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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

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BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're welcome.

BLITZER: What do you think about the president's support today for a proposal in the Senate for a 5.6 percent millionaires' surcharge -- income over a million dollars paying an additional 5.6 percent, in other words, on that second million. It would be $56,000 going to the U.S. Treasury.

A good idea?

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: It's a magic cure. Everything will be OK as soon as we pass it. Of course, I'm being cynical. No, it's not going to do any good at all. It's not a lack of taxation that's going on. There is just too much spending and this doesn't solve the problem. So I -- I see no advantage to doing what he's doing.

BLITZER: You know that all the polls show that the majority, in some cases, an overwhelming majority of the American people want higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires, as the president likes to say.

Why are the American people wrong when answering that question?

PAUL: Well, because pure democracy sometimes leads to these ill- advised positions. You know, when there's a war propaganda going on and they drum -- and beat the war drums and everybody says 75 percent of the people want us to go to war and then after 10 years, they're sick and tired of it, it doesn't mean it was right when 75 percent said something.

This is the danger of pure democracy, when you demagogue and you attack somebody and say that we have to attack the wealthy.

I don't mind criticizing, you know, the wealthy, at times. And I criticized the bankers and the bailouts and the corporate people who got all the benefits, both when the financial bubble was being built, but then when it burst. They got bailed out and then the people suffered.

So -- but this doesn't mean we should attack wealth for the sake of wealth. We should stop all the subsidies to the wealth. If anybody's getting wealthy because they get contracts from the government or because they're on the inside of a -- of the program where they get the bailouts, that's quite a bit different. We should stop that, but not blanketly penalize people who make wealth and who have created wealth and provided great services for the consumer.

BLITZER: That seems to be a line that you hear from a lot of those demonstrators, the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in Lower Manhattan right now.

What do you make of those demonstrations?

PAUL: Well, it's hard to tell because we don't know where they're coming from. And I think it is going to be a mixed bag. And this is something I've predicted for many years, because I said that what would happen is eventually, we would destroy our economy. Jobs would go overseas. We would have inflation.

And we've encouraged people to be very dependent, both the wealthy and the entitlement system means that people believe they have rights to certain things from their neighbor or from their government.

But when the pie shrinks, there's going to be a lot of anger.

So my guess would be that there's a lot of people out there, some complaining about paying the bills and some who are scared to death they're not going to get it. But this is, you know, a symptomatic thing that we're seeing and it doesn't address the problem, why do we have business booms and why do we have recessions and depressions and why do we have inflation?

So unfortunately, this doesn't give us the answers. But I think it tells you something about the depth of the concern about the people in this country, something that I've tried to talk about for quite a few decades.

BLITZER: I asked -- I -- I spoke with a whole bunch of people about this issue, this Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.

But I want you to listen to what one of your presidential rivals, Herman Cain, told "The Wall Street Journal" about what's going on with these demonstrators in New York.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration. Don't blame Wall Street. Don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Blame yourself, he said.

What do you think about that?

PAUL: Well, I imagine that applies to a few people in the country, but, no, I don't quite come at it that way, because the system has been biased against the middle class and the poor. When you destroy a currency, you transfer wealth from the middle class to the wealthy, because they have access to the capital and they have a lot of benefits and they get the bailouts.

So the poor and the people losing their jobs, it wasn't their fault that we have followed a very deeply . And this means economic system. So I am not so anxious to say, yes, it's all your fault. If you want to be rich, you can be rich.

People are begging and pleading for jobs. But there are no jobs as a consequence of bad economic policy. It's the fact that we have still accepted the notion that central economic planning and central banking, under the Keynesian model, can provide prosperity.

That's where the flaw is.

But to blame that on the average person who wants a job, I don't agree with that.

BLITZER: Rick Perry, the governor of your home state of Texas, if he were to get the Republican presidential nomination, could you support him?

PAUL: Well, I don't know, because his policies have changed.. And maybe if he came a little bit closer to what I'm talking about and would agree the troops ought to come home and look into the Fed, I'd certainly give it consideration.

BLITZER: What about Mitt Romney?

If he were to get the Republican nomination, could you support him?

PAUL: Well, the same -- the same answer. None of them are advocating my positions. But they're starting to talk a little bit like what I am, because I think Governor Romney has actually said we should bring some troops home from Afghanistan.

So I would have to find out exactly what their positions are and -- and what the platform is that they would be running on.

BLITZER: Who's better, from your perspective, right now?

PAUL: I don't choose to pick on those, because I see the -- I see all the other candidates sort of in one group that is -- that -- and they're all different than what I'm talking about, because the foreign policy I advocate, neither one of them do. And a Federal Reserve with tremendous emphasis on that. And I have a tremendous emphasis on personal liberty, the right to life and liberty and civil liberties.

So I put -- if I put all the candidates in another category and I think, in many ways, we are competing with all of them as one group.

BLITZER: So if the Republican nominee, if turns out not to be you, Congressman, didn't change his or her positions and didn't come around to where you stand, would you consider running as a third party, perhaps libertarian candidate for -- for the presidency?

PAUL: I haven't thought about it and I have to plans to do that. So, no, that wouldn't be in the cards for me.

BLITZER: Now in the cards for you.

All right, let me -- let me move on and ask you about Newt Gingrich.

He's running for the Republican nomination, as well.

He was here in THE SITUATION ROOM yesterday. And he strongly disagrees with you when it comes to President Obama's decision to order the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.

Listen to what the former speaker told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is, Congressman Paul is wrong about the -- the law. He's wrong about the constitution. And the president was exactly right legally and he was exactly right morally in killing somebody who was a threat to everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. So go ahead and respond to Newt Gingrich.

PAUL: I'd -- I'd ask him to read the Fifth Amendment. It's pretty clear that you can't take a life without due process of law, especially of an American citizen. So I would say that he's way off base.

This is historic. We've never had a policy that said that we can put somebody on a -- and on a -- on an assassination list by a secret tribunal, so to speak. We don't even know what the qualification is or the -- or -- or the criteria to put somebody on this list.

I think this is a most dangerous precedent and respect for the constitution the rule of law needs to be looked at, because I think we have lost a lot of it. I consider this one of the most dangerous things that we have done. And this president has done it in the open -- opening. He announced this policy in February of last year. I gave a speech on the House floor shortly thereafter advising how dangerous this was. And this -- this means that we have very much violated the whole concept of the rule of law.

BLITZER: Because Newt Gingrich, in defending the president's decision, says al-Awlaki was an enemy combatant of the United States. And over all the news of warfare, the U.S. has been able to kill so- called enemy combatants.

So what do you think of that argument?

PAUL: Well, I -- I would ask him and the president to produce some evidence of exactly what he did and why -- why is he an enemy?

What are the charges?

And, you know, if we can try Adolph Eichmann -- the Israelis tried him in 1961 -- don't you think we could try somebody like al-Awlaki or at least, you know, recognize that individuals should be captured when possible and tried?

But this enemy combatant, anybody can -- you know, one of the -- and the word, I think, has already been used, is that he was a threat. I think Gingrich used that word.

A threat?

Well, I'm antiwar. And I might go to an anti-war rally.

And what if the administration said Ron Paul is a threat?

Somebody in the media says he's a threat. He's preaching that the government is doing wrong with the foreign policy. This, to me, is a very, very dangerous precedent.

BLITZER: So would you support articles of impeachment against President Obama for his -- for this decision?

PAUL: I haven't introduced them, but I think it's an impeachable offense, if the mood of the country was such that they wanted to do it. Yes, I could support that.

BLITZER: Ron Paul, Republican presidential candidate.

As usual, thanks very much for coming in.

PAUL: OK, Wolf.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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