Posts Tagged ‘Ron Paul’

Bernie Sanders’ record in Congress

June 27, 2015

If you’re going to judge what a politician stands for, you’d do better to look at their advisers and supporters than their campaign rhetoric, and you’d do even better still to look at their record.

The presidential candidate Bernie Sanders served in the House of Representatives from Vermont’s at-large district from 1991 to 2007 and in the U.S. Senate from 2007 to the present, so he has a long record to go by.

Sanders has been a political independent, not a Democrat, for most of his political life, and is the only member of Congress to call himself a socialist.  The 2016 Presidential campaign is the first campaign in which he has run as a Democrat to organize Congress.

BernieSanders1_1280His congressional record seems to me to be like a 1930s New Deal Democrat.  He is a staunch defender of the New Deal programs such as Social Security, a champion of labor unions and an opponent of Wall Street.

While his voting record is favorable to abortion rights, gay rights, affirmative action and civil rights for African-Americans, he does not have a high profile on these issues as he does on bread-and-butter economic issues.

Liberals might have trouble with the fact that he was first elected to Congress as an opponent of gun control and still has reservations about gun control.

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Here are some highlights of his legislative and voting record:

He founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus in 1991 and chaired it for eight years.

In 1999, he defied U.S. law on drug imports by organizing a trip to Canada with constituents to buy cancer medications at 10 percent of the U.S. cost

In 2005, he joined with Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, to repeal the section of the USA Patriot Act requiring librarians to give the government information on patrons’ book-borrowing.   It passed the House, but did not become law.

In 2010, he gave an eight-and-a-half hour speech against the Tax Relief, Unemployment and Job Creation Act of 2010, which extended the Bush era tax cuts.  The speech drew nationwide attention and was later published as a book.

In 2011, he successfully introduced legislation calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve System’s bank bailouts, which revealed that the Fed had granted $16 trillion dollars in assistance to troubled banks, some of their foreign banks.

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Imagine if it were us instead of them

March 4, 2013

I came across this video the other day.   It has been in circulation for a long time, but its message  is still true and important.

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Paul vs. Paul on banking and debt

May 8, 2012

Last week Bloomberg News hosted this interesting debate between libertarian Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, currently seeking the Republican nomination for President, and liberal Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist, on central banking, deficit spending and inflation.  You could watch two important public figures, both independent thinkers who are beholden to nobody, debate what they honestly think about an important public issue.  That is something I fear will be a rarity in this Presidential election year.

Ron Paul wants to phase out the Federal Reserve System.   He correctly pointed out that without the existence of a semi-government agency with authority to buy government bonds and create money, it would be very difficult and maybe impossible for the government to finance either the current endless wars or the welfare state, which he is equally against.

The problem is that without a Federal Reserve, decisions about interest rates and money supply would be made not by an impersonal mechanism, but by powerful individuals such as J. Pierpont Morgan, who would not be accountable to the public.  Or you would have a chaotic system, like that which existed in the United States during the decades leading up to the Civil War, when wave of bank failures were frequent, and depositors lost their money.   Ron Paul would like to go back to that era or, alternatively, to return to the gold standard.  The problem is that impersonal mechanisms are just as fallible as individual people.   There is no magic of the market, or magic anything else–just a choice among imperfect systems.

While Ron Paul focused on deficit spending, debt and inflation, Paul Krugman focused on employment and economic growth.  I think Krugman had the right priority.  The U.S. government dealt with the enormous debt left over from World War Two, not by paying down the debt but by generating strong economic growth so that the debt became proportionately less in relation to the overall economy.

Krugman is a Keynesian, which means that while he favors a balanced budget and tight money in normal times, he thinks that deficit spending and easy money are warranted in a serious recession, as a means of getting money into circulation so that people will start spending and investing again.   The problem with that is that it doesn’t seem to be working.  I think the reason is that the current recession is more than part of the normal economic cycle.  It is a crisis resulting from decades of running the U.S. economy on debt rather than production.  When people have more money in their pockets, they don’t necessarily spend it, they use it to pay off their mortgages, installment loans and credit card balances.  And the big banks, as Ron Paul said, are content to borrow money from the Federal Reserve at 1 percent interest and lend it back to the government at 3 percent interest.   That does nothing to help the real economy.

I don’t believe in spending money for the sake of getting money into circulation, but I think the government should refrain from cutting back on basic services and that this is a good time to invest in infrastructure repairs, scientific research, job training and other measures to maintain our country’s productivity.  Ron Paul said, perhaps in jest, that it would have been better for the Federal Reserve to give relief to mortgage-holders (perhaps by refinancing their loans?) than to relieve the banks.  Certaintly this would have done more for economic recovery.

Click on Economics Throw-Down! Krugman vs. Ron Paul on Bloomberg TV — Helicopters, Gold and More for highlights.

Click on David Henderson on Paul vs. Paul for a conservative economist’s summary of the debate.

Click on Ron Paul Flunks History for comment on David Frum’s Daily Beast web log.

Click on Ron Paul vs. Paul Krugman: the Bloody Aftermath for discussion of the issues by Reason magazine’s Brian Doherty.

Click on Krugman Says Fed ‘Reckless’ to Allow High Jobless Rate for a Bloomberg News followup to the debate.

Hat tip to Joshua Chacon.

The troops support Ron Paul

February 26, 2012

The Presidential candidates who talk the most about going to war with Iran get the least in campaign contributions from the troops who would have to do the fighting.  Ron Paul, the most outspoken opponent of war with Iran, gets the most.

Political campaign donations to Ron Paul from members of the U.S. uniformed military exceed donations to Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum combined, in every branch of military service.  President Obama gets more donations than Rep. Paul from employees of the U.S. Department of Defense, which I’d guess are mainly civilians.

Click on Why Does the Military Love Ron Paul? for background on the chart in Mother Jones magazine.   The Mother Jones writer said that troopers are impressed by Ron Paul’s opposition to military intervention abroad, his libertarianism and the fact that he served as a flight surgeon in the Air Force and Air National Guard during the Vietnam era.

By the way, even though the U.S. Department of Defense is a huge bureaucracy, it is not a contradiction for libertarians to serve in armed forces, as the Mother Jones article implies.  The libertarian philosophy is that national defense is one of the few necessary and Constitutional functions of government.

Click on Military Donors Prefer Ron Paul for a report from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Click on Ron Paul gets the most military donations for an independent report from Army Times.

Hat tip for the chart to The Agitator.

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The left, the right, libertarians and Ron Paul

January 9, 2012

As I look at this Venn diagram published by Mother Jones magazine, I see myself in the middle of the Left circle, but I don’t see many national political figures on the circle along with me.

I’d put Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and the Democratic congressional leadership in the Right circle than the Left.  President Obama claims the right to commit acts of war without authorization of Congress, and has acted on that claim.  He claims the right to imprison people without trial, to sign and execute death warrants without due process and may well be authorizing torture on as wide a scale at President Bush’s administration.  He supports NAFA-style treaties with Colombia and South Korea.  His administration is deporting unauthorized immigrants in larger numbers than the Bush administration.  He does not support reproductive rights.  He does support repeal of the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, but as part of a package of economic austerity and cutbacks in the social safety net to taxation of the middle class.

President Obama and the Democratic leadership did enact the Affordable Care Act, which may turn out to be a net positive, and repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which I agree with, but not at the price of endless war and suspension of basic Constitutional rights.

All this makes me more open-minded about the Libertarians and Ron Paul than I otherwise would be.   Even though I can’t agree with them on important  matters of policy, they at least support the core values of American freedom and democracy.  I admired the way Al Gore and Howard Dean spoke up against abuses of power during the Bush administration, but they have nothing to say about the equal or worse abuses of power going on now.

The great merit of the Libertarians, and of Ron Paul, is that they have principles that are not held hostage by any political party or powerful vested interest.

Click on The Venn of Ron Paul and Other Mysteries of Libertarianism Explained for the source of this diagram and background on Libertarianism in Mother Jones.

The Ron Paul dilemma

January 3, 2012

Rep. Ron Paul opposes many things I am for.  He is opposed to civil rights laws.  He is anti-labor.  He wants to destroy the social safety net.  He opposes legislation to protect health, safety and the environment.  Under ordinary circumstances, I would regard him as a dangerous radical extremist.

But he is one of the few prominent political figures to oppose the perpetual war policy supported by both the Democratic and Republican parties.  He is one of the few to stand up for basic civil liberties.  He is among the few to stand up to the oppose the Wall Street bailouts.

So there is a dilemma.  Ron Paul wants to repeal the New Deal.  But the Bush administration, the Obama administration and most of the current Republican candidates are willing to repeal the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and rights of due process that go back to Magna Carta.

I think the Constitution is more important than the New Deal.  So long as the Constitution endures, it will be possible in the fullness of time to reconstitute the New Deal and the civil rights laws.

But that doesn’t resolve the dilemma.  Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Senator Bernie Sanders and other political figures that are just as clear-eyed about war and civil liberties as Ron Paul.  Why aren’t they as prominent as Ron Paul?  In my opinion, it is because Ron Paul’s anti-liberal backers give him a stronger base of support than liberals would give to an anti-Obama liberal Democrat.   Some liberals are willing to make common cause with Ron Paul supporters, but I don’t think many long-time Ron Paul supporters, or maybe any, who are willing to make common cause with liberals.

I don’t think I would vote for Ron Paul in the extremely unlikely event that he was nominated, and the equally unlikely event that the outcome in New York state was not a foregone conclusion.  But I am glad Ron Paul is in the race.  Even though I don’t agree with some of the things he believes in, I admire his grit and his willingness to speak the truth as he sees it.  He raises issues that need to be raised.

Click on Ron Paul’s Racist Newsletters for documentation on why Ron Paul’s old newsletters from the late 1980s and early 1990s were so inflammatory.

Click on Ron Paul’s Shaggy Defense and “Old News”  for Ta-Nehisi Coates’ take-down of Ron Paul’s defense of his newsletters.

Click on Grappling With Ron Paul’s Racist Newsletters for Conor Friedersdorf’s commentary in The Atlantic on the significance of the newsletters.

Click on Progressives and the Ron Paul fallacies for Glenn Greenwald’s argument as to why Ron Paul’s views are no worse, from a liberal standpoint, that Barack Obama’s actions, and video links to Ron Paul’s statements about war and civil liberties.

Click on Why Ron Paul Challenges Liberals for Matt Stoller’s analysis of Ron Paul’s political views about the connection between the Federal Reserve System and the ability of government to finance wars.

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Can liberals and libertarians join forces?

September 26, 2011

This video shows a conversation between Paul Jay, CEO and editor-in-chief of the left-liberal Real News Network, and Matt Welch, editor-in-chief of Reason, a libertarian magazine whose motto is “free minds and free markets,” on what liberals and libertarians have in common.

Liberals and libertarians both oppose the United States drift toward militarism and a police state.  They agree in upholding basic human rights under the Constitution.  They both are appalled by the idea that a President can issue death warrants, order someone locked up without a criminal charge or trial, or make it a crime to reveal the government’s crimes.  They both want to scale back the open-ended so-called “war on terror” and bring the Defense and Homeland Security budgets under control.

So why don’t liberals support the libertarian Republican Ron Paul?   The problem for liberals is Ron Paul is opposed to civil rights laws, to health, safety and environmental laws, to the social safety net and to laws to protect labor’s rights to organize – virtually all the accomplishments of the Progressive era and the New Deal.

Matt Welch argues that if your first loyalty is to the Constitution, this should be an acceptable tradeoff, and that a Democrat should vote for Ron Paul rather than Barack Obama.  One might ask Matt Welch whether he would vote for the liberal Democrat Dennis Kucinich if hypothetically Kucinich were to run against Rick Perry or Mitt Romney.   Kucinich is just as strong an opponent of militarism and the emerging U.S. police state as Ron Paul.

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“…a society in which truth becomes treason”

December 7, 2010

This is what passes for intelligent commentary these days.

For the record, Ron Paul’s full statement, if you didn’t catch it, was: –

In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth.  In a society in which truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble.

Exactly so!

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