Is Ron Paul Dr. No or Dr. Maybe?

The Houston Chronicle reports on Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and earmarks in last week's omnibus spending bill:

Rep. Ron Paul vehemently denounced the $410 billion catch-all spending bill approved last week by the House of Representatives.

But although the libertarian-leaning Republican from Lake Jackson cast a vote against the massive spending measure, his fingerprints were on some of the earmarks that helped inflate its cost.

Paul played a role in obtaining 22 earmarks worth $96.1 million, which led the Houston congressional delegation, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis of more than 8,500 congressionally mandated projects inserted into the bill. His earmarks included repair projects to the Galveston Seawall damaged by Hurricane Ike and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

More here. More on Paul and earmarks here. And how Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) cuts a different path.

Reason.com's Ron Paul coverage here.

Reason.tv took a look at earmarks and talked to the Senate's Dr. No, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who called earmarks the gateway drug to big government:

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  • adrian||

    And he had his name on newsletters with racist comments 20 years ago (although he didn't write them)! Keep fighting the good fight REASON! You may lead libertarians to 3% of the vote one day!

  • ||

    Okay so the Dr. is not perfect. He's more consistant than all those fucking lunatics in the congress.

  • A Hoary Chesnut||

    I hear he said nice things about the John Birch Society

  • adrian||

    He has acknowledged why he does this about 1,000 times. He votes against it because it is unconstitutional but adds the stuff in because it is his job. Just like how he says he takes all his tax breaks and would take social security.

  • ||

    I thought it was understood that earmarks don't add a single dime to the cost of an appropriations bill, but just direct where some of the money is going to be spent. Frankly, I'm sick of hearing about earmarks.

  • ||

    Yes, you are completely right. Earmarks have NOTHING to do with additional spending. It is merely directing some of the tax money your constituents paid in back toward projects which benefit them. This earmarks arguments is a total red herring and typical of Reason too much of the time. A Congressman's job is to try and serve the interests of the people who elected him and part of that is redirecting some of their tax dollars back to them.

  • ||

    I might add that Reason is completely dishonest in regard to earmarks and Dr. Paul. Shame on them.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    I wouldn't equate hurricane damage repair with arts centers and farm subsidies.

  • ||

    Still not sure why earmarks are the devil. I understand that the spending itself is problematic. But why all the fuss about the specificity?

  • ||

    Don't you see, it's better if we don't know where the money is going so no one is accountable for boondoggles.

  • ||

    I would do the same if I were him, but directed somewhat differently. I oppose most federal spending, but if it's gonna happen, I would calculate how much the total federal income tax is paid by the residents of my district. Then, I'd include that in the spending bill and give it a truth-hiding name, like The Northeastern New York Economic Recovery Amendment. Then my office in the district would cut a check to the taxpayers. I should have no trouble getting reelected.

  • Invisible Finger||

    This stuff has been common knowledge for years. Brilliant, IMO.

  • ||

    Frankly, I'm sick of hearing about earmarks.

    Earmarks *do* matter.

    Just look at what happened to TARP; a few judicious bribes earmarks got the fucking thing over the hump.

  • Tyler||

    He's just getting back what the government has leeched from his district and constituents.

    Try as you might you still can't fault him because he voted against the bill, even in bills he opposes he has a duty to represent his constituents. Secondly, the money had already been appropriated, so not submitting spending requests would be deferring these spending decisions to another government entity, which is even less responsible.

    I love Reason magazine but I can't stand its coverage of Paul... every post is filled doubt, oozing unwarranted skepticism, and derides him at every turn.

  • ||

    Well, you know why and you know why Cato has shit on Dr. Paul so frequently. It's because Dr. Paul has done something that they have never and could never have done. He has energized a base of liberty loving Americans who are willing to fight for freedom. Sadly, from Reason's perspective, we Paultards are unwashed unsophisticates with inadequately nuanced views about liberty. We tend to think simple things like following the law of the land might help and maybe liberty actually means being free to conduct your life as you choose.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Why should his constituents miss out on all the goodies? Plenty of libertarians will accept any entitlements they can take advantage of, because you're not going to stop them by boycotting them. This shit can only be killed at its source.

  • Orange Line Special||

    Was Dave Weigel a Soros/Rockefeller plant from the get-go? (Those two are contributors to washingtonindependent.com or their parent company).

    Or, is Weigel a plant over there? Is Weigel's new task from his shadowy masters to help bring down BHO? Did BHO write - or have written - some newsletters a couple decades ago?

    Or, is Weigel a triple agent, pretending to work for Soros while working for the Cosmos while working... for Soros?

  • ||

    Continuing my rant about politicians lack oof veracity from a different thread -

    03/06/08

    "My patience is running out on earmarks," Pelosi said Wednesday. "We'll either have them or we won't have them."

    Apparently we'll have them. Forever.


    Still not sure why earmarks are the devil. I understand that the spending itself is problematic. But why all the fuss about the specificity?



    They are used to reward campaign contributions and steer money to projects that are not the business of the federal government.

  • ||

    Lonewacko -

    Shut the fuck up.

  • EJM||

    Or, is Weigel a triple agent, pretending to work for Soros while working for the Cosmos while working... for Soros?

    Does Pele still play for them?

    (reference explained here)

  • ||

    This is Ron Paul's usual M.O. Rail against legislation and load it with ear-marks. "If you're going to pass this abomination, the good people of Lake Jackson are going to get theirs". Some have a problem with this position. I don't. He delivers on rhetoric and the up/down vote. The Bill may be a wee bit worse for Texas pork, but pork isn't half the problem as what their doing to begin with.

  • ||

    EJM,

    I saw Pelé play with the Cosmos against the Rowdies in Tampa.

  • ||

    EJM-

    Off topic:

    Tho other day I went to the links you had posted regarding Dick Enberg's non-sports game show hosting. Good stuff. My memory was refreshed. I do recall the promos for the showws bur do not actually remeber watching them.

  • Tom||

    Is Reason upset that Paul allowed money that was already in the system whether he liked it or not to be appropriated to hurricane relief? That seems... unreasonable. Or maybe just inexplicably vengeful.

  • affenkopf||

    Charles Koch must really hate Paul.

  • ||

    Ron Paul didn't vote "maybe."

  • dhex||

    alternately, you guys really love paul and have no other lens by which to understand criticism?

  • creech||

    "And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constitutents' 'interests, ' I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty, and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can." Sen. Barry Goldwter.
    I wonder if Dr. Paul would put in his earmarks if the had any reasonable expectation the spending bill would fail?

  • Adam||

    To whomever came up with the title of this article-

    Idiot. The vote was "no", not maybe.

  • Not libertarian enough||

    This is just another example of the poor quality arguments and information Reason has put out over the last few months. I read that thread the other day, and Joe was right, this site is just repeating the same whiny garbage every day.

    Dr. Paul puts forward better arguments and knowledge on the topics of Liberty than Reason can ever hope to manage.

    It's obvious that Reason is perfectly satisfied with what passes for crony capitalism than being trully passionate about liberty.

    In conclusion,

    EAT A BOWL OF FUCK.....I'AM HERE TO PARTYYYYYYY

    douchebags

  • fyodor||

    But although the libertarian-leaning Republican from Lake Jackson cast a vote against the massive spending measure, his fingerprints were on some of the earmarks that helped inflate its cost.

    Whether the explanations of Paul's actions given in this thread are valid or not would seem to boil down to whether his earmarking fingerprints actually did "inflate" the cost of the spending measure, or whether they merely directed funds already bound to be spent to his constituents. (One may also argue that even if it didn't inflate the current one,

    This depends on many varied factors, both empirical and philosophical (for instance, one may argue that even if the earmarking didn't overtly affect the measure in question, by denying pork to others and by furthering the pork process, he's only built up demand for more gratuitous earmarking for the next bill, although maybe the demand for that earmarking would exist regardless, etc., etc.), and I don't know all the relevant facts or where I would fall on the philosophy, so I'll leave it there except to say that that's what it would seem to boil down to.

  • fyodor||

    Oh fuck, forgot to wipe out that paranthetical after I moved it. Where's my damn editor????

  • The Angry Optimist||

    This is just another example of the poor quality arguments and information

    What argument is this post presenting?

    I am seeing a lot of "reason says X, Y and Z about Ron Paul"...this post is strictly informational, so I can only assume Paultard rage on this issue is anger at the duplicitous nature of Paul in this limited circumstance. reason is just holding a mirror up to the rabid Paultard dogs.

  • robc||

    RE: 1:35 post

    How many drinks was that?

  • Superfluous||

    I don't mind criticism of Paul.

    But I hate how Reason are always boosting pseudo-libertarian statist warmongers like Flake and others in the Republican party.

  • Superfluous||

    Also, how many billions are we wasting in Flake-supported criminal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?

  • ||

    Oh fuck, forgot to wipe out that paranthetical after I moved it. Where's my damn editor????

    I got the point anyway. Of course, I used to work in government and so know a tiny bit about how budgets grow and are protected.

  • ||

    RE: 1:35 post

    How many drinks was that?


    None. Lameness disqualification rule applies.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    The way I look at this is to envision what would result if all (or heck, even 51%) of Congress acted the same way as Paul. The bill would fail, and we'd all be happy, right? In that case, I wish we had more people like Paul in Congress.

  • ||

    Meh. As Warren points out, Ron Paul makes the right vote on the bill. He also looks out for his constituents, if the bill passes over his objection. What more is he supposed to do, here?

  • Lucas||

    Paul has said repeatedly that he has an elected duty to provide promised goverment services to his constituents. For example, the government promised hurricane safety and in many cases, made it illegal to compete with it in the provision of hurricane safety.

    What's Paul to do? He is his constituents only source of hurricane safety.

    Also, earmarks are something like 1.8% of all spending and they direct spending away from the President's office, which is nice.

    I would understand this kind of article, if, out of hundreds of articles with a distinct "moral-libertarian" viewpoint, this was one which disagreed with Paul. I disagree with Paul sometimes too.

    But it isn't. Generally, Reason is very "pragmatic-libertarian" or "utilitarian-libertarian", so you'd think they'd be all for a situational ethic. Specifically, virtually every article written about Dr. Paul in Reason brings up doubt and shines light on the miniscule statist things he does. The 30 years of dedicated, anti-statist work the Doctor has done is just ignored.

    Also, it wouldn't have been hard to just put Paul's own stated opinion on earmarks in the article. But I think Reason truly disagrees (or is paid to disagree) with Rothbard and the Misesians, which is sad and counter-productive.

  • Fred||

    Oh no! You dared to insult The Great Man!

    To all of you Paul kiss asses, I submit the following:

    1) The fact that you worship Paul rather than Flake or Coburn proves you belong to a cult rather than care about principle

    2) Let me spell this out for you: VOTING NO IS AN EASY CALL FOR PAUL ON THIS BILL BECAUSE HE KNOWS IT IS GOING TO PASS

    3) It is irrelevant whether or not he "inflated" the cost of the bill. First of all, EARMARKS DO NOT JUST DIRECT SPENDING -- THEY ADD SPENDING. Second, regardless of whether or not it inflates it, it is nearly $100 million in FEDERAL TAX DOLLARS THAT HE IS LAYING CLAIM TO. HOW CAN YOU CALL HIM A MAN OF PRINCIPLE?

    I saw someone above say "oh well. he's better than the others." At least I'm glad we're now calling Paul what he is: the least worst.

    Oh well...no point reasoning with cult members.

  • fyodor||

    Of course, I used to work in government and so know a tiny bit about how budgets grow and are protected.

    So, J sub D, can you say, based on that tiny (dangerous?) bit of knowledge, whether Paul's earmarking likely fattened the bill or merely re-shaped a piggy of already determined size?

  • Spoonman||

    This is Ron Paul's usual M.O. Rail against legislation and load it with ear-marks. "If you're going to pass this abomination, the good people of Lake Jackson are going to get theirs". Some have a problem with this position. I don't. He delivers on rhetoric and the up/down vote. The Bill may be a wee bit worse for Texas pork, but pork isn't half the problem as what their doing to begin with.

    This. The man is no angel, but nobody else is pushing libertarian thought on national TV several times a week.

  • ||

    2) Let me spell this out for you: VOTING NO IS AN EASY CALL FOR PAUL ON THIS BILL BECAUSE HE KNOWS IT IS GOING TO PASS

    But... he always votes no, whether the bills are going to pass or not.


    What's up with the title of this article? He voted NO. I'll never understand Reason's war on Paul.

  • bubba||

    Isn't the intracoastal waterway an important part of our interstate commerce and also national defense?

    Unless he's benefitting a particular contractor, this kind of stuff doesn't smell like the pork that pisses people off.

  • fyodor||

    regardless of whether or not it inflates it, it is nearly $100 million in FEDERAL TAX DOLLARS THAT HE IS LAYING CLAIM TO. HOW CAN YOU CALL HIM A MAN OF PRINCIPLE?

    One may very well answer that the way you think it's obvious to, but I don't know that it's so obvious.

    Is a laid off libertarian hypocritical to accept unemployment benefits? How about any libertarian driving on state funded roads?

    I see your point, but like I say, I don't know if strict adherence to the libertarian principle that treats state funds as stolen property is all that realistic, for anyone.

    That said, if Paul's earmarks clearly do ADD to spending, that's a clear knock against them. What's not clear, to me at the moment, is how you support that assertion. Though if you'd care to tell me how you support it, I'd be all ears, or eyes, as it were!

  • ||

    fyodor: "Is a laid off libertarian hypocritical to accept unemployment benefits? How about any libertarian driving on state funded roads?"

    Yes. I was laid off a few months ago and did not apply for unemployment (or any other) benefits because I felt that would be hypocritical of me.

    No, that is different because it is within the government's explicitly stated Constitutional rights to build roads. It would be hypocritical for anarcho-capitalists to drive on state funded roads though I guess.

  • Reformed Republican||

    I disagree that it is hypocritical to accept unemployment benefits. Part of my compensation is used to pay into the unemployment insurance pool, so I ought to be able to benefit from it if I need it.

    Would I opt for unemployment insurance if it was purely optional? I do not know.

  • Jonas||

    I have to confess that I often wonder, had Ron Paul by some miracle managed to get the Republican nomination, if Reason would have been more supportive of him than they were of Obama. I can understand going easy on Obama and being harsh on McCain, but I kind of suspect that the "libertarian" Reason would have done the same sort of thing in a Paul v. Obama contest.

    Not that I think Reason is "unlibertarian" or that they have an obligation to support a certain candidate, but it seems like they have a vendetta against Paul for some reason and I just think that they would rather have the statist Obama than the pretty innocuous Paul.

    Hmm...

  • ||

    Reason (and Cato) are libertarian when it suites them. There's a reason for the expression "beltway libertarian". Paul's big sin - appealing to and inspiring we unsophisticated, unwashed libertarians with our unsophisticated and simple minded views of liberty. During the campaign they ran pieces arguing that Fred Thompson is a libertarian. I was waiting for pieces on the libertarian Ghouliani and the libertarian Romney. At the same time they ran a couple of hit pieces on Ron Paul - the ONLY remotely libertarian candidate running. This is not merely inexplicable, but it is very telling in regard to Reason's true devotion to libertarian principles.

  • ||

    I'm with Robbie on this one. The act of earmarking when you are a libertarian can be analogized to a situation where you walk by a broken storefront during a riot, and you decide to take a TV set because "someone else is going to get it if I don't". Libertarians are trapped by their own rhetoric here. Yes, Paul's position is hypocritical, which makes him no worse than any other politician.

  • ||

    Really poor analogy and bad reasoning.

  • Tyler||

    That is a terrible analogy. If anything, there is that broken window of a store front and Paul happens to come upon it and sees his very own TV in the store front... and reclaims it.

    The fact is Paul's district is robbed of wealth and forced to contribute to the pool of funds, funds that would be sent to much less deserving projects than reconstructing hurricane walls. It is not hypocritical to recapture the lost capital.

  • ||

    Ron,

    Seeing how he voted "no," it is more like he didn't take a TV set. Someone else did, dude.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I would gladly accept unemployment if I was laid off, since it is my money. I would also gladly vote for someone who wanted to get rid of unemployment, in order to keep my money. The two are not contradictory.

  • Nash||

    Has anyone already mentioned that Earmarks are essentially the legislative branch telling the executive branch how to spend money? Without them the executive is gonna spend it however it pleases.

    This is completely consistent with what Paul says. We already went over this last year and came to these conclusions. Why are we doing it again?

  • ||

    Nash: "Has anyone already mentioned that Earmarks are essentially the legislative branch telling the executive branch how to spend money? Without them the executive is gonna spend it however it pleases."

    I thought earmarks were added after debate is closed and such. Snuck in, as it were, right before signing.

  • ||

    His earmarks included repair projects to the Galveston Seawall damaged by Hurricane Ike and the Gulf Intra-coastal Waterway.

    Oh, yeah, this is infinitely worse than the Save the Harvest Mouse earmark or the Tattoo Removal earmark. The man should be pistol whipped!!!!

    Oh, thanks a lot for pointing this out to us, REASON! I am so relieved.

  • For a magazine called Reason||

    This is completely consistent with what Paul says. We already went over this last year and came to these conclusions. Why are we doing it again?

    Because Ron Paul is the most visible face of libertarianism in government, and thus some people feel he must be endlessly scrutinized on the same points over and over and over again.

  • Mad Max||

    'At least I'm glad we're now calling Paul what he is: the least worst.'

    That's all he is - the least worst? That's *so* disillusioning! I thought he was like Sir Galahad, a knight 'sans peur and sans rapproche,' but with a more normal accent. Now it turns out that he's just a . . . a . . . I can hardly bear to say it . . . a *politician!*

    I don't think I can believe in anything anymore. I have no choice but to dress all in black and write bad poetry about how much the world sucks.

  • ||

    Has anyone already mentioned that Earmarks are essentially the legislative branch telling the executive branch how to spend money? Without them the executive is gonna spend it however it pleases.

    Exactly. The issue is not the earmarks, it's the Pork Barrel projects. Paul at least tries to place the money on more useful things for his constituency than others. I mean, did Pelosi's constituency really asked for money to save the California Harvest Mouse?

  • fyodor||

    The taxes used to fund umemployment benefits AND hurricane walls are BOTH your money AND other people's.

    You can't get around the argument that it's illicit spending just because you are ONE of the MANY who have been forced to contribute to it.

    No, that is different because it is within the government's explicitly stated Constitutional rights to build roads.

    Really? That's the first I've heard that. Got a citation? Or should I google "constitution + roads"? I'm a little skeptical.

    Even if it's so, the Constitution does not equal libertarianism. Close, but not quite.

    Anyway, that's one opinion on the unemployment benefits, and a valid one. But it's not the only one, even if the other answers weren't perfectly airtight. I just don't think there's a perfect answer available.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "Really? That's the first I've heard that. Got a citation? Or should I google "constitution + roads"? I'm a little skeptical."

    Article I Section 8:

    "To establish Post Offices and Post Roads"

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "This is completely consistent with what Paul says. We already went over this last year and came to these conclusions. Why are we doing it again?"

    Reason has a short memory. For example, the newsletter issue was well known before it became the big criticism against Ron Paul. A few reason writers wrote it off as not a big deal. A few months later, they proved they have no balls when they "forgot" their previous stance and changed their minds about it.

  • Duracomm||

    Interesting watching a personality cult cause lots of "libertarians" to throw away their libertarian philosophy.

    Reminds of the republicans supporting bush's big government adventure.

  • JL||

    if a neighborhood had been pillaged by thieves, would it not be right for residents to attempt to reclaim their stolen goods if given the opportunity?

  • ||

    The whole earmark issue was a convenient ploy for John McCain to have something to attack (e.g. the Bridge to Nowhere) which cost millions so that he could pretend that he was a fiscal conservative, in spite of supporting the Iraq War, which cost hundreds of billions.

    Why Reason or any sane publisher would hop on this bandwagon is beyond me.

  • Nash||

    "Interesting watching a personality cult cause lots of "libertarians" to throw away their libertarian philosophy."

    Please explain to the rest of us how letting the Executive branch spend money however it pleases with no input from the legislative is somehow libertarian.

  • Loop_Fiasco||

    The argument that the ethical equation is somehow different because Paul knew this bill would pass works only if he only inserted earmarks and voted against the bill when the bill was certain to pass and he refrained from doing the same when the bill was less certain to pass or would not pass (i.e, president threatens veto or something.)

    So, given that Dr Paul has a long record in Congress, why don't you fucking look?

    If Paul is consistent; your argument is shit. If Paul is inconsistent, Paul is hypocritical.

    I think we all know how this ends.

  • ||

    So, J sub D, can you say, based on that tiny (dangerous?) bit of knowledge, whether Paul's earmarking likely fattened the bill or merely re-shaped a piggy of already determined size?

    It fattens next year's bill.

  • ||

    Nash asked,

    Please explain to the rest of us how letting the Executive branch spend money however it pleases with no input from the legislative is somehow libertarian.


    First, you are using the same boilerplate justification super statist harry reid does. That should concern a libertarian.

    Second, the executive branch agencies have conflict of interest and bidding regulations they operate under earmarks don't

    Third, earmarks have become a massive form of legalized corruption.

    Take of the paul goggles and Put on your libertarian goggles. If you do that you would see that his behavior is indefensible.


    MORE ON THE Murtha / Visclosky / Moran / PMA scandal:

    Capitol Hill argues that it's better to have Congress delineate spending on projects rather than faceless bureaucrats in federal agencies,

    but they (EDIT: faceless bureaucrats) have procurement rules imposed on their spending, including competitive bidding and conflict-of-interest restrictions that have the weight of criminal law.

    Earmarks bypass all of that, and allow elected officials to set up contribution machines such as PMA.

    In essence, they pay for their continued incumbency with our tax dollars, and regardless of how much that costs, it's simply not democracy and it's simply corruption.

  • Sean Scallon||

    So I take it the Cosmos want Paul to be hoisted on his own petard because he fullfills his constituents wishes for earmarks and votes against them? Apparently he's not pure enough for all the sinners and bailout supporters of AIG on the Orange Line to make fun of?

    As Christ would say to the Pharisees "If a sheep of yours ran away on a Sunday do you think God would strike down if you violated the Sabbath to go retrieve it?"

    Or better yet lets come it at from a libertarian point of view shall we? Courtsey of the Onion:

    "Libertarian Reluctantly Calls Fire Department to Save Burning Home."

    Like the Pharisees, your supposed zealotry only winds up making you all more foolish.

  • ||

    If you cut every sigle "earmark" all that happens is all of that money goes to the executive branch. NOT a single penny gets saved. Do we really want the president spending all this money that is not appropriated with NO oversight?

  • muridsilat||

    I fail to see the contradiction in Dr. Paul's actions. Property rights are central to both libertarian philosophy and the founding principles of our nation. Any time property is taken without the express permission of the owner, this is theft. According to the rule of law in our constitutional government, Congress has no authority to take money for any purposes not granted by the Constitution. This means that all unconstitutional taxation and spending is theft. Dr. Paul has an obligation to uphold the Constitution and to try to prevent theft from his constituents. He meets this obligation by voting "no" on all unconstitutional bills. Recognizing, however, that the theft is likely to occur whether or not he votes "no", he is left with the obligation to try to recover for his constituents whatever money has been stolen. To question his willingness to take back stolen money from the federal government would be like questioning a victim's right to recover his wallet from a mugger.
    While there may be some validity to the claim that Dr. Paul's inclusion of earmarks could encourage others to further drive up costs of future appropriation bills, let's consider the alternative; The bill passes without any earmarks for Ron Paul's district and his constituents are still forced to pay taxes in support of those whose representatives champion big government. This would allow the system to penalize those citizens who are willing to vote for the cause of liberty and would simply result in another big government goon filling Dr. Paul's seat in the next election. I believe that Ron Paul's solution is the most ethical way to protect his constituents' property rights from an unethical system. In questioning Dr. Paul's integrity on this matter, does anyone honestly believe that he would change his answer to "yes" if his was the deciding vote?

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