Libertarian fans of former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, may expect the former presidential candidate to be pleased with the partial government shutdown that began Tuesday, forcing federal agencies to furlough workers as Republicans seek a one-year reprieve for citizens subject to the individual health insurance mandate beginning Jan. 1.
But Paul told U.S. News the shutdown isn't as significant as some say and he finds the ongoing squabble between party leaders "rather annoying."
"It's less of an event than everyone's claiming it to be," he said. "The closedown doesn't close down people who want stuff, it didn't close down [the National Security Agency] and all the other things the government may be doing to us. The government marches on."
Paul believes President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law, which forces Americans to buy private health insurance, is "an outrage" that the U.S. Supreme Court should have declared unconstitutional, but he doubts Republican leaders truly believe in individual choice, the purported cause of the current impasse.
"Republicans are supposedly on the side of cutting and watching that we don't get too much government intrusion in medical care, but when they were in charge they increased the size and scope of government intervention in medical care," he said, "so I don't think they're sincere about it."
Political leaders, Paul predicted, "will fuss and fume all for political gain – it's all political gamesmanship."
"How did the Democrats get away with this idea of, 'No, we're not going to conference' and then blame the Republicans for being extremists when they won't even go to conference? That gets pretty tiring to tell you the truth."
He's been watching news coverage on the TV, and he says he "can imagine why the average American citizen is pretty tired of it all."
"The shutdown is actually a distraction from the debate that I think they should be having," Paul said. He's particularly upset by domestic and foreign U.S. policies, and says Federal Reserve policy and deficit spending should have taken precedence in the current government-funding debate.
"Republicans and Democrats are basically in agreement with authoritarianism," Paul said. "They believe that one way or another you have to be an authoritarian, to tell you how to spend your money [and] both of them tell you how to run your personal life. And they're both very excited about telling every country what to do, and giving them money if they behave or bombing them if they don't."
Paul said "the wave of the future" is a coalition of anti-authoritarian progressive Democrats and libertarian Republicans in Congress opposed to domestic surveillance, opposed to starting new wars and in favor of ending the so-called War on Drugs.
"The so-called shutdown is more of a political event," he said, "The government doesn't really shut down, they do the symbolic things: you can't go up in the Washington Monument, you can't visit the White House and you can't go in the parks."
Still, Paul hopes implementation of the individual health insurance mandate will be delayed when the shutdown is over.
Paul, a strict constitutionalist, said he doesn't believe Obama "technically" has the authority to alter the start dates of either the employer or individual insurance mandates, "but I don't think that has stopped him from starting wars without permission," he said.