Sunday, June 17, 2012

What Can Rand Paul Accomplish by Cozying Up to Mitt Romney

Mark Skousen in an interview thinks Rand Paul can accomplish a lot. He defends Rand and his decision  "to stay within the Republican Party to achieve real success in government". His defense actually points out the problems of trying to stay "within the system' in a Mitt Romney administration. Skousen says:
Senator Rand Paul is a brilliant politician and has already gone farther politically than his father. He's made the decision, a wise one in my judgment, to stay within the Republican Party to achieve real success in government. That means endorsing the compromise candidate. His father, Ron Paul, set the stage by maintaining a strict dogma. Senator Paul will have to compromise to achieve success, but I think half success is better than no success at all. He may not banish the income tax but he will push for a flat tax. He may not eliminate the Fed but he will make it more accountable and less inflationary. He may not bring all our troops home from around the world but he will cut the military budget and minimize the blowback damage of the past. He may not end the TSA but he will help privatize it.
Calling Romney a "compromise" candidate is absurd. The man is more of a bankster tool than Obama. His inclinations toward war appear greater than Obama's. He has called Russia the number one enemy, which means he must be clueless about foreign policy. That Sheldon Adelson is pumping multi-millions into his campaign suggests that the last thing that the U.S. will be in a Romney administration is evenhanded in the Middle East.

I tried yesterday to put together compromise demands that Rand could have asked for in return for an endorsement of Romney, as opposed to Rand selling out on the Fed and foreign policy, but I gave up after a full day of thinking about it. Romney is so much a statist tool that I realized, on any significant issue, there would be no chance Romney would go along on compromise. Romney isn't going to mess with the Fed. Romney isn't going to pull back on  the foreign adventures of the U.S. empire. There is simply nothing of importance that Rand could get from the monster Romney that would advance liberty.

Going from the current income tax to a flat tax, which Skousen cheers on,  is not an advancement in liberty. Murray Rothbard explained the deviousness of the flat tax:
The flat tax has been cleverly labeled a tax “reform,” the very word “reform” being heavy with the implication that no man or woman of good will, be they liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, can possibly stand opposed to such a plan. My favorite writer, H. L. Mencken, once wrote that he had learned at his father’s knee in Baltimore what “reform” in politics really meant: “mainly a conspiracy of prehensile charlatans to mulct the taxpayer.”...

 the seductive rhetoric invoking the “special interests” has lead most people to believe that everyone will benefit from the flat tax except a few wicked corporations or multi-millionaires. Nothing could be further from the truth. If the flat tax is enacted, millions of us will find out, too late and to our chagrin, that, to paraphrase Pogo: “We have met the special interests and they are us.” Or as Senator Robert Dole (R-KS) put it recently on the issue of the flat tax as an allegedly fair tax: “Everybody believes in fairness unless they’re involved.”...

 The flat tax, quite simply, proposes that every individual and every organization be subjected to the same, uniform proportional income tax. To achieve that uniformity, the flattaxers propose the ruthless suppression of all  credits, deductions, exemptions, and shelters, all of which are sneered at as “loopholes” in the tax system. In the flat-taxers’ pure theory, the proportional income tax would apply to everyone regardless of income...

Hence, any failure of government to confiscate everyone’s property up to that amount is somehow a moral blot that needs to be rectified. But to me it is far from self-evident that the government, rather than we ourselves, should have the primary right to our own earnings. The “closing of loopholes” under a flat tax will mean a merciless and continuing search-and-destroy mission by which the government will root out and obliterate every little hideyhole in which many of us have been able to squirrel away a bit of our own earnings and our own property, and keep them safe from the ever-expanding maw of the federal government...

All I know is that, as a taxpayer, I would like my taxes to be as low as possible. I suggest, then, that we cease the impossible quest for fairness in taxation, and try to arrive at taxes as low as possible. For whom? For everyone.

Skousen says Rand:
   may not eliminate the Fed but he will make it more accountable and less inflationary

Just what the hell does Skousen mean, make the Fed "less inflationary"? If the Fed slows money printing, the malinvestments will crash. Does Skousen seriously think that Rand is going to have more influence than the banksters and stop the Fed from bailing out the banksters? Skousen admits that Rand will not be able to end the Fed. Does Skousen think Rand won't be able to do this because the banksters admire the historical architecture of the Fed buildings? The only reason Rand won't be able to defeat the banksters on ending the Fed is because the banksters want the Fed as the instrument by which interest rates are manipulated and money is printed!

And just how is Rand going to shrink the military budget, when Romney wants to expand it!? Rand's going to privatize the TSA? Puhleeze, that scam has already been discussed and rejected by Ron Paul.

Bottom line: Mitt Romney is one major league big government dude, where it is impossible to reach compromise of any significance on any important point. On nothing. Nada. Romney is like a political black hole, he sucks you in, you don't pull anything out. Rand Paul and Skousen are being sucked in.


  1. It could get ugly at Freedom Fest when Rand is introduced...

    Tough Shit, Rand. You shoulda stayed true.

    1. I thought about that also. I wonder how he'd react if he got booed off the stage.

  2. Yeah, right. Ron Paul had no success at all. All he did was start an entire political movement. no big deal right? This guy is on crack.

    Rand reminds my of Bush's approach: "I destroyed the free market in order to save it". Uh, yeah, ok.

  3. Rand is even better than Ron, Rand has not sold out his principles and started flip-flopping.

  4. As Gary North noted in today's article on LRC, some pols get bitten by the "political bug." I think Rand has been bitten.

    If you MUST use the political system to attempt to effect change for the better, that is, restore liberty, then you might try encouraging Tom Woods to enter politics. But I don't think he will. (And I don't think he should.)

    But the answer is not in the political system. Using education, communications, media and the encouraging the people's withdrawing their consent of the criminal State - those are the real ways to liberate ourselves and our children and grandchildren.

    1. Amen.

      As far as Woods entering politics, I'm reminded of Ronald Reagan and "The Speech" on behalf of Barry Goldwater. That speech was a lightening bolt for liberty. He continued speaking during that campaign and drew millions into the movement for freedom.

      Then he became Governor of California. Oooops. Enter Ed Meese et al.

      So, yes, Tom should stay outside but continue as a terrific leader in our movement.

  5. I was talking with someone the other day and said the evidence would be in Rand's voting record, well he's gone from wanting to end the TSA to privatizing it in a few weeks time. Nuff said.

  6. I think it's sad that libertarians are so eager to bash their friends and spare their enemies.

    Tell me, logically, why you are spending so much time badmouthing Rand Paul and not, say, Bernie Sanders? They're both Senators; they both support the statist government on most issues and oppose it on a few others; and they're both clearly not anarchists. Why are you undermining the one whose views are actually closer to yours?

    To advance the discussion towards liberty, you don't just need the extreme and ideologically pure - you need to shift the entire spectrum; instead of a political map that ranges from Boehner to Pelosi, you want to create a political map that ranges from Ron Paul to Clinton, or perhaps even farther. You have to cultivate everything in-between as well. Any shift towards liberty should be welcomed.

    Romney is better than Obama - not by much, but better. DeMint is better than Romney - not by much, but better. Rand Paul is better than DeMint, Ron Paul is better than Rand Paul, and maybe for the anarchists Rothbard is better than Ron Paul.. all of these are advances in liberty, and any shift towards liberty moves the discourse in the right direction.

    Furthermore, the personal attacks on Rand Paul are misleading and dishonest. He was never ambiguous regarding his approach; he was very consistent from the start. He called himself a tea party conservative. He said in advance that he will support the nominee. He had a slip of the tongue about civil rights laws during his campaign, and then quickly backtracked - it looked ridiculous to me, but it worked, proving that he's a skilled politician who is willing to conceal or misrepresent his views for political gain. Good for him.

    I may dislike the genre but I respect the actor's talent. Ron Paul may have created a movement, but he hasn't influenced a single piece of legislation for the better (unless you consider his earmarks an achievement). Perhaps Rand Paul won't lead the movement, but he might do some good on the legislative front...

    1. I think Rothbard explained the problem with the type of things Rand is doing very well in the great book Rothbard vs. The Philosophers.

      "F.A. Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty is, surprisingly and distressingly, an extremely bad, and, I would even say, evil book. Since Hayek is universally regarded, by Right and Left alike, as the leading right-wing intellectual, this will also be an extremely dangerous book. The feeling one gets from reading it is the same sort of feeling I would have gotten if I had been a U.S. senator when Taft got up to support the Wagner public housing bill, or any of his other compromises: i.e., that this tears it. For when the supposed leader of one’s movement takes compromising and untenable positions, the opposition can always say: “but even Taft (Hayek)admits . . .” Hayek is the philosophic counterpart. The only tenable conclusion is that any Volker Fund or any other support for this book will be self-destructive in the highest degree.".......

      This then, is the face that F.A. Hayek will present to the world in his Constitution of Liberty. It is a face such that, if I were a young man first getting interested in political questions, and I should read this as the best product of the “extreme Right,” I would become a roaring leftist in no time, and so I believe would almost anyone. That is why I consider this such a dangerous book and why I believe that right-wingers should attack this book with great vigor when it appears, instead of what I am sure they will do: applaud it like so many trained seals. For (1) Hayek attacks laissezfaire and attacks or ignores the true libertarians, thus setting up the “even Hayek admits . . .” line; and (2) his argument is based on a deprecation or dismissal of both reason and justice, so that anyone interested in reason or justice would tend to oppose the whole book. And because of Hayek’s great prominence in the intellectual world, any failure by extreme right-wingers to attack the book with the implacable vigor it deserves will inordinately harm the rightwing cause that we all hold dear.

      Such are the partisan biases that stem from Hayek’s lack of sound principle, and which vitiate, and more than offset, the various good passages and sections in the economic sections of the book."


    2. Balls sir. Out of the '94 class of republican congressmen, who full of talk of liberty and deregulation and then pissed it all away on high statist neoconservatism.

    3. I respect your opinion.
      However, you've just cited two (count 'em TWO!!) senators who are probably less bad than evil. Out of 100....
      As for the House, what Justin Amash???
      Oh, yeah, THAT'LL work!
      Nope, politics is a trap. Maybe PACs or lobbies can get some stuff done, but electoral politics? Sorry...
      Better to let it collapse, then pick up the pieces and all move to Montana or some such.

    4. And that's the thing, all I can cite is a couple of politicians who even dare mention liberty as a goal. Why? Because conservatives reward the entire spectrum of chickenhawks, liberals reward the entire spectrum of robin hoods, but the liberty movement punishes everyone who doesn't boycott the only game in town.

      I'm sorry to say, but Rothbard's grandstanding is hardly evidence of anything. If you want to prove that "never compromising" is the way to achieve change, you'll have to quote someone who actually achieved change by not compromising.

      Remember, to build the soviet union Lenin first had to create NEP, which goes against every socialist principle in existence. Marx would never have accepted such monstrous compromise; guess what, Marx had failed, but the "ideologically impure" Lenin and Stalin realized most of the garbage he had dreamed up.

      Ideological purity writes books. Revolutions are built by coalitions that span a wide range of views, with varying degrees of purity. If all we have is Rothbard-wannabes we'll never see liberty in our lifetime. We need Hayek, we need Friedman, we need Rand, and we even need DeMint and Palin - whatever juice we can squeeze out of the lemons we got, we have to welcome it if our goal is to do more than just "be right" and bark from the sidelines.

    5. Rand is nearer to our hearts, and thus, his actions cut more deeply.

    6. Why don't I badmouth Bernie Sanders? Because he's my favorite senator.

      There are exactly 100 socialists in the Senate. Sanders is the only one with the intellectual honesty to actually admit to being one.

  7. Rand's first speech on the senate floor talking about never compromising...pretty sad how fast he's been neutralized.

    1. Yes A, blah, blah, blah,= $, $, $.

  8. This is the first post on the Rand endorsement of Romney that I find myself fully agreeing with RW. As the junior Senator from KY (entering the Senate only in 2010) as well as a leading libertarian movement figure in the Republican party, I could see that Rand would want to show his loyalty and that he, in contrast to his father, might prefer a different strategy for advancing the libertarian agenda in the context of the politics of the party.

    But if, as Skousen is arguing, we are really talking about a significant watering down of his father's policy agenda with Rand, then we are effectively giving up the fight. RW is right that nothing is better than the half-baked libertarianism that Skousen is talking about, and why would you really need a libertarian movement to advance an agenda which is still quite statist?

    Rand to his credit has said in interviews since the endorsement that he is not going to water down his policy agenda one iota to please Mitt Romney, or the Republican establishment, and that he has few actual differences with his father on policy (as opposed to style)--only time will tell.

    As a long time Ron Paul supporter, my advice to Rand is if he wants to retain and build upon his father's supporters, and harness the passion associated with his father's campaigns in say a run for the Republican nomination in 2016 or 2020, he better NOT listen to Skousen and/or establishment-minded advisers on his staff and water down the agenda. People respected his father, not only because of his integrity, but because he was willing to time again stick his neck out, and take the heat for what was right. Remember in 2007 when RP shocked the political establishment in a debate with Guiliani when RP told Guiliani that we weren't attacked on 9/11 because people were simply jealous of our freedoms? Or when RP got booed in the SC debate for advocating the use of the Golden Rule in foreign policy? Rand needs to have balls like that (and to be fair there is some evidence he does have that streak as he has mixed it up already). If he does, I think people, including all the naysayers, will quickly forget about the Romney endorsement.

  9. I actually agree with much of this analysis. Romney cannot make many significant concessions to the liberty movement without betraying the very people who bought the nomination for him. This is also why a Rand Paul V.P. nomination with Romney was never a realistic option.

    Where I disagree is with the apparent assumption here that a Rand Paul endorsement is really worth very much to Romney. It isn't. Rand cannot deliver any significant number of votes to Romney endorsement or not. He might help in Kentucky, but if Romney loses Kentucky he has no hopes anyway. The endorsement is far more valuable to Rand than it is to Romney.

    Few people seem to realize that Mitt Romney's father, Michigan Governor George Romney, refused to endorse Barry Goldwater for president in 1964. (We should bring that up whenever anyone criticizes Ron Paul for not endorsing Mitt). But when George R. sought the GOP nomination in '68, he received no conservative help. G. Romney was arguably more conservative than Nixon. In fact, he claimed to be. But partly because he refused to endorse Goldwater, conservatives regarded him as unacceptable. If Rand wants to appeal to Romney voters in 2016, he needs to support Romney today. In fact, those Western, Mormon states are among the most libertarian in the country.

    Rand has nothing to lose by endorsing Romney, and we shouldn't write him off for making such largely symbolic gesture. But I also question the accuracy of some of the charges in this post. Has Rand actually said that he doesn't want abolish the Fed eventually? Even Ron doesn't support an immediate end. He's said who his Fed Chairman would likely be. Has Rand actually said he doesn't want to bring our troops home? I think he suggested bringing 80% home while leaving some as a precautionary measure. That is a long way from the complete abandonment of the libertarian position. He's always claimed to be a bit more conservative than his father. He supported complete withdrawal from Iraq and supports complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    Frankly, the only position where Rand has disappointed me is on his vote for Iran sanctions, but Justin Amash and Mike Lee also support the Iran sanctions so there may be more to the picture than I am aware of.

    I agree that we need to keep an eye on Rand and all other liberty candidates and watch what they do as well as what they say, but I think it is wildly premature to get upset over matters which are really just routine politics. Rand Paul is still light-years ahead of any other prospective 2016 candidate.

  10. Mark Skousen, like Rand Paul, always has been a big twit. (To put it nicely.) During an unfortunate time when he was head of the Foundation for Economic Education, he actually had Rudy Giuliani as the keynote speaker at a FEE event:

    This led to his downfall from that position. I'm disappointed that The Daily Bell, which no longer allows reader comments on its commentaries, would waste its time interviewing someone as contemptible as Skousen.

    1. They have interviewed Skousen twice previously, the one today being the third.

      In the previous two, comments were allowed. The Daily Bell did not take kindly to comments calling into question Skousen's less-than-Austrian/libertarian positions.