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Paul Ryan will not educate our students

| Tuesday, April 30, 2019

On April 15, Notre Dame announced former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will serve as a faculty member during the 2019-2020 academic year, namely as guest lecturer in economics and political science. Noted topics include “the fundamentals of American government, the current state of political polarization and Catholicism and economics.”

On its surface, the move makes sense — Ryan is a high-profile name, and only recently removed from high-stakes political maneuvering in our nation’s capital. The sad truth, though, is that he is a con man, one with a toxic legacy of demonstrably false rhetoric and blind loyalty to a cancerous Republican Party. During his Obama-era rise, he was the most vehemently anti-deficit politician in the country, selling increased spending under a Democratic president as an existential threat to the American way of life itself. And then, in 2015, he became Speaker, finally wielding considerable power over the issue. In those four years of material economic growth, the deficit ballooned (gasp) by $343 billion. Oops! Maybe it wasn’t that important after all.

Regarding the recent GOP tax bill, Ryan said, “I don’t think it will increase the deficit.” Wrong! Another one of his signature promises was that under GOP law, regular citizens could fill out their taxes on a postcard. No one could have possibly foreseen that was a dumb idea, or that we’d still be beholden to the big lobbying dollars of Turbotax and co. instead of being provided an actual solution. He lied about the Republican attempts to repeal the ACA, fully leaning into President Trump’s post-truth new world. He gave lip service to immigration reform and proceeded to engineer a totally bad-faith debate around it.

To be clear, feigning a passion for deficit reduction is not nearly the worst of Ryan’s political career. His blatant disregard for this country’s most vulnerable, his willingness to exacerbate income and wealth inequality and his utter helplessness and/or disinterest in controlling Donald Trump’s racism and disregard for the rule of law are all black marks. These examples simply serve to illustrate that the man cannot be trusted at his word, and has no place educating Notre Dame students.

Paul Ryan proved time and time again that he’s intellectually bankrupt — a man who weaponized “fiscal responsibility” against Democrats and abandoned it for Donald Trump, the most transparently ridiculous and dishonest president this country has ever seen. He pretended to be a compassionate conservative while advancing policies that, at best, abdicated responsibility towards the poorest among us. I would recommend current students follow the lead of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and not listen to a thing he says.

Andrew Smith

class of 2015

April 15

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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