Posts Tagged ‘Harry Reid’

Latest “Fiscal Cliff” Talks Focusing On Tax Cuts

By Sean Whaley | 3:11 pm December 18th, 2012

CARSON CITY – As Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., prepared today to attend another briefing with his House Republican colleagues on the latest “fiscal cliff” negotiations, he said that he would consider tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans to reduce the deficit, but not to fund increased government spending.

“Am I willing to increase revenues to fund more government spending?” Amodei asked. “No, I’m not. The spending dynamic is out of control. Am I willing to look at revenues that will reduce the debt, not to fund more government spending? Yes I am.”

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.

The latest offer from GOP House Speaker John Boehner made earlier today, called “Plan B,” would renew tax cuts for all but those making more than $1 million a year. The proposed was quickly rejected by the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

A statement from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in part that President Obama “is not willing to accept a deal that doesn’t ask enough of the very wealthiest in taxes and instead shifts the burden to the middle class and seniors.”

Reid said the proposal would not pass both houses of Congress and he called on Boehner to work on forging a large-scale deficit reduction agreement.

“It would be a shame if Republicans abandoned productive negotiations due to pressure from the Tea Party, as they have time and again,” he said in a statement.

The latest counter proposal from the White House that was to be discussed at the House Republican caucus at 2 p.m. Pacific time would extend tax breaks for all but those making more than $400,000. President Obama originally proposed tax increases for those earning more than $250,000.

Boehner wants a vote on a tax cut extension by Thursday.

But Amodei said he is concerned that a vote on raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, if it comes without some decisions on reducing federal spending, could mean the new revenue from the deal would not go to reduce the deficit. That is unacceptable, he said.

“So it’s not: I won’t look at any revenues,” Amodei said. “But it’s like, listen: If you’re talking revenues just to allow government spending to increase, that’s the problem. So, if you’ve got a proposal out there that increases revenues and decreases the debt, then hey, let’s look at it.”

Amodei said he remains frustrated with the discussions because they do not at this point appear to be focused on long-term solutions for reducing the debt and getting federal spending under control. Constituents and others contacting his office are, for obvious reasons, focused on the Jan.1 fiscal cliff deadline, he said.

“You show me a political winner out of any of this and I’ll show you somebody who knows nothing about the policy,” he said. “Because my frustration at the moment is, it seems like we’re talking about stuff that will not, at the end of the day, bring about any change in terms of the federal debt posture.”


Audio clips:

Rep. Mark Amodei says he is willing to look at tax revenue increases if the money goes to reducing the deficit:

121812Amodei1 :19 Yes I am.”

Amodei says he will look at proposals that raise revenue to reduce the deficit:

121812Amodei2 :22 look at it.”

Amodei says the latest discussions do not appear to be directed at the long-term federal deficit:

121812Amodei3 :15 federal debt posture.”


Amodei Pessimistic, Frustrated On Fiscal Cliff Talks

By Sean Whaley | 5:07 pm December 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said today he is pessimistic that Congress and President Obama will be able to reach agreement on the so called “fiscal cliff” before tax hikes and mandatory budget cuts take effect Jan. 1.

Amodei, speaking by telephone from Washington, DC, said the sniping back and forth by Republicans and Democrats over extending tax cuts and cutting spending doesn’t get to the real root of how to reduce the federal deficit over the long term.

Getting the country’s economy back on track so jobs are created and consumer spending rises will do more to generate tax revenues and reduce the deficit than any level of tax hikes or spending cuts, Amodei said.

“You can talk all the revenue you want, and you can talk all the cuts you want, you need a healthy economy to get things going again,” he said. “And I don’t hear any of that. I just hear all the mud throwing on taxes and cuts.”

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.

If the federal treasury was collecting revenue at 2007 levels, the federal deficit this year would be cut in half, Amodei said.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., also said today that reaching a deal on the fiscal cliff before Christmas will be difficult.

Despite the apparent lack of progress, national news media were reporting that President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner exchanged new offers on taxes and spending to avoid the cliff, which will take effect on Jan. 1 without an agreement. Without agreement, taxes on all workers will rise, and mandatory cuts in military and domestic spending will be implemented.

Amodei said the problem with raising taxes is that it won’t help to get the economy back on track.

Fixing the regulatory and tax climate to provide certainty and predictability will give businesses the confidence they need to hire more workers and reinvest, he said. Instead they are facing a tax increase because of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

“You look at that impact on businesses and they’re putting all their energy right now into how to convert their workforces into part-time employees,” he said.

“If I was going to go down to Virginia Street or Las Vegas Boulevard and bet on something, I’d bet on nothing happening and all this stuff kicking in on the 1st,” Amodei said.


Audio clips:

Rep. Mark Amodei says the key to solving the fiscal cliff challenge is getting the economy running again:

121112Amodei1 :18 taxes and cuts.”

Amodei says he does not think a deal will be made by the Jan. 1 deadline:

121112Amodei3 :10 on the 1st.”


Carson School District Wins Race To Top Funding

By Sean Whaley | 11:16 am December 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The U.S. Department of Education announced today that 16 applicants, including the Carson City School District, will share nearly $400 million in Race to the Top funds to improve student learning.

The award will mean up to $10 million to the district. An application submitted by the Clark County School District did not receive funding.

One comment on the Carson application said in part: “The Carson City School District provides a very strong, comprehensive, and coherent plan for the revision of the district school system.”

Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons.

“Districts have been hungry to drive reform at the local level, and now these winners can empower their school leaders to pursue innovative ideas where they have the greatest impact: in the classroom,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “The Race to the Top-District grantees have shown tremendous leadership though developing plans that will transform the learning environment and enable students to receive a personalized, world-class education.”

The 2012 Race to the Top-District grantees will receive four-year awards that range from $10 million to $40 million, depending on the number of students served through the plan. The winning applicants were the top scorers among the 372 applications the department received in November, which were evaluated and scored by independent peer reviewers.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., congratulated the district on the award.

“This is wonderful news for Carson City’s students, teachers and parents” he said. “As someone whose life was transformed by teachers, I understand the importance of providing all Nevadans with the opportunity to receive a quality education. While I wish that other school districts in the state were also awarded this grant, I know these funds will help put Carson’s students on a path towards success.”

National GOP Group Raises Nevada Voting Machine Concerns

By Sean Whaley | 6:31 pm November 1st, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Republican National Committee said today that there is evidence to suggest that voters in six states, including Nevada, have encountered situations with electronic voting machines recording votes for President Obama when Mitt Romney was selected instead.

The RNC in a letter asked election officials in each state to recalibrate all voting machines on the morning of election day to ensure there are no problems with the machines.

“I further understand that the causes of this problem are varied, and include miscalibration and hyper-sensitivity of the machines,” said the letter signed by John R. Phillippe, Jr., chief counsel to the RNC.

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller wasted no time in responding to the concerns, saying in his own letter that Phillippe, “fails to provide any direct evidence that any particular voter in Nevada experienced any ‘errors’ with their voting machine or any details which could be used to open an investigation, including the names or contact information of any particular voter or polling location where ‘errors’ have been reported in Nevada . . .”

Secretary of State Ross Miller.

Similar claims of electronic voting machine errors were made by a handful of voters in Nevada in 2010 in the U.S. Senate race between Sen. Harry Reid and GOP challenger Sharron Angle, but no evidence of any errors was found. Reid defeated Angle in the race.

Miller said the 2010 complaints were investigated with the assistance of the FBI and the Nevada Attorney General’s office, and concluded that claims of malfunctioning voter machines were without merit.

Other states cited in the RNC letter are Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri and Colorado.

Berkley In Attack Mode, Heller Takes More Restrained Approach In Second Senate Debate

By Sean Whaley | 10:11 pm October 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley used a second Senate debate tonight to attack Sen. Dean Heller on issues ranging from Medicare to online poker legislation, while her Republican opponent took a more restrained approach in the hour-long discussion on public television.

Berkley accused Heller of supporting a bill by Rep. Paul Ryan to change Medicare to a voucher program for those aged 55 or younger, adding to the cost of their health insurance.

“My opponent voted twice to end Medicare by turning it over to private insurance companies,” Berkley said. “That’s not the way to fix Medicare, that’s the way you destroy Medicare. Why? Because it’s going to increase the cost of Medicare, health care for older Americans, by $6,400 a year.”

She repeated criticisms made by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., that Heller failed to uphold his end of a deal to get online poker legislation passed in Congress that would help Nevada.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

But Heller, who is reportedly ahead in several polls in the hotly contested Senate race, did not respond in kind, instead taking a more restrained approach on topics ranging from gas prices to immigration reform.

Heller said his support of the Ryan budget plan would not lead to the privatization of Medicare, and that online poker legislation would be passed by the end of the year after the Nov. 6 election with him and Reid working in concert.

Heller said the poker bill has been turned into a political issue that cannot be addressed until the election is over.

“And I’ll be the first to say, that I believe I have two opponents in this particular race; I have the Congresswoman, and I have Sen. Reid also,” he said. “And I’m OK with that. Because we’re going to continue to push forward, and I’ll continue to push forward on the online gaming. And we’re going to get a bill passed before the end of the year. And I’m going to do that with the help and support, working together, with Sen. Reid.”

While the two candidates focused on the issues in the debate, which was marred in Northern Nevada by several lengthy technical interruptions related to the weather, the more sensational ad wars continue unabated on the airwaves.

Rep. Shelley Berkley - D-Nev.

A Berkley ad now running says she is the real supporter of the middle class and job creation, while the National Republican Senatorial Committee is focusing on Berkley’s previous international travels at taxpayer expense.

In response to a question about a bill that would provide Bureau of Land Management land to the city of Yerington to allow for the development of a job-creating copper mine project, Berkley said she supports the measure even though she voted against it in a package of several bills.

Berkley said she looks forward to voting for a “clean” bill that does not include other measures that are unrelated to the proposal, which has been pushed by Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.

Heller questioned Berkley’s commitment to the bill, saying that only in Washington, DC can you say you support a bill but vote against it.

Berkley acknowledged in response to a question that she voted in 1999 for a bill that deregulated the financial services industry, which has been blamed in part for the 2008 financial meltdown.

Berkley acknowledged voting for the Glass-Steagall Act, which she called a mistake, but said the country needs to look forward at what can be done to protect the American people. Berkley said she voted for the Dodd-Frank bill to reign in the worst excesses of the banking industry.

“My opponent had an opportunity to reign in the worst abuses of Wall Street by voting for the Dodd-Frank bill and he didn’t,” she said. “So unlike me, who is fighting for the middle class and trying to make some sense out of this and give these banks some regulation so they can never get us into this mess again, so we never have massive unemployment because of their avarice and greed and we never end up with a housing crisis like we did.”

But Heller said Berkley’s voted for deregulation while former Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., opposed the bill. She then voted for the bank bailout bill and then supported Dodd-Frank was to give her and her colleagues cover for earlier supporting bank deregulation.

“So when the banks came and said hey, we want to be deregulated, my opponent said OK,” he said. “When they said we made bad decisions because of this deregulation, they said we want to be bailed out, she said OK. And then what happened is they passed Dodd-Frank. The purpose of Dodd-Frank was to give cover for those who voted for the bailout.”


Audio clips:

Rep. Shelley Berkley says Sen. Dean Heller voted twice to end traditional Medicare coverage:

101112Berkley1 :16 $6,400 a year.”

Berkley says Heller did not support a bill to reign in the excesses of Wall Street:

101112Berkley2 :27 like we did.”

Heller says he will work with Sen. Harry Reid and get an online gaming bill passed by the end of the year:

101112Heller1 :17 with Sen. Reid.”

Heller says Berkley’s vote for the Dodd-Frank bill was to give herself cover for voting for bank deregulation and the subsequent bank bailout bill:

101112Heller2 :18 for the bailout.”



Sen. Reid Defends Obama Record, Criticizes Tea Party, Romney, In Convention Remarks

By Sean Whaley | 5:22 pm September 4th, 2012

CARSON CITY – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today defended President Obama’s record of accomplishments in his first term, citing his preservation of the nation’s auto industry, the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a threat to America and his push to regulate the banking industry as examples of why he deserves a second term in office.

Reid, speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, called Obama “a man who has brought courage and character to the presidency.”

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

“President Obama’s strength of character leads him to do the right thing even when it isn’t the easy thing,” he said.

Reid also attacked the conservative Tea Party element in the Republican Party, saying it must be stopped “before the United States Senate falls into the hands of extremists and ideologues who leave no room for reason or compromise, who don’t recognize common ground even when they’re standing on it.”

In his brief remarks, Reid also criticized Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, saying never in modern American history “has a presidential candidate tried so hard to hide himself from the people he hopes to serve.”

Reid has been leveling criticisms at Romney for the past several weeks for failing to release more of his tax returns for public scrutiny.

But there has been some blow back for his focus on Romney’s tax returns. Reid was criticized for claiming to have information from a source that Romney paid no taxes at all for 10 years, but he did not make that claim in his convention remarks.

“When you look at the one tax return he has released, it’s obvious why there’s been only one,” Reid said. “We learned that he pays a lower tax rate than middle-class families.­ We learned he chose Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island tax shelters over American institutions. And we can only imagine  what new secrets would be revealed if he showed the American people  a dozen years of tax returns, like his father did.”

Reid said the American public should not take Romney’s word that he paid his fair share of taxes.

“His word? His word?” Reid asked. “Trust comes from transparency, and Mitt Romney comes up short on both.”

Reid did not mention Nevada’s highest-in-the-nation unemployment rate or its high foreclosure rate in his defense of Obama.

Reid said he is ready to tackle the challenges faced by Americans in the coming four years.

“But I want to do that work with Barack Obama, and not a Tea Party ideologue,” he said.

There was some bad timing as the Democratic Convention kicked into full gear, however, with the news from the U.S. Treasury that the national debt exceeded $16 trillion for the first time in history. The debt has increased approximately $5.4 trillion since President Obama took office on January 20, 2009.

The news prompted a comment from Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., who said: “Today’s ominous milestone is yet another reminder of the dire fiscal straits our country is facing and the need for serious solutions to getting our deficits under control and reducing the debt.

“After running on a promise to cut the deficit in half and reduce our debt in his first term in office, President Obama has added trillions to the debt by pursuing failed stimulus policies and has left the American people and future generations holding the tab,” he said. “Not only has this administration broken these promises to the American people, it has ignored the seriousness of the situation by repeatedly proposing budgets with deficits of more than $1 trillion.”


Audio clips:

Sen. Harry Reid says the Tea Party is a group of extremists that doesn’t know how to compromise:

090412Reid1 :15 standing on it.”

Reid says Mitt Romney should disclose more tax returns:

090412Reid2 :14 short on both.”

Sen. Harry Reid Calls Appeals Court Decision On Yucca Mountain ‘A Good Day For Nevada’

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 10:50 am August 3rd, 2012

CARSON CITY – A decision today by a federal appeals court to temporarily decline to require the restart the licensing process at Yucca Mountain was calleda good day for Nevada and the entire country,” by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has held in abeyance the case challenging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) termination of Yucca Mountain licensing proceedings.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Reid said the court has temporarily declined to grant petitioners’ request that the court direct the NRC to act on the Bush Administration-era license application to build a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. The Obama Administration has terminated the Yucca Mountain Project, requested permission to withdraw the license application from the NRC, and is working to develop and implement a better consent-based nuclear waste policy, he said in a statement.

“The court has declined to compel the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue licensing work on Yucca Mountain against the will of Congress and the Administration,” Reid said.

“The Nuclear Waste Policy Act has been a miserable failure because 25 years ago Congress chose to undermine the spirit of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and allowed our government to engage in the brutalization of science,” he said. “That is how we got Yucca Mountain.

“Today, President Obama, his Administration and key members of Congress from both parties are working hard to develop a nuclear waste management policy firmly grounded in the principal that before pursuing a nuclear waste storage site, the government must obtain the express consent and agreement of the local community, the governor, and any affected Indian tribe,” Reid said.

“I am confident that in the coming months and years, we will craft a nuclear waste policy that keeps Americans safe and secure and restores trust that the government will not turn a deaf ear to the communities asked to undertake the burden of storing the nuclear energy industry’s toxic waste.”

Gov. Sandoval Says Effect Unclear On Nevada Medicaid, Delegation, Candidates Weigh In On Affordable Care Ruling

By Sean Whaley | 11:04 am June 28th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding much of the Affordable Care Act on the state’s Medicaid program remain unclear.

“The implications for Medicaid costs are still unclear, but Nevada will prepare to meet the serious financial implications of this decision,” he said in a statement shortly after the court ruled.

The court said in the ruling today that states could not be penalized if they did not go along with the Medicaid provisions in the law.

In an interview today on the Nevada NewsMakers program as the decision was announced, Sandoval said his intention would be not to opt in to the Medicaid expansion because of the costs to the state.

“And as I have said all along, that if that component had been found constitutional, it would cost us $60 million in this budget and $100 million in future budgets,” he said in the interview. “We can’t afford that. And to make that decision and to opt into that program, would mean that I would have to look at cutting education, at other what I think are untenable outcomes. So as I sit here today, it wouldn’t be my intention for this state to opt in.”

A statement from Sandoval’s office issued later in the day said the decision indicates states will have an option to expand Medicaid, but, “additional guidance is needed in order to understand the penalties for not expanding the Medicaid program and we must determine if there are savings to the general fund by shifting existing costs to the federal government. We will continue to examine today’s opinion to fully understand its implications.

“Therefore, given what we know today, the governor does not intend to automatically accept the Medicaid expansion,” the statement said. “These serious budgetary implications, including the impact on education spending, require further analysis – not just of the next biennial budget but of the long-term costs. Further information will be provided as the budgeting process unfolds over the next few months.”

In his initial statement on the ruling, Sandoval also said: “I believe the Congress should act to reform this law and ease the serious burdens it places on the states and the nation’s businesses. The American people remain deeply divided on the wisdom of this law and they are still entitled to see it changed.”

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said he too wants to see the law changed.

U.S. Supreme Court.

“This law has now been affirmed as a colossal tax increase on the middle class, and its excessive regulations are stripping businesses of the certainty they need to hire at a time when Nevadans and the rest of the country are desperate for jobs,” he said. “The president should work with Congress to find real solutions to healthcare reform so the excessive mandates and taxes in this law do not further add to our national debt or continue to stifle economic growth.

“This onerous law needs to be repealed and replaced with market-based reforms that will provide greater access, affordability, and economic certainty to our nation,” Heller said.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the matter is now settled.

“It’s time for Republicans to stop refighting yesterday’s battles,” he said.

“I’m pleased to see the Supreme Court put the rule of law ahead of partisanship, and ruled the Affordable Care Act constitutional,” Reid said. “Passing the Affordable Care Act was the greatest single step in generations toward ensuring access to affordable, quality healthcare for every American – regardless of where they live or how much money they make.

“No one thinks this law is perfect,” Reid said. “But Democrats have proven we’re willing to work with Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act.”

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., said the ruling doesn’t make the health care act a good law.

“This is still the same flawed bill that was forced through Congress on a party line vote in the dead of night with special interest provisions like the ‘Cornhusker Kickback’ and the ‘Louisiana Purchase’,” he said. “And today we have learned that the law amounts to a huge tax increase on the American people in a struggling economy. We know that a majority of Americans think the law should be repealed and that it will increase health care costs, reduce access to care and add to our deficit.

“Instead of injecting more government into our health care system, our focus should be on patients, especially our seniors who rely on access to quality health care,” Heck said. “Our system is working for most Americans and it can work for all Americans through common sense reforms like moving insurance coverage towards an individual-based model, increasing competition by allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines, incentivizing the purchase of insurance through tax credits, and letting people, not the government, decide what services they need and want.

“The Supreme Court had their word on June 28, but the American people will have the final word on November 6,” Heck said.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera said it is time to refocus on jobs.

Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, who is challenging Heck in the 3rd Congressional District, said: “Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, it’s time that those in Washington moved on from trying to score political points instead of finding solutions. This decision doesn’t change the reality that too many Nevada families and small businesses are struggling to pay for the rising costs of health care.

“One thing we know for sure, if Washington politicians don’t stop the bickering and finger pointing and focus on what matters – creating jobs and getting our economy back on track – nothing will get done,” he said. “This shouldn’t be about politics – it should be about getting something done.”

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said it is time to repeal the law.

“Advocates for Washington-based management of health care and unprecedented tax increases on the middle class won today,” he said. “However, I will continue to work for patient-centered solutions, reductions in health care costs, and improving health care access for all Nevadans.

“I look forward to the opportunity to vote the week of July 9 for full repeal of this harmful government intrusion into health care,” Amodei said. “Congress created this mess and it’s our responsibility to clean it up. We owe it to the middle class to give them specific, well-thought out options focusing on portability of insurance across state lines and affordability, while not interfering with the patient-doctor relationship.

“This 2,700-page monster offends seniors, veterans, middle class families and employers,” he said. “I will continue to take every opportunity to repeal and address this mess for Nevadans in a practical way without picking political winners and losers.”

State Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said he was pleased with the ruling.

In a campaign email, the 4th Congressional Democratic candidate said: “Today’s decision is a victory for those with pre-existing conditions, for women who now don’t have to pay more than men for care, and for Nevada seniors who will save on prescription drugs.

“Now Republicans in the House are scheduling a vote to repeal the health care law, instead of working on a jobs bill,” Horsford said. “The Republican Congress needs to stop playing political games and start working on getting our economy moving and creating jobs for Nevadans.”

GOP Congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian said the law needs to be repealed.

The candidate for the 4th Congressional seat said: “I have consistently stood against Obamacare and remain committed to its full repeal. Rather, we need to press forward with legislation that will extend the same tax incentives that businesses receive for providing health insurance to individuals who purchase their own plans. We need to get serious about tort reform and stabilize Medicare reimbursement rates. We need to make insurance portable and purchasable across state lines.

“When they should be focusing on promoting economic growth and creating jobs, Democrats insist instead on ramming through job-killing policies that increase taxes on Americans, like Obamacare,” Tarkanian said.

There was no immediate response from Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

A big issue for Nevada is what the ruling means to the state’s Medicaid program.

The head of Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services said in May that as many as 150,000 more residents will be eligible for Medicaid coverage if the state has to comply with the Medicaid provisions. Bringing new residents onto the rolls was estimated to cost the state an estimated $574 million between now and 2020, said HHS Director Mike Willden.


Audio clip:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says it would not be his decision to opt into the Medicaid expansion allowed under the Affordable Care Act:

062812Sandoval :24 to opt in.”



Party Officials Agree Washoe Is Critical To Battleground State Nevada In 2012 Presidential Contest

By Sean Whaley | 2:24 pm June 4th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Washoe County Republican and Democratic Party leaders may disagree on who the best choice is for president, but they agree on one point – Washoe is the “battleground” county in the battleground state that is Nevada.

Clark County is expected to go big for Democrats and President Obama, while Nevada’s rural counties are expected to go strong for Mitt Romney. But Washoe County, where Republicans lead in voter registration by 3,700, has gone for both parties in past elections.

Courtesy of Malwack via Wikimedia Commons.

In 2008, Washoe County helped Obama win Nevada and the presidency, giving him 55 percent of the vote.

In 2010, the county went strongly for Republican Brian Sandoval in the governor’s race, although U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., won over GOP challenger Sharron Angle. The county also went for incumbent George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election.

Today on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, county Democratic Party spokesman Chris Wicker and county GOP Chairman Dave Buell discussed Washoe’s influence in Nevada in the 2012 presidential contest.

Buell said the fact that Washoe County voters have gone in different directions in past elections make it the flashpoint in Nevada.

“So Washoe County is the place where Nevada is going to be decided, and there will be all types of resources, both on the Democrat and Republican side in this county to make sure that they carry the day for their candidate,” he said.

Wicker said Washoe is winnable by either side if some side “drops the ball.”

“It all boils down that either side, given the right circumstances, could win Washoe County,” he said.

President Obama is aware of Washoe’s importance, making an official visit to Reno last month to talk about a mortgage refinancing plan he wants Congress to approve. Nevada is clearly important overall, with the president scheduled to make another stop in Las Vegas on Thursday.

Romney was also in Las Vegas last week and campaigned around the state ahead of the February Republican caucus.

Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston, among others, has noted Washoe County’s importance in the 2012 general election.

Strong support for either candidate could also provide coattails either to U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., or his challenger Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., in the Senate race. Control of the U.S. Senate is also up for grabs this election year.

Buell was asked if Washoe Republicans might support Obama over Romney this year as many did for Reid over Angle in 2010. Buell downplayed any such idea, saying it was more dissatisfaction with Angle than support for the Democratic agenda that was a factor in the race. The other factor was a belief that Reid could deliver for Nevada as Senate Majority Leader, he said.

Wicker said Democrats will work to ensure a strong turnout for Obama in Washoe County by talking more about the successes of his first administration, including positive job creation numbers nationally over the past several months.


Audio clips:

Dave Buell says either party can win Washoe in 2012:

060412Buell :23 for their candidate.”

Chris Wicker agrees that Clark County will go for Democrats and the rurals for Republicans:

060412Wicker :16 in the rurals.”


Outpouring Of Appreciation And Respect From Nevadans For Legacy Of Late Sen. Bill Raggio

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:12 pm February 24th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Here is a selection of comments made by Nevada public officials today following the announcement of the death of former state Sen. Bill Raggio:

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller: “I am deeply saddened by the death of Bill Raggio. There are no words to describe his dedication to the state of Nevada and I wish to express my deepest condolences and prayers for his wife Dale, and his family. Bill was a true statesman who dedicated his life to making Nevada a better place to live. His legacy will be remembered for generations to come.”

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid: “He always fought for Nevada and his invaluable contributions and service to our state will live on.”

Former Sen. Bill Raggio. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera: “No one has ever loved this state more or had a more passionate desire to make things better for the people who live here. His ability to bring people together to get things done was legendary. At times, he may have been an adversary on a particular issue, but he was always a true leader, a teacher and a friend.”

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki: “He was a remarkable man, and I am honored to have been able to call him a mentor, a colleague and a friend. Bill was a true public servant and his sole agenda was simply to make Nevada a better place. He has left an unmatched political footprint upon our state, and the citizens will reap the rewards of this gifted and decent gentleman for many years to come.”

Rep. Shelley Berkley: “I was deeply saddened to learn of Bill Raggio’s passing. He was nothing short of a giant in Nevada politics and a fierce advocate for the state he loved, especially the north. His dedicated public service has improved the lives of thousands of Nevada families and his tireless work on higher education has left a permanent mark on this state.”

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto: “Bill was a great statesman whose political career began when he was elected as the Washoe County district attorney. He was a stellar prosecutor who valiantly protected the citizens of Northern Nevada. Bill will always be remembered for his impassioned service and dedication to the law enforcement community.”

Nevada Republican Party Chairman James Smack: “Today Nevada Republicans across the state mourn the loss of a great leader and the loss of an even greater friend. While it is a sad day for all Nevadans, it is only appropriate to remember the legacy and leadership he left behind for us to follow.”

The Nevada System of Higher Education: “Much will be said in the coming days and weeks about the lifetime of accomplishments of this giant of a man. However, for those of us in higher education, indeed the whole education community, we pause to thank this man who came from humble immigrant roots and rose to great power, in part by public education.”

Andy Matthews, president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute: “Those who have followed NPRI’s work over the years know that we have both agreed and disagreed with Mr. Raggio’s views on various policy issues. But there was never any doubt as to his love for Nevada and his commitment to making it a better place to live. For that, he will always have our respect and our admiration.”

The Nevada Senate Republican Caucus: “Sen. Raggio epitomized the term ‘public servant.’ As a district attorney and legislator, Sen. Raggio was committed to doing the right thing for the people of Nevada. He was a tireless advocate for higher education, believing that it was the gateway to a better life for any Nevadan. He will be missed greatly.”

Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy Saitta: “Sen. Raggio was always a friend to the judiciary and often our champion. He clearly understood that a strong Nevada requires a strong and independent judicial branch of government. Sen. Raggio was an icon, a consummate statesman and one of the most knowledgeable and pragmatic legislators ever to serve the people of Nevada.”

Senate Secretary David Byerman:  “Today, the Nevada Senate has lost a paragon of eloquence. We will miss Sen. Raggio, but the Nevada Senate – an institution that Sen. Raggio loved – has been molded by his wit and wisdom forevermore.”

Washoe Schools Chief Heath Morrison A Finalist For 2012 Superintendent Of The Year

By Sean Whaley | 5:37 pm January 4th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Washoe County School District Superintendent Heath Morrison has been named a finalist for the 2012 National Superintendent of the Year.

The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) selected Morrison and three other superintendents as the four finalists in the national program.

“I am exceptionally honored and humbled,” Morrison said. “There are some amazing educational leaders in this country who are doing phenomenal work to improve the lives of the nation’s children.

Washoe County School District Superintendent Heath Morrison.

“Being selected as a finalist for this award is truly an acknowledgment of the amazing efforts of the educators in Washoe County and a result of hard work and effort by many people in the district and in our community,” he said. “Our reform efforts have led to improved student achievement and increased opportunities for every child’s future.”

AASA will announce the winner of the 2012 National Superintendent of the Year on Feb. 16 at the National Conference on Education in Houston, Texas. The program, which is sponsored by ARAMARK Education, ING and AASA, celebrates the contributions and leadership of public school superintendents.

“When we called for educational reform several years ago, we were looking for a superintendent who would inspire change and re-energize our community in support of education,” said Washoe County School Board President Barbara McLaury. “Heath is exactly that type of leader. He has stimulated genuine change that is making a difference in the lives of our children.”

Student achievement has continued to make significant improvements under Morrison’s leadership. Between 2009 and 2011, the district’s graduate rate jumped 14 points from 56 percent to 70 percent with increases in every student subgroup.

The Washoe County School District also has witnessed academic gains in test scores and has successfully narrowed the achievement gap in many subject areas.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid praised Morrison’s leadership and advocacy at a time of budget reductions.

“Despite the budget restrictions, Dr. Morrison has helped institute dramatic educational reforms in the district and has demonstrated his commitment to ensuring that Nevada students are able to compete in the global economy,” he said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, who also provided a letter of recommendation, said: “Dr. Morrison is a strategic thinker who builds string relationships in his community and policymakers in the state capital. He is respected by his peers in all of Nevada’s school districts and I know he enjoys very close relationships with members of the Nevada Legislature as well.”


Nevada Delegation Split on Latest Payroll Tax Cut Bill

By Elizabeth Crum | 4:08 pm December 19th, 2011

Nevada’s congressional delegation is currently split 3-2 on the latest bill temporarily extending the payroll tax cuts.

Rep. Shelley Berkley favors the measure passed by the U.S. Senate (by an 89-10 vote Saturday) and supported by Sen.s Harry Reid and Dean Heller.

However, both Rep.s Joe Heck and Mark Amodei say they oppose the two-month extension of the payroll tax cuts on the basis that it is too short-term.

House Speaker John Boehner this morning said Republicans will most likely vote down the measure, objecting to the temporary fix and saying he favors the year-long extension approved last week. He now wants to establish a conference committee to negotiate a different deal.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement earlier today that he is not going to call the Senate back into session:

“My House colleagues should be clear on what their vote means today. If Republicans vote down the bipartisan compromise negotiated by Republican and Democratic leaders, and passed by 89 senators including 39 Republicans, their intransigence will mean that in 10 days, 160 million middle-class Americans will see a tax increase, over 2 million Americans will begin losing their unemployment benefits, and millions of senior citizens on Medicare could find it harder to receive treatment from physicians.”

Sen. Heller said there was “no question” that the payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance benefits should be extended for one year, but that there was “no reason to hold up the short-term extension” while a longer-term deal is worked out.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, Heller’s Democratic opponent in the U.S. Senate race, also spoke in support of the short-term Senate measure on the House floor today, saying the hold-up is “thanks to the Tea Party extremists in the House of Representatives.”

But Rep. Joe Heck this afternoon put out a video statement explaining his strong opposition to the two-month measure, part of which is based on his objection to returning to this same debate in February.

Rep. Mark Amodei, the newest member of Nevada’s congressional delegation, also put out a statement saying, in part:

“To enact a 60-day extension of these important programs instead of a year, which would give doctors, patients, seniors, taxpayers and those looking for predictability and stability in their personal lives and jobs, is a can-kick of Olympic proportions. I have yet to hear of a reason for 60 days instead of 12 months. Conclusions for political sport are all that I see so far.”

If House Republicans do not pass the measure and the Senate does not return to Washington D.C. to negotiate a new bill, the payroll tax cuts will expire on Dec. 31.



Group Fighting Excessive Federal Regulation Grows To 170 Members In Nevada, 1,000 Nationwide

By Sean Whaley | 4:36 pm November 22nd, 2011

CARSON CITY – A group established by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) to fight against excessive federal regulations now has 170 members in Nevada and 1,000 nationwide, the organization announced this week.

The coalition Small Businesses for Sensible Regulations says its mission is protecting small businesses and American jobs from the impacts of costly federation regulations.

Dry cleaners. / Photo courtesy of Simon Law via Flickr.

Coalition Chairwoman and former U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln said of the 1,000 member mark hit Monday: “Small businesses across America are rallying behind the need for sensible regulations. With federal regulatory requirements being finalized daily in Washington, small businesses are struggling to balance compliance costs and paperwork with their ability to fill orders, add staff, and stay afloat.

“As our coalition grows, we stand united in calling on President Obama to halt the issuance of new regulations until much needed reforms are made to the rule-making process,” she said.

Randi Thompson, Nevada state director for NFIB, said today that the cause has hit a nerve with small businesses throughout the state. The group has reached out to about 3,000 businesses so far.

“I’d say more than anything it is folks that are impacted by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency),” she said. “But the EPA is touching everything, from construction to dry cleaners to truckers. They’ve got such a broad reach, that that’s probably the most frustrating agency for Nevada businesses.”

A wide variety of businesses have joined, from landscapers to dentists to dry cleaners to construction companies, Thompson said.

“It is a broad spectrum of businesses,” she said.

Not everyone is convinced that federal regulations are hampering job growth.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a speech on the Senate floor on Nov. 15 called the idea a myth, citing the Labor Department that found “only a tiny fraction of layoffs have anything at all to do with tighter regulation.”

Nevada coalition members recently traveled to Washington, DC, to meet with their elected representatives to discuss their concerns, and it is shaping up as an election issue in 2012, Thompson said. The group met with the Republican members of Nevada’s delegation.

Earlier this month, NFIB President Dan Danner and Senator Lincoln submitted a letter to President Obama urging adoption of five principles into the regulatory process that would help balance the rule-making system.

The standards include giving a seat to small businesses throughout policy discussions, and focusing on providing assistance to small businesses instead of levying costly penalties. The letter also asked that regulators conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis of all new rules, and base policy decisions on validated science and hard data. Finally, it called on lawmakers to make the regulatory process more transparent and accountable to the public.

The Nevada NFIB highlighted the concerns over excessive regulation in October when Reno businessman Raymond Pezonella described the cost of excessive regulation on his soil sampling business.

GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval, upon taking office in January, ordered a freeze on most regulations as a pro-business move. He also recently wrote to President Obama asking to help ease the permitting process for mines.


Audio clips:

Randi Thompson, Nevada state director for NFIB says EPA regulations are a major concern of Nevada businesses:

112211Thompson1 :24 for Nevada businesses.”

Thompson says she is not surprised by the level of concern:

112211Thompson2 :32 make a difference.”



New Poll Shows Sandoval with Strong Crossover Support, Reid as Unpopular as Ever. Also, Nevadans Love Baseball.

By Elizabeth Crum | 1:42 pm November 4th, 2011

A new survey from Public Policy Polling shows Gov. Brian Sandoval’s approval numbers hovering in the mid-40s, with 45 percent of the voters in the state approving of him and 38 percent who disapprove. He continues to show relatively strong crossover support with 26 percent of Democrats approving of him.

Other survey findings:

– Sen. Harry Reid’s plus/minus numbers are holding steady with 42 percent of voters approving and 52 percent disapproving. Reid’s numbers are even worse with independent voters who show him at 31/65 approval/disapproval.

– Nevadans are divided on the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protest movements. By a narrow margin, more see Occupy Wall Street favorably (42/40) while seeing the Tea Party negatively (43/45).

– If Nevada voters had their choice, they’d most like a major league baseball to come to the state. A MLB team was the first choice of Nevadans by 27 percent, followed by 23 percent who would like an NFL team, 13 percent who want an NBA team, and 8 percent who would most prefer an NHL team.

– San Francisco sports teams are the most loved by Nevadans. The Giants lead the MLB pack with 21 percent fan support to 16 percent for the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers and Yankees both have 14 percent support, followed by 13 percent for the Cubs, 9 percent for the Angels and 5 percent for the Braves.

– As for NFL teams, the 49ers are most beloved by Nevadans with 19 percent fan support compared to 12 percent for the Cowboys, 11 percent for the Packers and Raiders, 9 percent for the Steelers, 8 percent for the Broncos, 7 percent for the Cardinals, and 5 percent for the Chargers.

RNC Ad Takes Issue With Harry Reid’s Public vs. Private Sector Jobs Claim

By Elizabeth Crum | 2:00 pm October 20th, 2011

The RNC is out with an ad highlighting remarks made by Sen. Harry Reid on the floor yesterday (I have provided the context for the clip right below the ad):


Here’s the link if your browser has trouble with the embed:

Reid’s unedited remarks:

“The massive layoffs we’ve had in America today — of course they’re rooted in the last administration — and it’s very clear that private sector jobs are doing just fine. It’s the public sector jobs where we’ve lost huge numbers, and that’s what this legislation’s all about. And it’s unfortunate my friend the Republican Leader is complaining about that. I would also note that my friend said the House passed another bill. Well, they pass lots of bills, but they rarely go anyplace.” (Sen. Reid, Floor Remarks, 10/19/11)

Couple notes, Dear Readers (some of these numbers gleaned from this analysis):

According to the most recent estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 21,985, 000 government employees. The last time we were near that number was 2006. The number of public employees peaked at 22,980,000 in May of 2010, some of it due to Census-related hiring (estimates at the time were that the Census would create roughly one million temporary jobs). The total was estimated at 22,582,000 when Obama took office. Bottom line, over the past few years, the total number has hovered right around 22-23 million with differences of no greater than one million between the high and low points. By percentage, that’s about a 4.5 percent loss from peak to low.

The most recent total number of private-sector employees (from September) was 109,349,000, with a peak in January 2008 at 115,610,000. The most recent low was 106,772,000 in February of 2010. So:  the difference between the most recent peak to the most recent low: 8,817,000 (and presently we are about 6 million away from the peak). By percentage, that’s about an 8.2 point loss from peak to low.

Politifact dug up some numbers and weighed in on this, too, if you want to take a look at their assessment.

Update/note:  Reid’s remarks relate to a jobs bill you can read about here.