smart spending

Fame & Fortune: Ron Paul

Bankrate: You are as close to a "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" as we've had. You're neither a politician nor a lawyer, but a small-town doctor. How does your perspective differ from your fellow congressmen?

Ron Paul: The most important thing that helps me is that being in Congress is very, very secondary. Therefore, I can say whatever I think is right; I don't ever have to weigh it. People kid my staff and say, "Boy, you have an easy job. All you have to read is the first page of a bill, and if it's not authorized, doesn't make sense, or costs money, it's a no vote." The other staffers have to weigh it politically and economically, and occasionally constitutionally.

Bankrate: One would normally expect a doctor to be heavily involved in health care issues, not monetary policy.

Ron Paul: I stayed away from the medical legislation because I didn't want to be seen as "Oh, there's that doctor, he's fed up because he knows that socialized medicine is coming," and that would be my narrow interest. I wanted the much broader interest of the financial system -- economic stability, unemployment, inflation and how we pay for our wars. I was much more interested in that than becoming an expert on medical legislation.

Bankrate: What do you think of the health care reform package?

Ron Paul: It's a disaster! As a matter of fact, it was in the early '70s when the Republicans started accelerating intervention and having managed care. That's when the tax codes changed and there were mandates. It was the government all of those years that has participated in pushing the cost of medicine up and causing it to become bureaucratic and causing the charity hospitals to go out of business. Managed care has been around (since) about the same time as we lost the gold standard, and it's managed care that we should blame.

The real problem with medical care is it costs too much. Nobody would complain if it didn't cost so much. But it costs so much because of inflation plus the bureaucracy we've created.

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