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Loyal Ticket readers from the 2007-08 presidential primary months will remember our many items about the amazing long-shot political campaign of Republican Rep. Ron Paul, Dr. No or Dr. Know-Nothing, depending on your viewpoint.
The now 11-term Texas congressman raised more money in the final quarter of 2007 than any other GOP candidate, including all the far bigger names.
Here's one typically outrageous and ridiculous thing that Ron Paul did: He ran his.... ...hopelessly outgunned presidential campaign as if it was a business, not even spending more money than he had in hand. C'mon now, how laughable is that in this day and age in modern America that someone who wants to run the federal government should live within his own campaign means? Just like normal people who live on a real budget with no ability to vote themselves a pay raise and a higher debt ceiling when no one is watching C-SPAN!
When the ultimate Democratic winner, in league with the extraordinary gentleman Harry Reid and the tough-talking San Francisco grandma who's House speaker, has decided to spend a gazillion more dollars than any non-federal calculator has digits to display. These people, for Nancy's sake, are already spending the income taxes of the unborn grandchildren of those 4,000 babies that Paul delivered. A shocking realization that may be helping to fuel the recent re-examination of Ron Paul, who never met a federal dollar that needed spending -- unless it was going back to his district near Houston.
But now, just as his fierce supporters fearlessly predicted all along, many in American politics are coming around to think that maybe RP's crazy ideas, for example, of auditing and controlling the Federal Reserve, are maybe not quite so crazy.
For three decades, Texas congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul's extreme brand of libertarian economics consigned him to the far fringes even among conservatives. Not a few times, his views put him on the losing end of 434-1 votes on Capitol Hill. No longer. With the economy still struggling and political divisions deepening, Paul's ideas not only are gaining a wider audience but also are helping to shape a potentially historic battle over economic policy -- a struggle that will affect everything including jobs, growth and the nation's place in the global economy.
Already, Paul's long-derided proposal to give Congress supervisory power over the traditionally independent Federal Reserve appears to be on its way to becoming law...... His warnings on deficits and inflation are now Republican mantras.
And with this year's congressional election campaign looming, the Texas congressman's deep-seated distrust of activist government has helped fuel protests such as the tea-party movement, harden partisan divisions in Washington and stoke public fears about federal spending and the deficit.
And so far, Paul and his fellow conservatives are on the offensive. President Obama and congressional Democrats are repeatedly pledging not to increase the deficit and to begin cutting back soon. "I think we're going to be in for more revival of fiscal responsibility," said William Niskanen of the Cato Institute, who headed the Council of Economic Advisors under President Reagan.
Niskanen sees the Texas Republican's increasing influence as stemming from the continued economic weakness. "To this extent, Ron Paul gains voice," he said.
Paul would go a lot further in cutting back the government's role than even free-marketers like Niskanen support. If Paul had it his way, for instance, he would do away with the Fed entirely. In his bestselling book "End the Fed," he lambasted the central bank as an "immoral, unconstitutional . . . tool of tyrannical government."
Such rhetoric might once have been dismissed as extremism. But Paul's anti-Fed message has drawn broad support because of the central bank's failure to restrain the flood of cheap money and excessive risk-taking in the years leading up to the financial crisis.
In particular, Paul is a disciple of Ludwig von Mises, an Austrian theorist born at the end of the 19th century who contended that government intervention in an economy would fail because free markets were better at allocating resources and fueling growth.
Having lived through Germany's devastating hyperinflation in the early 1920s, which helped pave the way for Hitler, Mises wrote long before the Great Depression that over-generous credit policies would encourage excessive borrowing, creating a boom and then a bust.
By 1940, when Mises arrived in America, most Western economists had embraced the competing theories of Britain's John Maynard Keynes, who called for government to stimulate the economy by spending on infrastructure and cutting interest rates.
Obama has largely followed the Keynesian script, as President George W. Bush did when the economic crisis broke.
Paul's once-lonely espousal of the Austrian School's ideas has gotten new impetus from conservative economists and Republican political strategists.
Paul contends that Austrian economics explains the most recent financial meltdown: "It says if you inflate too much, if you have no restraint on monetary authorities, you're going to bring on a crisis." Now, Paul says, administration policies are leading the country toward disaster.
However, like Mises, whose portrait hangs on his Washington office wall, Paul is intransigent, and that has earned him an ardent following. "His views are strong and hardheaded, but you've got to stand firm or you'll get blown over in this world," said Mark Skousen, editor of the newsletter Forecasts & Strategies and a former economics professor at Columbia University.