Ron Paul

Ron Paul candidate profile

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Reason has profiled the major Republican presidential hopefuls and devised a scientific* survey to help readers find true love among the 10 top contenders (Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Gary Johnson, Sarah Palin, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul). 

Click here to take an eight-question quiz and find the candidate of your dreams.

* We're using "scientific" in the Republican sense of the word. So we really mean "made up."

Name: Ron Paul (b. Ronald Ernest Paul)

DOB: August 20, 1935  (shares a birthday with Jacqueline Susann, Slobodan Milocevic and Al Roker)

Aliases: Dr. No, He Who Must Not Be Named, The Fringe Candidate Who Polls Above 30 Percent

Experience: Ron Paul is the most important freedom-oriented politician at the national level of the last 30 years. After a career as a U.S. Air Force doctor and private-practice obstetrician, Paul in 1976 won a Texas congressional seat in a special election. Since that time he has won and lost a series of congressional elections, but he's won more than he's lost and has spent a total more than 20 years in the House of Representatives. In between congressional sits, Paul ran for president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1988, placing behind Republican George Herbert Walker Bush and Democrat Michael Dukakis. In 1979 Paul created the Foundation for Rational Economic Education. He went on to spearhead a succession of newsletters whose off-color commentary, under Paul's own byline, has been used against Paul in recent years. Paul will leave office at the end of the current term, having chosen to focus his campaign energies on this presidential run rather than a defense of his redistricted House seat. Nevertheless, his ability to generate broad and generous support, his rumpled charisma, his plain speaking to pettifogging Federal Reserve Bank and Treasury Department officials, his proud record of voting no on legislation he considers unconstitutional, his decency and his intellectual curiosity make Ron Paul the most influential living figure in small-l libertarianism.

Hangups: Centrists, welfare/warfare staters, cosmotarians, establishment media.

Spending/size of government/entitlement reform: Would return the U.S. dollar to a gold standard, effectively ending the central bank's ability to manipulate the currency. Would also eliminate the central bank. Gary Johnson and Paul are the only Republican candidates giving serious consideration to cuts in military spending. Recognizes Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as not merely economically ruinous but morally defective.

Economic Policy: Accurately predicted that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would not revive the economy, telling CNN in January 2009:  "It's because the government is spending it. If the people were spending it it would be fine, but the government never does anything productive. They have to take money from productive individuals and spend it in non productive ways, so it's just digging a bigger hole, getting us into bigger debt, and that is the problem." Paul's view on intervention in private business: "We never had a hands off approach, that's the fallacy, and as long as we believe that we will never correct our problem. If you blame Capitalism and free markets and sound money for this then we can't win the intellectual fight."

Foreign policy: Supports an end to all outstanding wars and closure of most or all overseas military bases. Would end all foreign aid (military and civil), including defunding both Israel and its neighbors. Has voted against most recent wars when those wars have been subject to a congressional vote. Nevertheless, Paul voted for the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and introduced a "September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001" that died in committee.

Drug war: Supports legalization and a total end to the drug war, memorably telling an audience in the first Republican debate of 2011 that citizens do not need laws to prevent them from ingesting heroin. Consistently votes against funding for or expansion of drug interdiction efforts and often votes in favor of less violent means of intervention. Paul's opposition to the drug war is based on the principle of self-ownership, with pragmatic concerns about the drug war's effects a secondary consideration. Paul would go further than any other candidate, including Johnson, in liberalizing American policy toward all drugs.

Personal freedom: Opposes abortion, but would leave regulation of it to the states. Recognizes the Second Amendment as a necessary check on tyranny as well as an expression of the right of self-defense. Opposes regulation of internet commerce and communications and has voted against bills aimed at banning online gaming, taxing internet commerce, policing sex offenders online, and requiring ISPs to answer to content bureaucrats (i.e. "net neutrality"). Paul's position on most wedge issues is that they should be left to the states. Paul's 2005 "We the People" bill would have prohibited federal courts from hearing cases on abortion, same-sex unions, sexual practices, and establishment of religion

Immigration: Consistently supports stronger border enforcement. Argues that illegal immigrants strain public services more than they contribute to the economy, and advocates ending all public services to illegal immigrants and an amendment to end birthright citizenship. Would prohibit public money for hospitalization of undocumented immigrants but does not oppose letting charities take over these payments. His immigration position is rooted in the principle that a welfare state cannot coexist with open borders. Voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, but told John Stossel at the time: "There was an immigration bill that had a fence (requirement) in it, but it was to attack amnesty. I don't like amnesty. So I voted for that bill, but I didn't like the fence. I don't think the fence can solve a problem. I find it rather offensive."

Education: Supports ending all federal support for and oversight of education. For this reason, he opposes school vouchers, which would place private schools under federal oversight. He does support education tax credits. From a 2003 House floor speech: "The basic reason supporters of parental control of education should view Federal voucher programs with a high degree of skepticism is that vouchers are a creation of the government, not the market. Vouchers are a taxpayer-funded program benefiting a particular group of children selected by politicians and bureaucrats. Therefore, the Federal voucher program supported by many conservatives is little more than another tax-funded welfare program establishing an entitlement to a private school education. Vouchers thus raise the same constitutional and moral questions as other transfer programs. Yet, voucher supporters wonder why middle-class taxpayers, who have to sacrifice to provide a private school education to their children, balk at being forced to pay more taxes to provide a free private education for another child."

Energy: Would abolish the Department of Energy (among many other cabinet-level departments). Opposes carbon tax and ethanol subsidies. Calls nuclear power "the safest form of energy we have."

Religious? Baptist. Paul has been quoted by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review saying that he and his wife "became less comfortable with the Episcopal Church as time went on," and began attending a Baptist church thereafter. The Paul campaign did not respond to requests on this or any other question. Paul's opposition to abortion, the death penalty, and war could be said to add a third plank to the "double-life" principle promoted by the late Cardinal John O'Connor.

Horoscope for 2011: "At least one of your long-term goals might finally happen," advises Horoscope.com, declining to say whether the GAO audit of the Federal Reserve and Bloomberg's FOIA publication of embarrassing Fed documents qualify as Paul's long hoped-for investigation of the central bank. Nevertheless, "New ideas and projects are definitely favored in 2011. Have a great year!"

Campaign site: www.ronpaul2012.com

Reason on Paul:

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