Category: campaignforliberty.org

Ron Paul: On War, Gold, and My Years in Congress

Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul recently sat down with Ludwig Von Mises Institute President (and his former Chief of Staff) Jeff Deist to discuss his political career, including his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, and the issues that motivated him to get (and stay) involved in the fight for liberty.

You can read this fascinating interview here and below:

On War, Gold, and My Years in Congress

JEFF DEIST: What makes you optimistic, what makes you pessimistic about what you see in the US?

RON PAUL: Well, if I look at the big picture including a long span of time, I would say conditions aren’t that bad, even though I often talk about all the bad things I anticipate and how it could get worse in terms of the economy and foreign policy.

When you think about it, I was born in 1935, in the middle of the Depression. I remember my early life. I remember when I was 3 years old and 5 years old and the Depression lasted through World War II and the conditions were such as I remember very clearly, but it wasn’t a big deal for me even though we lived in close quarters and we didn’t have a lot of shoes and were just skimping by.

So, we went through a Depression and World War II. Those were pretty tough times and since that time — since the war issue’s always been a big issue with me — I remember the tragedies of World War II. We had relatives in Germany, so it always caught my attention. Then we had the Korean War. I could remember my mother saying, “another war this soon?” We just got over one, so she was negative on that and then we had the Vietnam War and I knew that I probably would be drafted and that was one of the reasons that helped me move toward medicine.

So, those were pretty bad times. Think of the people that were dying over those first 30 or 40 years. Things weren’t great economically either. In America, we were not even
allowed to own gold.

Those were conditions that existed that changed for the better to some degree. Philosophically, I think, we’re still on the wrong track overall, although some things have improved. Once again, we’re able to own gold. The United States government and I pushed it along when I was in Congress to mint gold coins again and talk about monetary policy.

Philosophically, we are making progress in some areas, though, and I give a lot of credit to the institutions that do this, like the Mises Institute and FEE. And of course, I want to participate in changing foreign policy and we keep working on that through the Ron Paul Institute.

But, on the downside of all this, I see we’re on a disastrous course even though the official economic indicators look great and wonderful. Everybody’s practically euphoric and
Trump is a good cheerleader. But, there is a lot of weakness behind the numbers, and we’re engaging in self-deception and unsupported hopefulness that things will be all good, there will be no inflation or high unemployment, and there’ll be no major war. I think when I look at the seeds that have been sown, the future looks rather bleak in many ways, even compared to what it was like as we finished World War II and Vietnam.

We’re in a mess partly because our major universities are still very Marxist-oriented and they’re very anti-liberty and therefore, I think for people who care about liberty, we have a big job ahead of us.

JD: You talk about this in your book, Swords into Ploughshares. Is there a particular moment or recollection from your childhood during the Great Depression, or World War II, that started you on the path to being liberty-minded?

RP: Not at that young age. I think I had a natural instinct — and I claim everybody has a natural instinct — to be an individual. I think we express that when we are 2 years old and when we are 4 years old, when we’re teenagers and it’s always a struggle of being independent-minded and minding our own business and taking care of ourselves. And then, we have that beaten out of us. Of course, discipline is very necessary and good. But it depends on where it’s coming from. If it’s coming from some wise parenting, I think this is very, very good.

But, there was never one moment I started down that path of being liberty-minded. I think, more or less, it was an evolution. Back then I’d read newspapers and listened to the radio, listened to my dad talking about the war issues and going to school and it was a mixed bag. And then, I guess the serious introduction came probably in the early 1960s. I got interested in reading Austrian economics. I read almost everything that Ayn Rand ever wrote and that’s when I found Leonard Read and got to know him. It seems like when Goldwater was running — that would have been ’64 — I had already been thinking about it. If you read everything Goldwater was talking about back then, he would throw out some names. So, somewhere along the way, I came across the name Hayek because he was known because of The Road to Serfdom. So, I was inquisitive enough to look into it.

By the way, when I talk to college students today, I say the most important thing you can leave this place with is being inquisitive, checking out, finding out, and ask the question and seek the truth and do your best to be truthful to yourself and then come up with these answers. I am fascinated, that on the campaign trail in the last 10–15 years, where people would listen and come up to me and they would say, “I get it. It’s just common sense.” They’d put the whole picture together and they seemed to have sort of a moment
where a light bulb goes on.

JD: Part of this evolution affected your decision to be a doctor, didn’t it? Deciding you wanted to help people. You saw a world full of hurt.

RP: I had an exceptionally good male teacher that taught biology and I got fascinated with that and got an A. So, when I went to college, I sort of leaned in the direction of science. I already felt comfortable with biology and the chemistry teachers and physics teachers weren’t as good. So I majored in biology, so that sort of set the stage, but even up until my third year in college, I was uncertain. But by the time I was finished in college, I had made a decision that’s what I wanted to do and fortunately, I was able to do that. I considered myself very fortunate that I was able, over my lifetime, to be able to do medicine, to a large degree and stuck with that a lot more than people realize as well as getting involved in the issues. People say, “when did you get involved in politics?” I say I never did. “When did you decide to go into politics?” I never did. But, I wanted to talk about the issues that were important to me and the vehicle was politics because I wasn’t an economics professor. I wasn’t writing great books and things like that, I was more inspired to try to convince other people of a different way of doing things. And I think I picked up some of the wisdom on how to do that from Leonard Read because he had some special ideas on how you converted people. Yet, I ended up talking, and being impressed and amazed that I could get 5,000 or 10,000 people out on a college campus, but being a member of Congress was what I used that one thing to do and that is to change people’s minds.

JD: I know you’ve written about it, but talk briefly about your involuntary time, of a sort, in the Air Force during the 1960s.

RP: Right. I always assumed I would be drafted. I thought being a doctor was a better way to go, because I just dreaded the thought of people just shooting at each other and killing each other. In October of ’62, I was almost finished with my second year of residency, and during the crisis, I got a draft notice. Fortunately I was able to finish out the year, but I went into the Air Force in January of ’63 and was stationed at Kelly in San Antonio and that’s how we originally got to Texas. But, back then, there were a few people resisting the draft. There was a doctor that was in the news and I sort of looked at that and I paid attention, but I didn’t say, “that’s what I ought to be doing.” But resistance to the war grew, and as time went on I sort of admired what boxer Mohammad Ali did, to give up his career in a way for three years, because he was arrested and prosecuted for resisting the draft. That, to me, was very impressive. I was disturbed by that, but I expected it. That’s what governments do to you.

I was disturbed that my medical training was going to be messed up. But, I was pretty stoic about it and I liked the idea of flying. I remember going through flight medical school. It was not a big education, it was 3 months schooling, but I remember it was in the early 60s, they were just talking about the space program. I said, in my mind, I wonder if I ever could be the first doctor that could go into space. That technology fascinated me and of course, that wasn’t to be, but I just made a decision that I would make the best of it. During the Air Force period, I had a lot more time to read and that’s when the Randians were very active and it was at that time, I subscribed to The Objectivist Newsletter and remember specifically reading “Gold and Economic Freedom” by Alan Greenspan, which I kept a copy of all those years. That’s the activity I was involved with. I’m not a Randian, and I’m not an Objectivist. I have my critique of that, but it was sort of inspiring reading.

Even today, I don’t read hardly any novels, but I read hers because they were sort of inspirational and yet, she forced me to sort things out because she was so negative on Christianity and generosity, at least she came across that way with her attack on altruism and compared it to communism and that didn’t make sense to me. I had to figure that out, that there was a difference, that they weren’t identical.

But, so I had more time off while in the Air Force and enjoyed it. I learned how to fly an airplane and got my pilot’s license, but had to travel around the world frequently as part of my duty. I went to the Far East on a couple trips and I went to the Middle East and every place from Spain, Italy, Turkey, Ethiopia, Pakistan, the whole works. Iran, I was in, I don’t think I was in Iraq. In Iran, I had been there in Tehran, but that was back when we owned it, with the Shah.

I referenced those trips over the years because they became so significant in my activity in foreign policy. I especially remember how we weren’t allowed to go into Afghanistan. We were in Pakistan and we went up to Peshawar, which was not too far from the Khyber Pass, which was historic and remains historic. It was right on the border and it turned out that was the area where that whole Bin Laden episode happened. And I can visualize that place very, very well as I was driving with the military people up in a truck, to visit the border. I can remember the captain that was with us in the truck, who had been there before and he said, “Ron, do you see that place up there?” It was a place of totally bare and rocky mountains. He said, “there are thousands of people that live up there. They are tribal and they’ve been there for a long, long time and they’ve never been conquered.” And he gave me a little history lesson and so, once we started thinking about this, in the foreign policy, I was able to visualize.

So, my military experience turned out to have some value.

JD: After the Air Force you were back in South Texas. You now have several kids. You’re reading Austrian economics, getting more and more involved in your thinking. In the early 70s, you go to the University of Houston and see Ludwig von Mises, only a year or two before he died.

RP: I think it was his last lecture tour. We saw a little clip in the paper — very, very small — in the Houston Chronicle and it said he would be a speaker at the University of Houston. There was only one other person I knew in the whole town that knew who Mises was and that was Dr. Henry May and so, I called him, I said, “Henry, Mises is coming to town. Why don’t we go up and hear him?” And it was a major decision for us because we had to drive about 50 or 60 miles and find where he was giving this lecture. At the same time, we both had office hours, so we had to get coverage, for somebody to come in and take care of our patients because it would take us the afternoon to do this. So, we went up and his lecture was on socialism. I sort of read the book and knew a little bit about it. It was just the experience of hearing him lecture. He had a German accent with a lot of lisping, whistling. He spoke English, of course, but there was a strong accent, but it still was an experience. The venue, it was a room, probably a classroom that might have held 40 to 50 students, maybe more and they had to bring extra chairs in and that room was packed. We got there a little late and we stood at the door so we could at least see him for the experience. I don’t know whether you ever heard the other part of the story.

JD: Dr. Michael Keller.

RP: Do you know the story?

JD: Our friend, Dr. Keller, was responsible for having the event there as a young member of UH student council.

RP: One time we were talking many, many years later, to Keller and I told him this story. He said, “Guess what? I was the one that got Mises to come.” It was probably decades later that we crossed paths and that’s how one person, doing something — like bringing Mises in — can make changes and I found that fascinating.

JD: So, when you ultimately decided to run for Congress, the first time around in the Houston area, I wonder if people understand how beneficial it was that you were known as a medical doctor and an OB — it was a political asset for you in running for Congress.

RP: Yes, it was, as a matter of fact. We used it in our advertisements and our media person did an ad which was just, the lights coming on at my house. It was dark and I go out and get in the car and drive off and they show me going off and then me coming back home in the middle of the night. I got up and went and delivered a baby. Matter of fact, Michael Burgess was a medical student back then and after we got to know each other he said, “I saw your ads. That’s when I went into OBGYN. The ads were so impressive.” It had nothing to do with anything foreign policy or gold standard or anything else. It was just that I was an OB doctor and it was image making. When he told me that story, I said, “It’s too bad you just went into OB. I thought you’d become a libertarian.” But, he probably wouldn’t mind me saying that.

JD: Carol was a little astonished when you won? It changed your life, not always in great ways, in terms of family.

RP: Well, she wasn’t astonished. I was probably more astonished. It’s when I told her I was going to run. She said, it was risky, dangerous because you might win. I said no, I can’t possibly because I wasn’t involved in that. I was trying to get rid of Santa Claus and you don’t win doing that. She said, yeah, but you’re going to tell them the truth and they’re going to like that and they’re going to vote you in. So, yes, we had some adjustments to do. And that was one reason why after I had four terms, I came back to medicine for 12 years.

JD: One of the great things that came out of your first stint in Congress was your minority report, with Lewis Lehrman on The Case for Gold. You were part of the Minority Commission appointed by Ronald Reagan. Reagan is someone you saw through maybe more than a lot of conservatives did.

RP: Oh, yeah. Reagan was a nice guy and I think he believed in some good things, but he also was able to rationalize a lot of things. Deficit spending, big government, militarism. I didn’t like what he did in Libya, bombing Libya.

Also, he really had less to do with the gold commission than it sounds because it was passed under Carter the year before Reagan was in. So when Reagan was elected and it came up, it looked like they were just going to ignore it. We had to make sure that they did it and my involvement came about, interestingly, because I had talked about gold.

The most important outcome of that whole thing was that we legalized private ownership of gold again for the first time since the 1930s. The legislation was brought up under the IMF bill in 1983 and Jesse Helms and I sort of worked it together. But he was ahead of me on having it done. I think he was getting ready to do it in the Senate and they came to me and I was able to introduce it in the House.

The bill’s passage was a significant event, but that was a reflection of what was going on in ’79 and ’80. I mean, we went from gold not being owned by Americans and fixed at $35 an ounce at Bretton Woods, which was a disaster. It collapsed and then we had a decade of massive inflation and 15 percent interest rates then 21 percent and people were very, very concerned about the dollar and so, the purpose was to study the role of gold in the monetary system, domestic and international.

We had our first meeting and it was held in secret and Regan was the chairman. He was Treasurer and he said, “we have to keep this secret because we don’t want to mess up the gold markets and all.” And guess who came to our rescue? Several people did, but Bob Novak did. Novak was a gold guy and he started writing about it and he got enough people to pester them and then they turned the commission’s documents over. Few people in Washington wanted an open discussion.

JD: A lot of people may not know the story about President Reagan calling you to vote for funding for a bomber program. Tough call for a young congressman.

RP: Yeah, I was in the House restaurant and I think Carol was with me because usually when we had someone come from home, a guest, we’d go there. So, they came over and said, the president’s on the phone. I went to take the call and matter of fact, over the years, he did that I think twice, but this was the one on the B-1 bomber, that was controversial and he asked me — I was very, very polite and he was very polite — and I said, well I’m sorry, Mr. President because you know, I campaigned against that and I said I don’t think I can break my word. He said, okay, I understand. There wasn’t any badgering or anything like that, but then I went back and I told Carol.

JD: That’s a great story. He was a little more gentlemanly than Tom DeLay.

RP: DeLay was something else. He’s being rehabilitated.

JD: Yes. Do you have any thoughts on running against Phil Gramm in 1984 for US Senate in Texas?

RP: I was looking for a graceful way out of Congress and the Senate run was it because I did have a lot of supporters then and I didn’t want to insult them by just quitting. It was very, very clear that the establishment Republicans didn’t want me and they ganged up real fast to support Gramm. I don’t know of any other way that I could have done it, but it was sort of my desire to get home because in spite of all the stories you hear about Congressmen, back then I was probably making $40,000 or $50,000 a year and I had kids in school and it was not financially easy to go back and forth and have a couple homes and get kids through college. I decided that if I was going to go back to Congress, I had certain rules that I had. I was not going to have any kids still in school and I wouldn’t owe any money. I’d have my house and all my properties paid off and then I could be more relaxed in going back and not have to worry about the finances.

JD: So, when you decide to run again in 1996, people might not know how arrayed against you the GOP was. Then Governor George W. Bush of Texas and his man, Karl Rove, were not fans, and actually Newt Gingrich as speaker had the Democrats switch parties to run against you. So they didn’t want you back.

RP: They worked very, very hard. Matter of fact, that race is probably the most fascinating that I was involved in. It’s been written up in detail because when I decided I was going to run, I went and talked to the Republican delegation and I said, “I want to run.” I want to get another Republican seat for Texas because Greg Laughlan was the sitting Democrat in the 14th district where I lived.

I said I could get the seat. But, what shocked me is I didn’t know how quickly I could change it to a Republican seat a month later. With the backing of the Republican establishment, Laughlan became a Republican. He was on the Ways and Means Committee and the GOP promised him a million dollars and Newt Gingrich came on and he supported him. He got 56 — maybe, a large number, I think it was around 56 — other members of Congress to cough up and donate to his campaign and both Bushes, Senior and Junior, supported him. They didn’t want me in Congress.

But, it all backfired. We were tipped off at times when they were trying to bring somebody in to tell local voters to vote for Laughlan. I think it was somebody from the Reagan administration that they sent in. I can’t think of his name right now but he had been in the cabinet. We would know that he was coming in and then we had our press release ready the day before he arrived. The thing that we could use on this was, “why are they sending people from Washington to tell people in Texas how to vote?” And that was a powerful message.

And also, I knew for sure that the reason that race was so interesting was that they would use the drug issue. I was very clear about the War on Drugs and how could anybody be against the War on Drugs in a Bible Belt conservative Republican district in Texas? You can’t be elected like that.

So lo and behold, the Republican Party spent a million dollars or more, which was a lot of money then, and they did the most vicious ugly ads against me claiming that I’m giving drugs to kids and children, drug dealers and all this trash. And it didn’t work. I think most people didn’t believe it could possibly be true because they knew me more as a doctor taking care of and delivering babies. In fact, we answered it with an ad showing me delivering a baby. So, we had to combat this image. I ended up winning the primary.

But then the Democrats did the same thing, used the drug issue and I finally concluded that I thought I was absolutely alone, but I think the people are way ahead of Congress because there probably were a lot of families that had been touched by somebody because they smoked a marijuana cigarette and got thrown in prison. It was horrible. It still is bad and we’re seeing this today. I think the people either didn’t believe it or they weren’t going to hold it against me or they think the drug war was bad and I think time has proven that that was a good assessment, even though now we have an administration that’s trying to go backward.

JD: Well, when you come back to Congress, your second stint from 1997 until 2012, was marked by really two things that stick out. One is that you were strongly against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and you were involved in promoting noninterventionism. The other thing is that you were involved in monetary policy going back and forth with first Alan Greenspan and later Ben Bernanke. Give us your overriding thoughts about your second go in Congress.

RP: It was quite a bit different than the first time I ran. There was more attention and especially from 2008 on, from the presidential election in ’08 and ’12. It was just astounding and it was the issues that I liked to talk about, such as civil liberty issues.

I remember that I was totally shocked when I arrived at the University of Michigan, it was after a debate we had in Detroit, and there was a group of young people who had waited because I was late. But, we came over and that’s where they started shouting “end the Fed” and that’s where I remembered them doing that. I didn’t tell people. I didn’t have cards, hold cards up or say let’s end the Fed. It was spontaneous, so I knew something was going on, where people wanted to hear this message.

The other big issue was the NDAA . College kids started talking about that or bringing it up to me even before I was hitting hard about it. The main concern was the authority to arrest Americans and hold Americans without due process which has continued.

Those were the issues I like to talk about and of course, one of my biggest events — might have been the biggest one — was at the Berkeley campus. Things were going along and we got more attention on the Federal Reserve and people, even today, I think have a much healthier attitude about the Federal Reserve. I remember at the time seeing a poll conducted by a television station asking whose fault the recession was. I think that 66 percent agreed it was the Fed’s fault and I thought, “wow.” And this wasn’t on your website or my website. This was on the CNBC website. And I thought, well, something interesting is going on. They’re not going to get away with what they’ve gotten away with for a long time because we’re going to have another crisis and the media will say it’s the Fed’s fault.

JD: You knew Alan Greenspan a little bit and he understood gold and he understood Austrian economics. He’s a brilliant man.

RP: We had a little bit of fun at times and I had visited with him after some hearings about Murray Rothbard and different things because he knew Murray from the Rand group. I think the most fascinating little incident was because I remember his article in The Objectivist Newsletter and he was coming to one of our hearings and we were able to go and have a one-on-one, sit down and get a picture and say a few words. And not everybody did it, but I was interested in it. That’s generally not my thing, but for Greenspan, I thought, I might as well take advantage of this. I had the original green pamphlet, which was The Objectivist Newsletter and it was in 1966 and it was when Greenspan had his article first published. I said, “do you recognize this?” He knew what it was. “What I’d like you to do is sign this article for me.” So, he got his pen out and he signed this. I said, do  you want to put a disclaimer on it? And he said, “I just read that recently and I still support all those views.” What am I going to make of all that?

I’ve tried to get him on the Liberty Report, can’t get him on. I thought I could have some fun.

JD: Maybe if you pay his $200,000 speaking fee.

RP: Yes, probably.

JD: I recall you also had a breakfast with Ben Bernanke when he was Fed Chair. How did that go? Was that polite or was it frosty?

RP: It was polite and boring, in a way.

JD: He wasn’t the ideologue that Greenspan was.

RP: It might have been me not being aggressive enough or something. But, I’d have a much easier conversation with Volcker. Volcker, I got to know a lot better than I knew Bernanke and in the early 80s, there was a thing called the Monetary Control Act and there was a major part of it which was opening up the door for the Fed to monetize anything they want, especially foreign bonds. So, I complained about it and complained about it in my little way at the conference and Volcker invited me over. He said, “I’d like you to come over and have breakfast and we’ll talk about it some more.” But, it was sort of an academic thing, the way it was. It wasn’t like, “I’m going to straighten you out.” That wasn’t his attitude. So, this had to have been in ’79, most likely or ’80.

JD: Mr. Volcker should be on your show. He’s got a new biography.

RP: I don’t know whether we’ve reached out to him. He was more sympathetic to gold than some. So, when we went in, it was a one-on-one breakfast and we went over and the aide I had was somebody by the name of Lew Rockwell. We walk in and we got there a couple minutes early and Volcker’s staff was in the room where we were supposed to meet. So, we were just chatting away there in friendly conversation and then Volcker walks in, you can’t miss him because I think he’s about six-and-a-half feet tall. So, he walks in and I thought, “well I have to shake his hand and say hello.” He didn’t even look at me. He didn’t come to me. He went straight to his staff and he said, “what’s the price of gold?” So, I thought, “gold is important to him” and I still think it’s every bit as important to Fed people now because it is the ultimate measurement of the dollar. They can rig it and monkey around with it and play games, but ultimately, the market will have its say. That’s the way that Bretton Woods broke down the market. But then, of course, we talked and had the meeting and he didn’t convert me, but it was very polite. But, what I really remember about that was, he was very interested in what the price of gold was that morning.

JD: The other huge and unfortunate series of events that marked your second time in Congress were 9/11 and then our subsequent invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Looking back, talk about that terrible period with Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney and Wolfowitz. The Republicans in Congress were horrible too.

RP: We started this interview off with talking about how bad the Depression was and World War II, and Korea, and Vietnam. But then when you look at some trends today, some things are almost worse because of our aggressiveness. Back then, it was sort of dumb economic policy and Fed policy that gave us Depression and war. But, we had a declaration of war and it seemed like it was more acceptable, given the circumstances. But in the 21st century, things dramatically changed after 9/11, and the US has become far more aggressive. After all, 9/11 wasn’t the reason for the wars that followed. It was the excuse. Washington policymakers already knew what they wanted to do in the Middle East before 9/11 even happened.

My first speech, my first effort at peace, was shortly after I went back into Congress. I think it was 1998. It was the Iraq Freedom Act or I forget what it was called, but it was just intervention and threats and sanctions, that kind of stuff. I was saying those measures will lead to war. But, nobody was even talking about it in ’98, but it kept ratcheting up and getting worse and worse and worse.

It just was sort of unbelievable that’s what we were doing, and of course I wasn’t able to stop the war. I thought I was supposed to be there to help stop the wars, but they’re still going on.

JD: We’re going to feel the effects of these for decades and decades with the young people who’ve been hurt and need VA care.

RP: It’s horrible.

JD: And for all of your troubles, if you recall, there was that article in National Review from David Frum which called you and some other people, Pat Buchanan, “unpatriotic conservatives.” I always thought that you were neither. I think even some libertarians think of you as a conservative, but really you’re not in any political sense of that word.

RP: No, it’s a tricky word. Because some people could argue that if you technically want to follow the only oath that we take as members of Congress, that’s sort of conservative, to obey the oath and follow it. But “conservative” in the sense of being a warmonger, and supporting the war on drugs, and not having an understanding of civil liberties. That’s not a good kind of “conservative.” Also, conservatives today, they don’t admit it, but they’re big spenders, they’re huge spenders. So no, in that sense, we libertarians are not conservative. Besides, Mises and other libertarians never liked to be called conservatives. They wanted to be called liberals. That’s the trickiness of language. I generally steer clear of the labels.

I like to divide things into two parts: authoritarianism and volunteerism. On the one side are people who think that your life ought to be done on voluntary terms, as long as you reject aggression. On the other side are the authoritarians and they think they know what’s best for others. They really do. People I knew in Washington are convinced that people are idiots and therefore they can’t be responsible for themselves.

That’s why they don’t want ordinary people to own guns — and government should have all the guns. If you wanted to compare the number of people who die from government guns versus private guns — historically, government kills about 95 percent of the people. Maybe it’s worse than that, when you think of the 20th century.

 

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Congress Stands Up to CFPB

A rare piece of good news from Congress is that the Financial Services Appropriations bill changes the method for funding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The Dodd-Frank bill funded the CFPB through the Federal Reserve. This allowed the CFPB to avoid having to go to Congress to ask for and justify their funding—which made it harder for Congress to perform effective oversight. Allowing a federal agency to receive funds outside of the congressional process violates the framers’ intentions that Congress would exercise control over the Executive Branch and federal departments via the power of the purse.

Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney—who joined Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul in supporting efforts to close the agency when they were in Congress—has tried to focus the agency on pursuing legitimate cases of fraud and other crimes within the agency’s backlog.  Mulvaney’s efforts will be aided by the recent resignation of Leandra English, who was appointed as the CFPB’s Deputy Director at the end of the Obama administration and supported using the agency as a tool to skirt Congress by imposing new regulations on the financial services industry.

Kathy Kraninger, President Trump’s nominee to take over for Mulvaney, is likely to continue in Mulvaney’s footsteps. However, there is no guarantee that a future CFPB Director will not revert to the previous principles of overregulation that harm small banks and credit unions. That is why it is so important that Congress asserts its constitutional authority to hold this agency accountable—at least until there are the votes in Congress to repeal this unconstitutional bureaucracy.

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Judge Andrew Napolitano on War and the Separation Powers

Last month, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Chairman of the Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee held an important hearing on “War Powers and the Effects of Unauthorized Military Engagements on Federal Spending.”

The hearing examined the costs (both financial and to our constitutional system) of the last three presidents’ use of the 2001 Authorization of Military Force, which granted the president limited powers to use force to go after those involved in the 9-11 attacks. It’s been used to justify endless war-making and assaults on civil liberties. The hearing also examined the flaws with the “replacement” Authorization of Military Force proposed by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting written testimony from the hearing, starting with Judge Napolitano’s.

You can read more about the hearing here, and watch the proceedings here.

Here is Judge Napolitano’s written testimony:

STATEMENT OF HON. ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO

War and the Separation of Powers: War Powers and the Effects of Unauthorized Engagements on Federal Spending

Testimony before the Federal Spending Oversight Subcommittee of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

United States Senate
June 6, 2018

It is an honor to appear before you today in this chamber.

The issue before this body relates to a matter far more serious, and far more troubling than I would hope the Congress would ever need to confront. The fact that such legislation can even be considered by this Congress speaks volumes about the state of our Republic.

S.J. Res 59 of the 115th Congress threatens to extinguish the firewalls carefully erected by our Founders by delegating to the Executive Branch the power to make limitless war on a poorly defined enemy without any clear objective or end point. The separation of powers was designed, as James Madison reminds us in Federalist 51, with the belief that “mbition must be made to counteract ambition.” (THE FEDERALIST NO. 51 (J. Madison))

Many American law schools begin classes in Constitutional Law by asking students what sets the U.S. Constitution apart from all others. Usually, students focus on free speech, privacy, and, perhaps, due process. While each of these guarantees, when honored, proves vital to restraining government, they would falter without the separation of powers. The constitutions of many totalitarian countries pay lip service to free speech, privacy and even due process; but none has the strict separation of powers that we enjoy here in the United States. Under our Constitution, you, and your Senate colleagues and your counterparts in the House of Representatives, write our laws. The president enforces them, and the courts interpret them; and those powers and functions may not constitutionally be mixed, exchanged, or traded.

The Congress also declares war. The president also wages war. The courts also invalidate the acts of the other two branches when they exceed their constitutional powers.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the separation of powers is integral to the Constitution not to preserve the prerogatives of each branch of government, but to divide governmental powers among the branches so as to keep power diffused — and thereby limited and thus protective of personal freedom.

James Madison, who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, wanted not only this diffusion by separation but also tension — even jealousy — among the branches so as to keep each in check. He believed that “he accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, , or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”(THE FEDERALIST NO. 47 (J. Madison))

And it was in the same essay that James Madison stated, referring to the separation of powers, that “o political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value, or is stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty.”(THE FEDERALIST NO. 47 (J. Madison)) As a legislator, Madison repeated, as quoted by Chief Justice William Howard Taft, that: “If there is a principle in our Constitution, indeed in any free Constitution, more sacred than another, it is that which separates the Legislative, Executive and Judicial powers. If there is any point in which the separation of the Legislative and Executive powers ought to be maintained with great caution, it is that which relates to officers and offices.” (Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52, 116 (1926) (Taft, C.J) quoting 1 Annals of Cong. 581 (Statement of Rep. Madison).)

Separation of powers weighed heavily on the minds of the Framers of the Constitution. Indeed, as my dear friend, the late Justice Antonin Scalia observed while he sat on the United StatesCourt of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, “no less than five of the Federalist Papers were devoted to the demonstration that the principle was adequately observed in the proposed constitution.”

The Framers never imagined that one branch of government would abdicate its authority and cede an essential power to another branch since such a giveaway would be unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the core functions of each branch of the federal government may not be delegated away to either of the other two without violating the separation of powers.

I recount this not as a mini-constitutional law history lesson but rather because it serves as necessary background to address a real and contemporary problem. In mid-April of this year, on the basis of evidence so flimsy that his own secretary of defense questioned it — and without any legal or constitutional authority — President Donald Trump dispatched 110 missiles to bomb certain military and civilian targets in Syria, where the President argued the Syrian government manufactured, stored, or used chemical weapons.

President Trump did not appeal to you for a declaration of war, nor did he comply with the U.N. Charter, a treaty to which both the U.S. and Syria are signatories. Though he did not articulate any statutory basis for his use of our military, his predecessors often based their unconstitutional uses of military force two statutes — one enacted in 2001 and the other in 2002, each known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF.

The AUMFs refer to either the Taliban or al-Qaida or their affiliated forces in Afghanistan or Iraq as targets, or to pursuing those who caused the attacks in America on 9/11 or those who harbor weapons of mass destruction. They are grievously outdated and inapplicable today.

Can a president legally use military force to attack a foreign land without a serious threat or legal obligation or a declaration of war from Congress? In a word: No. The President has never had that authority.

The Constitution is clear that only Congress can declare war, and only the president can wage it. Federal law and international treaties provide that — short of defending the country against an actual attack — without a congressional declaration of war, the president can only constitutionally use military force to repel an enemy whose attack on America is imminent or to defend U.S. citizens and property in foreign lands from foreign attack or in aid of an ally pursuant to a treaty with that ally.

In the case of the President’s bombing of Syria in April, none of those conditions was met.

Prior to the strike on Syria — but no doubt prodded by the prospect of it — a bipartisan group of your Senate colleagues offered legislation supported by the President that you are considering today. If enacted it would rescind both anachronistic AUMFs, which possess no useful moral or legal authority, in favor of an unconstitutional mishmash that would permit a president to strike whomever and wherever he pleases. The president would be restrained only by a vote of Congress — after hostilities have commenced.

The legislation under scrutiny today would give the president far more powers than he has now, would directly violate Congress’ war-making powers by ceding them away to the president, would defy the Supreme Court on the unconstitutionality of giving away core governmental functions, would commit the U.S. to foreign wars without congressional and thus popular support, and would invite dangerous mischief by any president wanting to attack any enemy — real or imagined, old or new — for foreign or domestic political purposes, whether American interests are at stake or not.

Speaking of the Supreme Court’s approval of internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, Justice Robert Jackson warned that such approval by the Court of expansive executive authority “lies about like a loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need.”

The proponents of this legislation will argue that Congress would retain its war-making powers by its ability to restrain the president through some future action. That is a naive contention because congressional restraint, which can come only in the form of prohibitory legislation or withdrawal of funds, would certainly be met by a presidential veto — and a veto can be overridden only by a two-thirds vote of both the House and the Senate.

The Constitution, written in war’s aftermath, strictly limits war’s offensive use only to when the people’s representatives in Congress have recognized a broad national consensus behind it.

John Quincy Adams, in his July 4, 1821 address, cautioned that America “goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”

I could go on to explain the significance of the placement of the war power in the hands of Congress. I could also speak to the violations of our civil liberties and natural rights at the hands of the executive in times of war. However, 225 years ago, James Madison foresaw these dangers. Between 1793 and 1794, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton debated the roles of the executive and legislative branches after President George Washington had declared that the United States would remain neutral in the war etween Revolutionary France and Great Britain. James Madison delivered an explanation of the importance the war power as congressional prerogative as elegant and precise as the Constitution itself.

He wrote this a scant ten years after the formal conclusion of the American Revolution. At that time, Congress met in Congress Hall in Philadelphia. John Jay still presided as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which also met in Philadelphia. Though our Republic remained in it infancy, James Madison understood the risks that wars presented to the United States. He wrote:

In no part of the constitution is more wisdom to be found, than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the  legislature, and not to the executive department. Beside the objection to such a mixture to heterogeneous powers, the trust and the temptation would be too great for any one man; not such as nature may offer as the prodigy of many centuries, but such as may be expected in the ordinary successions of magistracy. War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will, which is to direct it. In war, the public treasures are to be unlocked; and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them. In war, the honours and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed. It is in war, finally, that laurels are to be gathered, and it is the executive brow they are to encircle. The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honourable or venial love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.

Thank you, for the opportunity to speak with you today. I look forward to your questions.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog https://ift.tt/2LlGIEZ

This Week in Congress

Before getting into this week, I want to draw your attention to two key Senate votes from last week. Both votes were “motions to instruct the House-Senate conferees on the National Defense Authorization Act,” meaning the Senate wants the conferees to include it in the final version of the bill.

First, the U.S. Senate passed a “sense of the Senate” (the Senate has sense, just not good or common sense) reaffirming U.S. support for the NATO alliance and calling on further U.S. involvement in Europe. NATO was founded to protect Europe from the Soviet Union, and almost thirty years after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is no justification for the U.S. to continue to spend billions of dollars propping up this outdated alliance. Kudos to Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee for being the only Senators to oppose this resolution.

The Senate voted 88-11 on a rebuttal that requires the president to ask for congressional approval before imposing tariffs. This is a symbolic (but only symbolic) response to President Trump’s tariffs, which has raised fears of a global trade war. Many organizations, including Campaign for Liberty, are opposed to the tariffs.

Tariffs will hurt the agricultural sector, which is why Farmers Free Trade is running TV ads opposing them.

We must keep the pressure up so the Senate does more than pass “sense of Senate” resolutions, and instead votes on legislation prohibiting  the president from raising tariffs without congressional approval.

For more on the tariffs see here and here.

The big legislation the House will consider this week is H.R. 6147, which makes appropriations for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forest Services, the Indian Health Service, and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The bill spends a total of $36.252 billion which is equal to last year’s level … but it increases spending on the NEA by $2 million. The NEA is not a huge expenditure, but if Congress can’t cut the NEA (which everyone thought would be defunded after the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994), how can we expect them to cut spending for the military-industrial complex?

The bill also contains the Financial Services Appropriations which funds the Treasury Department, the Judicial, the Small Business Administration, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. This part of the bill spends a total of $23.4 billion — equal to last year’s level.

The House will also consider H.Con.Res. 119, which expresses the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the U.S. economy. Campaign for Liberty supports this resolution, as a carbon tax would harm the economy and is just a backdoor way of imposing cap-and-trade regulations on the economy.

Campaign for Liberty has signed a letter in support of the bill, available here.

The House will also consider a number of bills under suspension of the rules, including:

  1. H.R. 1376 – Requires the archivist of the U.S. to establish new regulations for federal agencies’ storage of e-mails.

  1. H.R. 3076 — Requires federal agencies to develop a system for individuals with business before the agency to electronically submit forms necessary to allow a third-party to access their information.

  1. H.R. 3906 — Establishes federally-funded “centers of excellence” for innovation in storm water control (because the American people would clearly be helpless at doing this without help from the federal government).

  1. H.R. 5846 — Requires the GAO to study FEMA’s practices for flood damaged property to see if, among other things, the program would save flood insurance and disaster relief costs.

  1. H.R. 5333 — Authorizes a study of having certain drugs to be available over-the-counter

  1. H.J.Res. XXX — Continuing on a theme from last week, this is a not yet numbered bill (which means not yet introduced) that expresses the sense of Congress that our military readiness is not sufficient because of failure to fully-fund the military—even though we spend more on “defense” than the next highest 8 spending countries in the world combined.

  1. H.J.Res XXX — Another unnumbered (thus unintroduced) resolution that expresses the sense of Congress that the Marines Corps is seriously underfunded … even though spending is at record levels.

  1. H.J.Res. XXX – Another unnumbered resolution, this one is the same as above but for the Navy.

  1. H.R. 4819 — Authorizes spending your money to “… promote inclusive economic growth through conservation and biodiversity programs that facilitate transboundary cooperation, improve natural resource management, and build local capacity to protect and preserve threatened wildlife species in the greater Okavango River Basin of southern Africa. (And this expansion of foreign aid will only get forty minutes of debate.)

  1. H.R. 5105 — Creates an “International Development Financial Competition” to make loan grants to attract private capital to middle-income countries and countries transitioning to market economies (because the U.S. government is an expert on market economics . . . creating a new international program ought to get more attention than 40 minutes of debate).

  1. H.R. 3030 — Creates a national atrocities task force, provides training for foreign service officers in atrocity prevention, and requires the Director of National Intelligence to report to Congress on the threat of atrocities. (This involves potentially serious matters of foreign policy but is getting the attention Congress reserves for naming Post Offices.)

  1. H.R. 5480 — Improves and strengthens the Agency for International Development programs  aimed at helping women entrepreneurs.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog https://ift.tt/2JuCuGf

The Mueller Indictments and The Trump-Putin Summit: Triumph of the Deep State?

The term “deep state” has been so over-used in the past few years that it may seem meaningless. It has become standard practice to label one’s political adversaries as representing the “deep state” as a way of avoiding the defense of one’s positions. President Trump has often blamed the “deep state” for his political troubles. Trump supporters have created big conspiracies involving the “deep state” to explain why the president places neocons in key positions or fails to fulfill his campaign promises.

But the “deep state” is no vast and secret conspiracy theory. The deep state is real, it operates out in the open, and it is far from monolithic. The deep state is simply the permanent, unelected government that continues to expand its power regardless of how Americans vote.

There are factions of the deep state that are pleased with President Trump’s policies, and in fact we might say that President Trump represents some factions of the deep state.

Other factions of the deep state are determined to undermine any of President Trump’s actions they perceive as threatening. Any move toward peace with Russia is surely something they feel to be threatening. There are hundreds of billions of reasons – otherwise known as dollars – why the Beltway military-industrial complex is terrified of peace breaking out with Russia and will do whatever it takes to prevent that from happening.

That is why Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s indictment on Friday of 12 Russian military intelligence officers for allegedly interfering in the 2016 US presidential election should immediately raise some very serious questions.

First the obvious: after more than a year of investigations which have publicly revealed zero collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, why drop this bombshell of an allegation at the end of the news cycle on the last business day before the historic Trump/Putin meeting in Helsinki? The indictment could not have been announced a month ago or in two weeks? Is it not suspicious that now no one is talking about reducing tensions with Russia but is all of a sudden – thanks to Special Counsel Robert Mueller – talking about increasing tensions?

Unfortunately most Americans don’t seem to understand that indictments are not evidence. In fact they are often evidence-free, as is this indictment.

Did the Russian government seek to interfere in the 2016 US presidential elections? It’s certainly possible, however we don’t know. None of the Justice Department’s assertions have been tested in a court of law, as is thankfully required by our legal system. It is not enough to make an allegation, as Mueller has done. You have to prove it.

That is why we should be very suspicious of these new indictments. Mueller knows he will never have to defend his assertions in a court of law so he can make any allegation he wants.

It is interesting that one of the Russian companies indicted by Mueller earlier this year surprised the world by actually entering a “not guilty” plea and demanding to see Mueller’s evidence. The Special Counsel proceeded to file several motions to delay the hand-over of his evidence. What does Mueller have to hide?

Meanwhile, why is no one talking about the estimated 100 elections the US government has meddled in since World War II? Maybe we need to get our own house in order?

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog https://ift.tt/2L1zK8E

Ron Paul: Is Trump’s America First Energy Policy being Hijacked?

Ron Paul: Is Trump’s America First Energy Policy being Hijacked?

Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul recently penned an op-ed for Breitbart detailing how some senators are trying to derail President Trump’s efforts to ease the burden imposed on small energy refineries on the Renewable Fuels Standards Mandate. If these senators succeed, these small refineries will continue to face increased costs from having to comply with the mandate—costs that will be passed along to consumers.

You can read the full op-ed here and below:

Ron Paul: Is Trump’s America First Energy Policy Being Hijacked?AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

13 June 2018

Whatever differences they may have with him aside, libertarians and free-market conservatives should be pleased with President Donald J. Trump’s support for reforming or repealing federal dictates that help foreign businesses and harm US workers. An example of this is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The RFS mandates that refineries create a set number of renewable fuel gallons each year. Although only the largest refineries are capable of blending ethanol into fuel themselves, all refiners are required to take part.

The government measures compliance through each refineries’ holding of a satisfactory number of Renewable Identification Number (RINs) credits, which Washington assigns to each gallon of approved biofuel. The only recourse for the large percentage of small refiners that are incapable of blending themselves is purchasing surplus RINs credits from those who mix more than necessary.

Unfortunately, speculators quickly buy surplus credits. This increases the credits’ price above what many small refiners can afford. As a result, refineries have had to look for other ways to meet the government’s ethanol mandate. For many, this has meant importing renewables from overseas.

Fortunately, last month President Trump announced intent to level the foreign and domestic playing field and remove Wall Street’s stranglehold by attaching RINs credits to exported renewable fuel.

While repeal of the entire ethanol mandate would have unquestionably been a better option, President Trump’s plan will still create a freer, more open marketplace. Not only will it generate over 1 billion more gallons of exported American fuel by removing red tape, but it will also prevent future refinery bankruptcies by increasing the supply – hence reducing the price – of RINs.

While one would think supporters of the RFS would welcome President Trump’s decision to help refineries without repealing the ethanol mandate, last week Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) succeeded in getting the White House to delay implementation of this reform measure.

Sen. Grassley complains that “the Renewable Fuel Standard is to promote domestic production, not to subsidize exports of ethanol.” But President Trump’s proposal doesn’t subsidize anything. It simply ensures that federal mandates do not give other countries’ markets an unfair advantage over our own.

If Sen. Grassley is truly concerned about subsidies, he should advocate for a complete end to the RFS. After all, the real subsidy here is not U.S. exports, but ethanol itself. The RFS’s requirement that refiners mix a given percentage of ethanol into fuel each year creates unchecked demand for a product that is said to affect consumers by harming the environment and reducing fuel mileage in vehicles. Until that time though, the least the senator can do is back this proposal that alleviates some of the current domestic pain.

All hope has not been lost for President Trump’s proposal to tame the RFS. In fact, last week EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), an outspoken advocate of RINs reform, that the conversations are still ongoing. Interestingly, Senator Cruz’s outspoken advocacy of repealing the ethanol mandate did not stop him from winning the Iowa caucus in 2016, just as opposition to the mandate did not hurt my 2012 Presidential campaign.

If the White House is serious about its America First agenda, it will follow through by giving blue-collar refinery workers across the globe much-needed relief. As a resident, and former representative, of the Texas Gulf Coast, one of the most important refining areas in the country, I understand the wide-scale scope of this problem and hope that the administration is up to the task of reform.

 

Ron Paul, a former congressman for Texas, is host of the Ron Paul Liberty Report and Chairman of Campaign for Liberty.

Ron Paul: Is Trump’s America First Energy Policy being Hijacked?

 

Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul recently penned an op-ed for Breitbart detailing  how some Senators are trying to derail President Trump’s efforts to ease the burden imposed on small energy refiners on the Renewable Fuels Standards Mandate. Of these senators succeed these small refiners will continue to face increased costs form having to comply with the mandate—costs that will be passed along to the consumers.

You can read the full op-ed here and below:

Ron Paul: Is Trump’s America First Energy Policy Being Hijacked?

0

FILE - In this July 20, 2013, file photo, an ethanol plant stands next to a cornfield near Nevada, Iowa. The Obama administration has failed to study as legally required the impact of requiring ethanol in gasoline and ensuring that new regulations intended to address one problem do not actually …AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

13 Jun 2018268

Whatever differences they may have with him aside, libertarians and free-market conservatives should be pleased with President Donald J. Trump’s support for reforming or repealing federal dictates that help foreign businesses and harm US workers. An example of this is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The RFS mandates that refineries create a set number of renewable fuel gallons each year. Although only the largest refineries are capable of blending ethanol into fuel themselves, all refiners are required to take part.

The government measures compliance through each refineries’ holding of a satisfactory number of Renewable Identification Number (RINs) credits, which Washington assigns to each gallon of approved biofuel. The only recourse for the large percentage of small refiners that are incapable of blending themselves is purchasing surplus RINs credits from those who mix more than necessary.

Unfortunately, speculators quickly buy surplus credits. This increases the credits’ price above what many small refiners can afford. As a result, refineries have had to look for other ways to meet the government’s ethanol mandate. For many, this has meant importing renewables from overseas.

Fortunately, last month President Trump announced intent to level the foreign and domestic playing field and remove Wall Street’s stranglehold by attaching RINs credits to exported renewable fuel.

While repeal of the entire ethanol mandate would have unquestionably been a better option, President Trump’s plan will still create a freer, more open marketplace. Not only will it generate over 1 billion more gallons of exported American fuel by removing red tape, but it will also prevent future refinery bankruptcies by increasing the supply – hence reducing the price – of RINs.

While one would think supporters of the RFS would welcome President Trump’s decision to help refineries without repealing the ethanol mandate, last week Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) succeeded in getting the White House to delay implementation of this reform measure.

Sen. Grassley complains that “the Renewable Fuel Standard is to promote domestic production, not to subsidize exports of ethanol.” But President Trump’s proposal doesn’t subsidize anything. It simply ensures that federal mandates do not give other countries’ markets an unfair advantage over our own.

If Sen. Grassley is truly concerned about subsidies, he should advocate for a complete end to the RFS. After all, the real subsidy here is not U.S. exports, but ethanol itself. The RFS’s requirement that refiners mix a given percentage of ethanol into fuel each year creates unchecked demand for a product that is said to affect consumers by harming the environment and reducing fuel mileage in vehicles. Until that time though, the least the senator can do is back this proposal that alleviates some of the current domestic pain.

All hope has not been lost for President Trump’s proposal to tame the RFS. In fact, last week EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), an outspoken advocate of RINs reform, that the conversations are still ongoing. Interestingly, Senator Cruz’s outspoken advocacy of repealing the ethanol mandate did not stop him from winning the Iowa caucus in 2016, just as opposition to the mandate did not hurt my 2012 Presidential campaign.

If the White House is serious about its America First agenda, it will follow through by giving blue-collar refinery workers across the globe much-needed relief. As a resident, and former representative, of the Texas Gulf Coast, one of the most important refining areas in the country, I understand the wide-scale scope of this problem and hope that the administration is up to the task of reform.

Ron Paul, a former congressman for Texas, is host of the Ron Paul Liberty Report and Chairman of Campaign for Liberty.

 

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog https://ift.tt/2zIjXq2

Sanders, Booker join war on Franchisees

Proof that the attempt to make it easier for unions to organize service employee workers is a major priority of the “progressives”  is that two potential candidates for the 2020 Democratic Party Presidential nomination have recently endorsed this effort.

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) recently penned a 9,000-word essay, “The American Dream Deferred.” The essay calls for addressing problems facing low-income workers by increasing  government control over private businesses and includes a call for expanding the “joint employer” standard, which allow unions to treat all franchisees as part of the same entity, making it much easier to unionize the franchises.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has invited the CEO of McDonalds to an employee town hall where Senator Sanders will address, among other issues, his support for the joint employer standard.

It should not be surprising that those seeking the Democratic nomination would embrace the union’s war on franchises. The union boss’ political machine — funded by forced dues collected by workers — is one of (if not the) largest sources of funds for “progressive” candidates and causes. This slush fund is threatened by recent setbacks, such as the number of states adopting Right to Work laws and the Supreme Court’s Janus decision. So it is natural the union bosses and their political pals look for new ways to expand their forced-dues empire. Campaign for Liberty will keep a close eye on this issue and any other attempt to undermine the freedom of workers to decide for themselves whether or not to join or pay dues to a union.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog https://ift.tt/2zEne9Q

Kent Snyder: Founding Father of the rEVOLution

Today marks ten years since the passing of Kent Snyder, one of the finest men I have had the privilege of knowing and a founding father of the liberty rEVOLution.

I got to know Kent when he was the head of the Liberty Committee, the grassroots lobbying group Ron Paul founded and served as chair of from 1997-2007. Kent was also the visionary who convinced Ron to run for President in 2007. Kent saw the potential for a campaign based around the ideas of liberty that could move libertarianism form the fringe of American politics to the center.

Kent was also one of the finest human beings I ever had the privilege of calling a friend. He was unfailing, gracious, generous with his time, devoted to the cause of human liberty, and also very funny. One of the things I miss most about Kent is his sense of humor and how he did not let the pettiness, personality conflicts, and general insanity of D.C. and the campaign trail discourage him or darken his mood. Whenever I would rant to him about some outrage on Capitol Hill or by someone in the movement he would simply shake his head, smile and say “Norman, these people.”

Shortly before his passing, Kent and I discussed a new grassroots mobilization group that would take the momentum from the ‘07 campaign and make our rEVOLution a permanent force. Of course, that organization became Campaign for Liberty. There is not a day that goes by that I do not miss Kent and wish he was still here fighting the good fight with us.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog https://ift.tt/2L89zwF

This Week in Congress

Congress comes back from their Fourth of July “district work period” this week. The Senate will be considering nominations.

The major piece of legislation on the House’s agenda is H.R. 6237, which authorizes intelligence activities of the US Government — NSA, CIA, etc. The bill is short on details, and it does not even list the agencies’ budgets. Members of Congress can read a detailed description of the bill if they go to a special room in the Capitol. They are not allowed to discuss the details — apparently the amount of your tax dollars the government spends spying on you is classified.

Another significant piece of legislation the House will consider is H.R. 50, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2017, which requires the Congressional Budget Office to assess the costs of unfunded federal mandates on private businesses, schools, and state, local, and tribal governments.

The House will also consider H.R. 200, which reauthorizes federal programs managing fisheries and makes changes to deal with over-fishing, changes in the ecosystem, and economics of communities where fishing is a major industry. It also extends the offshore jurisdiction of Louisiana, Alabama, and Missouri for the recreational management of red snapper.

The House will also consider H.R. 3281, which authorizes the Interior Department to transfer public lands to private entities to manage, for the same purpose the government was using the land for.

The House will also consider several bills under suspension including:

  1. H.R. 5729—Restricts the use of biometric readers for biometric identification cards by the Coast Guard until a report on the effects of the biometric card program is submitted to Congress. These cards are for access to restricted areas in ports and docks.
  2. H.R. 4537—Prohibits the federal government from signing any international insurance agreement unless it is consistent with existing state and federal law.
  3. H.R. 5793—Creates a housing voucher mobility demonstration program to encourage low-income residents to move out of high-poverty areas.
  4. H.R. 5877—Allows venture exchanges to be registered on stock exchanges. Venture exchanges cater to new companies.
  5. H.R. 5953—Exempts charitable organizations that provide housing assistance from certain federal mortgage regulations.
  6. H.R. 2259—Increases pay for Peace Corps volunteers, gives the federal government jurisdiction over crimes committed against Peace Corps members, and makes other changes to the Peace Corps programs.
  7. HRes. 644- Calls on the UN and the U.S. State Department and Agency for International Development to investigate Libya to stop slave auctions and forced labor. Also, calls for the President to make sure these activities are “adequately funded.” (Does not mention that this is a problem created by President Obama’s reckless and unconstitutional intervention in Libya in 2011.)
  8. HRes. 983—Expresses the sense of Congress that the use of continuing resolutions to fund the Defense Department endangers national security “at a time when the nation faces more complex and grave threats than since the end of World War II.” (Really? Have they forgotten the Cuban Missile Crisis?. Also it is odd to pass a sense of Congress resolution expressing concerns over a problem — failure to pass budget resolutions — Congress created.)
  9. HRes. 984—Expresses the sense of Congress that the use of continuing resolutions erodes military readiness.

 

 

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Why Trump’s Iran Isolation Plan May Backfire

In May, President Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal despite Iran living up to its obligations and the deal working as planned. While the US kept in place most sanctions against Tehran, China and Russia – along with many European countries – had begun reaping the benefits of trade with an Iran eager to do business with the world.

Now, President Trump is threatening sanctions against any country that continues to do business with Iran. But will his attempt to restore the status quo before the Iran deal really work?

Even if the Europeans cave in to US demands, the world has changed a great deal since the pre-Iran deal era.

President Trump is finding that his threats and heated rhetoric do not always have the effect he wishes. As his Administration warns countries to stop buying Iranian oil by November or risk punishment by the United States, a nervous international oil market is pushing prices ever higher, threatening the economic prosperity he claims credit for. President Trump’s response has been to demand that OPEC boost its oil production by two million barrels per day to calm markets and bring prices down.

Perhaps no one told him that Iran was a founding member of OPEC?

When President Trump Tweeted last week that Saudi Arabia agreed to begin pumping additional oil to make up for the removal of Iran from the international markets, the Saudis very quickly corrected him, saying that while they could increase capacity if needed, no promise to do so had been made.

The truth is, if the rest of the world followed Trump’s demands and returned to sanctions and boycotting Iranian oil, some 2.7 million barrels per day currently supplied by Iran would be very difficult to make up elsewhere. Venezuela, which has enormous reserves but is also suffering under, among other problems, crippling US sanctions, is shrinking out of the world oil market.

Iraq has not recovered its oil production capacity since its “liberation” by the US in 2003 and the al-Qaeda and ISIS insurgencies that followed it.

Last week, Bloomberg reported that “a complete shutdown of Iranian sales could push oil prices above $120 a barrel if Saudi Arabia can’t keep up.” Would that crash the US economy? Perhaps. Is Trump willing to risk it?

President Trump’s demand last week that OPEC “reduce prices now” or US military protection of OPEC countries may not continue almost sounded desperate. But if anything, Trump’s bluntness is refreshing: if, as he suggests, the purpose of the US military – with a yearly total budget of a trillion dollars – is to protect OPEC members in exchange for “cheap oil,” how cheap is that oil?

At the end, China, Russia, and others are not only unlikely to follow Trump’s demands that Iran again be isolated: they in fact stand to benefit from Trump’s bellicosity toward Iran. One Chinese refiner has just announced that it would cancel orders of US crude and instead turn to Iran for supplies. How many others might follow and what might it mean?

Ironically, President Trump’s “get tough” approach to Iran may end up benefitting Washington’s named adversaries Russia and China – perhaps even Iran. The wisest approach is unfortunately the least likely at this point: back off from regime change, back off from war-footing, back off from sanctions. Trump may eventually find that the cost of ignoring this advice may be higher than he imagined.

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