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March 14, 2008

Intervening Our Way to Economic Ruin

by Rep. Ron Paul

On Wednesday, March 13, Rep. Ron Paul addressed the House of Representatives on the costs of intervening around the world.

I am pleased to address the House tonight about the budget because there has been a lot of concern expressed here today on both sides of the aisle about the kind of financial trouble we're in. And there's no doubt about that. But sometimes I think we go back and forth spending more time blaming each other rather than dealing with the real problem.

One of the contentions I've had about the budget is that we look at it as an accounting problem rather than a philosophy problem because the spending occurs because of what we accept as the proper role of government. And right now, it's assumed by the country as well as the Congress that the proper role of government is to run our lives, run the economy, run the welfare state, and police the world. And all of a sudden, it puts a lot of pressure on the budget.

Today, the national debt is going up almost $600 billion. And the economy is getting weaker, there's no doubt about it. We're in a recession, it's going to get much worse, which means that the deficit is going to get a lot worse. And I'm predicting within a couple of years, it will not surprise me one bit to see the national debt, the national obligation for future generations to rise in 1 year three-quarters of $1 trillion. And that is a very possible number.

And like it has been expressed so often today, we need to do something about it. The question is, what are we going to do about it? One side, it seems like, well, if we just raise taxes, we're going to solve the problem. The other side says, well, all we have to do is get rid of the earmarks. Well, that argument, I think, falls short, too, because you can vote to cut all the earmarks, but it doesn't cut any spending, it just delivers the authority to spend the money to the executive branch. I think the job of the Congress is to earmark the money. It's our obligation to tell people how the money is spent.

And those who think that we can solve this problem by just getting rid of earmarks, they never talk about the earmarks overseas, the hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars we spend overseas. We earmark them to certain countries, into building military buildings overseas. What about the earmark for the embassy in Iraq? It has cost $1 billion. That's an earmark. But the side that said that we can solve this problem by cutting earmarks never talks about these earmarks.

Just think of the earmarks in the military budget. I mean, billions. We finally elect a different Congress to deal with some of these supplementals and emergency spending that we don't have the guts to put on the budget. And what do we do? We have the continuation, in all the budgets presented today, we're still going to finance the war as an off-budget emergency item. We're not being honest with ourselves. And we pretend that the problem is there, and that if you talk about it, it's going to go away.

The way I see it is there's only one way that we're going to attack this, and that is, decide what our government ought to be doing. And the Constitution is very clear, the government ought to preserve our liberties and give us a strong national defense. It shouldn't run our lives, it shouldn't run the economy, it shouldn't police the world. We're not supposed to be the policemen of the world. But everybody talks about it.

And both sides of the aisle have no hesitation to spend every cent the executive branch asked for to run a war that was never declared. We now spend $1 trillion a year going up, this year it's going to go over $1 trillion to run the operations overseas. That means all the foreign aid and all the military, $1 trillion to do things we shouldn't be doing.

They interviewed 3,400 military personnel just recently, military leaders, and 82 percent of them said our military is weaker today than it was 5 years ago. So, all of this money spent and all this policing in the world, and all this deficit.

And financially we're coming down. I mean, just today the dollar went down 1.2 percent in one day, after this steady erosion. It comes from the fact of deficits. And why does that hurt the dollar? Because we don't have enough money. We don't tax enough. We can't tax anymore. People are overtaxed. We can't borrow anymore because interest rates will go up. So, we print the money. And the more money you print, the further the dollar goes down, and then everything goes up in price. So it's a cycle that's coming to an end.

The value of the dollar is really telling the whole story. We've overextended ourselves because we do not challenge the whole notion of what we ought to be doing here and what our government ought to be all about because we have drifted so far from the original intent of the Constitution. There is no hesitation, there are debates that go on here endlessly. One side of the aisle says, well, we need more and more money for the military; we can't cut one single cent on overseas expenditure. And the other side says, oh, no, we can't cut the entitlements. And then there's an agreement, we raise both.

My idea is to have a strong national defense and to get this budget under control. Reject the notion that we need to run an empire; we can't afford it, it's going to come down, it always comes down. It has come down all throughout history because eventually the currency is destroyed.

We're in 130 countries. We have 700 bases. Our military now is in worse shape than it was 5 years ago, according to our military. So it's time we look at the strategic, the philosophic problems. And I will say, unless we do this, this will end badly. It's going to end with a major economic crisis. It's going to be worldwide, and we here at home will suffer, not only economically but inevitably. Under these conditions the people lose their liberty, and our liberties are being eroded every single day.

So, yes, we take an oath to obey and uphold the Constitution against foreign and domestic. But we're domestic, and we should protect our rights and our budget and the greatness of this country.

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    Ron Paul is a Republican Congressman from Texas. He was the 1988 Libertarian Party candidate for President.

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