Politics

Krauthammer challenges Ron Paul on border fence, ‘Is the United States a prison?’

On Wednesday’s “Special Report,” libertarian-leaning Republican presidential contender Rep. Ron Paul took the “Center Seat” to be grilled by the program’s panel.

One of the topics of conversation dealt with Paul’s statement in a debate that a border fence might be used to keep people in, which Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer challenged.

“Any piece of territory large or small that is fenced in, and for the purpose of keeping people in, is by textbook definition a prison,” Krauthammer said. “Is the United States a prison?”

Paul responded that he was primarily concerned with the ease of people and financial resources moving across borders.

“Well, I think, you know, there was an Iron Curtain once,” Paul said. “I think what we are developing here is a ‘financial iron curtain’ in a way where you can’t travel back and forth. I’ve lived on both borders. I did medical training, some in Michigan and some in when I lived in Texas. And it was always nice that I could go back and forth with no passport. Now, it’s difficult.”

He continued, “not only do we use [the] excuse of watching for the bad guys coming in to our country to control us, currency and capital controls are very common when you get into difficulties. I’m thinking about the financial controls, where you don’t have freedom to leave. And they already do exist.”

Watch:

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Host Bret Baier also challenged Paul, asking if he meant that in a literal sense. The Texas congressman doubled down. “I think of it more in finances, but if it deteriorates — if our system deteriorates, which it is capable, when it breaks down there will be more people control,” he said. “So we say we want to protect borders, so we end up with the ID card. Just this last week they are checking people in Tennessee, like the TSA on the automobiles.” (RELATED: Paul names his pick for Fed chairman)

A plausible explanation? Not according to Krauthammer, who suggested a flaw with Paul’s premise.

“In this century, capital travels in computers not in a suitcase across if border,” Krauthammer said. “Are you worried Americans are stopped at the border with a fence and not allowed to leave?”

That led to this exchange between Paul and Krauthammer.

PAUL: Financially, I think they will. Even with computers they can put controls on you.

KRAUTHAMMER: A fence?

PAUL:  I’m not for a fence.

KRAUTHAMMER: That’s not going to stop a wire transfer.

PAUL: Well, they can push financial controls – they have had wire transfers for years. The IRS knows what is going on. You have to report everything. So what I want to is bring all that money back, not inhibit it from going out. People should have a freedom to leave. People should have a freedom to take their assets. It’s a well-known fact that if you say the conditions are such, hopefully you are right. It would be nice to circumvent their desire,  but it’s inevitable with the financial crisis they put on the currency control and capital controls.

KRAUTHAMMER: My point is a fence never stopped a money transfer.

PAUL: It never stops illegal immigrants either.