I always enjoy interviewing politicians, particularly when the are campaigning. This interview with Congressman Paul Broun (GA 10th) was recorded early in the week of the Republican National Convention, before Sarah Palin was announced as McCain’s choice for VP. Too bad! I wish I could have asked about that one.
Paul was gracious, but I am not sure I was. I don’t know what it is, an allergy maybe. Maybe, it is the fact that before he ran for Congress, Paul was a lobbyist for Sarfari Club International. My fear is, once a lobbyist, always a lobbyist. Sorry Paul, but I think lobbyists are the worst thing we ever invented in this country, at least the ones that shovel money to politicians.
Things started off cordially, and then Paul said those magic words: original intent. Damn, how I hate it when someone who isn’t a lawyer and who hasn’t studied government says they believe the Constitution should be interpreted according to its original intent. I even hate it when a lawyer, a Supreme Court Justice even, says it. It is so much BS. I don’t think George Washington had any idea how government should deal with 90% of the challenges we face today, except that I know he wouldn’t approve of the secrecy that the Bush administration prizes so highly.
And then, when original intent is followed by other sound bites like: leave money in people’s pocket, relieve the regulartory burden on business, get government out of people’s lives, etc., and I am close to a stroke. Okay everyone, government is cancelled, now go get on a plane that the FAA doesn’t inspect and quit griping about all the plane crashes.
Paul says we are spending our grandchildren’s future, as if it isn’t the Republicans, his party, that is doing the spending. The truth is that all of our budget problems in this country are the result of spending the Social Security Trust Fund money for non-social security purposes and the cost of Medicare. But, you can rest assured that neither Paul, nor any Republican, nor any Democrat have enough original intent to fix Social Security and Medicare.
Paul and the Republicans say they want to put money back into the hands of the people, but they won’t put money into the hands of the people by raising the minimum wage and make the corporations, who make millions from the sweat of the working man, pay for it. They just want to cut taxes and run up the deficit. I don’t get it Paul. I just damn don’t get it.
Paul attempted to give me a history lesson in what the Constitution meant, you know, way back then in 1789 when the Federalist Papers were written. He has read them and even keeps a copy on his desk in Washington. I dare anyone to read them and find an answer to any problem we face today. Just ain’t there. In fact, if I remember correctly, those Federalist wanted a strong central government, which seems to be exactly the opposite of what Paul and the Republicans want. They want no government telling them what to do.
Paul wants to restrict the federal government to the 18 things he says the Constitution allows the federal government to do. I wish we could, but it was the Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, who decided in the early 1900′s that big business would kill you if the government didn’t carry a big stick when it came to monopolies and unions. The Republicans today love to mention Teddy, but he wouldn’t recognize them. Actually, I am pretty sure he would be ashamed of the whole lot of them. TR was the original regulator of business because he recognized that the federal government was the only thing big enough to counter the power of the robber barons like the Fords, Vanderbilts, Morgans, DuPonts and a host of others. Yes sir, Teddy was a real Republican who tamed the big corporations rather than living off them.
I always ask free market, small government people like Paul, if they think we need the Food and Drug Administration. A lot of them, including Paul, feel compelled to condemn any regulartory agency of the federal government, including the FDA. He doesn’t think we need the FDA because the 50 states are quite capable of regulating the same food and drugs, should they choose to do so. I wish that were true Paul, but we both know the states won’t do it. Further, if you know anything about economics, you know that if 50 states passed 50 different standards for the quality of milk, the milk companies would be talking about the expense of complying with 50 different laws, rather than one. That is precisely why we have one federal government. One nation, one law! Now that’s patriotism!
Paul thinks the American consumer would be just as safe if the drug companies could make any drug they want and sell it to the rest of us without having to prove to anyone that it is a safe drug. Paul thinks corporate America will make sure it doesn’t sell us bad drugs, just like they won’t import cheap toys from China with lead in them that will kill our children. I am sorry Paul, but what world are you living in?
This position, this blind faith in the market, is such a naive position, it is difficult to even listen to it. Paul repeatedly says he is in favor of accountability, but he doesn’t want the federal government to be the one that makes corporations accountable. He would be fine with the states doing exactly the same thiings that the federal government does. He just doesn’t want the federal government to do them because the Federalist Papers told him so. I need a page reference!
Now ask yourself, what sense does it make to say it is okay for the states to regulate business, but not okay for the federal government to do it? I will tell you why Republicans love this idea. Paul can claim ignorance, but I bet he knows it as well. Republicans know that if the responsibility to protect us from corporate misconduct is left up to the states, they won’t do much, if anything, at least not until it gets so bad the people just won’t stand for it. Corporations are bigger than states. They have more money than states. They tell states what to do, not the other way around. Take away federal regulation and corporations would run rampant, they would have a field day with all sorts of mischief. But that is exactly what Paul wants.
I recommend to Paul (and anyone else that is interested) that you put down the Federalist Papers for a while and read “Doubt is Their Product” by David Michaels. It will literally make you sick to read how corporate America fights tooth and nail to keep OSHA, EPA, FDA and other regulatory agencies from protecting us, particularly the American worker.
I am sorry Paul. I am no socialist. I am a vigorous capitalist, but I am also a realist. No doubt there are bad regulations, and there are inefficient government agencies, but the remedy is to fix the problem, not come up with some BS idea that we don’t need government to protect us from business excess.
At the end of the day, Paul and I agreed to disagree. We did agree that the public discourse was something worthwhile. However, I still think his position is nuts.
Sorry Paul, but I sincerely do! I am sure he thinks the same of my position. Fair enough, but the real question is: What do you think?