I generally don’t invest too much energy in scrutinizing Ron Paul’s comments during debates, but one of his claims last night struck me as bizarre, even for him.
CNN’s John King said there are a large number U.S. military servicemen and women returning from war, and the unemployment rate among veterans is very high. The moderator asked whether the federal government has a role in “specifically targeting” this “subgroup” for economic assistance.
Paul said some measures are “probably necessary on some occasions,” but quickly transitioned to a larger historical observation.
“After World War II, we had 10 million came home all at once. But what did we do then? There were some of the liberals back then that said, oh, we have to have more work programs and do this and that. And they thought they would have to do everything conceivable for those 10 million. They never got around to it because they came home so quickly.
“And you know what the government did? They cut the budget by 60 percent. They cut taxes by 30 percent. By that time, the debt had been liquidated. And everybody went back to work again, you didn’t need any special programs.”
Now, Paul is fudging some of the details about the budget figures. Indeed, it’s worth noting that income tax rates remained very high throughout the Eisenhower era of the 1950s because, at the time, Republicans still cared about debt reduction and paying for wars. (The party obviously abandoned those beliefs over the last decade.)
But the more interesting notion is that the country didn’t need “any special programs” to help this generation of veterans.
I’m curious: has Ron Paul never heard of the G.I. Bill? Does he not know the federal government created a “special program” to pay college tuition for a generation of veterans, who then helped use that education to establish the strongest middle class the world has ever seen?
Did Paul miss all of this? Or is it a situation in which federal intervention in education was such an extraordinary and historic success that the libertarian congressman simply chooses to ignore it?