Ron Paul Hates Government, Loves Pork

December 22nd, 2011 at 12:49 pm | 45 Comments |

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For many in the militant libertarian wing within the GOP (and outside of it), Ron Paul has emerged as Moses come to lead the American people out of the land of big spending liberal statists and hair-trigger Neocon Pharaohs. They see Paul as an outsider on the inside, despite having first entered politics when I was nine years old. To his loyal cadre he has remained steadfast in his libertarian belief that can be boiled down to two central notions.

On the international front, the United States is the great aggressor of the world (and 9/11 is what a nation gets for such aggression) and that harmony is the natural state among nations and all we need do is close our bases, pull our troops out and we can find common ground with anyone from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hugo Chavez. On the domestic front, government is always the problem, is never the solution and the invisible hand of free markets will eventually solve all ills from healthcare, to parcel delivery to policing our streets.

I’ll leave foreign policy aside for another article. What prompted this writing was a recent discussion with Paul supporters whose ardor for him eerily reminds me of the blind emotional devotion of Obamanauts of 2008.

I pointed out to them that if Paul is such an outsider, if he is so much the anti-government/free-marketeer, how is it that in 2011 Paul was one of only four Republicans to request earmarks? $138 million worth in fact. A whopping $398 million in 2010. Here is this year’s laundry list that Paul attached to various bills to bring government money (which one would think is not needed as there should be a free market for these things) back to his district to fund his pet projects. [Source: Paul’s Website]

·$8 million from federal taxpayers for Recreational Fishing Phase Piers.

·$2.5 million from taxpayers for “new benches, trash receptacles, bike racks, decorative street lighting.”

·$2.5 million from taxpayers to modify medians and sidewalks for an “Economically Disadvantaged” area.

·$2.5 million from federal taxpayers for a “Revelation Missionary Baptist Community Outreach Center.”

·$38 million in multiple requests for literacy programs to “encourage parents to read aloud to their children.”

·$18 million from federal taxpayers for a Commuter Rail Preliminary Engineering Phase (light rail).

·$4 million from federal taxpayers for the “Trails and Sidewalks Connectivity Initiative.”

·$11 million from federal taxpayers for a “Community-Based Job Training Program.”

·$2 million from federal taxpayers for a “Clean Energy” pilot project.

·$5 million from federal taxpayers in order to build a parking garage.

·$1.2 million for a “Low-income working families Day Care Program”

·$4.5 million from federal taxpayers for a new Youth Fair facility.

Paul’s answer to this, and duly parroted by his acolytes so much in his camp now that he could be revealed to be the anti-Christ and they wouldn’t care, is this: he supports the concept of earmarks out of principle because that is the transparent manner in which government should spend money rather than in large lump appropriations. It is instead the level of government expense that he objects to. But, hey, if they are going to give it to him, he’ll take it.

The principle of the earmark is our responsibility. We’re supposed to — it’s like a — a tax credit. And I vote for all tax credits, no matter how silly they might seem. If I can give you any of you of your money back, I vote for it. So, if I can give my district any money back, I encourage that. But, because the budget is out of control, I haven’t voted for an appropriation in years — if ever. …

He may not have voted for any bill yet Paul was happy to take the money from riders he attached to bills that others voted for. What about as a principled gesture not accepting the allocations but rather putting it towards the deficit he is so adamant will destroy us? (The answer: the man likes to get re-elected). He goes on with more dissonance:

I don’t think the federal government should be doing it. But, if they’re going to allot the money, I have a responsibility to represent my people. If they say, hey, look, put in a highway for the district, I put it in. I put in all their requests, because I’m their representative.

Notice how Paul plays a clever game whereby he requests earmarks and then turns around and votes against the bills. This way if the bills do pass, he can dutifully bring the pork back to his district while maintaining that he has “never voted for earmarks.”

Yet the more philosophical question remains, how is it that a true libertarian, one who sees that the less government the better and for whom the private sector is the sole artery through which goods and services ought to be channeled, can ever justify his request that the federal government to fund sidewalks, piers, parking garages, even a Baptists community outreach center (any libertarians care to explain how this jibes with their desire for church/state separation)? Are there not private companies that can perform these tasks. And should there not be a market to support them on their merits as economic investments rather than as public works?

Some Paul supporters weakly echo him by offering that all their man is doing is bringing confiscated tax money back to the tax-payers from whom it was taken. I remind them that Texans are not the only Americans who reluctantly pay into the federal coffers. (And unlike most of the rest of us, Texans pay no state income taxes, which one would think unfair as these federal expenditures are for parochial intersts). Still, is that very allocation process not the essence of what hard-core Paulites would rail against as coercive government – the enumerated power to tax and spend?

Taxpayers pay taxes into the central bin and then their representatives allocate them as they deem necessary. It is a messy, inefficient, often corrupt process and to me, a conservative, the best way to reform it is to de-centralize the power of government and reduce (not raise) federal receipts so there is less to distribute to special interests, lobby groups, and, ahem, pork-barreling libertarians (is that not an oxymoron?)

For Ron Paul, a strict construction Constitutionalist, somehow park benches and piers and outreach centers in his home district are quite necessary to “provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty.” And are we to presume that such necessary projects could not exist without government funding? If so then that raises yet another question: would not a true libertarian offer that if they can only exist with government money they they should not exist at all? Aren’t they the most vocal proponents of the mantra “no market, therefore no need”?

This perception of Paul as a principled crusader who serves only the Constitution is at odds with his wholehearted embrace of typical pork-barrel politics – especially considering the House Republicans’ voluntary ban on earmarks last year. But tell this to Paul supporters and you will be jeered as a either a neo-con propagandist, a shill for the status quo powers that be, or one who simply doesn’t understand that when their favorite libertarian warrior dips his arms elbow-deep into the public till he is doing it out of one of the following “principles”: 1) earmarks are transparent; 2) he never actually votes for them, he just requests them; 3) all he is doing is re-claiming confiscated money on behalf of those from whom it was robbed. When a conservative or, heaven forbid, a liberal politician brings home the bacon to his constituents, he/she is a symptom of the disease of money in Washington against which Dr. Ron Paul will inoculate the entire political system when he gets in the White House. When Paul does it, well…well so what?

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45 Comments so far ↓

  • Reflection Ephemeral

    On the international front, that United States is the great aggressor of the world (and 9/11 is what a nation gets for such aggression) and that harmony is the natural state among nations and all we need do is close our bases, pull our troops out and we can find common ground with anyone from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hugo Chavez.

    I don’t think that’s a fair characterization.

    Rather, he argues, pointing to Iraq & Afghanistan, that we can’t bomb, invade, & occupy everyone into stable, wealthy democracies that love us. He doesn’t want a large military, and doesn’t want many bases abroad, believing that it’s not the proper role of the US government and that pulling back would decrease blowback.

    His quotes on the matter are things like, “spending more money abroad or restricting liberties at home will do nothing to deter terrorists”, and the that the 9/11 Commission, the DOD, the CIA, and researchers have said that our policies had an influence on terrorists. “Just remember that immediately after 9/11, we removed the base in Saudi Arabia, our policies definitely had an influence. To argue the case they want to do us harm because we’re free and prosperous I think is a very dangerous notion, because it’s not true.” Asked if 9/11 was America’s fault, he responded, “No, it’s a misconstruing of what I’ve said… US policymakers contributed to it”.

    It’s not his view that “harmony is the natural state of the world”, it’s that war is bad, and we should do things to make war less likely. Take it or leave, argue that it’s too simplistic or unrealistic, that’s fine.

    • dante

      I’m waiting (breathlessly, of course) for DF’s rebuttal to the WSJ’s hatchet piece on Ron Paul today:

      Of course, since DF believes in the the imperialist neo-conservatism that held sway in the GOP for the past decade, I probably shouldn’t hold my breath.

    • smajor

      While the article’s description of Paul’s foreign policy views may be off, the article is not at all about that. By focusing on this small portion of the article and ignoring the bulk of it, you strongly support the article’s claim that Ron Paul supporters are “so much in his camp now that he could be revealed to be the anti-Christ and they wouldn’t care.”

      • Reflection Ephemeral

        I am not now, and have not ever been, a Ron Paul supporter. I am, however, a pretty big fan of rational debate.

        I don’t care all that much about earmarks, because they’re like 0.5 percent of the budget. Paul’s stance seems to me, FWIW, to be all right– he doesn’t like the current state of things, but this is the game as it is, so he has to put in those requests for his constituents. I can see how one might disagree.

        His gold-as-silver-bullet monetary policy & his disturbing associations in the past on his newsletters are things I dislike quite a bit more than stuff about earmarks. Also his philosophy of governance and understanding of the Constitution.

        Do you think that the article fairly characterized Paul’s views on foreign policy?

        • smajor

          Well, since I said “While the article’s description of Paul’s foreign policy views may be off…” I clearly don’t think it fairly characterized Paul’s views on foreign policy. I also don’t think it was about his foreign policy at all.

          I don’t see how a rational debate about an article that discusses earmark spending can focus on foreign policy.

        • Reflection Ephemeral

          Well, as long as we’re agreed that the author was lying in the part of the article that I quoted.

          I guess you just have a higher tolerance for BS than I do. Just a personal preference, no real disputing it.

        • smajor

          How can anyone read the Frum Forum articles without a high tolerance for BS? :)

        • Graychin

          Of course the article doesn’t characterize Paul’s foreign policy fairly. What were you expecting?

          There’s been a lot of lying about foreign policy during the Republican campaign so far. And I’m pretty sure we haven’t heard the end of it. Romney can’t even decide whether or not an incursion into Pakistan to get bin Laden was a good idea.

        • greg_barton

          Well, to be fair, he thought it was and it wasn’t.

      • Banty

        Yeah, well smajor – he offered up this rather hard-to-resist little nugget regarding his foreign policy views. If he doesn’t want to take it on in this article he should not take it on!

    • Banty

      Of course it isn’t that “harmony is the natural state among nations” (there are so many levels of mis-characterization and implied premises to that I don’t know where to begin). It’s not even that “war is bad”.

      It’s quite simply that, without a congressional declaration of war, per the Constitution, we should not war. And, with that requirement, it’s much more likely that actual attack on the U.S. or a vital interest of the U.S., would be necessary for us to enter into war.

      He’s a libertarian, not a pacifist. Trying to overlay pacifism on him is just a neo-con smear.

  • FLPatriot

    Unless he got more money then the people of Texas paid in, it’s not pork.

    • smajor

      Except that’s not what defines pork spending. This is like saying: “Since the government spends more money on its citizens (through wars, roads, unemployment, etc.) than it takes in, it’s really not taxing its citizens.

      • FLPatriot

        The difference is that the government does not have money of its own. I want my representatives to get back all the money I pay into the federal budget to be used locally, where it should be spent. That is what Ron Paul has done. There is nothing wrong with Texans benefiting from Texans tax money, better then letting the Federal government spend that money in Ohio or New York.

        • TerryF98

          Anyone who puts “patriot” in their name is almost always not one. And is usually a complete tool.

        • armstp


          “patriot” usually means Teabagger…. makes me puke, all these flag waving idiots…

    • dante

      Texas receives more federal money than it pays in federal taxes.

      2005 – $146.9b paid in taxes, $148.7b received in federal expenditures.

      • AnBr

        Funny how most of these selective Libertarians come from the red states and most of the red states get more than they receive. Welfare queens.

      • JimBob

        Patriot means you aren’t armstp. Someone who sucks off the government.

  • Graychin

    Whenever a credible rival to the Anointed One (Romney) starts to loom on the horizon, FrumForum can be depended upon to go strongly negative on him. (Or her.)

    So Paul is no worse (and no better) than the long list of Congresscritters who voted against the Stimulus, but who also made sure to be present in front of the cameras at the ribbon-cuttings. There doesn’t seem to be even one of these deficit hawks who discovered fiscal responsibility in January 2009 who isn’t a flaming hypocrite. Just like Paul.

    So about this “startling” revelation about Paul, I paraphrase the Vice President: this is NOT a “Big Effing Deal.”

    (Aren’t you glad I didn’t quote the PREVIOUS Vice President, and tell you to go f**k yourself? And then shoot you in the face?) :D

  • LauraNo

    This whole article was about Ron Paul and his earmark grabbing ways. Why did you feel it necessary to add, “ardor for him eerily reminds me of the blind emotional devotion of Obamanauts of 2008″? Do you think people won’t read you unless you throw in an attack on liberals? No good conservative lets any opportunity to bash other people pass?

    • DeathByIrony

      To be fair, Obama had alot of views that would not have been popular with his most ardent supporters, had they taken a moment to realize he was to the right of Bill Clinton.
      You don’t have to be especially conservative to notice Obama did in fact have some very, VERY devout followers. I was there, nodding where Obama demonstrated pragmatism and general free market support, only to jump in my seat when the “Obamanauts” started screaming “He’s identical to bush! We’ve been had!”

      • nuser

        Was this before or after President Obama’s “shellacking”, due to sabotage?

  • PracticalGirl

    Ron Paul’s pork procurement is pretty standard for a successful, multi-term US Congressional rep. It’s a reason that he and others like him continue to get reelected.

    Railing against government waste while being a participant in/solicitor of said “waste” is standard in Texas. Governor Rick Perry has been collecting a pension from a state, public fund while also getting paid his gubernatorial salary. He’s not alone. US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and one third of the federal Congressional contingent in Texas join him in this double-dip into taxpayers’ pockets, almost all of them while complaining that the pension funds are too damn high” and blaming it on various unions.

    • armstp

      Standard practise for Repulbicans. Rail against government spending, but then blow the budgets up or grab as much for themselves as they can. Democrats are no where near as hypocritical.

  • Ludwig von Mises

    “Big spending liberal [and neocon] statists and hair-trigger Neocon [and liberal] Pharaohs.”

    The above truism was the best in your entire article. I hope you don’t mind that I added a pinch more truth to it.

    Ron Paul is no Moses, because only Ludwig von Mises rises to that intellectual and moral level. In fact, Moses is the linguistic root of Mises; how fitting of such a great man.

    Ron Paul is, however, comparable to an imperfect Aaron. Yes, the ignorant masses devote themselves to Ron Paul like he is (a) Moses, but that is only because the Republicans have fielded Egyptian candidates—some call them RINOs— who are not half the man that Ron Paul is even when you include his imperfections.

    Moreover, anybody who is acquainted with David Frum and/or reads his scribble understands that he, too, is an Egyptian.

    • think4yourself

      “Ron Paul is no Moses, because only Ludwig von Mises rises to that intellectual and moral level.”

      I’d like to think the above statement is sarcasm…

  • _will_

    i may be mistaken, but i think the average family income in Ron Paul’s district is around 42K. which would mean that the average family in Ron Paul’s district *gasp* DOESN’T PAY FEDERAL INCOME TAXES, so…

  • think4yourself

    Link to an excerpt of a recent interview with Ron Paul.

    Among the candidate’s positions:

    - We don’t need Federal regulations or oversight for, Air Traffic Controllers, Medicines, automobile safety (the marketplace will take care of that).

    - Food & Drug Administration should be abolished.

    - All drug laws including those heroin should be overturned.

    - If we quit funding air conditioning for our troops in Afghanistan, they’ll come home sooner.

    - FEMA should be abolished.

    - Social Security and Medicare are unconstitional (even though the Supreme Court have found them to be constitutional).

    - American’s with Disabilities Act should be rescinded.

    If I was a 23 year old, who didn’t want to be in the military, believed that Social Security won’t be around when I get that old (and I’m probably not gonna get that old cause I’ll die in an Xtreme sporting accident), like to do drugs and basically live as if I’m bullet proof (like most 20 somethings do), then I’d want to vote for Ron Paul too. Too bad for him that’s about 15% of the electorate.

    • armstp

      Ron Paul is a nut. That moron does not know the first thing about economics and he spends zero time thinking about the true ramifications of his “ideas”.

      • FoolForum

        Oh wise one, please tell us how to fix the economy within the currently accepted economic orthodoxy? You realize Frum is on the record saying that we should borrow as much as we can until we can get the economy going, right? Sounds like this community organizer from Chicago…

      • WaStateUrbanGOPer

        After your brilliant declaration the other day that North Korea was nothing more than the apotheosis of objectivist libertarianism, I think you ought to be a bit more reticent when judging others’ ability to grapple with ideas.

        If this bit of advice transcends your literacy skills, than by all means let me translate it: I just told you, in the politest terms possible, to STFU.

  • JimBob

    The Earmark issues if for David Frum hacks and Boobs.

    Earmark Ban a Huge Victory for Obama

  • FoolForum

    I suppose you shouldn’t claim your taxes at the end of the year either because that’s considered “pork”. Nice try.

  • valkayec

    I find Paul’s earmarking, given his philosophy, hypocritical. Either you practice your philosophical principles or…. But then I’m against all earmarking as well as the current rash of lettermarking.

    • zephae

      I’m not so sure it’s actually hypocritical. Sure, there’s a seeming inconsistency with his principles, but he is also the representative for more than just himself and his supporters. He’s absolutely having it both ways by putting in earmarks and then voting against them, but I’m really not convinced that it’s improper or even necessarily in contradiction with his political stances to do so. If you’re playing a game and you don’t like the rules so you start complaining about them, would it be hypocritical to continue playing and rail against them while you do?

      I often think about that question in terms of campaign financing. If you’re against the current system of campaign contributions and unlimited corporate money, is it then hypocritical to participate in that system if your statements and actions remain consistent with that view? Can you only be legitimate if you commit to playing by a different set of rules, even if that means your efforts are ultimately doomed to failure? In general, I feel that even if you’re working to change the game, you play by the rules as they are written.

  • Geprodis

    This attack on Ron Paul is PATHETIC.

  • nitrat

    Another example of the fact that the problem with the GOP is the people who vote for its relentlessly hypocritical candidates. If it is not the party of dumb, it is the party of crazy.

    It was NOT always like this. It is what happens when the Southern Strategy spreads nationwide and the party hands itself over to the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, Norquist, Ailes and Murdoch – not a single one capable of getting elected dog catcher anywhere in the country. Blame it on the lack of the Fairness Doctrine.

    In my state, SC, I have observed it is all about the GOpers voting for a candidate who says what they want to hear with total disregard what their lives and careers are screaming about them and their character. A rational voter looks at everything they can dig up about a candidate, not just what they need to say to get elected. Just look at what Sc elects: Mark Sanford, bumbling bi-polar Trikki Nikki Haley, Jim DeMinted, Joe (You Lie!) Wilson and pandering Lindsey Graham.

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