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‘A Better Solution Than Trump’s Border Wall’ – Ron Paul’s Jan. 30th Column

by Ron Paul

Just one week in office, President Trump is already following through on his pledge to address illegal immigration. His January 25th executive order called for the construction of a wall along the entire length of the US-Mexico border. While he is right to focus on the issue, there are several reasons why his proposed solution will unfortunately not lead us anywhere closer to solving the problem.

First, the wall will not work. Texas already started building a border fence about ten years ago. It divided people from their own property across the border, it deprived people of their land through the use of eminent domain, and in the end the problem of drug and human smuggling was not solved.

Second, the wall will be expensive. The wall is estimated to cost between 12 and 15 billion dollars. You can bet it will be more than that. President Trump has claimed that if the Mexican government doesn’t pay for it, he will impose a 20 percent duty on products imported from Mexico. Who will pay this tax? Ultimately, the American consumer, as the additional costs will be passed on. This will of course hurt the poorest Americans the most.

Third, building a wall ignores the real causes of illegal border crossings into the United States. Though President Trump is right to prioritize the problem of border security, he misses the point on how it can be done effectively and at an actual financial benefit to the country rather than a huge economic drain.

The solution to really addressing the problem of illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and the threat of cross-border terrorism is clear: remove the welfare magnet that attracts so many to cross the border illegally, stop the 25 year US war in the Middle East, and end the drug war that incentivizes smugglers to cross the border.

The various taxpayer-funded programs that benefit illegal immigrants in the United States, such as direct financial transfers, medical benefits, food assistance, and education, cost an estimated $100 billion dollars per year. That is a significant burden on citizens and legal residents. The promise of free money, free food, free education, and free medical care if you cross the border illegally is a powerful incentive for people to do so. It especially makes no sense for the United States government to provide these services to those who are not in the US legally.

Likewise, the 40 year war on drugs has produced no benefit to the American people at a great cost. It is estimated that since President Nixon declared a war on drugs, the US has spent more than a trillion dollars to fight what is a losing battle. That is because just as with the welfare magnet, there is an enormous incentive to smuggle drugs into the United States.

We already know the effect that ending the war on drugs has on illegal smuggling: as more and more US states decriminalize marijuana for medical and recreational uses, marijuana smuggling from Mexico to the US has dropped by 50 percent from 2010.

Finally, the threat of terrorists crossing into the United States from Mexico must be taken seriously, however once again we must soberly consider why they may seek to do us harm. We have been dropping bombs on the Middle East since at least 1990. Last year President Obama dropped more than 26,000 bombs. Thousands of civilians have been killed in US drone attacks. The grand US plan to “remake” the Middle East has produced only misery, bloodshed, and terrorism. Ending this senseless intervention will go a long way toward removing the incentive to attack the United States.

I believe it is important for the United States to have secure borders, but unfortunately President Trump’s plan to build a wall will end up costing a fortune while ignoring the real problem of why people cross the borders illegally. They will keep coming as long as those incentives remain.

Source: http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/january/30/a-better-solution-than-trump-s-border-wall/

Good News: Washington Frozen Out of Syria Peace Plan

Written by Ron Paul    January 2, 2017

As the US mainstream media obsessed last week about Russia’s supposed “hacking” of the US elections and President Obama’s final round of Russia sanctions in response, something very important was taking place under the media radar. As a result of a meeting between foreign ministers of Russia, Iran, and Turkey last month, a ceasefire in Syria has been worked out and is being implemented. So far it appears to be holding, and after nearly six years of horrible warfare the people of Syria are finally facing the possibility of rebuilding their lives.

What is so important about this particular ceasefire? It was planned, agreed to, and implemented without the participation of the United States Government.

In fact it was frustration with Washington’s refusal to separate its “moderates” from terrorist groups and its continued insistence on regime change for the Syrian government that led the three countries to pursue a solution on their own for Syria. They also included the Syrian government and much of the opposition in the agreement, which the US government has been unwilling to do.

We have been told all along by the neocons and “humanitarian interventionists” that the United States must take a central role in every world crisis or nothing will ever be solved. We are the “indispensable nation,” they say, and without our involvement the world will collapse. Our credibility is on the line, they claim, and if we don’t step up no one will. All this is untrue, as we have seen last week.

The fact is, it is often US involvement in “solving” these crises that actually perpetuates them. Consider the 60-plus year state of war between North and South Korea. Has US intervention done anything to solve the problem? How about our decades of meddling in the Israel-Palestine dispute? Are we any closer to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians despite the billions we have spent bribing and interfering?

Non-intervention in the affairs of others does not damage US credibility overseas. It is US meddling, bombing, droning, and regime-changing that damages our credibility overseas. US obstruction in Syria kept the war going. As the Syrians and Russians were liberating east Aleppo from its four year siege by al-Qaeda, the Obama Administration was demanding a ceasefire. As Syrians began to move back into their homes in east Aleppo, the State Department continued to tell us that the Russians and Syrian government were slaughtering civilians for the fun of it.

So why all the media attention on unproven accusations of Russian hacking and President Obama’s predictable, yet meaningless response? The mainstream media does the bidding of Washington’s interventionists and they are desperate to divert attention from what may prove to be the beginning of the end of Syria’s long nightmare. They don’t want Americans to know that the rest of the world can solve its own problems without the US global policemen in the center of the action. When it is finally understood that we don’t need to be involved for crises to be solved overseas, the neocons will lose. Let’s hope that happens soon!

Source: http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/january/02/good-news-washington-frozen-out-of-syria-peace-plan/

New Year’s Resolutions for Donald Trump and Congress

By Ron Paul

In the spirit of New Year’s, here are four resolutions for president-elect Trump and Congress that will enable them to really make America great again:

1) Audit the Fed….and then end it: The Federal Reserve Bank’s easy money polices have eroded the American people’s standard of living and facilitated the growth of the welfare-warfare state. The Fed is also responsible for the growth in income inequality. Yet Congress still refuses to pass Audit the Fed, much less end it.

During the campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump promised that Audit the Fed would be part of his first 100 days agenda. Unfortunately, he has not spoken of auditing the Fed or another aspect of monetary policy since the election. President-elect Trump should keep his promise and work with Congress to pass Audit the Fed and finally let the American people know the truth about the Fed’s conduct of monetary policy. Then, of course, end the Fed.

2) Bring the troops home: President Barack Obama has not only failed to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan and Iraq, he has further destabilized the Middle East with reckless interventions in Egypt, Libya, and Syria. The Obama administration has also brought us to the brink of a new Cold War.

President-elect Trump has criticized the 2003 Iraq war and promised to end nation-building. However, he has also made hawkish statements such as his recent endorsement of increased US military intervention in Syria and has appointed several hawks to key foreign policy positions. President-elect Trump also supported increasing the Pentagon’s already bloated budget.

America cannot afford to continue wasting trillions of dollars in a futile effort to act as the world’s policeman. Rejecting the neocon polices of nation-building and spreading democracy by force of arms is a good start. However, if Donald Trump is serious about charting a new course in foreign policy, his first act as president should be to withdraw US troops from around the globe. He should also veto any budget that does not drastically cut spending on militarism.

3) Repeal ObamaCare: ObamaCare has raised healthcare costs for millions of Americans while denying them access to the providers of their choice. Public dissatisfaction with ObamaCare played a major role in Donald Trump’s election.

Unfortunately, since the election president-elect Trump and the Republican Congress have talked about retaining key parts of Obamacare! While it is reasonable to have a transition to a new healthcare system, Congress must avoid the temptation to replace ObamaCare with “ObamaCare lite.” Congress must pass, and President Trump must sign, a true free-market health care plan that restores control over healthcare to individuals.

4) Cut Taxes and Spending: President-elect Trump and Congressional leadership both favor tax reform. However, some leading Republicans have recently said they will not support any tax reform plan that is not “revenue neutral.” A true pro-liberty tax reform would reduce government revenue by eliminating the income tax. Fiscal hawks concerned with increasing federal deficits should stop trying to increase tax revenues and join with supporters of limited government to drastically cut federal spending. Congress should prioritize ending corporate welfare, reducing military spending, and shutting down unconstitutional federal agencies like the Department of Education.

If President Trump and Congress spend the next six months passing Audit the Fed, ending our militaristic foreign policy, repealing ObamaCare and replacing it with a true free-market health care system, and cutting both spending and taxes, they will begin to make America great again. If they fail to take these steps, then the American people will know they have been fooled again.

Source: http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2016/december/26/new-year-s-resolutions-for-donald-trump-and-congress/

Government Can’t Help; It Can Only Hurt

by Ron Paul

Three recent stories regarding three government agencies — the IRS, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) — show why we should oppose big government for practical, as well as philosophical, reasons.

In recent months, many Americans have missed their flights because of longer-than-usual TSA security lines. In typical DC fashion, the TSA claims the delays are because of budget cuts, even though Congress regularly increases the TSA’s funding!

The TSA is also blaming the delays on the fact that few Americans have signed up for its “PreCheck” program. Under PreCheck, the TSA considers excusing some Americans from some of the screening process. Those who wish to be considered must first submit personal information to the TSA and pay a fee. Only a bureaucrat would think Americans would be eager to give the TSA more information and money on the chance that they may be approved for PreCheck.

The TSA is much better at harassing airline passengers than at providing security. TSA agents regularly fail to catch weapons hidden by federal agents testing the screening process. Sadly, Congress will likely reward the TSA’s failures with continued funding increases. Rewarding the TSA’s incompetence shouldn’t surprise us since the TSA owes its existence to the failure of government to protect airline passengers on 9/11.

If Congress truly wanted to protect airline passengers, it would shut down the TSA and let airlines determine how best to protect their passengers. Private businesses have a greater incentive than government bureaucrats to protect their customers and their property without stripping their customers of their dignity.

The head of the VA also made headlines last week when he said it is unfair to judge the VA by how long veterans have to wait for medical care, since no one judges Disney World by how long people have to wait in line. Perhaps he is unaware that no one has ever died because he waited too long to go on an amusement park ride.

For years socialized medicine supporters pointed to the VA as proof that a government bureaucracy could deliver quality health care. The stories of veterans being denied care or receiving substandard care demolish those claims.

If Congress truly wanted to ensure that veterans receive quality health care, it would stop forcing veterans to seek health care from a federal bureaucracy. Instead, government would give veterans health-care vouchers or health savings accounts and allow them to manage their own health care. Congress should also dramatically reduce the costs of providing veterans care by ending our militaristic foreign policy.

Another story last week highlights the one thing government does do well: violate our rights. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over his role in the IRS’s persecution of conservative organizations.

Those who value liberty and constitutional government should support impeaching Koskinen. However, truly protecting Americans from IRS tyranny requires eliminating the income tax. Despite the claims of some, a flat tax system would still require a federal bureaucracy to ensure Americans are accurately reporting their income. Since the income tax is one of the foundations of the welfare-warfare state, it is folly to think we can eliminate the income tax without first dramatically reducing the size and scope of government.

The TSA, VA, and IRS are just three examples of how government cannot effectively provide any good or service except authoritarianism. Individuals acting in the free market are more than capable of providing for their own needs, including the need to protect themselves, their families, and their property, if the government gets out of the way.

Source: http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2016/may/29/government-can-t-help-it-can-only-hurt/

2017 NDAA bill to require women to register with Selective Service

Defense Bill Coming This Week: A Boost for War and Tyranny

By Ron Paul

For many of us concerned with liberty, the letters “NDAA” have come to symbolize Washington’s ongoing effort to undermine the US Constitution in the pursuit of constant war overseas. It was the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2012 that introduced into law the idea that American citizens could be indefinitely detained without warrant or charge if a government bureaucrat decides they had assisted al-Qaeda or “associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States.” No charges, no trial, just disappeared Americans.

The National Defense Authorization bill should be a Congressional mechanism to bind the president to spend national defense money in the way Congress wishes. It is the nuts and bolts of the defense budget and as such is an important oversight tool preventing the imperial executive from treating the military as his own private army. Unfortunately that is no longer the case these days.

Why am I revisiting the NDAA today? Unfortunately since 2012 these bills have passed the House with less and less scrutiny, and this week the House is going to vote on final passage of yet another Defense Authorization, this time for fiscal year 2017. Once again it is a terrible piece of legislation that does great harm to the United States under the guise of protecting the United States.

Unless some last minute changes take place, this latest NDAA will force young women for the first time to register to be drafted into the US military. For the past 36 years, young men have been forced to register with Selective Service when they turn 18 or face felony charges and years in prison. Under a perverted notion of “equality” some people are cheering the idea that this represents an achievement for women. Why cheer when slavery is extended to all? We should be fighting for an end to forced servitude for young men and to prevent it being extended to women.

The argument against a draft should appeal to all: you own your own body. No state has the right to force you to kill or be killed against your will. No state has a claim on your life. We are born with freedoms not granted by the state, but by our creator. Only authoritarians seek to take that away from us.

Along with extending draft registration to women, the latest NDAA expands the neocons’ new “Cold War” with Russia, adding $3.4 billion to put US troops and heavy weapons on Russia’s border because as the bill claims, “Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security.” This NDAA also includes the military slush fund of nearly $60 billion for the president to spend on wars of his choosing without the need to get Congress involved. Despite all the cries that we need to “rebuild the military,” this year’s Defense Authorization bill has a higher base expenditure than last year. There have been no cuts in the military. On the contrary: the budget keeps growing.

The Defense Authorization bill should remain notorious. It represents most of what is wrong with Washington. It is welfare for the well-connected defense contractors and warfare on our economy and on the rest of the world. This reckless spending does nothing to defend the United States. It is hastening our total economic collapse.

Source: http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2016/may/15/defense-bill-coming-this-week-a-boost-for-war-and-tyranny/

Congress is Writing the President a Blank Check for War

by Ron Paul

While the Washington snowstorm dominated news coverage this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was operating behind the scenes to rush through the Senate what may be the most massive transfer of power from the Legislative to the Executive branch in our history. The senior Senator from Kentucky is scheming, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, to bypass normal Senate procedure to fast-track legislation to grant the president the authority to wage unlimited war for as long as he or his successors may wish.

The legislation makes the unconstitutional Iraq War authorization of 2002 look like a walk in the park. It will allow this president and future presidents to wage war against ISIS without restrictions on time, geographic scope, or the use of ground troops. It is a completely open-ended authorization for the president to use the military as he wishes for as long as he (or she) wishes. Even President Obama has expressed concern over how willing Congress is to hand him unlimited power to wage war.

President Obama has already far surpassed even his predecessor, George W. Bush, in taking the country to war without even the fig leaf of an authorization. In 2011 the president invaded Libya, overthrew its government, and oversaw the assassination of its leader, without even bothering to ask for Congressional approval. Instead of impeachment, which he deserved for the disastrous Libya invasion, Congress said nothing. House Republicans only managed to bring the subject up when they thought they might gain political points exploiting the killing of US Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi.

It is becoming more clear that Washington plans to expand its war in the Middle East. Last week the media reported that the US military had taken over an air base in eastern Syria, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the US would send in the 101st Airborne Division to retake Mosul in Iraq and to attack ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, Syria. Then on Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden said that if the upcoming peace talks in Geneva are not successful, the US is prepared for a massive military intervention in Syria. Such an action would likely place the US military face to face with the Russian military, whose assistance was requested by the Syrian government. In contrast, we must remember that the US military is operating in Syria in violation of international law.

The prospects of such an escalation are not all that far-fetched. At the insistence of Saudi Arabia and with US backing, the representatives of the Syrian opposition at the Geneva peace talks will include members of the Army of Islam, which has fought with al-Qaeda in Syria. Does anyone expect these kinds of people to compromise? Isn’t al-Qaeda supposed to be our enemy?

The purpose of the Legislative branch of our government is to restrict the Executive branch’s power. The Founders understood that an all-powerful king who could wage war at will was the greatest threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is why they created a people’s branch, the Congress, to prevent the emergence of an all-powerful autocrat to drag the country to endless war. Sadly, Congress is surrendering its power to declare war.

Let’s be clear: If Senate Majority Leader McConnell succeeds in passing this open-ended war authorization, the US Constitution will be all but a dead letter.

Copyright © 2016 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Read online: http://bit.ly/1OQVxqf

Debt Ceiling Debate: Don’t Mention Warfare/Welfare State!

By Ron Paul

The US Treasury’s recent announcement that the government will reach the debt ceiling on November 3 means Congress will soon be debating raising the government’s borrowing limit again. Any delay in, or opposition to, raising the debt ceiling will inevitably be met with hand-wringing over Congress’ alleged irresponsibility. But the real irresponsible act would be for Congress to raise the debt ceiling.

Cutting up its credit card is the only way to make Congress reduce spending. Anyone who doubts this should listen to the bipartisan whining over how sequestration has so drastically reduced spending that there is literally nothing left to cut. But, according to the Heritage Foundation, sequestration has only reduced spending from $3.6 trillion to $3.5 trillion. Only in DC would a less than one percent spending reduction be considered a draconian cut.

Defense hawks have found a way around sequestration by shoving billions of dollars into the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. OCO spending is classified as “emergency” spending so it does not count against the spending limits, even when OCO is used for items that do not fit any reasonable definition of emergency.

Yet, even using OCO to boost military spending by as much as $80 billion does not satisfy the military-industrial complex’s ravenous appetite for taxpayer dollars.

During the majority of my time in Congress, debt ceiling increases were routinely approved. In fact, congressional rules once allowed the House of Representatives to increase the debt ceiling without a vote or even a debate! Congress’ need to appear to respond to growing concerns over federal spending has forced it to end the practice of rubber-stamping debt ceiling increases.

Continuously increasing spending will lead to rising inflation as the Federal Reserve tries to monetize the ever-increasing debt. This will eventually lead to a serious economic crisis. When the crisis occurs, Congress will have no choice but to cut spending. The question is not if, but when and under what circumstances, spending will be cut.

The only alternative for cutting spending in response to economic crisis involves Congress gradually unwinding the welfare state in a manner that does not harm those dependent on federal programs. Congress will not even consider doing this until enough people have embraced the ideas of liberty to force the politicians to reconsider the proper role of government.

Those who accept the premises of the welfare statists are incapable of making principled arguments against welfare and entitlement programs. Thus, they can only quibble over spending levels or how to more efficiently manage the federal bureaucracy. While fiscal conservatives may gain some minor victories with this approach, their failure to challenge the welfare state’s morality or effectiveness dooms any effort to seriously curtail welfare state spending.

Similarly, one cannot favor both serious reductions in the military budget and an aggressive foreign policy. So-called cheap hawks may achieve some reforms in the Pentagon’s budget. They many even succeed in killing a few wasteful weapons projects. However, their unwillingness to oppose a foreign policy of perpetual war means they will always cave in to the war hawks’ demands for ever-higher military budgets.

Those who understand the dangers from continuing on our current path should support efforts to stop Congress from raising the debt ceiling. However, supporters of liberty will not win the political battle over government spending on welfare and warfare until we win the intellectual battle over the role of government. Those of us who know the truth must do all we can to spread the ideas of liberty.

Copyright © 2015 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Read online: http://bit.ly/1QJSP7R