Paul Ryan: the political seduction of numbers

Paul Ryan is the Majority Chairman of the House Budget committee. He is a policy maker, and from all reports, a hard-liner not interested in compromise. He is alleged to be very competent with the budget process. Mr. Ryan's budget plan is ideologically driven - right wing and not subject to any bipartisan discussion. He is an Ayn Rand devotee, sees the world darkly (with Ayn Rand "objectivism" - a variation of the "survival of the fittest" fascist, social philosophy) and has little sympathy for "altruists," Ms. Rand's term for the "ineffective do-gooders who take from the strong and give to the weak." Not a very humane view for a major policy maker in the world's most democratic nation.

Mr. Ryan, as Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick, was in Sparks on Sept. 7 for a campaign engagement in which he presented the House budget. The best that can be said about it is that the Tea Party folks loved it (Ryan gave them all they and he wanted) and most of the minority Democrats believe (they were not asked to participate) it will seriously erode entitlements and put the middle class at risk. The fact is the last budget bill got passed with 10 Republican defections. The Republican budget appears more and more radical to even mainstream Republicans. But Ryan is stubborn and a hard driver.

Ryan has a five-point budget plan. He believes the five-point plan will "restore" America (to what we don't know). I believe his plan is destructive and not consistent with American values. He proposed to redesign Medicare into a state-run voucher plan. The Ryan calls for changing Medicare as we now know it and eventually phase it into a privatized system, subject to market variations; Congressman Ryan relies solely on budget cuts and tax reductions (mostly for the wealthy) to make his plan work. A very dangerous trend.

(1)"Use the nation's resources to create energy and jobs." (2) "Retrain the workforce with the skills they need to find Jobs." (3) "Increase U.S. manufacturing and farm production." (4) "Stop adding to the U.S. deficit by spending money the U.S. government doesn't have." And (5) "lower taxes on U.S. businesses."

Sounds good. Short. Sweet. But bogus. Some of the points sound legitimate but the underlying assumptions are designed to change the fabric and structure of our nation.

To utilize the nation's vast natural resources without attention to environmental protections, regulations, for example, is to invite disaster. We would risk the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico many times over and jeopardize the way of life of millions in every part of our country. Paul Ryan doesn't seem to care.

Ryan proposes to have the private sector retrain the workforce. They are generally not equipped to do that and Ryan would not make sufficient new funds available to make it happen. Remember when we expected the private sector to protect children and their safety without government intervention? I do. (Ryan's a budget cutter not a budget expander).

Increasing manufacturing and farm production requires investment in industrial research and farm production demands new science, including ways of dealing with drought and other severe climate changes. Spending money on education and research to stimulate the economy during serious economic downturns is a well-established economic principle. The principle has been validated many times.

Mr. Ryan's proposal demands enormous spending cuts to entitlement programs to the point where they would be destroyed or weakened. It is a very dangerous budget and is not in the best interest of our middle class. These are all moves to take us back to the 19th century.

Enlightened business leaders generally consider taxes as part of the cost of doing business. Businesses are more concerned about the quality of education and access to research for their workforce and their own families. Mr. Ryan isn't concerned. He only wants to tax cuts (for the wealthy), regardless of cost or benefits to the nation.

Both our congressional candidates in the north - Messrs. Heller and Amodie indicated their support of the Ryan budget. Bad for Nevadans. They both signed Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge (Ryan is very supportive of the pledge). These are not the actions of independent Nevada congressional leaders, and Ryan has his own agenda. We need stronger leaders in both the House and Senate.

Gov. Romney made a serious mistake in selecting Paul Ryan as his VP choice. He's going to have to fight Ryan every step of the way, or capitulate. Either way, Nevadans and Americans lose.

•-Eugene T. Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.


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