White House ’08: Barr talks with AFP about campaign
Story by Chris Graham
It had seemed for a time back in the summer that former Republican congressman Bob Barr might end up playing a spoiler role in the ’08 presidential election by siphoning off a couple of percentage points from the vote total of Republican John McCain in what had been expected to be a close race with Democrat Barack Obama.
Now it appears that Barr, who is registering in the area of 1 percent in the national polls, could play a different role, as the man for whom disaffected Republicans cast their protest votes on Election Day. Not that Barr is willing to settle for what would amount to so many pity votes.
“We believe that voters all across America, particularly those that are dissatisfied with or undecided between Sen. McCain, the big-government candidate, and Sen. Obama, the bigger-government candidate, should not at all feel satisfied, as voters have for so many years now, to just go into the polling booth and vote lesser of two evils simply because there are Republicans and Democrats, and they have a virtual monopoly on the national electoral process. We believe and we hope that Americans conclude that they deserve better than that, that they deserve a real choice in voting, and we give it to them, a choice that will empower them to educate their children as they see fit, to dramatically return power from the federal government to themselves as state and local voters, to have more of their money to spend for purposes as they see fit,” Barr said in an interview with Augusta Free Press correspondent Mike Hodge last week.
Barr brings major-party credentials to his third-party run, having served in the United States Congress for eight years after stints in the CIA and as a United States attorney under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. His track record in government service brings some bona fides to his ability to deliver the message that smaller government is better government. For instance, on the issue of fiscal policy, the answer, according to Barr, is “to start getting a handle on the tremendous growth of government spending. Once we start to get government spending under control, and that is to reduce the national budget, which is well over $3.1 trillion, and to begin dramatically reducing the current government deficit, which under President Bush has ballooned to nearly $500 billion, and the national debt, which is $10 trillion now, once you start to, as we would propose, get a handle on that outrageous increase in government spending and government debt, you take a look at the tax system,” Barr said.
“The current tax system favors big business, it dramatically oppresses and makes much more complex the business of taxation for the average citizen than is necessary, and we believe that it is much better to move to a system that is less oppressive and far less complex and far fairer than the current income-tax system, and that probably would be a national consumption tax,” Barr said.
On the Wall Street bailout, Barr points out that both McCain and Obama came down strongly in support of the intervention of the federal government to rescue the financial sector from a market crash. “Whether this is so-called short-term or long-term remains to be seen, but I believe and the Libertarian Party believes that this portends further federal-government involvement,” Barr said. “Whenever you inject the government into the marketplace, such as propping up certain banks as opposed to others, or propping up certain financial institutions as opposed to others, government is playing winners and losers, and favoring some as opposed to others, and it distorts the marketplace,” Barr said.
“The government proposing to buy up we don’t how many millions of mortgages and to renegotiate the terms of those mortgages will inevitably depress housing prices across the country and depress housing values, and that will affect all Americans, including those who have responsibly met the terms of their mortgages. Whenever you inject the government into the marketplace, you redefine it, you change the dynamics of risk, and you make it more difficult for businesses to operate properly,” Barr said.
On the government’s prosecution of the war on terror, Barr focused his attention on the erosion of civil liberties under the Bush administration in the aftermath of 9/11. “Since 9/11, the government has put American citizens on the defensive,” Barr said. “It forces them to disclose and allow government to gain access to their most private information, their financial information, for example. And treats them like terrorists. Government gains access to individuals’ most private information on the presumption that they have something to hide,” Barr said. “We see this also in the way the government treats the most private communications of citizens. And both Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama support the expansion of the power of the government to electronically surveil American citizens without warrants. This also treats the citizenry as terrorists or as criminals, believing government has the right to surveil its own citizens without court order. We in the Libertarian Party and I believe that this is absolutely wrong,” Barr said.