ANAMOSA – It’s the debt, stupid.
And Ron Paul has a plan to deal with it.
The Texas congressman, whose poll numbers have been rising and who consistently draws larger audiences than most of his rivals, spoke of an urgency to deal with the nation’s “unbelievable” $15 trillion debt that is likely to result in the United States’ credit being downgraded again.
The truth is, Paul told about 135 people at the Lawrence Community Center in Anamosa Nov. 18, “We’re bankrupt. We’re seeing the consequences of many, many decades of spending too much.”
That’s been his message for 30 years, including his unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination four years ago. Now his message is resonating with Iowa caucusgoers, said David Fischer, his Iowa vice chairman.
“We’re drawing a much broader audience,” he said.
Paul finished second in an Iowa State University/Gazette/KCRG poll of likely caucusgoers that was released earlier this week. He finished in a statistical tie for first place in Iowa in a Bloomberg News poll.
He also collected the endorsement of Cedar Rapids Tea Party founder Tim Pugh.
“Ron Paul has an unwavering stance in defense of the Constitution, a conviction to the cause of freedom and liberty, a firm belief in a balanced budget, and devotion to a strong free market economy and a sound monetary policy,” Pugh told about 400 people at a Paul rally at the Hotel at Kirkwood. “He believes in a strong national defense, and not as the policeman of the world.”
That’s a sentiment share by many of the people joining the “Ron Paul Revolution,” said Noel Sauer, Paul’s Jackson County caucus coordinator.
Paul gets a lot of “negative votes” from people who don’t want President Barack Obama to have a second term, he said. They believe Paul is the Republican who can defeat the president.
“But beyond that,” Sauer added, “he gets a lot of positive votes for his financial plan to cut spending, to reduce the debt.”
They applauded Paul’s proposal for a “modest cut” of $1 trillion in federal spending the first year of his presidency.
He has little faith in the so-called “super committee” of 12 members of Congress will come up with a plan to reduce spending.
“The only tool they have is to print more money,” Paul said. And there are few options. “Taxes can’t be raised, even if you wanted to, because there is no money out there.”
It’s the result of many decades of spending too much and printing money to pay the bills as politicians promised more than the nation could afford, Paul said.
Forty years ago, “we were the creditor nation, we were the rich nation, we had the jobs, we had the industry, others owed us money,” Paul said.
Today the jobs have gone oversees, the country – especially the middle-class – is poorer “and our debt unbelievable,” Paul said.
So he calls for cutting spending, starting with what the nation sends overseas to maintain its military presences at 900 bases in 135 countries. That also won applause.
Instead, Obama just announced he wants a permanent military presence in Australia to keep an eye on China, which, Paul said, spends less than 15 percent as much as the U.S. on it military.
“The argument he has is that you’ve got to watch out for China,” he said as the audience began to laugh. “Yeah, China. China is our banker. Why would they want to attack us?”
The irony is, Paul continued, Americans are “fighting and dying in all these wars to protect oil and who knows what and at the same time the Chinese are selling us goods, our jobs go overseas, we print the money, they take our dollars and they are investing in oil and natural resources in Afghanistan and Iran in these countries that we keep fighting with.
“We should look to the Constitution for guidance,” he said. “There is no authority for us to be the policeman to the world.”
Despite the polls indicating Paul’s growing support, there are still skeptics.
Jim McElheny of Anamosa, a self-described lifelong disaffected Republicans, said he’s listening to all the candidates, “but I’m not thrilled with any of them.
“But I think he’s more honest than most of them,” said Catherine Jones-Davies said about Paul.
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