Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) is out with a new book, End The Fed, and his message is crystal clear: get the government out of monetary policy. MainStreet spoke with the congressman and recent presidential candidate about everything from the job market to Brüno.
We probably asked Congressman Paul too many questions, but frankly he’s very easy to talk to and he doesn’t hold back, so it’s easy to go on tangents with him.
We talked about terrorism, health care, conspiracy theorists, the rapture, and much more. But the reason he graciously showed up at our office is because of his book, in which he advocates the dissolution of the Federal Reserve. He’s also got a bill in the House right now which would give Congress the authority to audit the Fed. So we might as well start with that.
We asked him why the average person out there should even care about Paul’s campaign against the Federal Reserve’s secrecy.
“You better worry about it,” Paul told us, explaining that what is happening right now amounts to the “creation of credit out of thin air, but not true capital.”
Paul throws around phrases like “blind acceptance of Keynesian economics” and “corporatism” but his message is actually quite simple, it turns out: our government is printing money like there’s no tomorrow, driving us further and further into debt. Although there has been a stock market bump as of late, this is not true recovery for millions of Americans feeling the pressure. “The people who lost their shirt didn’t get it back,” Paul said of the market recovery.
The actual jobless rate in this country, according to Paul, is much closer to 20% and “the market isn’t back on its feet again.”
Paul would rather see the adoption of a two currency system to foster competition and transparency.
‘The people screaming and hollering’
We asked Paul about the recent spate of tense town halls around the country. Is the outrage real—or is it simply “Republican astroturfing?”
The town halls represent “the people screaming and hollering,” according to Paul. In his view, it is authentic grassroots outrage caused by what many perceive to be increased government involvement in many areas of life, not simply anti-Obama paranoia. He also believes the Obama administration is trumpeting mediocre news as good news. First-time jobless claims dropped to 545,000 recently, which Paul says is an unimpressive statistic that Obama is framing “as a success.”
If you’re looking for a rosy outlook, Ron Paul is not the person you want to talk to: he reminded us that “every debt is big” in America right now and “we don’t have productive jobs.” He also said that “Obama is bowing to the unions” and that, if we stay on the same course, he doesn’t see any significant economic progress for the next 10 years.
We also asked about the fringe elements that occasionally show up to his events—like the Truthers, who believe 9/11 was an inside job.
“Ask me what I believe,” Paul said simply. He’s not a Truther: “I don’t think we know the full truth, but I’m not a Truther,” he explained.
We asked him how long it would take for rumors surrounding 9/11 to subside. “Probably another 100 years,” he said, adding that some historians still argue about Lincoln’s assassination.
High praise for college students
Contrary to the popular perception that college students are a meandering demographic of morons who can only be counted on to update their Facebook profiles and watch The Daily Show, Paul sees twenty-somethings as an important and growing group of voters.
“There’s more illiteracy in D.C. than among college students,” he told us, explaining that the youth is actually far more engaged than many believe. He cited a recent lecture he gave at a college where he estimated 2,000 students were yelling and screaming about monetary policy and described his viral popularity online as a “spontaneous uprising.”
I asked him if his online outreach was tightly coordinated behind the scenes or if it was simply a true viral phenomenon.
“I don’t think we were smart enough, to tell you the truth,” he said. He said it is about “the message” and not about him in particular. On December 16th, 2007, for example, Paul raised more than $6 million in a single day—much of it online and from small individual donors.
“The message is fantastic,” he told us.
Brüno and Jon Stewart
We had to ask: how did Ron Paul feel about his “cameo” in Brüno, Sacha Baron Cohen’s outlandish faux documentary… Was he angry with Cohen? “About as angry as I was at myself,” Paul told us lightheartedly, adding that his scene in the film is “something I had to live with.”
After our interview, Ron Paul was headed for his sit-down with The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart—we asked him about his last appearance on the popular Comedy Central program. When he left Stewart’s studio last time, Paul said he "felt pretty good," reminding us with a chuckle that he did better with Jon Stewart than he did with Brüno.