The Club for Growth's series of white papers critiquing the GOP candidates continues with Rep. Ron Paul. It's possibly the first treatment of Paul's ideas and record that puts him on the same platform as Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. When they praise him, they praise him: Paul's tax and spending vote record is basically buffed and glowing. When they knock him, they do so just as energetically. The takeaway: Paul exemplifies "the perfect as the enemy of the good." On earmarks:
In defense of his support for earmarks, Rep. Paul took the if you can't beat 'em, join 'em position, arguing that "I don't think they should take our money in the first place. But if they take it, I think we should ask for it back." This is a contradiction of Paul's self-proclaimed "opposition to appropriations not authorized within the enumerated powers of the Constitution."
I think the Club is calling Paul out for playing an election-winning game. He knows the argument against earmarks cold, and thinks (like Ramesh Ponnuru) that they're a minor problem compared to the creaking welfare state and the money supply. Alas, he wants to be returned to office by voters, so he does constituent services, he helps people get their Social Security checks, he puts earmarks in and then votes them down.
Unlike protectionists who deny the economic benefits of free-trade policies, Ron Paul embraces the importance of free trade, but lives in a dream world if he thinks free trade will be realized absent agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA. Paul himself argues that "tariffs are simply taxes on consumers," but by opposing these trade agreements, he is actively opposing a decrease in those taxes. While Paul's rhetoric is soundly pro-free trade, his voting record mirrors those of Congress's worst protectionists.
I praised the club back in 2006.