Congressman Paul’s Letter
As a lifelong Republican, it saddens me to have to write this letter. My parents believed in the Republican Party and its free enterprise philosophy, and that’s the way I was brought up. At age 21, in 1956, I cast my first vote for Ike and the entire Republican slate.
Because of frustration with the direction in which the country was going, I became a political activist and ran for the U.S. Congress in 1974. Even with Watergate, my loyalty, optimism, and hope for the future were tied to the Republican Party and its message of free enterprise, limited government, and balanced budgets.
Eventually I was elected to the U.S. Congress four times as a Republican. This permitted me a first-hand look at the inner workings of the U.S. Congress, seeing both the benefits and partisan frustrations that guide its shaky proceedings. I found that although representative government still exists, special interest control of the legislative process clearly presents a danger to our constitutional system of government.
In 1976 I was impressed with Ronald Reagan’s program and was one of the four members of Congress who endorsed his candidacy. In 1980, unlike other Republican office holders in Texas, I again supported our President in his efforts.
Since 1981, however, I have gradually and steadily grown weary of the Republican Party’s efforts to reduce the size of the federal government. Since then Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party have given us skyrocketing deficits, and astoundingly a doubled national debt. How is it that the party of balanced budgets, with control of the White House and Senate, accumulated red ink greater than all previous administrations put together? Tip O’Neill, although part of the problem, cannot alone be blamed.
Tax revenues are up 59 percent since 1980. Because of our economic growth? No. During Carter’s four years, we had growth of 37.2 percent; Reagan’s five years have given us 30.7 percent. The new revenues are due to four giant Republican tax increases since 1981.
All republicans rightly chastised Carter for his $38 billion deficit. But they ignore or even defend deficits of $220 billion, as government spending has grown 10.4 percent per year since Reagan took office, while the federal payroll has zoomed by a quarter of a million bureaucrats.
Despite the Supply-Sider-Keynesian claim that “deficits don’t matter,” the debt presents a grave threat to our country. Thanks to the President and Republican Party, we have lost the chance to reduce the deficit and the spending in a non-crisis fashion. Even worse, big government has been legitimized in a way the Democrats never could have accomplished. It was tragic to listen to Ronald Reagan on the 1986 campaign trail bragging about his high spending on farm subsidies, welfare, warfare, etc., in his futile effort to hold on to control of the Senate.
Instead of cutting some of the immeasurable waste in the Department of Defense, it has gotten worse, with the inevitable result that we are less secure today. Reagan’s foreign aid expenditures exceed Eisenhower’s, Kennedy’s, Johnson’s, Nixon’s, Ford’s, and Carter’s put together. Foreign intervention has exploded since 1980. Only an end to military welfare for foreign governments plus a curtailment of our unconstitutional commitments abroad will enable us really to defend ourselves and solve our financial problems.
Amidst the failure of the Gramm-Rudman gimmick, we hear the President and the Republican Party call for a balanced-budget amendment and a line-item veto. This is only a smokescreen. President Reagan, as governor of California, had a line-item veto and virtually never used it. As President he has failed to exercise his constitutional responsibility to veto spending. Instead, he has encouraged it.
Monetary policy has been disastrous as well. The five Reagan appointees to the Federal Reserve Board have advocated even faster monetary inflation than Chairman Volcker, and this is the fourth straight year of double-digit increases. The chickens have yet to come home to roost, but they will, and America will suffer from a Reaganomics that is nothing but warmed-over Keynesianism.
Candidate Reagan in 1980 correctly opposed draft registration. Yet when he had the chance to abolish it, he reneged, as he did on his pledge to abolish the Departments of Education and Energy, or to work against abortion.
Under the guise of attacking drug use and money laundering, the Republican Administration has systematically attacked personal and financial privacy. The effect has been to victimize innocent Americans who wish to conduct their private lives without government snooping. (Should people really be put on a suspected drug dealer list because they transfer $3,000 at one time?) Reagan’s urine testing of Americans without probable cause is a clear violation of our civil liberties, as are his proposals for extensive “lie detector” tests.
Under Reagan, the IRS has grown bigger, richer, more powerful, and more arrogant. In the words of the founders of our country, our government has “sent hither swarms” of tax gatherers “to harass our people and eat out their substance.” His officers jailed the innocent George Hansen, with the President refusing to pardon a great American whose only crime was to defend the Constitution. Reagan’s new tax “reform” gives even more power to the IRS. Far from making taxes fairer or simpler, it deceitfully raises more revenue for the government to waste.
Knowing this administration’s record, I wasn’t surprised by its Libyan disinformation campaign, Israeli-Iranian arms-for-hostages swap, or illegal funding of the Contras. All this has contributed to my disenchantment with the Republican Party, and helped me make up my mind.
I want to totally disassociate myself from the policies that have given us unprecedented deficits, massive monetary inflation, indiscriminate military spending, an irrational and unconstitutional foreign policy, zooming foreign aid, the exaltation of international banking, and the attack on our personal liberties and privacy.
After years of trying to work through the Republican Party both in and out of government, I have reluctantly concluded that my efforts must be carried on outside the Republican Party. Republicans know that the Democratic agenda is dangerous to our political and economic health. Yet, in the past six years Republicans have expanded its worst aspects and called them our own. The Republican Party has not reduced the size of government. It has become big government’s best friend.
If Ronald Reagan couldn’t or wouldn’t balance the budget, which Republican leader on the horizon can we possibly expect to do so? There is no credibility left for the Republican Party as a force to reduce the size of government. That is the message of the Reagan years.
I conclude that one must look to other avenues if a successful effort is ever to be achieved in reversing America’s direction.
I therefore resign my membership in the Republican Party and enclose my membership card.