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One thing I did agree on wholeheartedly was your headline, which said that Thomas Massie is not Ron Paul. That is appropriate to point out. I’m not Ron Paul. I’m not from his congressional district; I’m from the 4th congressional district of Kentucky. I don’t have the same background that he does, and I’m going to approach things differently. He was trained as a doctor. I was trained as an engineer. There will be lots of opportunities to point out differences going forward. I don’t even want the mantle.
I would say my views are closer to Rand Paul than Ron Paul. I don’t take offense because I often see Rand Paul attacked by Ron Paul supporters. A guy who shares 99 percent of his dad’s DNA can’t satisfy his father’s supporters, and I surely am never going to. But I do believe we should be less involved overseas, that it’s more important to think about bridges at home than in Afghanistan, and that it’s counterproductive to be engaged in so many conflicts.
I also think it’s important to focus on the domestic civil liberties issues surrounding the war on terror. I’m an opponent of the indefinite detention clause in the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] last year. I said in a speech a couple of weeks ago that we don’t need to fund more corporate loans, Obamaphones, or domestic drones.
reason: What do you see as the prospects for alliance between the more libertarian-minded and the rest of the GOP coalition?
Massie: We need to focus on things we agree on. I won my primary because I had the support of the Tea Party, the support of the liberty movement, and the support of Ronald Reagan Republicans. All of those groups are for smaller government. That’s one thing that ties us all together and we can all be pulling on the rope in the same direction. We shouldn’t have purity tests that disqualify people from helping, and that gets back to the pleasant surprise—that I think there are over 20 people here who I would say are firmly pulling in the same direction as the liberty movement even if they aren’t [pure libertarians].
Ted Yoho: Get rid of stuff we don’t need.
Ted Yoho, 57, is a freshman congressman from Florida’s 3rd district who became interested in politics after a long career as a veterinarian in the Gainesville area of north-central Florida. He managed a surprise upset primary victory over a 12-term incumbent, Cliff Stearns. Yoho sounds like an ’80s-style Reagan politician, far more concerned with what he sees as out-of-control welfare and regulation than, say, the Federal Reserve and empire. His views and the way he expresses them would sound at home on right-wing talk radio—an audience Ron Paul never managed to capture.
reason: Why did you want to run for office?
Rep. Ted Yoho: I started paying attention more than 10 years ago and saw that the country was moving away from its founding principles and core values. I could see two visions of government [at war in D.C.], a socialistic one and a republic, and that’s why you can’t get the two sides to agree; they are playing two different games.
I’m a veterinarian by profession and always will be, and I never thought of myself as a political guy other than that I’m affected by politics every day, more and more so in my business. Seeing the red tape you have got to go through to run a business, to hire employees, workman’s comp and all that, is mind boggling. There seems to be no common sense in the process. As a businessman looking back on dealing with the IRS, whether in the quarterly reports or just trying to get resolution with the IRS on something, it’s a nightmare. And talking to my clients, a majority [of them] were business owners and hearing their nightmare stories, I thought, it can’t have to be this complicated, we have to look at the bureaucracy in charge. I thought we have got to do better than this.
Talking to my constituents, that’s something I’ve been doing for the last four years; I decided to run four years ago. Every day I was out there talking to people, and what I heard is that we want to rein in government spending, so many duplicative programs. Welfare reform is an issue that comes up over and over again. Everybody that I talk to is OK with supporting people so they can get up on their feet, but not as a way of life. We have got to deal with waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid, the unaccountability of money in the military, I hear about $60–90 billion unaccounted for in Iraq. People don’t mind paying their fair share in taxes, but don’t ask us to pay more if you can’t account for the money we already gave, with things like Solyndra.
reason: Have you been following the story of those congressmen who stepped outside of GOP discipline in a more anti-spending direction and got punished?
Yoho: I’m not officially sworn in and not involved in any of those talks, so for me to speculate on why they were removed—I just read what you read in the papers. That would be pure speculation.
But let’s hope for the 113th Congress there will be a different perspective. I ran on a different perspective of being in the business world for the last 30 years practicing veterinary medicine, unlike entrenched politicians, and that’s a message that resonated that allowed us to be able to beat Mr. Stearns, that we are in a crisis that career politicians either let happen or failed to prevent, and neither are acceptable. I don’t care how it was broken; we need a plan to fix it. It’s inexcusable to not have a budget for the strongest nation on Earth because we can’t get our act together.
reason: Besides just trying to trim in waste, duplication, and the like, are there entire functions of the federal government you think should be rethought?