcaster Freedom Act, a bill that would permanently bury the Fairness Doctrine. Because House Democratic leaders are unlikely to allow it to come to the floor for a vote, Mr. Pence has launched a “discharge petition,” a device to bypass House committees and move the bill directly to the floor. He needs 218 members–a House majority–to sign the petition. He has collected 185 signatures, but all from Republicans. Democrats are being told by their leadership that signing such a petition would undermine their control of the House.

Mr. Pence, says that “freedom should not be a partisan issue” and that he is optimistic that he can collect the signature of every Republican and then pluck off some 20 of the Democrats who voted for his one-year moratorium last summer (he’d need at least 18).

The stakes are high. “Lovers of liberty must expose calls to restore the Fairness Doctrine for the fraudulent power-grab that they plainly are,” writes Brian Anderson, editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.

The fight is about more than just so-called right-wing domination of talk radio, it’s about the state’s ability to control what we hear, and, as Fund points out, the advocates of the Fairness Doctrine has something in mind other than just balance:

[T]he attempts to control the airwaves won’t stop with so-called equal time rules. Al Franken, the liberal former Air America host who is now running for the Senate in Minnesota, is already slipping into the role of potential legislative censor of his old industry. “You shouldn’t be able to lie on the air,” he told Newsweek’s Mr. Fineman earlier this year. “You can’t utter obscenities in a broadcast, so why should you be able to lie? You should be fined for lying.”

In fact, you can be “fined” for lying, if the person you lie about successfully sues for defamation. But the First Amendment makes it exceedingly difficult for defamation plaintiffs to prevail, especially if they are public figures–and for good reason. Under a more pro-plaintiff legal regime, “the pall of fear and timidity imposed upon those who would give voice to public criticism is an atmosphere in which the First Amendment freedoms cannot survive,” Justice William Brennan wrote in New York Times v. Sullivan (1964).

As Fund points out, there was a time when Justice Brennan was a liberal hero, but that was when it suited their political goals.

Ron Paul’s Second New Hampshire Television Ad

Well, I’ll say this much. It’s better than the first commercial, mostly because it’s just the candidate talking about what he believes. The message pure end the Iraq War and bring the troops home from everywhere. with a paen to something that the United States Government hasn’t seen in a long time — a balanced budget.

But what’s this about saving money to “help people who need it” ? I thought we were talking about cutting the budget to the bone and letting me keep my money, not changing our foreign policy so we can keep some semblance of a welfare state (i.e., Social Security and Medicare) alive.

Yes, I know this is meant for people who aren’t exactly true believers, but what’s the point of making them think that all you want to do is bring the troops home so that we can save a social welfare scheme that was doomed to fail the day FDR proposed it ?

That said, this ad is much better than the first one.

Ron Paul Paid 9/11 “Truther” Alex Jones?

Beth at the blog My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has uncovered evidence that Ron Paul has paid 9/11 Troofer kook Alex Jones $1,300″.

For the Paulistians and others who will be on this thread shortly to attack me, say I’m part of the New World Order, accuse me of being on the payroll of Israel, call me a warmonger, etc.; let me lay a few things out on the table.

1) What did Ron Paul pay Alex Jones for? Under FEC rules, a candidate not required to disclose the reasons why a candidate pays a person.

2) Are there two different people named Alex Jones who support Ron Paul and perhaps I’m confusing this other Alex Jones for the kook talk show host?

3) If Ron Paul did pay the kook Alex Jones, will Ron Paul renounce Alex Jones and pledge not to pay Alex Jones again?

4) Will Ron Paul renounce the kooks, racists, anarchists, and other fringe types that have hopped on board his campaign, or will he continue to welcome them with pretty much open arms?

UPDATE: I’m not buying the theory being kicked around by some of the Ronulans in the comments that this was a refund. The receipt shows that Alex Jones contributed the maximum allowed by law and that no refund was necessary. Also, if you’re going to distance yourself from someone, you would give back the entire donation, not a portion of it.

UPDATE #2: The $1,300 was a refund. If this (partial) refund is an attempt to distance himself from Alex Jones, Ron Paul can be clearly called a coward. He did not have the guts to completely refund the Jones contribution. Nor does Ron Paul want to completely distance himself from the 9/11 kooks. So Ron, do you believe 9/11 was an inside job or not? What other Alex Jones kook conspiracy theories do you buy since you don’t want to distance yourself from him?

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at The and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.
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