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Rep. Ron Paul Defends His Earmarks in Spending Bill

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," March 10, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Speaking of a lot of money, the battle about the money they're spending on Capitol Hill and, ironically, this guy is being targeted as maybe spending the most or at least earmarking the most for his constituents. He says it isn't fair.

But we thought it only fair to give him his due and explain what is going on. I'm talking about Texas congressman and former presidential candidate, Ron Paul.

Congressman, the rap is that you're a porker, that — that a lot of pork, $73 million-plus, went to your district. Is that true?

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS: Well, it might be.

But I think you're missing the whole point. I have never voted for an earmark. I voted against all appropriation bills. So, this whole thing about earmarks is totally misunderstood.

Earmarks is the responsibility of the Congress. We should earmark even more. We should earmark every penny. So, that's the principle that we have to follow and the — and the responsibility of the Congress. The whole idea that you vote against an earmark, you don't save a penny. That just goes to the administration and they get to allocate the funds.

Video: Watch Neil's interview

CAVUTO: Well, then, who — who — who proposes the bridge or the highway or the school? How does that even get in there?

PAUL: I have no idea. But the most important thing is to have transparency.

If you don't earmark something, then somebody else spends it and there's no transparency. So, the principle of the earmark is very crucial. But we need more earmarks.

The reason that we don't have — didn't have earmarks, you know, in that $350 billion on TARP funds...

CAVUTO: Right.

PAUL: We needed to earmark every single thing. We need to earmark every single thing the Fed does. So, this whole thing, this charade — this is a charade.

CAVUTO: No, no, I understand.

But you know what? It just strikes people as a little weird, Congressman, because, you know, you champion and rail against government waste. And I know you rejected and voted against this package. But, yet, your constituents are going to benefit to the tune of more than $73 million in various projects from this package.

So, it's kind of like you're having your cake and eating it, too.

PAUL: But — but, Neil — Neil, you're — you're missing the whole point.

The principle of the earmark is our responsibility. We're supposed to — it's like a — a tax credit. And I vote for all tax credits, no matter how silly they might seem. If I can give you any of you of your money back, I vote for it. So, if I can give my district any money back, I encourage that.

But, because the budget is out of control, I haven't voted for an appropriation in years — if ever.

CAVUTO: But would you argue, then, sir, that, when John McCain was here saying the whole earmark thing itself is what's out of control?

PAUL: Oh, no, no. He — he — he totally misunderstands that. That's grandstanding.

If you cut off all the earmarks, it would be 1 percent of the budget. But, if you vote against all the earmarks, you don't cut one penny. That is what you have to listen to. We're talking about who has the responsibility, the Congress or the executive branch?

I'm saying, get it out of the hands of the executive branch. Just listen again about what I have said about the TARP funds. We needed to earmark every penny. Now we gave them $350 billion, no earmarks, and nobody knows...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: You're right about...

PAUL: OK. But then I'm right about the whole issue.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But are you saying, then — are you saying, then, Congressman, that the moneys that you appropriated, whether for the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, the Texas City Channel, Wallisville Lake, the City of Bay City, that rehab center — that that's money in the aggregate that you would have called waste?

PAUL: It's the kind I don't vote for, because I don't think the federal government should be doing it. But, if they're going to allot the money, I have a responsibility to represent my people.

If they say, hey, look, put in a highway for the district, I put it in. I put in all their requests, because I'm their representative.

But, if you put an earmark for a bridge in Iraq, it's not called an earmark. If you build military equipment in somebody's city...

CAVUTO: So, you don't think their requests are wastes? You don't think their requests are wastes?

PAUL: Well, no, it's — it's — it shouldn't be done. There's a better way to do it.

CAVUTO: Right.

PAUL: But, if you're going to spend the money, the Congress has the responsibility. It's better to spend it on a bridge here than spend it on a bridge in Iraq, and blow it up, and then build it up again.

Those are the kind of earmarks they don't count.

CAVUTO: All right.

PAUL: So, you have to count...

CAVUTO: All right, Congressman.

PAUL: You have to look at the responsibility of the Congress to earmark every single penny.

CAVUTO: Congressman, thank you very much.

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