Ron Paul Unplugged

John Stossel interviews Ron Paul in an exclusive.

ByABC News
December 7, 2007, 5:53 PM

Dec. 10, 2007 — -- In this segment from my interview with Congressman Ron Paul, the unconventional Republican presidential contender offers his refreshing take on what the federal government should and more importantly shouldn't be doing.

With politicians from both sides of the political fence touting their new plans to fix America's problems, the Texas Republican believes that the most effective way that a president can lead is by protecting basic freedoms, and relying on the collective power of citizens to sort out the rest.

When Paul is asked to count off the major responsibilities of the federal government should have, he arrives at a surprisingly short list.

"Protect our freedoms. Have a strong national defense. Look and take care of our borders. Have a sound currency. Protect our environment through private property rights. That's it," Paul said.

Paul notes that when our country was founded, the role of the government was to protect the general welfare, enforce the rule of law in court, maintain property rights and allow for free markets and free trade "not to run our lives, and run everything in the economy."

It's a habit of politicians to identify problems and try to "fix" them with new laws and bureaucracies.

While some of these reforms may be well-intended, says Paul, "good intentions won't solve our problems," and more often they encroach on the personal liberties that have made our country great.

For example, it is a political consensus that the federal government should be involved in K-12 education and guarantee that no child is left behind, but Paul doesn't believe that government should be in control of our kids' education.

He would abolish the federal Department of Education.

He notes, "Since the 1950s, since the federal government's gotten involved, the quality of education has gone down, the cost has gone up."

By contrast, Paul counters, if we introduce market forces into education, competition will create innovative schools that offer our kids a better education for less money.