CPAC victory in hand, Ron Paul takes on Tea Party
Libertarian Ron Paul, a godfather of the Tea Party movement, isn’t altogether happy with his political progeny these days.
Fresh from victory in last week’s CPAC presidential straw poll, the Republican congressman from Texas laments to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that some Tea Partiers aren’t measuring up when it comes to the tough defense and entitlement program cuts he believes are needed to save the United States from economic cataclysm.
“They don’t want you to touch Social Security. They don’t want you to touch anything but Obamacare,” Paul says. “Some of them are real Republicans and they wouldn’t dare touch Bush’s increase in medical care costs, you know, prescription health programs.”
“They treat the symptoms and they don’t look at it philosophically,” he adds.
This sounds like a new fissure in the divisions emerging among Republicans. The Tea Party movement swept Republicans into the majority in the House of Representatives last November, while narrowing the Democratic Party’s hold on the Senate.
This year, newly elected Republicans with Tea Party backing have embarrassed the party leadership in the House on high-profile votes and pushed to expand initial 2011 spending cuts of $40 billion to more than$60 billion.
Differences between Republicans have appeared to turn on degrees of conservatism and aggressiveness about spending cuts, with some balking at the prospect of reducing popular programs that could cost votes.
But Paul says it’s also a matter of age, with young Tea Partiers showing themselves to be much hardier than the movement’s elders. And he’s a youth leader, at 75: “On the long run, I’m optimistic because there’s a new generation coming.”
His son, Tea Party Republican Senator Rand Paul, drew boos at CPAC when he talked about cutting Pentagon spending. The applause meter also dipped noticeably on Social Security, with the most robust support coming from audience members who won’t feel the cold wind of old age blow for decades to come.
The problem father and son both see is that cutting too little condemns the United States to a deadly debt addiction. Or as the congressman himself puts it: “I think the addiction is so bad that we’re going to continue and we are going to have a major, major economic crisis with the destruction of the dollar.”
So he’s running for president again. And no matter what Donald Trump says, Paul is clear — and nicely wry — about his chances of getting elected: “You always take that risk when you put your name on the ballot.”
In other words, be careful what you wish for?
Reuters Photo Credits: Jonathan Ernst (Ron Paul) and (Obama Budget)
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