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Another View -- Rand Paul: It takes good policies, not good intentions, to revive the economy

October 24. 2012 9:54PM

Fifty years ago, Milton Friedman published his landmark book, 'Capitalism and Freedom,' in which he explained that 'concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.'

The crisis we see in Washington today proves precisely that point. Our $16 trillion in debt, our four consecutive trillion-dollar deficits, and the 23 million Americans struggling for work are not the result of bad intentions. Well-meaning people brought us to this destination.

But there's a common denominator in the most challenging problems that America faces: the overwhelming growth in the size of government.

Nearly every facet of the government, from food stamps to the TSA, has become larger and less palatable to the American people over the past four years. Politicians often think the answer to the problems that government has created is to create even more government. From the failed stimulus to the housing crisis, government reactions to government-made problems have only dug a deeper hole.

Our politicians have lost sight of the principle of liberty, which goes hand in hand with the idea of economic freedom and prosperity.

Obamacare exemplifies the worst kind of government overreach. It also fails to address the most important problems in health care: rising costs and the impending insolvency of Medicare. In fact, it stripped more than $700 billion from Medicare!

The Obama deficit spending spree has similar flaws. The nearly trillion-dollar stimulus was billed as an 'investment' to help create jobs, but our unemployment rate remains two-and-a-half points higher than the 5.3 percent rate we thought we'd have by now. President Obama's belief that hiring more government employees will cause our economy to grow is fundamentally flawed.

This must end - and government must be held accountable. Budgets must be finally and permanently balanced through a balanced budget amendment. The Federal Reserve should be audited and held accountable.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan offer our country a new and much-needed direction. They have a plan to shrink the size of government and restore fiscal responsibility. They will get government out of the way so that our small businesses can thrive, expand and create jobs, in part by supporting legislation like my REINS Act to stop out-of-control regulations. The REINS Act says that all major regulations written by unelected bureaucrats must then be approved by Congress. This legislation would fundamentally reform the runaway regulatory morass that is being foisted upon American business.

I support Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan because I believe they will reverse President Obama's misguided course. They support an audit of the Fed, and they will apply similar level-headed scrutiny to other aspects of our bloated government. And make no mistake - government must be cut, across the board. I will work each day with the Romney administration to accomplish this goal.

These are the keys to growing our economy and growing the middle class.

If our country is to prosper again, the next four years must be completely different from what we've seen over the past three-and-a-half years. President Obama has portrayed the choice over the size of government as one between security and freedom. The facts show that the choice between security and freedom is a false one. Edward Gibbon's wisdom of two centuries ago, on the unhappy fate of democracy in ancient Athens, survives: 'In the end,' he explained, 'more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life and they lost it all - security, comfort and freedom.'

We have too much at stake to continue down the same path.

Rand Paul is a U.S. senator from Kentucky.

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