Here's What Ron Paul Wants To Do To America — And Why Nevada Is Eating It Up

ron paul nevada

Grace Wyler/Business Insider

LAS VEGAS — Conventional wisdom — and this website — have declared that Ron Paul will never be the Republican presidential nominee. According to this political truism, the Texas Congressman is merely a sideshow in the 2012 race, whose ideas are well-intentioned but so extreme they would cause the U.S. Economy/Empire/Life As We Know It to self-destruct.Nevada apparently hasn’t gotten the memo.

Support for Paul has ballooned here since his last presidential run, spurred in part by a reaction to the state’s spectacular economic collapse in 2008.

Earlier this week Paul became the first candidate to lay out a set of proposals aimed specifically at solving Nevada’s economic woes, including its worst-in-nation unemployment and foreclosure rates. Based largely on Paul’s Plan To Restore America, the Plan To Restore Nevada echoes the candidate’s national economic policy goals, but with a Silver State spin.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with Paul’s plans, his pivot back to the economy was a welcome change after weeks of discussion over the relative merits of moon colonies and Donald Trump. So far, though, Paul’s suggestions have gone virtually unnoticed by his rival campaigns. 

The proposals help illustrate why the skinny septuagenarian has many Nevadans wrapped around his finger — and why he’s probably not going to go away any time soon.

No taxes on tips.

The Argument: Service workers aren't guaranteed tips -- the amount depends on how well they do the job. The taxes increase with the size of the tip, though, so the federal government is punishing workers who do their job well.

Why It Works Here: Unsurprisingly, this proposal is a huge crowd-pleaser in Nevada, where about 20 per cent of the labour force earns income from tips. In fact, if we didn't know Paul better, it might even look like pandering.

'This is a city that could benefit rather quickly from one little proposal -- make sure that the United States government does not tax tips at all!' Paul told cheering fans in Las Vegas Wednesday.

This solidarity with the state's service workers has endeared Paul to younger and lower-income voters who feel their industry and issues have been overlooked by other candidates. He even has a coalition of Hospitality Workers For Ron Paul volunteering for his campaign in downtown Las Vegas.

Boost tourism by making it easier to get a visa

The Argument: The U.S. is losing tourism and convention business to the Middle East and Asia as a result of its overly complex and time-consuming visa process.

'We've overreacted to the visitation of foreign people who want to come to our country,' Paul said this week. 'We want people to come to our country! They're rich! They can come here, and spend their money here in Las Vegas -- that would be good!'

Why It Works Here: Tourism and conventions are the lifeblood of the Nevada economy, but the state has been losing a lot of business to emerging gaming centres in Singapore, Macau, etc. ... Paul is so far the only candidate to acknowledge that this trend exists, and propose at least a partial solution.

Interestingly, this part of Paul's economic plan calls for more money to streamline the visa process. So how would Paul pay for it without adding to the debt?

'If we need a billion dollars, we have that embassy in Baghdad.'

And by eliminating the TSA

The Argument: The Transportation Security Administration 'scares people away,' including would-be foreign tourists. Plus it's 'unconstitutional.' Instead, airlines and airports should be responsible for security because they have an incentive to protect their customers.

Why It Works Here: While this plan is not specific to Nevadans, Paul groups it in with his other proposals for boosting Nevada's tourism sector.

It's actually kind of a scare tactic -- there's no evidence that the TSA is scaring foreign people from the U.S. Even if there were, that wouldn't have any bearing on whether or not the agency is constitutional.

Support a National Right To Work law

The Argument: Forcing workers to pay union dues violates a worker's constitutional right to freedom of association.

Why It Works Here: Although Nevada is a Right To Work state, its biggest city, Las Vegas, is one of the most heavily unionized in the country. In fact, Vegas is basically the mecca of organised labour: An estimated 90 per cent of service workers on the Strip are unionized, and the city's unions are some of the most powerful political forces in the state. Unlike most private sector unions, locals in Las Vegas have actually been expanding their reach in recent years, much to the chagrin of casino owners and other Big labour opponents.

Given that the state's Right to Work law failed to curb this power grab, a federal law may seem like the only recourse left to rein in organised labour.

Eliminate the Department of the Interior

The Argument: The federal agency, which is responsible for the management and conservation of federal land, was not enumerated in the U.S. Constitution, and regulations imposed by the department infringe on individual property rights and states' rights. The government would save more than $20 billion annually by eliminating the department and privatizing federal land or giving it back to the states.

Why It Works Here: The federal government controls about 87 per cent of the land in Nevada, so land rights are a hugely complicated and contentious issue here. This is particularly true of the state's rural northern counties. Conservative activists have butted heads with the federal government for decades over land and property rights there. In some ways, lands rights activism was a precursor to Nevada's influential Tea Party movement, and it remains a big part of Nevada politics.

Paul's emphasis on protecting property and states' rights have won him many fans in rural Nevada. He also appears to be the only candidate talking about these issues, which could work in his favour this weekend, as well as in other Western states later this year.

Note: The Department of Interior also oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and administration of all the U.S. territories except Puerto Rico. So absent more details, eliminating this federal agency would be chaos.

Nevada should get to decide the fate of Yucca Mountain

The Yucca Mountain drama is actually another lands rights issue. It's worth noting that Paul comes down on the right side of the issue in the eyes of most Nevada voters. The Texas Congressman was actually the only non-Nevadan to vote against the initial bill to build the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository, and he maintains that Nevada should get to decide whether or not it wants a nuclear waste dump.

Although the facility never opened, indignation over Yucca Mountain still gets Nevadans' blood pumping. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum both supported the legislation; Mitt Romney agrees with Paul that it is a state issue.

incentivise people to get out of homes they can't afford

The Argument: To stabilise the housing market, Paul advocates a laissez-faire approach that would see the federal government get out of the housing business altogether. Rather than pursue spending policies to keep people in their homes and paying off their debts, Paul proposes tax credits and deductions to make it easier for people to leave homes they can no longer afford.

'We have not allowed the liquidation of debt,' Paul said this week. 'Instead, the debt has been transferred to us, to the people, and that way you can't have an economic recovery. I say we remove the effort to bail out and give the people a tax benefit or a tax credit if they do work something out.'

Why It Works Here: It is hard to overstate the magnitude of the housing crisis in Nevada. Even now, people around Las Vegas seem a little shell-shocked by their crash. This was the epicentre of easy credit and low interest rates -- everyone you meet here knows a blackjack dealer or an exotic dancer who flipped houses on the side. With that in mind, it makes sense that Paul's emphasis on personal responsibility and living within one's means would resonate with voters here.

And obviously, GOLD

The Argument: As you've probably heard, Ron Paul wants to get rid of the Federal Reserve and return to a currency backed by a commodity, like gold. He also would allow Americans to use 'alternative currencies' like gold-backed notes or electronic money backed by gold.

Why It Works Here: It just so happens that Nevada is one of the largest sources of gold in the world, and mines about 80 per cent of the gold in the U.S. Presumably, a return to the gold standard would mean big business for the Silver State.

But Nevada voters like the other guy too...

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