>Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV3) and her staff remind challenger Heck (R-Angle) that once upon a time not so very long ago there was a Republican President, and the policies adopted during that unfortunate administration had a little something to do with the current economic situation:
“Henderson, NV – In his latest campaign attack ad Senator Joe Heck takes a page right out of the Sharron Angle playbook. Senator Heck wants to have it both ways, claiming it’s not the role of Congress to create jobs then trying to blame Dina Titus for high unemployment. But Senator Heck forgets that it was the policies of the Bush administration that created this recession. “Senator Heck believes it wouldn’t be his job to create jobs yet he wants to blame Dina Titus for unemployment in Nevada. Senator Heck must have a selective memory because he forgot to mention that it was Dina Titus who saved more than 2,400 teachers’ jobs and kept 1,800 people on the job at McCarran airport,” Titus spokesman Andrew Stoddard said. “Senator Heck clearly recognizes the difficult challenges that Nevadans are facing which leaves one to wonder just why he is so focused on tearing down the safety net on which people in District Three rely.”
DB will go a good portion of the way down this track. However, it must be noted that one of the more egregious examples of the de-regulation measures that helped create the financial collapse of 2008 was signed by none other than the Big Dog himself. The Gramm-Leach Bliley Act, repealing the Glass Steagall Act, was enacted in 1999 during the 106th Congress. The measure, “Eliminates many Federal and State legal barriers to affiliations among banks and securities firms, insurance companies, and other financial service providers, including provisions of the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 and Section 20 of the Banking Act of 1933 (commonly referred to as the “Glass-Steagall Act”). Full affiliation can now occur between the entities.” And, so it did, to our ultimate distress. S.900 “as amended” passed the Senate on a party line vote, 54 Republicans voting in favor of it, 44 Democrats voting “no.” [roll call 105] Using 20/20 hindsight, the Congressional Republicans were all too enthusiastic about “reforming financial regulations” out of existence, and a Democratic President didn’t have the juice (or perhaps the interest) at the time to risk a veto over-ride vote. The 111th Congress spent a massive amount of time and energy trying to undo the damage done by the 106th.
There does seem to be an unexplainable argument popular among Nevada’s GOP challengers that (1) it’s not their job to enact programs and projects to help people in the state of Nevada and elsewhere get jobs, but (2) it’s the fault of Democratic incumbents for not enacting more such programs and projects to alleviate current levels of unemployment. One really doesn’t get to have it both ways.
“Senator Heck wants to undermine Social Security by taking money out of the system and jeopardize the guaranteed benefit seniors count on.” Senator Heck ignores the reality that the deepest recession in a generation began under President Bush. In fact, the month Dina Titus was sworn in as a new member of Congress and the final month of the Bush presidency, our country lost more than 700,000 jobs, the federal deficit was more than $1 trillion, and Nevada led the nation in foreclosures. “You can’t blame Senator Heck for wanting to forget it was the failed Republican economic policies that let Wall Street run wild and create this mess in the first place.” added Stoddard. “While Senator Heck wants to go back to those failed policies, Dina has been working hard to pick up the pieces, helping families avoid foreclosure, supporting investments in renewable energy that can create 17,000 jobs in Nevada, and giving 98 percent of Nevadans a tax cut.”
State Senator Heck does need to explain with more precision than is currently evident why he is claiming that the Social Security program isn’t working. Other than offering the usual generalities about “saving it for future generations,” (it’s doing fine for future generations) and “allowing choice,” (translation: allowing Wall Street to bag another big wad of currency with which to play on its trading floors) he’s not demonstrated a thorough understanding of the nature of the four Social Security Trust Fund investments, or the revenue streams by which the program will use trust funds as a backstop when the last Boomers are octogenarians, and then revert to pay-go very shortly thereafter. There are many ways to say “privatize” and State Senator Heck’s tried most of them. This is, indeed, a hefty slash at the safety net.
About that deficit? “President Bush’s budget chief blamed the faltering economy and the bipartisan stimulus package for the record $482 billion deficit the White House predicted for the 2009 budget year. Jim Nussle, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the deficit would be about 3.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, the measure of the nation’s total economy. The fiscal year begins October 1, 2008.” [CNN] The Bush Administration 2009 budget deficit was a hefty $482 billion, but the national debt is the figure that hit the $1 trillion dollar level, and kept going. Again, the Bush Administration set the record. When President George W. Bush took office the federal debt was $5.73 trillion, and President Clinton had left him a budget surplus. When President Bush left office in January 2009 the federal debt was $10.7 trillion — or $4.97 trillion more than when he took the oath of office the first time. [Politfact] We couldn’t have ask for a better rendition of the GOP Two Santa Claus Theory of Governance — the government, Santa #1, will keep spending and borrowing because Santa #2 cut tax revenues not once but twice, in 2001 and 2003.
The “Democrats will raise your taxes” is such a common motif among Republican candidates that the GOP must have trademarked it by now. Left unsaid, of course, is that under the Obama Administration taxes for 98% of the American public were reduced. It’s that 2% of the top tier income earners who are feeling “pressed” at the moment. Also left unreported by the GOP/Tea Party is that we now have the lowest personal taxation levels in the last 50 years. [USAT] The last time taxation levels were this low the Ames Brothers were singing “Rag Mop” and Nat King Cole was crooning “Mona Lisa” on the radio. In 1950 the average price for an automobile was about $1,500. The introduction of color television was still a year away, and Walt Disney wouldn’t start the construction of DisneyLand until July 21, 1954.
Jobs lost? Business Week called the period between 1999 and 2009 the Lost Decade. Manufacturing lost 5,372,000 jobs, information tech and services lost another 525,000, construction lost 238,000, wholesale trade lost another 166,000, and the hotel trade dropped 91,000. Nevada, one of the Sand States in the midst of the housing bubble, lost jobs in the aftermath of the implosion on Wall Street. Picking up the pieces isn’t a pleasant task. Nor, is this a task that can be completed by a single representative in the U.S. Congress. However, give Representative Titus her due, she has tried.
On October 6, 2010 she added her voice to the chorus asking major bank holding companies to suspend foreclosure processes until they can verify the accuracy of their claims. As of September 29th: “Congresswoman Dina Titus of Nevada’s Third District announced today that Nevada is receiving an additional $57 million through the Hardest Hit Fund to help address the foreclosure crisis. This brings Nevada’s total to $193 million received through this program. Titus has relentlessly called on the Obama administration to do more to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure, and she has helped thousands of Southern Nevada homeowners through housing workshops and casework. “As ground zero of the foreclosure crisis, the Third District has been hit particularly hard during this recession,” Congresswoman Titus said. “That is why I have made it a top priority to fight on behalf of my constituents by pushing for additional funds as well as standing up to the banks that too often have been part of the problem rather than part of the solution. This assistance will help families that are struggling to get by due to the severity of this recession and stay in their home while we continue our efforts to turn Nevada’s economy around.” The October 6th letter urging someone to ease the impact of the foreclosures on the southern Nevada economy wasn’t her first.
She’s also put some pressure on Treasury Secretary Geithner, “My Congressional office has worked with over 1,000 homeowners who have been trying to modify their loans. While my staff is able to quickly escalate cases with loan modification officers, my concern remains with the thousands of homeowners in Southern Nevada and millions around the country who continue to be treated unfairly and inappropriately by Wall Street banks.” [Sept. 16, 2010 Titus]
There’s more to the economic picture at the moment than the housing issue. And while persuading a representative from the Treasury Department to actually travel to Nevada and LISTEN to real people who are having real issues with mortgage bankers helps, its even better to have someone in Congress who will vote to put people first and corporations second.
The ARRA (Stimulus Act) is a popular whipping boy for the Republicans, who rarely — if ever — remember to remind voters that $288 billion of it was in the form of tax cuts. The Making Work Pay provisions of the Act reduced payroll taxes as of April 2009. [DJU] The ARRA also provided for $1,500 in tax credits for those doing home renovations to make the house more energy efficient. There was another $2,500 tax credit for educational expenses. Generally speaking: “Citizens for Tax Justice, a self-described non-partisan organization, released a report on Tuesday that read: “The 2009 economic stimulus bill actually reduced federal income taxes for tax year 2009 for 98 percent of all working families and individuals.” This total includes the 95 percent of working families that will or have received tax credits in the range of $400 to $800.” [HP](emphasis added) Who wouldn’t vote for someone who voted in favor of tax cuts for 98% of all working families? The fact remains, Representative Titus voted in favor of giving 98% of all American working families a tax cut. [roll call 70]
H.R. 4173, the financial reform bill, sought to put parts of the financial sector Humpty-Dumpty back together again. While it may not have gone as far as some would like — re-enacting Glass-Steagall for example — it did create a panel that can unwind financial firms facing “systemic failure” instead of waiting for the unhappy prospect of a crash, such as that narrowly averted with the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Consumers got a new watch-dog agency to monitor credit card companies and mortgage lenders. There is now stricter oversight of hedge funds and the private equities firms that were at the heart of the financial panic. Banks are now required to keep higher levels of capital reserves, and there are limits on proprietary trading. [AOL] The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed the House on June 30, 2010, with Congresswoman Titus voting in favor of the measure. [roll call 968] The bill became law on July 21, 2010.
One of the advantages a challenger possesses in any political race is the Magical Cloak Of Glib Generalizations, and hiding beneath it offers protection from having to provide any specifics to constituents. State Senator Heck appears to have found this to be a truly useful garment. There’s “too much spending” but few ideas about exactly what would be cut except to say that the Department of Education should be eliminated, and student loans tossed back into the privatization pool in which fees and marketing expenses raised the interest rates for educational loans; or, to privatize Medicare and Social Security, to save them by ultimately eliminating them. There’s say, and there’s do. The better option is an incumbent who voted in favor of tax cuts for at least 95% of the American working public, voted in favor of reforming the trading practices on Wall Street, and is making an attempt on behalf of her constituency to make banks work with those facing foreclosure.