Sunday, February 6, 2011
A Libertarian-Progressive Alliance?
Ron Paul and Ralph Nader: A Libertarian-Progressive Alliance?
January 20, 2011
Ron Paul and Ralph Nader joined Judge Andrew Napolitano on Freedom Watch to discuss the possibility of fighting the establishment through a libertarian-progressive alliance.
Judge Napolitano [host of Fox Business “Freedom Watch”]: Tonight on Freedom Watch, a very special event: Libertarian and Tea Party hero, Ron Paul, and icon of the Left, Ralph Nader. Think they couldn’t disagree? Think again! Congressman Paul, Mr. Nader are with us now in a rare interview. Congressman Paul is the author of End the Fed. Ralph Nader is the author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. Gentlemen, welcome to Freedom Watch.
Ron Paul: Thank you.
Ralph Nader: Thank you.
Judge Napolitano: Ralph, to you first. You have recently said that Congressman Paul and the Tea Party Republicans are different than the other Republicans in the Congress. What do you mean by that?
Ralph Nader: To the extent that they are genuine libertarian conservatives and not corporatists—corporatists believe in corporate government—they are great allies with many liberals and progressives to challenge the bloated, wasteful military budget, to challenge undeclared wars overseas, to challenge hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate welfare, handouts, giveaways, bailouts, to challenge the invasiveness of our civil liberties and civil rights by the notorious PATRIOT Act, to challenge the sovereignty-shredding, job-destroying NAFTA and World Trade Organization Agreements—and also, too, the first victory will be a powerful whistleblower bill, that libertarian conservatives and liberals and progressives in the Congress almost got through last year, to let government employees ethically blow the whistle on corporate rapaciousness and contracts and government misdeeds. Just think of that agenda for a dynamic political force!
Judge Napolitano: All right, Ralph, you have given enough topics there for us to talk to for two hours. We only have about ten minutes. And you’re both friends of mine, and we both have chatted about these issues. But Congressman Paul, almost everything that Ralph Nader just said, you could have said. And you have said. Is this a coalition of the leading libertarian in the Congress and one of the leading progressives in American culture today?
Ron Paul: Well, I believe in coaltions. You know, they always talk about “We need more bipartisanship.” And I say we have too much bipartisanship, because the bipartisanship here in Washington endorses corporatism, which Ralph and I disapprove of. But, you know, coalitions are different. Ralph and I do have some disagreements. But that list he just made, I agree with him on that. So I think we should come together and work together, and I think we can. Matter of fact, we had a little project during the last campaign where I got progressives and libertarians and conservatives together, and we actually had an agreement that we shouldn’t be having deficit financing. We didn’t agree on where to spend and who to tax and all-not. But we had an agreement that these runaway deficits are horrible for us. And of course, we even mentioned the Fed and we got in agreement. So I think there’s a lot of room for progressives and libertarian conservatives to work together on it.
Judge Napolitano: Ralph, Congressman Paul, of course, has been the leading member of Congress on auditing the Fed and on ending the Fed. You probably support him on both of those, don’t you?
Ralph Nader: Well, the Fed is completely out of control! It’s not under any legal controls that Congress can really enforce. I mean, look at the bailouts over the weekend, last year—a year and a half, little over a year ago—on Citigroup, $350 billion bailout in secret. The banks fund the Fed. It doesn’t go through the congressional appropriations process, as it should under our Constitution. It needs an audit. And I think Congressman Paul is teaming up with hyper-progressive Senator Sanders to bring the Fed into openness and greater accountability. So that’s another political dynamic that can increase in force and power in Congress.
Judge Napolitano: All right, Congressman Paul, the last time we talked about—since the last time we talked about this—there’s been a change. And that is, the new Congress has come in. The Republicans are numerically superior in the House, and as a result of this, you are chair of a subcomittee of the House, one of whose jobs is to monitor the Fed. Question: Will you succeed in serving subpoenas on Ben Bernanke, to show up and have a chat with you, under oath, and to bring his ledger sheets with him? And will comply with those subpoenas? And if he does do that, can Ralph Nader sit in the front row?
Ron Paul: Well I’ll tell you what. I’ve been doing some checking, and I’ve been informed that the Federal Reserve Board Chairman and the Secretary of Treasury and officials in the Cabinet go to the full committee, so I will not have that authority. But I may be able to do somebody that is not the full chairman of the committee, but if he does, it will have to come from the chairman of the committee. But that doesn’t mean that we’ll go lightly on digging up for this information, because Ralph is absolutely right on this thing. Actually, the Federal Reserve can have a bigger budget than the Congress. I mean, they can spend three, four trillion dollars in a year, and then they don’t want to tell us. Now, one thing, I did get a gentleman’s agreement with, on many members on the Banking Committee already, is, I made a suggestion. I said, “Why don’t we ask the Fed what they’re going to do? If they’re going to spend a certain amount of money, get approval from the Congress. If they plan to give $10 billion out, why should they do that without Congressional approval? It’s totally out of control. It was never meant to be. And it was never the Founders’ intention to have the system that we have today.
Judge Napolitano: All right, last question on the Fed, and then I want to change the subject. Ralph, would you support—would progressives support—a repeal of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913? Stated differently: Literally, legally, ending the Fed?
Ralph Nader: Well, I can’t speak for all of them. But clearly, in my judgment, the Fed should be a—whatever it does—should be a Cabinet-level accountable institution. Right now, it’s a private bank government inside the federal government, funded by fees from the banks and thumbing its nose at Congress! But its worst nightmare is Congressman Ron Paul, who now is head of the subcommittee overseeing the Fed. Watch for the fireworks!
Judge Napolitano: All right. Let’s switch gears and talk about fireworks. Congressman Paul, if we ended our military ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow, could that not provide us the substantial and deep budget cuts that we need to prevent further borrowing, and perhaps to spend less than we actually take in in tax dollars?
Ron Paul: Absolutely. And I think it’s the easiest place to cut. I mean, we as Libertarians might not approve of some of these medical programs. But is that the place to start? Or should it be overseas spending, and should we have a stronger national defense by bringing our troops home? And I say that is the place to go. We should cut from overseas, and bring the troops home. And I think the world would be more at peace. I was complaining today—they had questions about China. I said, “They’re getting to be good capitalists. They work hard, they save money, and they buy up resources. What do we do? We send our troops out and say, ‘We’re protecting our oil in the Middle East,’ and we’re draining our resources. That does contribute significantly to the bankruptcy. All wars are fought with inflation, destruction of the money, which is the reason we have unemployment today.
Judge Napolitano: Ralph, I know—
Ralph Nader: Just to punctuate—
Judge Napolitano: I know how you feel about the wars, Ralphh. I want to switch gears a little bit—
Ralph Nader: Just to punctuate: $30 million an hour! 24 hours a day, we’re spending on those two wars. $30 million an hour!
Judge Napolitano: Ralph… Wikileaks. Is it a good thing, for mature people, in a mature democracy, to know what their government is up to, let the chips fall where they may?
Ralph Nader: Of course! Information is the currency of democracy. Without information, you don’t what the government is doing, you don’t know how to check it, you don’t know how to improve it. And, as Congressman Ron Paul said memorably a few days ago, the Bush-Cheney administration lied their way to the Iraq War, and lying is covering up the truth, and lying is secrecy. And the same is true for millions of Americans being, been subjected to surveillance, in violation of Federal law, which is a five-year felony. So, you know, here they’re worried about Wikileaks, when we’ve gotten into war because of secrecy and cover-ups, illegal wars, and we are putting Americans under unconstitutional surveillance?
Judge Napolitano: Got it. All right. You two have been agreeing on a lot. Now, the hot topic of the day, on which, I suspect, you disagree—well, maybe I can find some common ground. I think you are both in favor of repealing the Health Care Law: Congressman Paul, because he wants the free market to address healthcare; Mr. Nader, because he wants universal healthcare, paid for by the government, which this legislation doesn’t accomplish. Ralph, to you first: Healthcare. If you were in the Congress today, would you vote to repeal it?
Ralph Nader: Yes. In favor of single-payer. Full Medicare for all, with free choice of doctor and hospital, by everybody—everybody in, nobody out. The insurance companies have defaulted. They’ve demonstrated they cannot be trusted in terms of establishing a “pay-or-die,” or “pay-or-get-sick” system, which is costing 45,000 American lives a year who cannot get insurance to get diagnosed and treated. But there’s a better—
Naplolitano: Okay. Congressman Paul, I suspect you don’t agree with anything Ralph just said. You have the last word.
Ron Paul: Well, we both oppose the corporatism that’s involved in medicine, and that’s one thing we agree on. But no, I disagree with the delivery of healthcare by the government. Any time the government delivers a service, the cost goes up and the quality goes down—and whether it’s education or whether it’s medical care. So I want medical care delivered more like cellphones and TVs and computers. Because there, there’s the least amount of regulation, the prices keep dropping, and poor people end up with TVs and cellphones. That’s what would happen with services, too, and would maintain the services.
Judge Napolitano: Congressman Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, thank you for joining us on Freedom Watch.
Ralph Nader: It’s public funding and private delivery, is what “single-payer” is.
Judge Napolitano: Got it, Ralph. Got it. Coming up, a man who refused to let the President take away his GM car dealship—