Ron Paul photo

Remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference

February 07, 2008

Thank you. [cheers]

Thank you very much. [cheers]

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Sounds like the Constitution is alive and well.  You encourage me. [cheers]

You know, it shouldn't be that difficult to figure out what we should be doing, because we have a lot of problems. We have fiscal problems. We have foreign policy. We have monetary policies. We have deficit problems. And where do they come from? It's because we don't follow the rule of law; we don't follow the Constitution. If we knew and understood and read Article 1, Section 8, believe me, this government would be much smaller, we would have a lot less taxes, and we could repeal the 16th Amendment and get rid of the income tax. [cheers]

Somewhere along the way though, we have drifted away from the Constitution, and we as conservatives, especially conservatives running the Republican Party, we have drifted a long way from the positions that we used to hold of limited government, and this is what we have to talk about. We have to talk about what conservatives stand for and what they should be doing, because we're going in the wrong direction. There's not a whole lot of time left, because if we continue to do what we're doing, we're going to have a financial crisis, because you can't continue to spend too much. Because there's a limit on how much you can tax, and we're taxed to the hilt. And then there's a limit on how much borrowing we can do, and we're borrowing to the hilt. We're dependent on China and Saudi Arabia and all these countries, because we are the greatest debtor in the whole world today.

This is different than the 1970's when we had to pay for guns and butter. Today we're paying for guns and butter again. But today our good jobs are overseas. We owe 2.7 trillion dollars. The whole country is in debt. And what do we do now? When we need more government? We print more money. What is the bailout package all about? Our side of the aisle, you know, proposes it, and the Democrats want to increase it.

“150 billion? No, let's up it to 200 billion dollars.” Where does it come from? The government has no money. Well, can we tax people? No, can't tax anymore. What are they going to do? They're going to print the money, devalue the dollar, and that's the problem we have! The dollar's low. Prices are high. The people are suffering. The middle class is shrinking. So we offer the same old problem, the same old baloney, and then we turn around and we say, “Well, why don't we ask the Federal Reserve to create more money? Nobody seems to have enough money. If we just had more money, maybe it would prop up the stock market.”

So we go to the Federal Reserve and they badger the Federal Reserve and the markets say, “We need more money.” So they crank it out. They lower interest rates. You can't lower interest rates unless you print more money. So they lower interest rates dramatically! Like never before! The stock market goes up 200 points. An hour later, they realize it didn't do any good. And the stock market drops 200 points.

So we're in a bind; we're in a fix. And I'll tell you what — we overspend. Everywhere. We spend too much everywhere! [cheers]

This means we spend too much money overseas; we spend too much domestically, and we don't produce like we used to. So therefore, the only answer is to be truly conservative. And to be truly conservative, you have to truly take your oath of office seriously, and that is, obey the Constitution. [cheers]

But we as Republicans and conservatives, we finally got control of the government. 1994, matter of fact, was an exciting year because it was the year I thought I might like to go back to Congress. I had been in for four terms in the '70's and early '80's, was out, went back to medicine, delivered babies. And in 1994 I thought, “Well, this country's getting serious. We've, you know, changed the Congress. I'm going back and I'm going to help.”

So I got back in, and was sworn in again in 1997, and was hopeful. In the year 2000 again, hopeful — the Senate, the House, and the presidency.

But what have we done? Have we lost our way or what?

I mean, remember the old days? The old Reagan days? When we used to say to get rid of the Department of Education? That's what we ought to be doing! [cheers]

So when we get our chance, what did we do? We doubled the size of the Department of Education. We put No Child Left Behind. We did all these things. We've lost credibility and now we're losing House seats. We've lost control of the House and the Senate, and right now it looks like we're going to lose even more. And it's not because we are not compassionate. It's because we're not conservative that we're losing! That's how we won before! [cheers]

But now, now we have a candidate running for president, who's leading the charge — one of his best friends is Feingold — campaign finance reform. [booing]

Another good friend of this leading candidate, his good friend's name is Kennedy, on immigration! [booing]

And then also his old time friend — he's not in the Senate right now — but Senator Daschle used to be his good friend on taxes, to increase taxes, not lower taxes! We need lower taxes! So...[cheers]

And now, and now our leading candidate, guess whose position he holds on global warming? Al Gore. He supports the Al Gore bill on global warming. [booing]

So, if you think we can lead this country back to conservative principles, fiscal soundness, and a decent-sized government, you have another thought coming, because it's not going to happen. And therefore, we have to start thinking about like conservatives thought once again. That is what we have to do; we have to know what conservatives think about.

You know, on the right to life issue, I believe — I'm a real stickler for civil liberties — I believe that liberty is the most important thing. Because if we have our liberties, we have our freedoms, we can have our lives! [cheers]

But it's academic to talk about civil liberties if you don't talk about the true protection of all life. So if you're going to protect liberty, you have to protect the life of the unborn just as well. [cheers]

And I have a bill in Congress which I certainly would promote and push as president. But it's been ignored, basically, by the right to life community. And my bill is called the “Sanctity of Life Amendment,” or bill. And what it would do, it would establish the principle that life begins at conception. And somebody says, “Oh why are you saying that?” And I say, “Well, that's not a political statement — that's a scientific statement that I'm making!” [cheers]

But something we could have done, and I know we're all interested in a better court system and amending the Constitution to protect life, but sometimes I think that is dismissing the way we can handle this much quicker, and in my bill, my bill what it does, it removes the jurisdiction of the federal courts from the issue of abortion. If a state law says no abortion, it doesn't go to the Supreme Court to be ruled out of order. [cheers]

I have, since the very first time I ran for Congress in the 1970's, expressed a great deal of concern about the monetary issue. Something that has been ignored — this is the first time in over 100 years that monetary policy has been discussed in a presidential campaign. On the universities where I get large crowds, we get a large number of young people coming out interested in the money issue. We had over 4,000 show up the other night at the University of Minnesota. [cheers]

The issue of money is one of the most interesting subjects for these young people, because when I talk about the monetizing of debt, the printing of money, the endless devaluation of our currency, and how important it is, it gets one of the loudest applauses, because young people understand that money is a very important issue. They understand that the Constitution is explicit. The Constitution says no emitting bills of credit, no paper money. Only gold and silver can be legal tender. And today we allow big government to grow. Whether it's on the conservative side or the liberal side, if they want something, they usually have a compromise, spend it on both, and then they resort to printing money, and that is where our trouble's coming from. And that is the crisis we're facing. All great nations and great empires end for fiscal, financial reasons. That's how the Soviet system was defeated. We didn't have to invade them; we didn't have to fight them. Their system collapsed.

And that is what's happening today. The middle class is getting wiped out. The middle class is getting poorer, endlessly, because they can't keep up with the cost of living. And the solution isn't printing more money and spending more money, and allowing the Federal Reserve to pretend they can solve the problem. The answer is found in fiscal conservatism. Live within our means is what we have to do. [cheers]

You know, as long as a government can stir up fear, sometimes real and sometimes not real, the people are expected to do one thing — sacrifice their liberty. If you're fearful, the government, the people who believe in big government — big government conservatives, or big government liberals — they like fear to be out there. And sometimes fear is normal and natural, and real, and we have to deal with it. But at other times, it's concocted. In times of war, whether it was the Civil War, or the First World War, or the Second World War, just think of the violations of civil liberties during the period of war when people are frightened.

The one conclusion I have come to since 9/11 is that there is absolutely never a need to sacrifice any of your personal liberties to be safe. [cheers]

That means we do not have to accept the notion that we can have warrantless searches — a total loss of our privacy. We don't need a national id card. Believe me, we do not need it! [cheers]

The analogy that I like to use about the national id card and what happened on 9/11 — you know, guns are dangerous, and when criminals have them they can commit crimes, and we want to regulate that. We want to take the guns from the criminals, and put the criminals in jail. [cheers]

But, we as conservatives and constitutionalists know that you don't take the guns away from law-abiding citizens. [cheers]

And when we deal with this issue of taking care of the people and protecting the people, you don't have to register the American people to make us safe. You have to deal with the problem much more directly. Now, we have a responsibility in the Constitution — one of the most explicit responsibilities of course — protecting liberties, having a judicial system, having sound money, and providing for a strong national defense. None of us should argue about that.

We do debate on how we get the strongest national defense. I don't think we're doing very well. Our military is not in good shape. A lot of equipment is down. Our Air National Guard, our Army National Guard — they're drained. Our reserves are overseas. We have men that are going back third and fourth and fifth times. They've been in five years. They get out and they get recalled. We have a de facto draft, and there's a danger of this war spreading, and there's no end in sight. McCain says we should stay there for 100 years if necessary. I say there's no need to do that! [booing]

One thing that is very conservative and very constitutional and if we had followed this, we would have stayed out of a lot of trouble since World War II — you cannot be a conservative and believe that we can go to war under the direction of a single person, without congressional approval, and without a declaration of war. That's what we should always have. [cheers]

Because I am not anxious to go to war unless it's necessary and dictated by the people through the Congress, some people say, “Oh, that means you're weak on the military. That means you're weak on the troops.” But let me tell you something about where we get our support and make you reconsider if that is what you believe. You know, we did some statistical studies about where the money comes into the campaign, and I know that you have recognized that we can, and have, raised a lot of money. [cheers]

But if you look at where it comes from and where the active military personnel send their money — we in the last quarter received more money from the military active duty personnel than all the other Republicans and Democrat candidates put together! [cheers]

You know, providing for the national defense is very, very important. And as I said, understanding it, I don't think we have any disagreement there. But understanding why we might be threatened, one thing that we are not threatened by is a military operation. They're incapable. We have more weapons. We probably have twice as many weapons of all the other countries put together. So nobody's going to invade us. We are not weak and we shouldn't act like we're weak. But, here we are. We are frightened by what might happen, and of course we have to deal with the issue of terrorism.

When the terrorist attack occurred, I voted for the authority and the funding to go after the al-Qaeda. [cheers]

But Osama bin Laden, who used to be our ally, is still free. We chased him over into Pakistan. We dropped the ball at Tora Bora. So, what do we do? We tax the American people, or we borrow the money from China. Took another 10 billion dollars, and hired a military dictatorship by the name of Musharraf to go after Osama bin Laden, which he did not do, and now we still have a mess. Now, we're doing exactly what we condemned Clinton for. We won in the year 2000 by campaigning for a humble foreign policy. No policing of the world. No intervening! [cheers]

And now we are doing the very same thing. We're doing the very same thing, and things have not gotten better. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. There were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no al-Qaeda there. [cheers]

It is the policy of intervention that I object to so strongly. One time they're our friends; the next time they're our enemy. Osama bin Laden was a freedom fighter when we gave him weapons and equipment to fight the Russians and the Soviets. Saddam Hussein, we propped him up and got him in power and he was our friend and we encouraged him to invade Iran. But it's this on again, off again stuff that continues to haunt us and keep coming back. But you know what? The truth of the matter is that Osama bin Laden likes our foreign policy. He likes our foreign policy because it's a tremendous incentive for him to raise his group of al-Qaeda to join, because he has been explicit. He says, “We are going to do to you, United States, exactly what you and us together did to the Soviets. We are going to drain you. We're going to humiliate you.  And, therefore, we don't even need to come over here.” So we have fallen into the trap. We have victimized ourselves. We have encouraged him. And we have done this by not following our Constitution that gives us no authority to be the policemen of the world. [cheers]

But the limiting factor will be financial. As I said, all great nations end for financial reasons, and that is what's happening today. We can't afford it any longer. Sure, we need to get rid of the Department of Education, but we spend a trillion dollars a year maintaining an empire. The Founders said, “Be friends, trade with people, mix with people, and don't fight with people — don't tell them what to do. Practice diplomacy.” But now we are on this endless streak of interfering, involving, and dictating. We have two choices — we go to a country and we say, “Do it our way, or we'll bomb you.” Then if they do it our way, we give them money. But we're broke. We're broke and we just can't continue to do this. That's what the dollar is telling us.

The debt is too high. The dollar is weakening. The middle class is being wiped out. The international debt is so big and we're dependent on others. Our good jobs are overseas.

So, who's going to pick up the pieces?

Is it going to be the current crop of politicians that we have right now, or are we going to restore real, conservative, constitutional values to our country? [cheers]

My argument has always been that if you follow the Constitution, you will defend freedom. Freedom brings people together. It allows people to run their lives as they choose. It allows them to practice their religion as they choose. And it's not confrontational, and it's not antagonistic. The welfare state and the warfare state and the social state is exactly the opposite. It divides us, because they take away our wealth, they control it in Washington, and what is happening today? Hundreds of millions of dollars of campaign funds and PAC money and lobbying efforts to come to Washington to control the money that gravitates to Washington, D.C. And the pie is shrinking and the people are getting angry, and we have forgotten what a free country is all about. We've lost our confidence because now we have fallen into the trap and we act like Democrats because we have to have safety nets here, and safety nets here, and do all these things. But, the whole story is it's coming to an end and there's a wonderful, beautiful answer. And it comes in our traditions; it comes in the principles of liberty. If you promote liberty, liberty promotes peace, and peace promotes prosperity. [cheers]

So if we as conservatives are truly conservative in the sense of the word to conserve our true values, it means we have to be serious about taking our oath of office to the Constitution. Limit the government's size! Limit the spending! Limit the deficit! Limit our exposure around the world! And believe me, if America is as great as I believe it should be and can be and has been, believe me, we will have influence around the world. We cannot take our greatness and spread our greatness and our goodness through the barrel of a gun. It fails because it destroys our goodness by doing it that way. [cheers]

There's always payback. There's payback for guns and butter. In the '70's, when I was motivated first to run for Congress, I realized it wasn't going to last because that was when the gold standard finally lost its last link. And we ushered in the '70's, and they were tough. High unemployment rates. Interest rates of 21%. High inflation rates. But we did pay back. We paid back for all the spending of the Democrats in the '60's. Guns and butter. But we're acting too much like Democrats, and now we are starting to pay for the guns and butter and we don't even see an end to it. It is endless! It is endless; nobody knows. We are told that this war is going to go on for a long, long time. And that means that the next generation, the burden is being placed on these young people, and that is why the college kids are coming out, because they're getting ripped off. We have undermined their liberties. We're giving them a foreign policy where it's their lives on the line. The threat of a draft is coming for men and women as this war is likely to spread, and what are they inheriting? Less freedom and a lot of debt. Entitlements up to 60 trillion dollars, and they can't pay it.

A group of young people going to the work force which are smaller — smaller — than the ones who are in retirement. The baby boomers are retiring and they're going to demand what they put into the system, and it's just not there. So what we need to do is not only live within our means, but start paying down the deficit and offer an opportunity for at least for the next generation to get out. To get out to the point where they can take care of their medical needs by themselves, get out of the Social Security System, which is a fraud as we know it. [cheers]

But, at the same time, if we use common sense, we don't have to put anybody out on the street, because a lot of people are dependent. And as conservative as I am, as unconstitutional as I see many of these programs, you don't need to do it overnight.

But it will end overnight if you have a cataclysmic devaluation of the dollar, and all bets are off on what will happen under those conditions if you look at history. But if we did the right things and cut where we can cut — there's no reason why we have to pay for the defense of Japan, Korea, and Europe — we're going broke! [cheers]

And if we do that, we literally can take care of our people and work our way out of this. If we have our freedoms, and we had the responsibility to care for ourselves, and we had sound money, within a year, or two, we'd be back on our feet again.

But the most important issue is to make sure that we have our liberties. Understanding what private property means; understanding what sound money is all about, and also, understanding what national sovereignty means. Once again, we ought to be protecting our borders, and not allowing this North American Union to come into effect! [cheers]

Somewhere along the way in the campaign, they coined the term “Ron Paul Revolution.” It has nothing to do with Ron Paul Revolution; it has to do with the continuation of the grand revolution that we have been blessed with and that we have benefited by. But there's no reason why we should give up on it. I've had interviewers say, “You want to go back to old times, hundreds of years ago.” Well, hundreds of years ago — you know if it's true, age has nothing to do with it — the principle of habeas corpus is a lot older than that, and we shouldn't be giving up on that. [cheers]

But going back, and picking up on the principles and the Bill of Rights, is not going back to ancient times. What is ancient, which we've had before, that is the inflationary system that has been known for thousands of years how they debase currency. But also, tyranny is what is ancient. And now, we're getting total control of our lives, and loss of our privacy, and loss of our freedoms, and loss of our economic benefits. That is old-fashioned. What is new, today, is something that is just the restoration of what we had. We need to believe in ourselves. We need to understand how freedom works. If we do the right things, we can restore the greatness of this country.

Thank you very much. [cheers]

Ron Paul, Remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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