- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 5, 2011

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Raul says he won’t vote for increasing the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit but he predicted Sunday that it will pass Congress anyway.

“It will come down to the wire, and they’ll pass it because they will beat the drums of fear,” the 11-term congressman from Texas said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That’s how we get things done in Washington.”

Mr. Paul said the warnings from the Obama administration that a failure to approve the debt increase could ruin the national - or even the global - economy were “100 percent gamesmanship.”

“I’m not going to vote to increase the debt,” he said.

Defaulting on the debt could lead to higher interest rates on everything from car loans to mortgages, he said, but the tradeoff would be more jobs and a healthier long-term future for the national economy.

Mr. Paul said the libertarian policies he has espoused during his long congressional career and during his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 have become part of the country’s mainstream political dialogue.

“They mocked me for my foreign policy and they laughed at my monetary policy. No more. No more. The people are coming over here,” he said.

“Before, mainstream was: deficits don’t matter, print money when you need it, endless wars, personal privacy that didn’t mean anything,” he said. “But believe me, mainstream is moving in the direction that I have been talking about for a long time, and therefore nobody knows what the outcome will be in this election.”

A noted critic of an interventionist foreign policy, Mr. Paul has called for pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, criticizing the conflicts as “endless silly wars that we fight that are bankrupting us.”

Mr. Paul, who has been campaigning vigorously in early-caucus Iowa, said he is not impressed with the other candidates in the GOP 2012 field.

“So far, most of them represent the status quo. … I think they’re shifting a little bit because of political pressure, but who’s saying bring all the troops home? Who’s saying that we need sound money and we ought to believe in the Constitution? Who wants to get rid of the Patriot Act? Who believes in property rights?” he said Sunday on CNN.

The fiscal hawk told Bloomberg news agency over the weekend that any budget deal with Democrats that tied tax increases to spending cuts was doomed.

“Even in the ‘80s, when our good friend Ronald Reagan had a tax increase, which a lot of people forget about, he said he wanted two dollars of [spending] cuts for every dollar” of tax increases, Mr. Paul said in an interview for “Political Capital” with Bloomberg’s Al Hunt.

“Nothing happened. The deficit exploded,” the 75-year-old congressman noted. “So do you think the American people are going to believe that we’re going to cut in the future?”