Robert Siegel interviewed Rep. Ron Paul on All Things Considered on Jan. 25. This is an edited transcript of their conversation.
ROBERT SIEGEL: Representative Paul, welcome to the program once again.
REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (R-TX): Thank you. Good to be with you.
MR. SIEGEL: This week's release of Mitt Romney's taxes and President Obama's advocacy of a millionaire's tax raise questions about fairness in funding the government. The first question: Do you believe that income derived from dividends interest or capital gains should be taxed at a lower rate than income earned from a salary or commissions?
REP. PAUL: Well, I'd like to have everybody taxed at the same rate, and of course, my goal is to get as close to zero as possible, because there was a time in our history when we didn't have income taxes. But when government takes it upon themselves to do so much, you have to have a tax code. But if you're going to be the policemen of the world and run all these wars, you have to have a tax code. But as far as what the rates should be, I think it should be as low as possible for – for everybody.
MR. SIEGEL: But since we do have a tax system, you would say do away with the preferential rate for investment income?
REP. PAUL: No, I wouldn't do away with it. I would just realize that there's some problems with it. If you want it equitable, we should lower everybody's rate down to the investment rate so it –
MR. SIEGEL: To 15 percent or so.
REP. PAUL: Yeah, I mean if – if the investment rate or the capital gains rate's 15 [percent] and somebody else is paying 30 [percent], I wouldn't go for equity by raising everybody to 30 [percent]; I would want to lower everybody to 15 [percent].
MR. SIEGEL: If – you've – you advocate auditing the Federal Reserve. If the Fed were closely audited and overseen by the Congress, why wouldn't it be reasonable for us to expect that more direct political pressure on monetary policy to always produce lower interest rates? Can you imagine the Congress that would say, why don't you raise interest rates already; why don't you make money tougher on people?
REP. PAUL: No, I think you're absolutely right. That's because – that's why I don't want that to happen, because indirectly, that is the case. Presidents have put pressure on the Fed. And there's been statistics that show, in election years, if you have a friendly Fed, they keep interest rates low. So you're right. I don't want the Congress dictating interest rates. I want the market to dictate interest rates by savings –
MR. SIEGEL: But doesn't the proposal to audit the Fed and to be able to get inside the workings of the Fed, doesn't that in fact increase congressional pressure on monetary policy?
REP. PAUL: It can't be any worse than it is right now. But what it would put pressure on is find out how they spend $16 trillion, which they used during the crisis and which banks got benefited and which European banks got benefited and which ones will in the future. Why should their budget be two to three times bigger than the congressional budget and nobody knows what they're doing?
MR. SIEGEL: Everyone else who is still in the Republican race can claim to have won a caucus or a primary but you. What state can you point to down the road which you think, as a sign of the viability of your candidacy, you can win and should win?
REP. PAUL: I'm not going to do that because I haven't calculated, and so we have to wait and see. That Iowa vote was a straw vote. And the delegate allocation hasn't yet been done, and I have a very good chance to do quite well out there. So we've only had two, and I will be working in the caucus states. So to – to say that this means that I have no chance in gathering up an adequate number of delegates is sort of jumping the gun.
MR. SIEGEL: No, but what's an adequate number of delegates? If you're in –
REP. PAUL: As many as I can get.
MR. SIEGEL: Well, if – (chuckles).
REP. PAUL: More than 10.
MR. SIEGEL: (Chuckles.) But if you're in it to win, I mean, there are caucuses coming up in Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, Maine, Missouri. Which of those states can you say: That's my heartland, I should do really well there?
REP. PAUL: I haven't even looked at them carefully enough. Somebody else worries about those kinds of things. I just think that this thing is so up and down. Romney was up for a long time, now he's down. Gingrich was down at the bottom, and now he's up. How many have come and gone? One thing you can't say about my campaign: I don't come and go. All I do is add.
MR. SIEGEL: Last subject. When you've been asked about a third-party run, you always say you don't plan, intend or want to do that. Let me put the question this way: After contesting the Republican primaries and caucuses, would it be honorable to say: I didn't win. I'm going to take my marbles, go home and run against the Republican candidate?
REP. PAUL: Would it be honorable to do that?
MR. SIEGEL: Yeah.
REP. PAUL: I think it's a total neutral. I don't think it's honor in one way or the other.
MR. SIEGEL: But doesn't taking part in the – in the Republican process imply some loyalty to the Republican Party so that your rivals whom you're debating with all this time and running against, if one of them bests you and gets a lot more delegates, you support him?
REP. PAUL: Well, what if – what if the young people now decide that the Republican Party wants sound money and no wars? Would it be honorable for them to come and join us?
MR. SIEGEL : Well, that would be their decision. My question is about you as a candidate. Would you go with them? In other words, if you felt there was a movement out there that might be as significant as there was for Ross Perot or George Wallace, you know, would you say, I'm going do it? You did it. You ran once before in 1988 as a libertarian. It sounds to me that you're not taking it off the table is what it sounds like to me.
REP. PAUL: Well, it's awfully premature because, as you said, you're waiting to find out what state I'm going to win and how many. So we have a few months to go before I will need an answer – (inaudible).
MR. SIEGEL: Fair enough. One thing that the Republican or conservative pundits always remark on is they say that what's different now from past cycles when you ran is that your son, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, that his future in the Republican Party might be jeopardized if you were seen as disloyal to it. Is that a factor at all in your – when you're considering?
REP. PAUL: Well, I don't think that's true. I don't think they punish the next generation for something they think that I might have contributed to.
MR. SIEGEL: Well, Representative Ron Paul, thank you very much for talking with us today.
REP. PAUL: All right. Thank you.