Sen. Ensign addresses budget debate

Sen. John Ensign decried the huge projected deficits in the budget bill working its way through the U.S. Congress before a breakfast crowd at the Carson Nugget on Wednesday

morning.

"If you look at the budget bill as it stands and take all of the debt built up from George Washington through George W. Bush, we will double that debt in the next five years and triple it in the next 10 years," said Nevada's GOP senator. "It is unsustainable."

Addressing business leaders at the Northern Nevada Development Authority breakfast, Ensign said that to handle this kind of debt, the highest marginal tax rate would have to be raised to 88 percent.

"What we are witnessing is a Europeanization of America, taking over private industry, trying to tell how much we are going to pay CEOs, the bailouts, too much involvement in the marketplace," he said.

Ensign said the auto company bailout late last year was one of the worst things President Bush did while he was in office.

"I believe in saving the auto companies, if they were savable, and that meant that they needed to go into Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy," he said.

Ensign talked about his alternative budget proposal that focused on the housing market.

"Housing is what brought the economy down," Ensign said. "We all understand that. It would make sense to me that, if that's what brought the economy down, then you should fix housing first."

Ensign also called for lowering corporate tax rates, citing the success of Ireland as an example, though that country is now struggling with its worst economic downturn on record, according to its government.

Ensign called the K-12 educational system in this country "an unmitigated disaster" and commented on how it affects efforts to attract businesses to Nevada.

"They understand we have a great business climate here," he said. "That's easy to sell. What's hard to sell is our educational system."

The senator pushed for more charter schools, and grouping students into classes based on their learning abilities.

"Our schools should be tailored to the children and how they learn," Ensign said.

The audience applauded when Ensign promoted merit pay for good teachers, and getting rid of bad teachers.

Ensign said the Employee Free Choice Act, which would give employees the option of either a secret ballot or signing a petition if they want to unionize, is "one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation I have ever seen come before the United States Senate," and that it would devastate the economy.

The senator said that Nevada will benefit from the renewable energy portions of the stimulus bill that was passed earlier this year.

"Nevada is in an excellent position to take advantage of solar, geothermal, wind energy, biodiesel," Ensign said. "Nevada can lead the way into the future."

Ensign also promoted expanding nuclear and coal power plants, and increasing drilling for oil and gas on public lands.

"We are going through tough times," Ensign said. "This entrepreneurial spirit that we have in Nevada, I believe in it strongly, I know we are going to recover out of this, I know we are going to be just fine. I'm much more concerned about the country if we make the wrong choices. If we make the right choices, I believe America's brightest days are ahead."

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