Category Archives: Lowden

>Unofficial But Over: Nevada Primary Election Results

>The Nevada Secretary of State’s Office has the returns up for yesterday’s voting. No one should be especially surprised at the results.

Incumbent Governor Jim Gibbons made a bit of history being the first incumbent to lose his primary, and lose it he did – 47,616 to Brian Sandoval’s 97,201 or 55.53%. There may be some grounds for speculation beyond the observations that Gibbons’ personal woes played a part in the unwinding of his governorship. There are 392,405 registered active Republican voters in the state [SoS] and Gibbons captured the hearts of only 12.13% of them. We might surmise that Gibbons lost support for several reasons. First, and most publicized, were the personal issues which plagued Gibbons from the outset of his administration. One “infamous” incident in a parking garage in 2006 might be explained away, whitewashed, (whatever), but the hits kept coming. The text messaging, the photos at the Reno Rodeo, the trip to Washington, D.C. with a lady not his wife, the d-i-v-o-r-c-e, and so it went. This was not the way to endear himself to the Family Values voting demographic.

His administrative record didn’t help either; the revolving doors and staff changes made cohesive and coherent administration difficult. This may also have had a deleterious effect on his relationship with the Legislature. His budgets were notoriously flawed, from both liberal and conservative perspectives, but when it came time to defend them Gibbons neither offered a defense, nor made significant adjustments. He famously asserted that he’d done his job, and it was up to the Legislature to finish the work. Showing up at the end of the last session with a Made For TV giant veto stamp was evidently less effective than actually working with the Legislature to maintain as many of his priorities as possible. Just as evidently, the voters knew that.

One of the over-simplified generalizations that can be supported about Nevada voters is that they tend to prefer pragmatists to ideologues. The governorship of Republican Kenny Guinn was the most recent incarnation of an administration which gathered support from the base, from independents, and from cross-over Democratic voters because no test of ideological purity was allowed to prevent the work of government from being accomplished.

Senatorial hopeful Sharron Angle emerged from the mess created by the implosion of the Lowden Campaign with 70,422 votes (40.09%) of the GOP vote. Lowden had 45,871 (26.11%), and Danny Tarkanian trailed with 40,926 (23.30%). Angle bragged at one point about her “army of endorsements.” [RGJ] She may wish to be careful that this term isn’t taken too literally. However, she has introduced ideas that may make it relatively easy for incumbent Senator Harry Reid to make a “fringe” label stick.

For example: “What is a little bit disconcerting and concerning is the inability for sporting goods stores to keep ammunition in stock,” she said. “That tells me the nation is arming. What are they arming for if it isn’t that they are so distrustful of their government? They’re afraid they’ll have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways?“That’s why I look at this as almost an imperative. If we don’t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?” [RGJ]

Angle’s lens appears to have a narrow focus, if there is a shortage of ammunition in sporting goods stores it must be because the so-called patriots are arming themselves — it couldn’t be because the U.S. is currently engaged in two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) and manufacturers at one point were under pressure to supply more than they could produce. It’s commonly called “mobilization.” This element also raises the “us” versus “them” model of confrontational politics into view. Angle would phase out Social Security, eliminate Medicare, exempt corporations from “the onerous burden of government regulations,” and abolish the Department of Education — which would put the banks back front and center into the student loan (and securitization thereof) business. It won’t be too difficult for Senator Reid to describe this agenda as radical if his campaign executes his messaging plan with focus and political skill. Angle’s 17.9% of the total GOP voter total may represent a hard core conservative following with support in the rural counties, but may not be sufficient to attract a winning majority of the 162,173 registered (active) independent voters. [SoS]

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>Chickens Roost Tomorrow: Nevada Primary

>If GOP Senatorial candidate Sue Lowden’s campaign has a eulogy, then Jon Ralston’s written it. [LVSun] If Ralston is correct, and Sharron “Our Lady of Perpetual Campaigning” Angle wins the Nevada primary race tomorrow, then he’s also pegged the primary reasons why Lowden snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. However, there might be more.

Perhaps I yearn for those supposedly good old days (which generally weren’t) but once upon a time it wasn’t enough to merely recruit candidates, there was also a felt need to prepare them. This was, and presumably still is, the work of campaign consultants and managers. If Lowden doesn’t manage to pull off a close win, it’s not because she wasn’t a good “second tier” recruit, and it’s probably not because she’s an intrinsically incompetent candidate. Part of the fault may lie with those professional handlers who didn’t (1) help her shape a response to the enactment of health care reform legislation; and, (2) assist her with “hot topic” questions, such as a response to Senate hopeful Rand Paul’s comments on Civil Rights. It wasn’t like Republican candidates weren’t getting asked about Paul’s controversial commentary. Surely, someone in her campaign saw this coming.

We don’t know what kind of relationship the candidate and the campaign staff had during this primary season. There are all manner of combinations in this regard. There are highly competent candidates hampered by incompetent staff. There are highly competent professional personnel saddled with unmanageable candidates, and every possible variation in between. What we do know without resorting to textbook political science is that the best combination is the competent candidate surrounded and assisted by competent staff and management. If the polls play out, then questions will surely be raised in the post mortem regarding who did what to whom. There usually are.

The Washington Post has more analysis. H/T Las Vegas Sun.

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>Angling Toward The End: Angle Leads Lowden in GOP Primary

>The current political races in Nevada give every appearance of confirming one of the oldest “saws” in the lexicon of aphorisms: Run to the Base in the Primary, Run to the Middle in the General. The Nevada GOP primary offers yet another test of that well worn proposition. [LV Sun]

The rightest of the righties, candidate Sharron Angle, is leading the GOP primary race to compete with incumbent Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) in November. The question may very well be: Can she complete the second part of the equation? Should she win the primary she does have some options.

Option One: The Virginia Plan. Republican Robert McDonnell, a well known member of the movement conservative wing of the Virginia GOP ran a “moderate” campaign, carefully avoiding any expression of the ultra-conservative tenets to which he subscribes. Once in office he made headlines by proposing to eliminate civil liberties protections for members of the gay and lesbian communities, by initiating what for all the world looks like a literacy test for those seeking gubernatorial clemency, and by hiring former notorious Nixon Administration “Jew Counter” Fred Malek [NYDN] as his budget adviser.

Option Two: The Money Plan. Angle has collected the assistance of some well endowed ultra-conservative organizations (Club For Growth, Tea Party Express, and Freedom Works) which are funding her current media buys. Her continued support for advancing the agendas of these organizations should keep her coffers full, but at some risk of making independent voters uncomfortable.

Option Three: The Maverick Plan. Angle may have some trouble with the Virginia Plan simply because there is plenty of recorded fodder from her primary race against Congressman Dean Heller (R-NV2). With limited, and perhaps unenthusiastic, support from established Republican leaders in Nevada she’ll have some problems implementing the Money Plan. Angle could attempt to eschew running to the middle, continue advocating for corporate and socially conservative causes, and hope to garner enough votes to overcome a Reid campaign if Democratic turnout is low.

Angle’s problems are directly related to the numbers. There are 392,405 registered active Republican voters in Nevada. She could reasonably expect to gather the 6,061 registered active Libertarians, and the 44,652 members of the Independent American Party. That’s a total of 443,113 votes, if she received every GOP vote.

There are 452,949 registered active Democratic voters in Nevada, and 1,156 registered members of the Green Party, from whom Angle can expect little or no support.

There are 162,173 registered active non-partisan voters in the state. Not all of these citizens can be expected to break one way or the other, meaning that the time honored middle strategy will be essential in a mid-term election in which voter turnouts are notoriously low. Had not the Lowden campaign so spectacularly imploded, it might have made the “electability” argument more capably; and, that proposition is a viable one especially during lower-interest level mid term elections.

(Registration numbers from NV Secretary of State, for April 2010)

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>Sue Lowden: Candidate Of The Have’s And Have More’s

>There’s more to the sputtering campaign of Sue Lowden than a few jokes about her ChickenCare health proposals and the latest “Busgate” flap which indicate she’s not quite ready for prime time in Nevada politics. Here’s why:

(1) Her economic propositions go no further than the well worn Republican talking points about taxation. The core of her platform reads: “As your U.S. Senator, I would immediately do three things: 1) work to make the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts on all federal taxpayers permanent; 2) work to permanently repeal the Death Tax; and 3) join with other fiscal conservatives in the Senate to eliminate the capital gains tax.” [Lowden]

First on her agenda is to allow the Bush tax cuts (2001, 2003) to continue because if repealed these: “will create the largest tax increase in American history just two months after the 2010 election. Can our hardworking, recession-torn taxpayers truly afford that? And, does Washington really deserve to take more out of Nevada to waste on more government spending and control over our daily lives? I think not. Let’s keep our money here in Nevada, in our pockets and paychecks, so we can create jobs, spend that money our own families and businesses and force Washington to make the same spending sacrifices we have to make in our homes.”

Fact Check: To say that this will be the largest increase in taxation “in American history” stretches this elastic charge, because the essential question is upon which taxpayers is the American tax burden to be placed. Who are those “hardworking, recession-torn taxpayers?”

If we were speaking of bankers, hedge fund managers, and corporate chief executive officers, then Ms. Lowden would have a point. However, the effect of the Bush tax cuts was to place more tax burden on the middle and lower income strata and less on the the upper 2% of income earners. The effect of the Bush Tax cuts lessened the liability for federal taxation for the lowest income groups by 1.9%, the middle income levels by 2.0%, the top 20% of income earners by 3.4%, and the top tier by a hefty 4.8%. [CBPP] The result was anything but a progressive income tax: “High-income households are paying considerably less of their income in income taxes now than before the tax cuts. In 2000, households in the top 1 percent of the income scale paid an average of 24.2 percent of their income in federal income taxes. By 2005 (the latest year for which data are available), that figure had fallen to 19.4 percent, the lowest level since 1986.” [CBPP] In short, support for the Bush Tax cuts is to advocate a scheme in which the top tier income earners receive the greatest benefit while the “burden” is effectively shifted to the middle and lower income tiers.

Would not a better, more thoughtful, income tax schematic advocate have decreased the lower income tax burdens by 4.8%, the top twenty percent earners’ by 3.4%, the middle income burden lessened by 2.0% and the top 1-2% by 1.9%?

By simply adopting the shorthand of supporting the Bush era tax cuts as a campaign platform plank, Ms. Lowden is clearly advocating a tax structure in which the greatest liabilities are placed on average income earners, and the income gap between the extremely rich and the middle class would continue to expand. However, it would probably not do to take the podium and announce, “Hi, I’m candidate Sue Lowden, and I’m here to speak on behalf of the top two percent of Nevada taxpayers, and to advocate for their benefit.”

Factcheck: Did the Bush tax cuts result in job creation, in economic growth? Not quite, in fact not really at all: “The evidence on the 2001-2007 expansion provides no support for the claim that the tax cuts generated especially robust economic growth. Rather, examination of a broad range of key economic indicators indicates that the economic expansion that began in 2001 was, on balance, weaker than average. In fact, with respect to GDP, consumption, investment, wage and salary, and employment growth, the 2001-2007 expansion was either the weakest or among the weakest since World War II.” [CBPP]

(2) Nowhere does Lowden’s economic platform swing wider from the mark than when she is discussing the estate tax: “Second, we must bury the Death Tax once and for all. This tax will also increase significantly in the tax reductions of earlier this decade expire. The Death Tax is one of the worst, most unfair taxes ever created in America. Why would we punish Nevadans who have already earned their money, already paid taxes on that money, and now, simply seek to turn family businesses and farms down to the next generation? It is grossly unfair. To me, it is borderline criminal for families to have to sell off businesses and farms because they cannot afford the tax burden.”

Fact Check: First, the hard truth is that very few families actually have to pay any federal estate tax at all. “Estates larger than $3.5 million potentially owe estate tax in 2009. Only about 1 in 460 deaths result in a taxable estate; 99.8 percent of deaths trigger no estate tax.” [TPC] (emphasis added) All estate tax proposals currently on the table now exclude the first $3.5 million in the estate, and the estate tax is actually one of the most progressive tables in our tax code – with taxation liabilities calculated on the margin above the exclusion. The Obama Administration’s estate tax proposal would effect approximately 5,500 people out of a nation of some 300 million. [TPC] This plank is definitely evidence of advocating for the Haves and Have Mores.

(3) And, there’s more advocacy for the Haves and Have Mores: “Finally, we should work to eliminate the capital gains tax in this country. At a time we need to create job growth, investment and prosperity, our government should not be in the double-taxation business. Like the Death Tax, the capital gains tax punishes us by taxing money we have already earned. If you earn money at your job, you pay taxes on that salary. After you pay your taxes, and you want to invest some of that personal money – money you own and you earned – at your own risk, why should the federal government hit you again if you make money on that investment?” [Lowden] And, by the way, that old stale charge that capital gains tax cuts cut revenue significantly — it’s true.

Fact Check: Again, we need to ask who benefits from the elimination of the capital gains tax? One of the more pervasive arguments in favor of eliminating the tax uses Lowden’s verbiage about “double taxation,” albeit with something of a double standard. Advocates of eliminating the capital gains tax use the argument frequently, but without mentioning that “double taxation” happens all the time — for example, we pay taxes on our incomes (in some states both state and federal) and then the same income is “taxed” when we pay sales taxes on non-exempt purchases. Evidently, sauce for the well fed geese who pay capital gains taxes, is not the same as for the less fed little ducks who pay sales taxes (the most regressive taxation format.)

The second support for abolishing the capital gains tax is a glittering generality, “most people have investments in the stock market.” There’s grandpa’s pension fund, or auntie’s 401(k). We need to be careful here because the pension funds, IRAs, and 401(k)s are NOT subject to capital gains taxation and therefore would derive NO benefit from eliminating the tax. The third support argues that declining capital gains taxation yields increased valuation in the stock market. Put as simply as possible — it doesn’t. The Tax Policy Center study in 2005 showed: “Capital gains rates display no contemporaneous correlation with real GDP growth during the last fifty years.” [TPC pdf]

So, who would benefit from an elimination of the capital gains tax? Households with earnings below $50,000 annually would “save” $11.00; those with annual incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 would get $77.00; those with incomes between $100,000 and $1 million would see a return of $1,334; and those households with annual incomes of more than $1 million would find their tax burdens decline by $32,111. [CBPP] Here, again, it’s reasonably obvious that candidate Lowden’s “economic policy statements” skew toward the interests of those in the highest income levels.

A final word: No matter how folksy the presentation, no matter how generalized and relatively fact free the sloganeering, the statistics and projections strongly indicate that the only people who truly benefit from the economic planks in candidate Lowden’s platform are the Have’s and Have More’s.

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>Lowden’s Magical Mystery Bus

>Nowhere is Dwight Eisenhower’s 11th GOP commandment more ignored than in the Nevada Republican primary for the Senate seat. Candidate Tarkanian has asserted that Candidate “Poultry Princess” Lowden, she of the barter chickens for health care services, is cruising the Silver State in a bus donated by a supporter — in violation of U.S. campaign finance laws. [LV Sun] The bus, which made an appearance in Winnemucca, NV [SPJ] has been the subject of varying explanations. It’s been asserted (1) It was donated by a supporter — uh, oh, that would be in violation of statutes limiting donations to $2,400; or (2) The RV’s title is in the donor’s name — uh, oh not quite, because Lowden’s name is on the title; or (3) It’s a “complicated” lease arrangement with both names on the title “for insurance purposes.” There’s nothing terribly complicated about most leasing arrangements. If this isn’t an instance of “most leasing arrangements” then the Lowden campaign has some more explaining to do.

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>Lowden: Lower Corporate Taxes, While Gibbons Mows The Lawn

>** Who knew? Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons is serious about mowing grass [LVSun] and Scandalmonger has all the appropriate photos. His campaign signs say “He Kept His Promise” which seems an easy line except for the fact that evidently “increased fees” don’t count, unless the fees are raised by Democrats — at which time they are magically transformed into “tax increases.” He may have “kept his promises” about not raising taxes, but from another perspective it looks for all the world like he was entirely serious about kicking the can down the road for the next Governor to deal with declining revenues and sharply curtailed services.

** Meanwhile home prices are down 60% in Las Vegas, but that hasn’t stopped developers from trying to attract people to “new” homes, in addition to the 9,517 “new” homes already sitting vacant. [NYT] Other parts of the country seem to be climbing back out of the foreclosure swamp, but not southern Nevada where the 90 day mortgage delinquency rate inched up from 21.4% to 22.2%. [LVSun]

** Republican senatorial candidate, and erstwhile Poultry Princess, Sue Lowden campaigned in Winnemucca, NV [SPJ] suggesting to voters that what this country needs are lower corporate and payroll taxes. The payroll part might earn some credit here, but lowering corporate taxes doesn’t sound very appealing. Had the candidate researched the findings of the Tax Policy Center of the Brookings Inst. she’d have discovered that the actual corporate taxes paid in the United States are equal to 27.3% of the GDP; and, this might sound high except for the fact that the OECD average is 36.2%. More interesting still is the fact that corporations in the United States pay a lower percentage than Switzerland, Australia, Greece, Ireland, and Poland.

If those statistics aren’t persuasive, we can turn to the CBPP’s study of corporate taxation in the United States and find that 11 members of the OECD paid an average of 16.1% of their profits in taxes between 2000 and 2005, while US corporations paid 13.4%. Defenders of corporate profits often cite the tax rate as being “one of the highest” among developed countries. However, this claim ignores the evidence that the effective tax rate is significantly lower than the statutory tax rate; and, that there are a plethora of tax breaks available for US corporations. The claim also ignores the fact that many small corporations aren’t liable for the highest rates statutory rates (35%) since we have a graduated corporate income tax structure.

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>Here Comes The Judge…Finally

>** The Gleaner offers some insight into the campaign stylings of Nevada Republican senatorial candidate Sue “The Poultry Princess” Lowden, which leads to an obvious question: Why would a person hire a firm most closely associated in the public mind with a Virginia campaign including a “macaca moment?” This was also the consulting firm associated with the campaign of Senator Wannabe Bob Schaffer in Colorado in 2008. Yes, that’s right, there is no Senator Schaffer from Colorado — he lost to Sen. Mark Udall (D).

** Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) reports that the U.S. Senate is moving forward on the financial regulation reform bill currently under consideration. [iMarketNws] Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is still complaining about the Consumer Financial Protection provisions in the bill as creating a “European style regulatory bureaucracy.” Let’s guess that “European” is the new GOP buzz word for “Frenchy,” and the word “bureaucracy” is supposed to send us onto the couch swooning with vapors.

** The banksters defeated the pre-paid resolution fund for dissolving the insolvent, but the modifications still incorporate “No Taxpayer Bank Bailing” under the terms of Senator Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) Amdt 3737 which categorically forbids the use of taxpayer funds for bailing out the banks. Senator Boxer’s amendment passed 96-1, with only Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) voting against it. [vote 130] Pending modifications to the Financial Regulatory Reform bill now require banks to pay for a resolution fund after the declaration of a banks bankruptcy.

** Congratulations to Judge Gloria M. Navarro, confirmed by the U.S. Senate yesterday as a judge for the District of Nevada. Judge Navarro was confirmed 98-0. [vote 128] The 2002 Nevada Public Lawyer of the Year [Reid] was nominated on December 24, 2009, and her hearings were held by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. [LVSun] Judge Navarro’s confirmation was held up until yesterday amid the log jam of pending nominations as Senate Republicans slow-walked confirmations during this session. Judge Navarro replaces former District Judge Brian Sandoval.

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>Saturday Quick Clips: Least Influential Lists and other matters

>** Thanks…a bunch, to NV Senatorial candidate Sue Lowden for increasing the number of reasons that the Silver State is a topic on late night comedy shows. (video link) Her rival, Danny Tarkanian, has his own little problem — that business with his license to practice law. She (Lowden) “said the Nevada Supreme Court had “reprimanded him for practicing without a license. Tarkanian, a lawyer and Las Vegas businessman, said he had merely been sanctioned for not responding to a letter for doing legal work while his law license was inactive, not for practicing without a license.” [LVSun] “merely?” And, if one’s license is Inactive, then if a person practices law without an Active license, that’s “practicing without a license.” Or, translated: I wasn’t practicing without a license, I was practicing while I had an inactive license? Same difference. Last time out, Tarkanian was trying to explain that “he’d forgotten that his license had expired.” [DB2006] Jon Ralston added some information at the time, his 2006 column is worth a review.

** As if dealing with Lowden’s Plucked Campaign, and Tarkanian’s parsing of his ethical/legal problems weren’t sufficient — we’ve made another one of those lists from which it would be nice to be omitted. NV Senator John Ensign (R) and Governor Jim Gibbons (R) have “made” Time Magazine’s Least Influential List. [LVSun] It’s not-so-good to be on a list with Tila Tequila, Jack Abramoff, and the last president of Lehman Bros. ever Dick Fuld.

** Meanwhile back in the back benches: Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV2) is concerned that the debate over health care reform took attention away from employment concerns. [LahontanVN] Old news, which goes absolutely nowhere toward explaining why Congressman Heller voted against H.R. 2847 Hiring Incentives To Restore Employment Act on March 4, 2010.

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Filed under Ensign, Gibbons, Heller, Lowden

>Coffee and the Papers: Financial Reform, Chickens, and other matters

>** Why is financial regulatory reform necessary to curb the abuses of Wall St investment firms which created the Mortgage Meltdown and consequent Great Recession? Why don’t we start with the news from the Nevada Governor’s office that a $2.5 billion state budget deficit is the “best case scenario.” [LVSun] Or, we could review every budget category in state government and decide which can be cut? [LVSun] There are some, like programs for the mentally ill and the elderly that have been pared to the bone. Libraries, parks, and museums have already been shorted; how many more cuts can these institutions take before some firms start downgrading Nevada’s “quality of life” scores in their location determination process?

There might be some good news for Nevada’s Medicaid program here.

** Investor Warren Buffett called financial derivatives “financial weapons of mass destruction,” and CAP posts an interesting article explaining current efforts in the Senate to add some “traffic lights and Street lighting” to better restrain these trades in the Shadow Banking System.

** Simon Johnson explains, Goldman Sachs CEO Blankfein is beginning to sound like a 21st century version of early 19th century Nicholas Biddle. [Baseline] Bethany McLean describes Goldman Sachs in “The Bank Job” for Vanity Fair.

** The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has a new health care cost calculator for candidate Sue Lowden’s Farmville Barter system, or “Chickens For Checkups”. Link Here. Blaming one’s opponent for one’s own gaffes is rarely effective, but Lowden is trying. [Nevada Appeal] The Gleaner helpfully provide the VIDEO.

** One interesting element of Lowden’s platform is her desire to “cut all federal salaries.” [Nevada Appeal] So, we would probably want to ask if that includes the paychecks of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines? Do we want to be cutting pay for the Transportation Safety Administration? Border Patrol Agents? Federal prison personnel? Just asking.

** The Project on Government Oversight has a suggestion for curbing federal spending — place limitations on the executive compensation for federal contractors. More at POGO.

** Bank lobbyists, including former McCain campaign adviser Charles “Another Terrorist Attack Would Be A Good Thing” Black met again with Republican senators in NYC. [Think Progress]

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>Things Better Left Unsaid: Nevada Politicians

>Things I Wish Nevada Politicians Wouldn’t Say:

#1.You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor, they would say I’ll paint your house,” she said. “I mean, that’s the old days of what people would do to get health care with your doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people. I’m not backing down from that system.” Candidate Sue Lowden [Las Vegas Sun] The Sun links to the Jay Leno riff on Mrs. Lowden’s proposal. However nostalgic one might be for remote days in remote rural areas, most physicians these days prefer to be paid in legal tender. It makes paying their office staff so much easier.

#2.I am pleased to see that our fund has reached its goal less than two weeks after its establishment,” Gibbons said in a statement. “We are proceeding with our legal work and plan to file appropriate documents with the court by mid-May.” Uh-huh, and the Governor of the State of Nevada is going to file a major Federal court challenge to the recently enacted health care reform law with the $3,825 his “Defense Fund” has raised. [LV Sun] He has A lawyer working pro bono. Somehow that just doesn’t quite feel like enough. There’s probably a joke in here somewhere too.

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