Friday, December 30, 2011

What about Ron Paul?

A libertarian friend of mine is very disappointed in me for semi-endorsing Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination over Ron Paul. After all, he points out, Paul's anti-imperialistic views of the presidency—both in war-making and in executive power, generally—are closer to my own than any other GOP candidate. Heck, on those two areas, I like his views better than President Obama.

So why can't I support Paul for the GOP nomination? Easy. I think he'd be a disaster for the country.

Put aside his dubious explanations for the racist newsletters. Put aside the fact that he'd have nearly zero support for his agenda in Congress. Let's look at the agenda itself. (I take all the following statements from his website.)

He'd cut $1 trillion in government spending in the first year of his presidency, on the way to a balanced budget by Year Three. The debt is a problem, I agree, but I believe yanking so much money out of the economy would probably deepen our the Great Recession into something more of a Depression.

He'd eliminate the income, capital gains, and inheritance taxes on his way to keeping the government in its strict Constitutional limits. (Also, to make it easier for you to buy silver and gold coins: His website actually uses that as a rationale for eliminating the capital gains tax.) Maybe that would be replaced by a single flat tax, but mostly he'd eliminate. I'm not really sure how we'd pay for the government that is left.

He'd repeal the gasoline tax. How would we pay for roads?

He'd make it harder for unions to organize.

He'd "abolish the welfare state."

He'd make it impossible to rationally deal with the illegal immigrants present in the United States. (UPDATE: Specifically, he wants "no amnesty" for such immigrants. Which sounds fine, I guess, except the U.S. isn't going to deport the 11-12 million such folks who are here. Combine that with the abolishment of birthright citizenship, below, and Paul's policy would create a permanent underclass of non-citizens doing our menial work without the protections or responsibilities of citizenship. Yuck.)

He'd abolish birthright citizenship for the sons and daughters of immigrants.

So I generally—but warily—agree with Paul's instinct to be restrained in the use of American force abroad. But my impression of his overall agenda is that it would produce a crumbling country, meaner and more Darwinian. I'm not a libertarian, even though I have those instincts in certain areas. Some of what I've described above sound like features to my libertarian friend, I'm sure; it sounds like bugs to me.

If effective, Ron Paul would be a disaster. But given the unlikelihood of cooperation with Congress, I think he'd be merely ineffectual. Either way, why would I support him?

1 comment:

Monkey RobbL said...

I know this doesn't address all of the points of your post, but with regard to the question of what Paul could do without Congressional cooperation, I was discussing this Monday with a friend.

Things Ron Paul could do without any cooperation from congress:

End or dramatically reduce US military involvement in Afghanistan.
Reduce or end aggressive posture toward Iran.
End prosecution of the Drug War in states that have legalized.
Redirect DEA, TSA, BATF, FBI and CIA activities away from liberty-sacrificing activities.
Close Guantanamo Bay and other detention centers.
Charge or release prisoners.
End drone attacks.
Close bases.
Aggressively veto non-constitutional legislation.
Pardon non-violent drug offenders and others unjustly imprisoned.
Significantly change the complexion of the Fed (there are currently two open seats, one that will open this month, and two chair positions that end in 2014.)
Drive all manner of smaller positive changes through cabinet appointments.
Replace heads of bureaucracies with people who have actually read the constitution.

So I don't think "ineffectual" is accurate. He can produce significant change with virtually no Congressional participation, largely because the change he is campaigning on is doing LESS with government, not more.