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You Should Know: Five Facts About Ron Paul

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Next in our blog series on the Republican 2012ers is Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. More than 20 years ago, he ran for president on the Libertarian ticket, and now after decades in Congress, he's seeking the Republican nomination—just as he did four years ago. And even though Ron Paul’s opinions are still far from mainstream, he's at home on the debate stage with the rest of these GOP candidates. 

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Paul is known by the nickname "Doctor No"—because he insists on voting against almost every bill that comes his way.

His greatest hits include opposing the auto industry loan package that helped save Detroit, demanding that the U.S. default on its debt and return to the gold standard, and declaring Social Security unconstitutional, no matter what the Supreme Court thinks.

Here are five things you should know about Ron Paul:

1) Ron Paul admitted that a low flat tax would be "punishing to the poor and middle class"—but supports it anyway. In 2007, when a reporter told Rep. Paul that a flat tax would harm the middle class, he replied, “Well, I know. That's why I don't want it." (NBC, Meet The Press, 12/23/2007) But by 2011, the Congressman had flip-flopped, saying he'd like to offer taxpayers the chance to pay a flat rate of 10 percent if they agree to receive no government services in return. No word on whether or not that means they'd be banned from driving on public roads. (Transcript from Ron Paul’s Speech At 2011 CPAC, RonPaul.com, 2/11/2011)

2) Ron Paul opposed the loan package that is successfully helping the auto industry recover. In a 2008 speech to the House of Representatives, Rep. Paul argued that Congress needed to repeal auto industry regulations rather than issue direct loans: "Congress should act to help that industry. We should be repealing costly regulations we have imposed on domestic auto manufactures." (Ron Paul Speech, House Of Representatives, 110th Congress, 12/10/2008)

3) Ron Paul favored a return to the gold standard, an idea rejected by nearly every economist and fiscal expert. As a matter of routine fact, requiring every U.S. dollar to be backed by gold would dramatically shrink the size of our economy. Such a move would take us back to a 19th-century time when recessions and depressions were more common and more severe than they are today. And yet Rep. Paul has advocated for exactly that—he even says it's what convinced him to run for Congress in the first place. According to the Washington Post, these views turned him into "something of a sideshow—he came to be seen as a crank, a radical, so far outside the mainstream he could be safely ignored." (Washington Post, 2/12/2011)

4) Ron Paul suggested that Social Security was unconstitutional. In a Fox News interview, Rep. Paul flatly said that the Supreme Court was wrong in 1937 when it ruled that Social Security was constitutional, saying thatthe Constitution and the court said slavery was legal, too. And we had to reverse that. So, I'll tell you, just because a court in '37 went very liberal on us and expanded the role of government—no, I think the original intent is not a bad idea.” Fox News Sunday, 5/11/2011)

5) Ron Paul said it could be a "positive thing" for the U.S. to default on its debt. Although the U.S. has not missed a debt payment once in history, Rep. Paul told Think Progress that the country is already in default, suggesting some confusion about the definition of the term. He went on to say that not raising the debt ceiling—a move that would cause global economic panic—might be good for the country. "I think if you didn’t raise it, people say it would be the end of the whole system, but maybe people will say, '[H]ey, maybe they’re serious!' And maybe it would be a positive. That’s what we should do." (Think Progress, 6/6/2011)

Monday night, Rep. Paul will take part in the second Republican presidential debate. Help us spread the truth about his fringe views by sharing this with your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.

If you're using Twitter, be sure to use the hashtag #youshouldknow.