Ever Hear of Payroll Taxes? "If you got rid of the income tax today you'd have about as much revenue as, as we had 10 years ago, and the size of government wasn't all that bad 10 years ago. So there're sources of revenues other than the income tax. You know, you have, you have tariff, excise taxes, user fees, highway fees. So, so there's still a lot of money." Paul is either ignorant or disingenuous here. As I told PlatCom in August: Income and payroll taxes combine to constitute 82% of federal receipts. The kinds of taxes (excises and tariffs) that LP candidates (Paul, Browne, Badnarik) talk about keeping make up only 5% of federal receipts -- 15% if you include corporate income taxes. We shouldn't kid ourselves or others about how much we would be cutting federal receipts.
Dondero. Russert quoted Eric Dondero about Paul's reaction to 9/11. Paul replied: "Well, I'm, I'm surprised somebody like that who's a disgruntled former employee who literally was put out." At Third Party Watch, Dondero marshals evidence to dispute Paul's questionable claim that "I’ve been a Republican all my life except for that one year that I ran as a Libertarian." Tom Blanton and (Paul critic) Tom Knapp give the obvious rejoinder: Paul was talking about years of candidacy, not years of active party membership.
RUSSERT: "If elected president, Paul says he would abolish public schools, welfare, Social Security and farm subsidies."Those RPMs you hear are Murray Rothbard spinning in his grave. You can bet that none of the 17 radical libertarian Paul supporters I list here will criticize Paul for the statements above, that are even too moderate for my taste. [Update 2007-12-29: I was right. Walter Block says Paul "did brilliantly" in the interview, and only criticizes Paul's politeness.]
REP. PAUL: OK, you may have picked that up 20 or 30 years ago, it's not part of my platform. As a matter of fact, I'm the only one that really has an interim program. Technically, a lot of those functions aren't constitutional.
MR. RUSSERT: It was--when you ran for president in 1988, you called for the abolition of public schools.
REP. PAUL: I, I bet that's a misquote. I, I do not recall that. I'd like to know where that came from, because I went...
MR. RUSSERT: And Social Security? You're OK with Social Security now?REP. PAUL: I think we need to get--give--offer the kids the chance to get out. But right now, if I don't--if we don't save the money, we can't take care of the other. For instance, Social Security, I never voted to spend one penny of Social Security money. So I'm the one that has saved it. Now, if I save the money in this military operation overseas, I say take that money--and, and I say this constantly--don't turn anybody out on the streets. People we have conditioned--yes, technically we shouldn't have them, and it'd be nice to get rid of them, but I would say take care of the people that are dependent on us. Let them--and the only way you can do that is cut spending. If we don't, they're all going to be out in the street.
Earmarks and other gotchas. Russert grilled Paul over earmarks, but Paul stuck to his guns and somewhat persuasively compared earmarks to tax credits. Paul also handled the gotcha on term limits, and defended well his hardcore positions on drugs, civil rights laws, and Civil War contrarianism. Russert busted Paul for invoking Ronald Reagan even though he's harshly criticized Reagan's record. Paul's reply was to distinguish Reagan's campaign philosophy and promises from what he was able to accomplish.
MR. RUSSERT: If, if you do not win the Republican nomination for president, will you run as an independent in 2008?At TPW, Tom Knapp still claims Paul is virtually certain to claim the LP nomination if he doesn't become the GOP frontrunner. Tom, I'll bet you a pizza dinner in Denver on that one.
REP. PAUL: I have no intention to do that.
MR. RUSSERT: Absolute promise.
REP. PAUL: I have no intention of doing that.
MR. RUSSERT: Well, but no intention's a wiggle word.
REP. PAUL: Well, OK, I deserve one wiggle now and then, Tim. I mean, what the devil...
MR. RUSSERT: So no--so no Shermanesque statement.
REP. PAUL: You know, I...
MR. RUSSERT: "I will not sun as an independent."
REP. PAUL: Well, I can be pretty darned sure that I have no intention, no plans of doing it, and that's about 99.9 percent. I don't like people who are such absolutists, "I will never do this, or I will win, I'm going to come in first." I don't like those absolutists terms in politics.
MR. RUSSERT: But the door's open a little bit.REP. PAUL: Not very much. It really isn't.