Category Archives: Nevada

We Are Not Being Well Served: A Lethal Pattern of Administration Obstruction

We aren’t well served when the Department of Justice declines to work WITH state officials to implement policy.  When the DoJ dithers about assisting Nevada’s attempt to improve the background check process for firearm purchases — [NV Indy] Gee, it almost seems like someone at the federal level is doing a bureaucratic dance routine to subvert the intent of those who want to expand background checks?  Someone doesn’t want to alienate the powers that be at the NRA?  Meanwhile candidate Adam Laxalt, subservient as ever to the NRA line, must be pleased with Governor Sandoval’s discomfort.

We also aren’t well served by the right wing echo chamber which has now evidently decided that if they can’t find logical arguments to deflect the demands made by the kids in March for Our Lives they will happily start tooting the Swift Boat Parade Brigade horns with personal attacks on the kids themselves.  [TampaBT] [WaPo] [KCStar] However, ad hominem is all too often the preferred argument for many on the right side of the political spectrum.  These people might be dismissed as small people with smaller, narrower, minds except that they have the ear of the current mis-administration, and those ears are receiving messages out of step with American concerns.  Listening to these radical voices obscures national issues we should be focusing upon.

Nor are we well served when the message comes from the podium at the White House briefing room that the Department of Justice will take no role in the investigation of the shooting of Sacramento citizen Stephon Clark.  There’s a pattern here.

The FBI will not facilitate the implementation of Nevada’s Question 1 decision. The Department of Justice will take its sweet time promulgating rules concerning the sale of bump stocks (see Las Vegas concert massacre). The Department of Justice will do an about-face on federal participation in the investigation of law enforcement use of lethal force on members of minority communities.  This pattern may explain why the citizens of Nevada continue to be frustrated by the lack of Question 1 implementation, the citizens of the US continue to see protests related to Black Lives Matter, and young people bemoan (and organize) against the inflexible obstruction to their demands for sensible restrictions on gun ownership and sales.

What the pattern won’t accomplish is the solution to any of the problems addressed by the Black Lives Matter organization or the young people involved in March for Our Lives.  The two issue areas are not unrelated.

Bullets fired from guns kill people.  The bullet may be a .223 round (5.56 mm) coming at a person at 3,330 feet per second (about three times the velocity of a typical Glock pistol.) [BI]  The bullets may also come from a Glock 19 or the Glock 22, or perhaps the Smith & Wesson M or P9, the most popular service handguns for law enforcement personnel. [SRI]  Instances of bullets being fired by one human being at another human being, or beings, should be investigated fully.  We have no problem with this concept when thinking about murder investigations in general.  We do have a problem with the concept when it’s in the context of a mass shooting or in a case of the use of lethal force by a police officer.

In the instances of mass shootings authorities appear to want to investigate everything except the actual cause of death — the AR 15 is often the weapon of choice for mass shooters [BI] who want to use the gun as it was designed — to cause the greatest level of lethality in the briefest possible time.  If we know the level of lethality associated with the use of assault style weapons like the AR 15 why don’t we directly address the issue of whether or not these should be in the hands of civilians?

In the instances of officer involved shootings almost the first thing reported is that the “officers feared for their lives.”

“Black Americans are more than twice as likely to be unarmed when killed during encounters with police as white people, according to a Guardian investigation which found 102 of 464 people killed so far this year in incidents with law enforcement officers were not carrying weapons.

An analysis of public records, local news reports and Guardian reporting found that 32% of black people killed by police in 2015 were unarmed, as were 25% of Hispanic and Latino people, compared with 15% of white people killed.” [Guardian 2015]

Question: Why do law enforcement personnel “fear for their lives” more often when confronting a person of color than when facing a white person?  I think we know the answer, it is just that this aspect of the problem isn’t something the present Department of Justice is particularly interested in pursuing.

We aren’t well served by an administration which will not admit the vast scope of the problems presented by mass shooters and highly questionable use of force by some members of law enforcement.  These are national problems which beg for national solutions, whether the current Department of Justice wants to step up to the plate or not.


The kids have broken the 10,000 contract plateau in their Parents Promise To Kids project.  Right now it’s at 10,127.  That’s 10,127 parents, grandparents, and other interested people who have pledged to kids they will make gun reform a major feature in their voting decisions.  Step Up. Thank You.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics

Nevada Republicans in Disarray? Sidling toward the Senate

The race for Senator Dean Heller’s Senate seat is getting interesting, if for no other reason than the split between the Trumpets and the Party is on full display.  Witness Heller’s campaign co-chair leveling finance improprieties charges at the Tarkanian campaign:

“Danny Tarkanian made an “illegal corporate contribution” from a nonprofit he runs to his 2012 congressional campaign, according to a complaint filed the Federal Elections Commission.

The complaint follows a report from KLAS-TV that detailed how $40,000 went from Tarkanian’s charity basketball organization to his campaign during his 2012 bid for Nevada’s 4th Congressional District. The FEC complaint was filed by Collier Azare, who is a campaign co-chair for Dean Heller, who Tarkanian is challenging in this year’s GOP primary for U.S. Senate.”  [LVRJ] [KLAS]

This one presumes, would allow the Heller Forces to charge unethical conduct on the part of Tarkanian the Lesser, since the ethical limits of Tarkanian the Elder, of towel chewing fame, at Long Beach State, UNLV, and Fresno State, have been a topic of conversations in the public domain — from barstool occupants to barristers.

Tarkanian the Lesser’s move into the media spotlight is a mixed blessing for the Heller camp.  On one hand, Tarkanian the Lesser’s trumpian-radical politics will amplify the Heller campaign’s message that Heller, much evidence to the contrary, is the Moderate in the race.  This is fine for the general election, however Heller has to  plow through the mud flat that is the Nevada Republican primary on June 12, 2018.

Primaries have not had a particularly high level of interest of late in the Silver State; the 2014 Primary drew a total turnout of 19.25% of Nevada’s registered voters, which was better than the 18.87% who voted in the 2012 Primary, and better still than the paltry 15.12% of  voters who decided to participate in the 2010 version. [SoS] We can probably guess that the Republicans who chose to vote in the Primaries were highly motivated, and perhaps interested in hyper-conservative positions?  Low turnout among Nevada Republicans doesn’t seem to be a good thing for Heller’s campaign.

However, things aren’t looking all that pleasant for the prospects of Tarkanian the Lesser, the White House isn’t supporting him, his fundraising is relatively weak, and his message is a narrow pitch to a narrow sliver of the electorate.  It will be interesting to see who shows up for the GOP Primary in June.

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Friday News and Notes

It’s been many raccoons’ ages since DB has done a good old fashioned amalgamation of good reporting and recommended reading.  If we grant that the national media tends to be a flock/herd of creatures all fascinated by the latest shiny objects, it would be highly unfair to extend this critique to local and state reporters who are covering stories which may never travel beyond the borders but are essential to understanding real issues facing real people.  Recommended reading from Nevada reporters:

Nevada: On the gubernatorial race — Nevada Independent article on Steve Sisolak and his position on so-called Sanctuary Cities.  Those who want to keep up with Nevada political news, and Clark County politics will want to bookmark this source.  “GOP bid for control in Nevada raises fear of endless recalls,” in the Reno Gazette Journal is an essential read for the week.  The Las Vegas Review Journal business section has a link to its coverage of the saga of Steve Wynn which is a good reference for his travails.   Michael Roberson will be visiting Elko, NV with his “sanctuary cities” petition as part of his latest political machinations in the state.   The Las Vegas Sun editorial says it’s time to put tracer ammunition in the cross-hairs.

Women’s Corner:  “Top White House Officials Knew of Abuse Allegations Against Top Aides for Months”, Washington Post.  This excerpt summarizes the hypocrisy nicely:

“McGahn and other West Wing officials are under increasing pressure to explain why Porter was kept in a key role in which he had access to classified information and helped determine which articles and policy proposals made it to the president’s desk while top Trump officials were aware for months of at least some of the serious allegations against him.”

Let this sink in. A political campaign that railed day after day about spurious allegations of major misconduct and mismanagement of a few classified e-mails, some classified well after their initial release, has an individual who handled all manner of classified materials — some so classified that the classifications themselves are classified — who cannot get a security clearance because of his potential for compromise due to his attempts to cover past domestic abuse incidents.   The White House excuse for slow authorizations appears to be “lots of people are new to government, and therefore take longer,” however — when most background checks take four to six weeks to have some going on for a year seems beyond the pale.

A New York Times editorial asks what the President* might do if he really cared about violence against women? Maybe fill the of White House Adviser on violence against women (which has been vacant for over a year now) or maybe appoint a Department of Justice head of the Violence Against Women section, or maybe appoint a State Department ambassador at large on global women’s issues?  Advocate fully funding and implementing the provisions of the Violence Against Women Act?  Encourage federal contributions to research on family violence?

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Filed under Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics, Women's Issues

Adam Laxalt: The Grandson of Immigrants doesn’t like immigrants?

Adam Paul Laxalt seems to have forgotten that he is a descendant of Dominique and Therese Laxalt.  He also appears to have forgotten that Dominique Laxalt started life in the great American west as a sheepherder.  I supposed he’d prefer Nevadans identify him as the grandson of former Governor Paul Laxalt, popular politician and friend of Ronald Reagan — not especially as the great grandson of a Basque sheepherder.   He must be only tenuously connected to his immigrant roots because that’s the only rational explanation for his joining the “anti-sanctuary city” case brought by 11 AGs:

 “The brief urges the court to reverse a U.S. District Court judge’s order preventing the implementation of the federal government’s executive order pertaining to sanctuary cities. The case is an opportunity to remedy the threat California’s “sanctuary cities” pose to Nevada safety, Laxalt’s office stated.” [Sierra Sun]

First let’s look at the rational as published by the Sierra Sun, and evaluate Laxalt’s position.  Part One:

“Nevada’s law enforcement officials, including all 17 currently elected county sheriffs, have consistently opposed sanctuary-city policies that would prevent compliance with federal law and compromise public safety, the office stated. In the vast majority of cases, an individual must be arrested for committing a crime and booked into a jail or detention facility before Nevada law enforcement agencies check whether the individual is sought by federal immigration authorities and, if so, alert those federal authorities, the office stated. Sanctuary-city policies that prohibit this communication allow violent offenders to be released back into the community, the office stated.”

The part about “compromising public safety” needs a bit more explication.  In standard law enforcement practice, a person does something criminal, that is commits a felony or a misdemeanor, and is detained. After detention law enforcement looks into the person’s background — outstanding warrants? Outstanding court issues? …. Immigration status? The Oval Office Anti-Immigrant policy inserts ICE into the arrest process, and herein lies a problem — If the individual arrested for being publicly intoxicated thereby disturbing the peace  (NRS 203.010) is named Smith, Johnson, or Baker what is the likelihood the sheriff’s office is going to check with ICE for his or her immigration status?  What we have here is an invitation to discrimination, whites detained face misdemeanor penalties and Hispanics face more extensive investigations by ICE for being named Hernandez.

The odds are in Nevada the person with the Hispanic surname is US born.  Hispanics are 28% of the state’s population, and of this number 61% were born in the United States. [Pew]  The most common Hispanic name in Nevada is Garcia.  [Anc.com] If Garcia is the most common surname for a person of Hispanic heritage in Nevada then we can add Jose as the most common name for a boy of Mexican descent.  Now, consider for a moment what happens when a Jose Garcia is picked up in violation of NRS 203.010 and his “name is compared” to an ICE target list.  Think there aren’t ample opportunities for mistakes to be made? Maybe think again.  As for releasing “violent offenders back into communities…” that needs to be discussed as well.

Sanctuary-city policies that prohibit this communication allow violent offenders to be released back into the community, the office stated.”  This is a misvioleading conflation of the first water. The statement works IF and Only IF we assume that the person detained is automatically assumed to be a violent offender or if violent offenders are the most commonly arrested.  It also works IF the audience assumes “those people” are likely to be violent offenders, the release of any one of them puts the population in peril.  To make these assumptions AG Laxalt would have to ignore the 2016 Crime in Nevada report. (long pdf)

A person doesn’t get far into the 2016 Department of Public Safety report before it’s obvious that the most common index crimes in this state are good old fashioned garden variety property crimes: burglary, larceny.   The five year average for property crime (2012-2016) stands at 76,833 far outpacing personal crime averages.  So, even for ‘serious’ crimes, the ones that get reported as indexed, the odds are a person didn’t get picked up for a violent crime against a person.  Therefore the argument that we should turn our local deputies into ICE officers because otherwise we’d have roving rapists and murderers in our midst is more fear mongering than reality.  Not that this prevents AG Laxalt from turning up the burners:

 “Sanctuary cities in California pose a danger to neighboring states like Nevada by making it easier for those not lawfully in this country and with violent criminal histories to evade law enforcement and travel out of state. What’s more, these cities undermine the rule of law and prevent cooperation between federal and local officials.”

“Undermining the rule of law” is a common refrain among right wing anti-immigration advocates.  We could as easily argue that what undermines the rule of law is to have people arrested and detained because they have the same name as a person on an ICE list, or that if one’s name is Smith or Jones there will be no extra scrutiny but if your last name is Garcia or … Laxalt… then the person can sweat the possibility of mistakes.  The rule of law can also be undermined by immigration agents who dump water bottles in the desert (and brag about it) or threaten a doctor with deportation for juvenile offenses ages ago, and make it all but impossible for immigrant women to press charges for sexual assaults because to do so would invite deportation proceedings.  It also undermines respect for the law if we deliberately ignore the fact that the statistics on crimes don’t support the assertion illegal immigrants commit more crimes:

“The tone and tenor of the president’s executive order blurs the line between who’s a serious criminal and who isn’t,” and between documented and undocumented immigrants, said Randy Capps, the institute’s director of research for United States programs. There is no national accounting of criminality specifically by people who are in the country illegally. But Mr. Nowrasteh said he had analyzed the available figures and concluded that undocumented immigrants had crime rates somewhat higher than those here legally, but much lower than those of citizens.”  [NYT] (emphasis added)

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DIY Economic News for 2018: Some Suggestions and Sources

The gripe noting the emphasis (or narrow focus) on stock market “news” is a recurring one on this blog, but perhaps it’s high time to suggest some sources which will provide a more comprehensive picture than merely stock market numbers and unemployment figures.  Here are a few for your viewing pleasure:

Labor Information:  What we get on television broadcasts and from most print media are national numbers, however this obfuscates the point that not all parts of the country are experiencing employment (and unemployment) in the same way.   To find out more about state and local employment there’s information available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at this page. Nevada, for example, is in the western region in the BLS categorization of various statistics, and more specifically as the national unemployment rate is 3.9% nationally (October 2017) the Clark County rate is 5.1%.(pdf)  Although employment in the construction sector is up in Clark County, NV, the rate is altogether to close to that of Cleveland, OH  which was 5.2% (pdf)  Unlike Clark County, which saw a decrease in unemployment, Cleveland actually ticked up from 2016’s 5.1% to 5.2%.   Using the handy interactive from the BLS link give will allow a person to see differences within a state, such as the 5.1% unemployment rate in Las Vegas and the 3.9% unemployment rate in the Reno area. (pdf)

A summary of state unemployment rates is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of November 2017 the lowest unemployment rate in the country is in Hawaii (2.0%) and the highest unemployment rate belongs to Alaska which has a rate of 7.2%.

The BLS also provides employment projections (for the next 10 years) complete with a graphic illustrating the fastest growing occupations.  Presidential climate change denial notwithstanding, we should observe that the two fastest growing occupations are solar photovoltaic  installers (105.3% increase) and wind turbine technicians (96.1% increase).

A few recommended bookmarks:  AFL-CIO website;  UAW website; SEIU website;  Nevadans will want to keep up with Culinary Worker’s news;  the Communications Workers of America is also highly informative.   Labor Notes is also recommended.

Income Information:  For those who don’t have FRED bookmarked — please do, you’ll be pleased with yourself for doing so.  One of the many topics covered and charted is median household income.   A person can also find information about the Income GINI Ratio for Households (by race), and Real Mean Personal Income.   It would be difficult to imagine what information Isn’t available from FRED.

Once in a blue moon the media reports on the release of the Beige Book from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.  It is a compilation of anecdotal reports from each of the Federal Reserve districts, and is useful for those wanting to drill down into regional economic conditions.  It’s published eight times per year, with the next release due out on January 17, 2018.

The St. Louis Fed provides FRED, and the New York Federal Reserve is the go-to place for information about debt, from student to household.  See their Center for Microeconomic Data.  The NY Fed has its own blog, also informative on a variety of topics.   Readers might like to start with the NY Fed’s report on political polarization and consumer expectations.

There’s FRED, the Beige Book, and the NY Fed, and then there’s the Census Bureau, which tracks income inequality.

There are thousands of more sources and links which will prove helpful to those interested in economic trends, and this is by NO means a comprehensive list.  However, I do hope these links will indicate to any reader that there is a wide variety of sources describing our economy going well beyond the narrow focus on stock market numbers and unemployment statistics!

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Filed under Economy, Nevada, Nevada economy, Politics

Amodei’s Wonderland: Wherein Economic Vision Becomes Hallucination

One of the more confusing statements from Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) concerns how the Republican Tax Scam will affect the economy:

(Part A) “With respect to the effect on businesses, Main Street job creators will see their tax rates reduced through the lowering of the maximum tax rate on business income to no more than 25%. (Part B) Additionally, federal tax rates on corporate taxable income will see a decrease from the highest rate of 35% to a flat corporate tax rate of 20%. (Part C) Each of these changes will help businesses and corporations expand, hire new employees, increase wages, and also give them the resources they need to stay competitive in the global marketplace.”  [Amodei] (“parts” added for discussion)

Let’s begin with Part A, those “main street job creators” are the high income earners discussed yesterday as be beneficiaries of the Pass Through Loophole.   It really doesn’t matter if the firm’s address is Main Street, 5th Avenue, or Wall Street, the result is essentially the same.  After telling Nevadans not to worry about losing their most popular deductions because not all that many people use them and the new standard deductions will take care of them,  Amodei doesn’t apply the same test to the business and corporate deductions.  That Pass Through Loophole, by any and all other names, has resulted in massive revenue losses in Kansas, the state which imprudently serves as a laboratory for the GOP’s ideological economics.  Let’s not confuse Mom and Pop’s Midtown Market with the capital management firm of Grabbem, Gouggem, & Howe.   Both may “create jobs” but there’s no comparison in terms of how much of a tax break each will receive for having essentially the same number of employees.

Moving along to Part B:  Yes.  At present there’s a plethora of corporate accountants employed to create a situation in which a top rate of 39.1% becomes an effective rate far below that maximum rate.  One study of Fortune 500 companies reached the following conclusions:

  • As a group, the 258 corporations paid an effective federal income tax rate of 21.2 percent over the eight-year period, slightly over half the statutory 35 percent tax rate.

  • Eighteen of the corporations, including General Electric, International Paper, Priceline.com and PG&E, paid no federal income tax at all over the eight-year period. A fifth of the corporations (48) paid an effective tax rate of less than 10 percent over that period.
  • Of those corporations in our sample with significant offshore profits, more than half paid higher corporate tax rates to foreign governments where they operate than they paid in the United States on their U.S. profits.

Now, if they’re starting at 39.1% and getting their taxes down by half or even more at present — imagine what they can do when they start from 20-25% and work their way down?  For example, the “intangible drilling costs” loophole seems not to have closed up at all in the House version, and this while it’s acknowledged that seismic testing has significantly reduced the prospect of drilling dry holes.  The old Depletion Allowance survives as it always does, even if other deductions for mere mortals do not.

Or, consider the creative ways corporations use depreciation.  The House Ways and Means Committee version allows corporations to write off the depreciation for new equipment immediately.  Nice, if one is looking for a way to get from 20% down to a 10% tax rate or less.  [WaPo]  Not to put too fine a point to it, but while mere mortals are expected to absorb the elimination of student loan interest deductions, home mortgage interest deductions, and major medical expense deductions — the corporations go almost untouched.

Part C is unalloyed wishful thinking.  Walter Isaacson observes in his new book about Da Vinci that “vision without implementation is hallucination,” and this GOP canard is an almost perfect example.   Where the Tax Cut Fairy Waves Her Magic Wand wonders ensue — commerce increases, new employees will be hired, employees will have higher wages, and we will be “more competitive.”

Let’s step back from the hallucinations and observe what happens in the real world of employment:

“Service businesses, in which payroll is the major cost of providing the service, can take on higher payroll percentages since the payroll is, in fact, producing the revenue. There is likely to be no other significant cost of services to be provided. In such situations, payroll can reach the 50% mark without destroying profitability. Manufacturers, however, must maintain a payroll figure closer to 30% or less as the business must endure the cost of manufacturing the widget plus the payroll. Same with restaurants, given the high cost of food the payroll must stay under thirty percent.”

In order to lend any credence to the overblown rhetoric of GOP apologists for reducing corporate taxes and enacting pass-through loopholes, we have to merge all hiring from all sectors into one grand lump.  No matter the tax rate, what really matters is that the widget factory can keep its payroll allocations to 30% or less of its costs.  Nor can we argue that the sector with the highest payroll allocation, “service,” is all created equal.  This tertiary sector includes everything from health care to banking to education, to media and communications.   At the risk of continuous redundancy, the tax rate doesn’t determine payroll allocation — no one will be hired to do anything unless there is a demand for the goods or services beyond the capability of current staffing levels to deliver an acceptable level of consumer or client satisfaction.

Employees will have higher wages if the corporation gets a tax cut?  Probably not.  We can wade into the deeply arcane economic theoretical weeds and talk about the relationship between labor costs and tax liabilities, but let’s keep our feet on the ground instead.

Nevada has a fairly unique economy given one of our major sectors is “hospitality,” (or how to house, feed, and amuse people whom we want to leave behind large sums of money) establishments.  Therefore, there’s nothing surprising about finding out that we’ll need about 191,141 people working in food service in 2018; a growth rate of 2.8% with about 5,048 new positions expected. [DETR download]  The mean wage for food service workers is $12.74 per hour.  Most dealers are earning about $8.57 plus tips.  What will drive up food service and dealers’ wages?  Which is more likely to drive increases in food services wages: (a) more customers or (b) a bigger tax cut for corporate headquarters?

If you answered “b” then you are willing to wait for the calculations to be completed concerning how much the corporation should allocate for payroll expenditures, and then try to bank the results from this theory:

“Why would anyone think slashing corporate tax rates would increase workers’ wages in the first place? The theory endorsed by the CEA relies on three steps to get from corporate tax cuts to higher wages. First, the corporate tax cut increases companies’ after-tax returns on investment. As a result, firms will make more investments in plant and equipment than they would in a higher-tax-rate environment. Second, greater investment by firms leads to higher productivity by the workers who put those investments to work. Third and finally, workers will receive increased wages in line with those productivity gains.” [vox]

And, if you believe this I have a lovely bridge over the Humboldt River to sell you.  Why? Because corporations can do lots of other things with those savings — higher executive compensation, mergers and acquisitions, stock buy backs, and dividend payments.

Short Form:  Representative Amodei’s analysis requires redefining “job creators,” as those titans of the financial system who don’t necessarily become those doing the hiring; and requires disconnecting wages and salaries from the accepted wisdom about payroll allocation; and, means a person has to roll the dice and hope that the corporation trickles the money down to the counter-man.  In Isaacson’s parlance:  It’s vision without implementation.

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Filed under Economy, Nevada, Nevada economy, Nevada politics, Politics

Demolition Days On End

The television talking heads are talking about today’s sound and fury from the White House as “Demolition Day;” as if every day the mullet-maned moron occupying the Oval Office hasn’t been doing this from day one.

What is buttressing my sanity for the moment is the fact that MMM had a 49.4% approval rating in Nevada as of January 2017 (38.9% disapproval) and dropped to an approval rating of 43.6% in September 2017 and a disapproval rating of 51.2% in the Silver State.  [CNBC]

Much more love from the Republican Congress and the President and Nevada’s going to find itself in a world of hurt.   Case in point:  If the Republicans get their way in the FY 2018 budget 56,044 Nevada families will lose food assistance as of 2023, and 52,613 will lose them as of 2027.   But wait, there’s even more fun … another grand idea in this budget fiasco is to shift $100 billion of SNAP costs to the states.  So, Nevada would have to come up with 10% of the costs by 2020 and this increases to 25% in 2023 and beyond. Just in case lower income, mostly working, families in Nevada aren’t punished enough the GOP plan says states will have more “flexibility” to cut benefit levels to “manage costs.”  Of course Nevada will have to figure out how to get lower income working families basic food items at the local groceries, at state expense.  In case someone’s thinking this makes economic sense (that tired old canard about welfare queens on food stamps with waste and fraud) the actual numbers indicate that for every $5.00 spent on food stamps $9.00 is generated in economic activity. [CBPP] [MJ]

Case in point: The FY 2018 budget calls for cuts in fire-fighting operations.  As if the fires in California weren’t headline news at the moment.  The IAFC isn’t happy  seeing an FY 2017 budget of $2,833,000 for wildland fire management cut to $2,495,058 in FY 2018; or cuts to State Fire Assistance from $78 million down to $69.4 million, and Volunteer Fire Assistance from $15 million to $11.6 million.  And, by the way, the FLAME program (pdf) funding (wildfire reserve suppression fund, large fires) would be eliminated in the GOP budget.  Supposedly, the FY 2018 would sustain current 10 year average costs for fire suppression. [ECO]  The word “supposedly” is used with some caution, because as we experience climate change effects, the cost of fire suppression can be reasonably expected to increase, with a coterminous effect on budgets.   Meanwhile, there’s the matter of expensive fires in Napa and Sonoma counties.

And, then there’s the not-so-small matter of FEMA:

“The president’s budget blueprint calls for FEMA’s budget for state and local grants to be cut by $667 million, saying that these grants are unauthorized or ineffective. The program it explicitly calls out as lacking congressional authorization is the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program, and a second proposed change would require all preparedness grants to be matched in part by non-federal funds. All of FEMA’s pre-disaster grants are meant to reduce federal spending after disasters, and according to the agency’s website, there’s evidence that $1 in mitigation spending saves $4 in later damages.”  [Newsweek]

There are two points to highlight in this paragraph.  First, the budget cuts are made to grants for disaster mitigation efforts, without saying why the grants are “ineffective,” and we should note that any program can be declared “ineffective” if the standards aren’t reasonable. Secondly, as in the case of food stamps, there’s an upfront economic benefit — for every $1 spent on mitigation we save $4 in subsequent damage costs.   Once more we have a grand example of being penny wise and pound foolish.

Nor are the Republicans keeping their promises not to mess with Social Security and Medicare.

“Not only would it (the FY 2018 budget) cut Medicaid by $1 trillion, it would also cut Medicare by more than $470 billion in order to pay for hundreds of billions in tax breaks to the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in America. Further, the Republican tax plan this budget calls for would increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, which will likely pave the way for savage cuts to Social  Security.”  [SenDem]

Oh, and by the way… let’s sabotage the NAFTA talks, scrap the only treaty containing Iran’s arms aspirations (and tick off all the other European allies who signed on), send a signal to North Korea that our word’s not worth paper on which it’s written, let the health insurance market destabilize into chaos, and withdraw from UNESCO.

And here we sit, not a shining beacon on a hill, but a flickering flame bent to whatever winds happen to be blowing through the head of MMM in the White House.  Not only are programs and services in peril within our own state, but the nation and the world are facing similar dangers emanating from an unraveling White House.

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Filed under Economy, FEMA, Health Care, health insurance, Nevada, Nevada budget, Nevada economy, Nevada politics, Politics, public health, Republicans, Social Security, tax revenue, Taxation