Video: Paul: ‘I want to cut spending’

  1. Transcript of: Paul: ‘I want to cut spending’

    MR. RUSSERT: Let's start right at the very top, the issues. This is what you have been saying on the campaign stump, "I'd like to get rid of the IRS . I want to get rid of the income tax ." Abolish it.

    REP. PAUL: That's a good idea. I like that idea.

    MR. RUSSERT: What would happen to all those lost revenues? How would we fund our government?

    REP. PAUL: We have to cut spending. You can't get rid of the income tax if you don't get rid of some spending. But, you know, 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. But the real problem is spending. But, you know, we lived a long time in this country without an income tax . Up until 1913 we didn't have it.

    MR. RUSSERT: But, but you eliminate the income tax , do you know how much lost revenue that would be?

    REP. PAUL: A lot. But...

    MR. RUSSERT: Over a trillion dollars.

    REP. PAUL: That's good. I mean, we -- but we could save hundreds of billions of dollars if we had a sensible foreign policy .

    MR. RUSSERT: Well...

    REP. PAUL: And if you go -- if you're going to be the policeman of the world, you need that. You need the income tax to police the world and run the welfare state . I want a constitutional- size government.

    MR. RUSSERT: Would you replace the income tax with anything else?

    REP. PAUL: Not if I could help it. You know, there are some proposals where probably almost anything would be better than income tax . But there's a lot of shortcomings with the, with the sales tax . But it would probably be slightly better than the income tax -- it would be an improvement. But the goal is to cut the spending, get back to a sensible-size government.

    MR. RUSSERT: But if you had a flat tax , 30 percent consumption tax , that would be very, very punishing to the poor and middle class .

    REP. PAUL: Well, I know. That's why I don't want it.

    MR. RUSSERT: So you have nothing?

    REP. PAUL: I want to cut spending. I want to get a -- use the Constitution as our guide, and you wouldn't need the income tax .

    MR. RUSSERT: Let's talk about some of the ways you recommend."I'd start bringing our troops home, not only from the Middle East but from Korea , Japan and Europe and save enough money to slash the deficit."

    How much money would that save?

    REP. PAUL: To operate our total foreign policy , when you add up everything, there's been a good study on this, it's nearly a trillion dollars a year. So I would think if you brought our troops home, you could save hundreds of billions of dollars. It's, you know, it's six months or one year or two year, but you can start saving immediately by changing the foreign policy and not be the policeman over the world. We should have the foreign policy that George Bush ran on. You know, no nation building , no policing of the world, a humble foreign policy . We don't need to be starting wars. That's my argument.

    MR. RUSSERT: How many troops do we have overseas right now?

    REP. PAUL: I don't know the exact number, but more than we need. We don't need any.

    MR. RUSSERT: It's 572,000. And you'd bring them all home?

    REP. PAUL: As quickly as possible. We -- they will not serve our interests to be overseas. They get us into trouble. And we can defend this country without troops in Germany , troops in Japan . How do they help our national defense ? Doesn't make any sense to me. Troops in Korea since I've been in high school ?

    MR. RUSSERT: What...

    REP. PAUL: You know, it doesn't make any sense.

    MR. RUSSERT: Under President Paul , if North Korea invaded South Korea , would we respond?

    REP. PAUL: I don't -- why should we unless the Congress declared war ? I mean, why are we there? Could -- South Korea , they're begging and pleading to unify their country, and we get in their way. They want to build bridges and go back and forth. Vietnam , we left under the worst of circumstances. The country is unified. They have become Westernized . We trade with them. Their president comes here. And Korea , we stayed there and look at the mess. I mean, the problem still exists, and it's drained trillion dollars over these last, you know, 50 years. So stop -- we can't afford it anymore. We're going bankrupt. All empires end because the countries go bankrupt, and the, and the currency crashes. That's what happening. And we need to come out of this sensibly rather than waiting for a financial crisis .

updated 12/23/2007 2:12:39 PM ET 2007-12-23T19:12:39

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul, appearing on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, defended his efforts in Congress to bring home money to his Texas district, despite his long-held aversion to big government and congressional votes to reign in federal spending.

"I've never voted for an earmark in my life," the Texas congressman said under questioning on NBC's "Meet the Press" about reports that he has requested hundreds of millions of dollars for special projects in his home district.

"I put them in because I represent people who are asking for some of their money back," said Paul, who likened it to taking a tax credit. "I'm against the tax system, but I take all my tax credits. I want to get their money back for the people."

The 10-term congressman and longshot candidate for the Republican presidential nomination added that although he has requested special projects known as earmarks, he ultimately ends up voting against them in the House. Paul is known in Congress as "Dr. No" for his votes against some types of government spending, including a medal for Pope John Paul II and civil rights leader Rosa Parks because of the cost to taxpayers. Video: Meet the Candidate: Ron Paul

For his home state, however, Paul has sought money for water projects, a nursing program, to expand a hospital cancer center and to promote Texas shrimp.

Just last week, President Bush complained about thousands of earmarks in a massive spending bill Congress sent to him.

As the only Republican candidate opposed to the Iraq war, Paul was an anti-war asterisk in the race until his campaign began raising money, most of it over the Internet. He brought in a record $6 million in one day, and $18 million in less than three months, though he still registers in single digits in most polls.

Paul, who ran for president as a libertarian in 1988, was asked whether he'd run as a third-party candidate next year if he loses the GOP nomination.

Paul said that was unlikely. "I have no intention, no plans of doing it, and that's about 99.9 percent," said Paul, a 72-year-old obstetrician-gynecologist and former Air Force flight surgeon.

On other issues:

  • Paul railed against the government's anti-drug policy, complaining that federal law overrules state laws that permit medicinal use of marijuana for pain or other symptoms of debilitating illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and other diseases. "This war on drugs is totally out of control. If you want to regulate cigarettes and alcohol and drugs, it should be at the state level," he said.
  • Paul said he wants to eliminate foreign aid to Israel and other nations. "Why make Israel so dependent?" he asked. "They can't defend their borders without coming to us."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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