Tag Archives: Koch Brothers

Contrary to the Image: Joe Heck IS a politician

Heck Trump Hat

Contrary to the nifty images of Brigadier General Doctor Heck – and his advertising campaign – Joe Heck (R-NV03) is a POLITICIAN.

Yes, and he has been for some time now.  Heck served in the Nevada Legislature from 2004 through 2008 as the Senator from District 5.

“….serving on the Natural Resources, Human Resources and Education, and the Commerce and Labor Committees, and as Vice-Chair of the Transportation and Homeland Security Committee.” [Heck]

He was elected to the NV-03 Congressional seat on November 2, 2010, and served in that capacity until his decision to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Senator Harry Reid.

He is  pleased to let one and all know of his committee assignments in Washington, D.C. Armed Services, Education and Workforce Committee, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, but rather than note these connections in D.C. Heck has decided to run as an “outsider?”

During his political tenure in Washington Heck has, indeed, made some connections:

“Heck’s record show he has been anything but (independent); in reality, he has joined his fellow Republicans in Congress to consistently advocate for a special interest, self-serving agenda at the expense of Nevadans. This point is exemplified by Heck consistently voting for the Koch Brothers agenda in Congress, where in 2013 alone Heck voted with the Kochs 100% of the time.” [SM.com]

There’s more:

“Heck’s alignment with the Republican Congress and its special interest agenda is best exemplified by one metric in specific: the percentage of times he votes with the Koch brothers. This year he has voted with the Kochs nearly 90% of the time, and in 2013 he voted with them 100% of the time.  The Republican billionaires, who have spent heavily on Heck’s campaigns, are now seeing a significant return on their investment with Heck voting for their agenda in Congress. Heck voted for billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies for big oil companies and even voted to protect tax breaks for companies that outsource American jobs.” [SM.com]

Full PDF report here.  As a reminder – the Koch Brothers do have an agenda, and supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders are probably aware of this information on the Koch Brothers’ wish list.

Heck has voted WITH the Koch Brothers 90-100% of the time – so where does he stand on abolishing Medicare and Medicaid? On repealing Social Security? On eliminating the minimum wage? On abolishing the capital gains tax? On abolishing the Food and Drug Administration?  Getting rid of the Consumer Product Safety Commission? The Occupational Safety and Health Act?

And then there’s the more recent Dodd Frank Act, regulating the banking sector – Heck demonstrated his allegiance to the bankers – here’s a trip down memory lane:

“Marching back to July 26, 2012 we find Representative Heck voting in favor of the interestingly titled HR 4078 “Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act.”  The title was commonplace, everything in those days had “small business” and “job creation” attached to the title, perhaps to obscure the fact that the Congress had done exactly diddly to create jobs or help really small businesses.  The effect would not have been small, or particularly creative.

HR 4078 would have prohibited any federal government agency from promulgating or taking “significant regulatory action,” unless the employment rate dropped below 6%, defining  “significant regulatory action” as any action that is likely to result in a rule or guidance with a fiscal effect of $50 million or more as determined by the Office of Management and Budget, or to adversely affect one of the following, including, but not limited to (Sec. 105) [PVS]  Now why would this bill illustrate Representative Heck’s allegiance to the banking sector?

Answer: Because the Dodd-Frank Act regulating the financial sector was enacted on July 21, 2010 – that would be the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – and the agencies were in the rule making process when HR 4078 was considered in the House.  Now, what sector of the economy was going to see a $50 million dollar effect?  Here’s a clue: It’s not family owned bodegas and gas stations.  The banking industry did NOT want to see any regulation, any restraint, any inconvenience to their consumer gouging practices and HR 4078 was the result.  (And, the law if enacted would have prevented any more attempts to contain climate change – a bonus in GOP eyes.)”

Compare this action in allegiance to the banking sector with what’s been going on recently.   Several thousand customers of Wells Fargo Bank would have received no justice at all had Heck had his way and abolished the rule making authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or abolished the agency completely —   September 8, 2016:

“For years, Wells Fargo employees secretly issued credit cards without a customer’s consent. They created fake email accounts to sign up customers for online banking services. They set up sham accounts that customers learned about only after they started accumulating fees.

“On Thursday, these illegal banking practices cost Wells Fargo $185 million in fines, including a $100 million penalty from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the largest such penalty the agency has issued.

Federal banking regulators said the practices, which date back to 2011, reflected serious flaws in the internal culture and oversight at Wells Fargo, one of the nation’s largest banks. The bank has fired at least 5,300 employees who were involved.

In all, Wells Fargo employees opened roughly 1.5 million bank accounts and applied for 565,000 credit cards that may not have been authorized by customers, the regulators said in a news conference. The bank has 40 million retail customers.” [NYT]

And Representative Heck doesn’t think the CFPB needs to exist? Tell that to the 1.5 million bank customers who were ripped off.  Representative Heck isn’t a politician? Tell that to the Koch Brothers for whom he’s been a reliable ally? Tell that to the Wall Street Bankers for whom he’s carried so much water?

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Filed under financial regulation, Heck, koch brothers, Nevada politics

Some Assembly Required, but Cortez Masto Can Win

Masto Flip It Dem My Lord How The Money Rolls In!  On behalf of Representative Joe Heck from his friends the Koch Brothers and their associated efforts.  The result?

“I had a feeling this US Senate race would be hard fought, but I didn’t think it would turn this nasty this quickly. We’ve seen these Republican & Koch groups play quite fast & loose with the facts (to put it very politely) this summer, and it looks like they crossed a line about two weeks ago. Former Nevada Attorney General & long-time Republican George Chanos condemned this line of attack against Cortez Masto last week. And now, we see this.

Will this be enough? Or will Cortez Masto & Nevada Democrats need to do even more to counter these attack ads? As I’ve said before, it’s always a tough tightrope walk that’s necessary to counter attacks like this. One must find a way to quash the narrative and not amplify it. Can Cortez Masto & her allies pull it off?” [LTN]

Heck Trump Hat

Not that there isn’t a strong tie between Representative Heck and the Koch Brothers Money Machine. It’s well documented here, and here, as well as here.  The Las Vegas Sun covered the connections, so did the Huffington Post.  The next questions is: Have the Koch Brothers gotten their money’s worth for the donations and support to Heck’s campaigns? That would be yes:

“… he has joined his fellow Republicans in Congress to consistently advocate for a special interest, self-serving agenda at the expense of Nevadans. This point is exemplified by Heck consistently voting for the Koch Brothers agenda in Congress, where in 2013 alone Heck voted with the Kochs 100% of the time.” [SMPac]

Indeed, Representative Heck has been part of the Kochtopus for some time, and remains so today.  (also here)

Can former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto meet the challenge from the Koch Brothers and their ever-so-willing puppet Representative Heck?  Possibly.

Heck’s gone hat and all into the Trump Camp.  This means writing off a significant portion of the Nevada electorate – that portion of Hispanic voters who come from 27% of the total state population, 59% of whom are native born. [PewHisp]  Persistent immigrant-bashing and a surrogate who warns that if Trump isn’t elected “there’ll be a taco truck on every corner” (as if that wouldn’t be a very nice and convenient thing to have) aren’t going to impress Nevada’s Hispanic citizenry.

Then there’s that Women’s Thing.  Heck is anti-choice and his record demonstrates that position.  Was Catherine Cortez Masto correct in calling this out?  The response from Politifact was “mostly true.”  Representative Heck was pleased to vote to defund Planned Parenthood – despite the FACT that most of what the organization does is to provide preventative, prenatal, and women’s health care in underserved communities.  By voting to defund the organization Heck is essentially saying that contraception, women’s cancer screening, healthy child check ups, vaccinations, and other services provided by Planned Parenthood are less important than demonstrating that he’s a good little GOP soldier in an obstructionist misogynistic Congress.  49.8% of Nevada’s population is comprised of women.

The numbers.  The voting registration numbers aren’t a clear advantage for Cortez Masto, but they do lean Democratic.  As of August 2016 there were 531,104 registered Democrats in the “active column,” and 459,467 in the active voter Republican column. She would still need to get a chunk of the 261,750 non-partisan registered voters.

Again using the active voter count,  Cortez Masto has the most potential support in the region with the most Democratic voters – Clark County, with 398,951 registered Democrats and 275,920 registered Republicans.  The next largest area in terms of population is Washoe County which by comparison brings only 89,770 active Democrats and 94,767 active Republicans.

The key to this election will be what it always turns out to be – Turn Out.  A depressed turn out like the 2014 midterm elections with a dismal 45.55% participation rate benefits Heck, a turn out similar to the 80.81% 2012 election benefits Cortez Masto.

Phone banks, canvassing, and well organized support could put Cortez Masto into the U.S. Senate.  For all the expense associated with the media side of campaigning, the election results are often a function of good old fashioned neighbor to neighbor political talks.

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Filed under Nevada politics

Read the Fine Print: Heck and the Kochtopus

Heck Kochtopus

If you strain just a little you can read the fine print at the end of the ads being run by the Heck Campaign against Catherine Cortez Masto.  The ads telling you she hates old people, etc… are from “Freedom Partners.”

A word about that outfit. First we’ll return  to a September 2013 article in Politico

“An Arlington, Va.-based conservative group, whose existence until now was unknown to almost everyone in politics, raised and spent $250 million in 2012 to shape political and policy debate nationwide.

The group, Freedom Partners, and its president, Marc Short, serve as an outlet for the ideas and funds of the mysterious Koch brothers, cutting checks as large as $63 million to groups promoting conservative causes, according to an IRS document to be filed shortly.”  (emphasis added)

Now, let’s bring this back home to Nevada – as of June 2016 the Koch Brothers had some hefty plans for the Silver State:

“The group announced last week that it plans to spend $1.2 million on advertising in Nevada, where Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto is running against Republican Rep. Joe Heck to replace Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.” [Roll Call]

And Representative Heck is no stranger to the Koch Brothers and their deep pockets:

“Between 2011 and 2014, Koch Industries gave $30,000 to the Republican. During his re-election campaign in 2014, Americans for Prosperity made a $200,000 ad buy for Heck, “praising” his opposition to the ACA. Since announcing his run for Senate, Heck has received $2,500 from the Kochs.” [RKF]

More recently, Heck received $2,500 (March 31, 2016), to add to the $2,500 he’d already received on November 30, 2015, directly from the Koch Industries PAC. (FEC reports)

What do the Koch Brothers want in return for all this largess? 

Social Security and Medicare “Reform”

Freedom Partners is happy to tell us that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are “entitlements.”  However, NOT as in “we are entitled to these benefits because we paid payroll taxes for them” – no, it’s as in we’re bankrupting the government with these “entitlements.”

One of the questions in a candidate survey conducted in 2015 by the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce is:

“Question #18: Do you support Social Security and Medicare reform that would increase the age of eligibility and reduce benefits for wealthier retirees?”

Translation: Do you support raising the age at which a person is eligible for Social Security benefits, and do you supports ‘means testing’ for Social Security benefits?

Questions #19 and #20 are also instructive:

Question #19: Do you support expanding Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act?  (the preferred answer is NO)

Question #20: Do you support capping federal spending on Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by allowing states to control those funds in the form of federal grants? (the preferred answer is YES)

Tax Break for the Wealthy Tax Increases for Everyone Else

Then there was this question: “Question #13: Should tax reform eliminate all preferential treatment and credits for individuals, industries and activities in order to lower marginal tax rates?” Sounds nice, BUT there’s always a kicker.

Flat taxation schemes overwhelmingly favor the top 0.01% of income earners, and those in what are now the upper income brackets. [USNWR] [WaPo] [CNBC]  We can probably conclude with some reasonable certainty that while Representative Heck will likely not come out in favor of a flat tax scheme, he’ll no doubt stay close to the “no new taxes on anyone wealthy” line the Koch Brothers find appealing.

Oh, The Irony!

There’s no small amount of irony involved in trying to argue that Catherine Cortez Masto is tied to “special interests,” when the Heck Campaign is entangled in the Koch Brothers Very Special Interest money.  And, no doubt more of it is on the way, such that we can get even more extremely misleading ads like the Uber Debacle

Those interested in preserving Medicare and Social Security, and in maintaining a healthy economy (one not predicated on the GOP Trickle Down Hoax) would be better served by having Catherine Cortez Masto in the U.S. Senate.

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Filed under Heck, koch brothers, Nevada politics, Politics

Concerned Veterans, Unconcerned Big Money, and the 2016 Nevada Senate Race

Hurricane There’s a warning flag up for Democrats in the 2016 elections – where are the Big Money Republicans putting their money?

“Among those on the sidelines: Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul who hosted the Republican Jewish Coalition’s spring meeting at his Venetian hotel this weekend. His apparent ambivalence about 2016 was shared by many RJC members here. With grave doubts about the viability of the few remaining Republican contenders, many of these Republican donors have decided to sit out the rest of the primary entirely. And while some are reluctantly getting behind a remaining candidate, others are shifting their attention to congressional contests.” [Politico]

Notice that last phrase: “…others are shifting their attention to congressional contests. Nevada voters have already been treated to at least one major advertising belch from the Koch Brothers – the saccharine introductory ad for Republican Joe Heck (Nevada Senate race).  There it was on the TV screen, all $700,000 worth of it:

“The ad is paid for by Concerned Veterans for America, a conservative-leaning organization that advocates for reforms for veterans across the country and is part of the network of organizations affiliated with conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.” [LVSun

First, I’m always a bit “concerned” when I see “concerned” in the title of any organization, like Phyllis Schlafly’s “Concerned women…” and secondly, it doesn’t take more than a couple of clicks to find out that Concerned Veterans for America is a 501(c)4 outfit funded by “Vets for Economic Freedom,” which in turn is funded by the Koch Brothers. [SourceW]  So, the Koch brothers have already decided that the Nevada Senate race is more interesting than the candidacy of either Donald Trump, or Seven Mountain Dominionist Ted Cruz, at least as the early stages of the Nevada senate race are concerned.

Another cause for “concern” is that the advertising so far from the Koch boys in Nevada aligns nicely with the radical libertarian agenda of the Kochs.   Heck is pleased to take credit for backing H.R. 3230, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, which passed the House with bi-partisan support. However, he’s also supported by those who believe, “The VA is a glaring example of what happens when government bureaucrats create unnecessary obstacles to accessing quality health care.”  This moves us from the H.R. 3230 territory and into the realm of H.R. 1994, the VA Accountability Act of 2015, in which the Republicans would have us fire our way into excellence.  Witness section two:

Section 2: The VA may also remove an individual from the civil service or demote the individual through a reduction in grade or annual pay rate.

A demoted individual: (1) shall be paid at the demoted rate as of the date of demotion, (2) may not be placed on administrative leave or any other category of paid leave while an appeal is ongoing, and (3) may only receive pay and other benefits if the individual reports for duty.

The VA shall notify Congress of, and the reason for, any removal or demotion.

An employee shall have the right to an appeal before the Merit Systems Protection Board within seven days of removal or demotion. If an administrative judge does not make a final decision within 45 days the original decision becomes final. The Board or an administrative judge may not stay any removal or demotion.

Between the date on which an individual appeals a removal from the civil service and the date on which the administrative judge issues a final decision on the appeal, the individual may not receive any pay, awards, bonuses, incentives, allowances, differentials, student loan repayments, special payments, or benefits.

It isn’t quite accurate to say that this latest Republican version is a fire at will piece, but notice that the MSPB must make a decision in favor of the employee within 45 days – or the dismissal or demotion stands and cannot be taken to court.  There are a couple of things wrong with this picture.

First, the dismissal or demotion of every other member of the Federal civil service is subject to an appeal to the appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals, or to a U.S. District Court in cases of unlawful discrimination. [mspb]  H.R. 1994 obviously obliterates this.  Given underlying lack of due process in H.R. 1994 it’s intent has less to do with “accountability” and more to do with a frontal assault on the Civil Service rules of the Federal government.

Secondly, it’s a set up.  If one wants to argue that the Federal government is incapable of handling “business,” then one of the easiest ways to make that allegation stick is to (1) underfund the agency, (2) add more work to the agency’s brief, and (3) complain loudly when the agency can’t keep up.  Then, (4) propose privatization or “reforms” which please the economic elite.   H.R. 1994 meets all these tests when it comes to the appeals process for civil employees.

The MSPB is already underfunded, and if trends continue it will have about the same resources for FY 2016 as it had back in FY 2013.  This, when furlough appeals caused by the sequestration led to an increase of 525% in the number of appeals filed. [mspb pdf]

The MSPB has a case load of about 5,000 to which we add another 32,000 furlough cases on appeal – and is expected to decrease the backlog with fewer resources than it had before sequestration. [FedRad]  Under the current statutes the MSPB has 120 days, and one administrator summed up the practical problems:

“…however, there will be some issues. Under current federal statute, MSPB has 120 days to adjudicate a case, meaning the agency will have to issue VA rulings 83 percent faster than it currently does. The discovery period alone — when agency officials and employees gather and share evidence with each other — typically takes 25 to 45 days. In the new, VA-specific system, it will last just 10 days, Grundmann said.” [govexec]

When the Merit System Protection Board arrived in the wake of the 1883 Pendleton Act, moving civil service from the Spoils System to a more professional basis, the intent was to prevent arbitrary and capricious firings made for political convenience and profit.   The current Republican formula for the Veterans Administration employees undercuts this intention.  Underfund, overload, and then cry “reform,” simply insures that no employee will get his or her day in court.  That, in itself, is a denial of due process.  What could be more to the liking of the Koch Brothers and their associates than denying due process to Federal employees.

And, what could be more “Kochian” than to advertise one’s support for veterans while using the Veterans Administration as the whipping boy for mismanagement (however much it may be deserving in some cases) and as the vehicle by which dismantling the civil service may be accomplished?

Representative Heck seems pleased to accept the assistance of the Koch Brothers and their operatives and dark money groups.  Is he equally pleased to be the candidate for the advancement of their privatization agendas?

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Filed under Heck, Nevada politics

News of Note

newspapers 1

  Stay tuned, today’s agenda in the Assembled Wisdom includes a vote on the foundation of Governor Sandoval’s tax and revenue plan.

“The state senate is expected to take a vote on Gov. Brian Sandoval’s Business License Fee bill, the main business tax component of his overall $1.1 billion plan in new and extended taxes.

If the senate fails to pass Gov. Sandoval’s bill, it will be a sign that any tax plan to fund the governor’s proposed $7.3 billion general fund budget will not be completed by the end of the Legislature’s regular session, which is scheduled to end after the first week in June.”  [RGJ]

And, BTW, Attorney General Tea Party (Laxalt) is quick to inform us that his dive into the anti-immigration lawsuit, isn’t anti-immigrant.   Right. It’s just about the “Rule of Law,” and Congress should be acting on immigration reform, not the President.   And, if you believe this I have some lovely (but rather arid) cliff side real estate I’d love to sell you.  We might also note that the comprehensive immigration policy reforms were hammered out in 2013 and the GOP hasn’t seen fit to allow the package to see the floor since.  Or, as AZ Central points out:

Though some Republicans last year argued that a GOP-run U.S. House and U.S. Senate might be inclined to tackle immigration reform early this year — and national Republicans have stressed the need to get the issue off the table before the 2016 presidential election — most observers now say there appears to be little chance for far-reaching legislation along the lines of the 2013 Senate-passed bill negotiated by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight.”

So, it’s 2017 – if then – before the Congressional leadership has any interest in tackling the issue?

Meanwhile, prominent passenger in the GOP Presidential Race Clown Car, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, is hauling out the old canard – the very old canard – that even legal immigration is a threat to American workers.

“In terms of legal immigration, how we need to approach that going forward is saying — the next president and the next Congress need to make decisions about a legal immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, on protecting American workers and American wages. Because the more I’ve talked to folks, I’ve talked to [Alabama Sen. Jeff] Sessions and others out there — but it is a fundamentally lost issue by many in elected positions today — is what is this doing for American workers looking for jobs, what is this doing to wages. And we need to have that be at the forefront of our discussion going forward,”  [HuffPo]

This one’s been debunked so many times it’s hard to keep track of the volume. but that won’t prevent the GOP from hauling it out once again.  No, they “aren’t taking our jobs,” and calls for full deportation would Negatively Impact our economy, and if you want the best information on the subject – which is not coming from right wing Republicans and their pet media outlets – that’s still the 2013 CBO report (FactCheck) and related reports from the CBO the links for which are HERE.

However, immigration policy reform isn’t the only casualty in this 18 months before the election hysteria from the right.  The propaganda mill is working overtime.  Additionally, some of the same donors who’ve brought us extreme right wing politics are funding the highly questionable “research” by Peter Schweiser’s Government Accountability Institute.   This doesn’t mean the internecine warfare among the occupants of the Clown Car will diminish any time soon.  The Cruz of the Mouth Club is claiming that Rubio and Walker are “wimping out” on Gun Rights.   The 20 week abortion ban seems to be one of the major points for Republicans in the primary season, even though Planned Parenthood notes that nearly 99% of all abortions take place before 21 weeks.

Biggest Losers:  The jerks who vandalized a memorial, including killing a newly planted tree, to Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

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Filed under abortion, Gun Issues, Immigration, Nevada legislature, nevada taxation, Republicans, Womens' Rights

A Second Look At AB 182: ALEC’s assault on Nevada Public Employees

AB 182

REVIEW: If one feels the need for a bit of background information, the origin of bills like AB 182 can be found in the ALEC model legislation package known as “The Public Employee Freedom Act.”  (pdf)  The bill is a veritable laundry list of the ALEC bill-mill wishes:

“(1) AN ACT relating to local governments; prohibiting a local government employer from entering into an agreement to pay dues to an employee organization through deductions from compensation; (2) prohibiting such an employer from providing paid leave or paying compensation or benefits for time spent by an employee in providing services to an employee organization; (3) prohibiting the inclusion of certain employees in a bargaining unit; (4) revising provisions relating to a reduction in force; (5) providing that a collective bargaining agreement between a local government employer and a recognized employee organization expires for certain purposes at the end of the term stated in the agreement; (6) requiring public notice of certain offers made in collective bargaining; (7) eliminating final and binding fact-finding except upon the election of the governing body; (8)  removing a portion of the budgeted ending fund balance of certain governmental funds from the scope of collective bargaining and from consideration by a fact finder; (9) eliminating statutory impasse arbitration for firefighters, police officers, teachers and educational support personnel;…”

Nothing would so please the corporate masters of ALEC and the Koch Brothers alliance than to see public employee unions brought down, scuttled, and preferably stricken branch to root.

Every provision in this bill is strategically calculated to prevent unions from providing their services to their members.  No dues check off, making dues collection more costly and cumbersome for members; combined with the  attack on union leadership – after all, if the leaders can’t afford the volunteer time then service is necessarily reduced.  Eliminate “supervisory personnel,” if they so much as think about making an “independent judgment.”  No lawyers, no doctors, no supervisory personnel, may by involved in a bargaining unit?  No “confidential employee?”

Allow a government agency to reallocate resources such that there is a reduction if force – translation: layoffs – and then say “We did it because we moved the money elsewhere.” Anywhere? Any budget category? For any purpose? For the purpose of laying off personnel?  No “evergreen provisions?” No cost of living adjustments without a new master contract?

AB 182 assumes there will be no employee strikes – illegal for public employees in this state – but there won’t be any resolution options either. No fact finding, mediation, or arbitration results shall impinge on the employer to do whatever the agency wishes.  It’s take it or leave it time.

And, 16.6% of the total “budgeted expenditures” must be kept in reserve.  Really?  While this sounds “financially responsible” it really isn’t.  There are supposed to be funds allocated at the local level for “extraordinary maintenance and repairs or improvements, funds for contingencies, and funds to stabilize operations, and to provide a cushion in case of a natural disaster. [See: NRS 354]  There’s really little more to this than pulling 16.6% away from the bargaining table.


The corporate sponsorships include:  The American Bail Corporation; the Altria Group (tobacco), AT&T, Diageo, Energy Future Holdings. Exxon Mobil Corporation, Koch Companies  Public Sector, Peabody Energy (coal), Pfizer Inc. PhRMA, State Farm Insurance, United Parcel Service, Amerian, American Express, US Airways, Anheuser Busch, Bayer Corporation, Bell Helicopter, BP America, Burlington Northern, Catepillar, Century Link, Chevron, Comcast, Conoco Phillips (under Phillips 66 brand), Dow Chemical, Eli Lilly Inc, Farmer’s Group, Georgia-Pacific (Koch Bros), Honeywell, Insight Schools Inc, JR Simplot, Marathon Oil, Raytheon, Reynolds American, T Mobile, Transcanada, (yes, THAT Transcanada)Verizon, and Xcel Energy.

However, a more interesting list is who has dropped membership in the organization which provides models for legislation like AB 182: Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft, Intuit, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Mars, Reed Elsevier, American Traffic Solutions, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Yum! Brands, Proctor and Gamble, Kaplan, Amazon.com, Medtronic, Wal-Mart, Johnson and Johnson, Dell Computers, John Deere, MillerCoors, Hewlett-Packard, Best Buy, General Motors, Walgreens, Amgen, Dreyfus, Amgen, General Electric, Western Union, Sprint Nextel, Symantec, Entergy, Merck, Bank of America, Wellpoint, Bristol Myers Squibb, Brown-Forman, Publix Markets, Glaxo Smith Kline, Unilever, 3M, Darden Restaurants, IBM, Intel, Nestle USA, Berkshire Hathaway, NV Energy, Alliant Energy, Microsoft, Pacific Gas and Electric, Yahoo Inc, International Paper, Occidental Petroleum, Overstock.com, Facebook, Google, Union Pacific, eBay, Wells Fargo, and Northrop Grumman. [link]

Not to put too fine a point to it, but the Nevada legislators sponsoring AB 182 – Republicans Kirner, Dickman, Gardner, Oscarson, Wheeler, Edwards, Jones, Hambrick, Ellison, and Nelson – are still promoting legislation (and an ideology) which is no longer all that popular among major corporate sponsors.  The ALEC bill mill has lost some of its patina of late, but 10 Nevada Republicans haven’t quite noticed the train’s left the station?

While ALEC may be headed off to the horizon, the Koch Brothers and their Americans for Prosperity are alive and well.

“AFP adopts the anti-union positions held by its libertarian funders, David and Charles Koch.[56] A video published on YouTube on February 26, 2011 shows Scott Hagerstrom, the executive director of Americans for Prosperity Michigan, advocating “taking unions out at the knees so they don’t have the resources” to fight for workplace benefits or political candidates.” [Sourcewatch]

One has only to look at Michigan, Ohio, and especially Wisconsin under the Koch financed Walker regime, to see that AFP can simply adopt the legislative packages from ALEC, and insert these into state legislatures – like Nevada.

Thus, Republicans Kirner, Dickman, Gardner, Oscarson, Wheeler, Edwards, Jones, Hambrick, Ellison, and Nelson are simply doing the bidding of the Koch Brothers and promoting their reactionary agenda.

CONSEQUENCES:   This assault on unions, and specifically the attack on public employee unions, are part of the general hostility of corporations toward labor, and toward government.  The results are obvious.  As union membership has declined over the years so have middle class incomes.  [MJ] [APO] [EPI]  And, how did many families move into the middle class in the first place?  By becoming police officers, firefighters, teachers, community health nurses, librarians, land management specialists, transportation specialists, heavy equipment operators, social workers, public health service workers, and so on.

The wages and salaries earned by public employees, as determined by negotiated master agreements, put more families into the middle class, and more money into local economies.  Once again – the Koch Brothers aren’t interested in Bob’s Bodega or the Smith Family Furniture Store, or Jill’s Fashions —  the kinds of small businesses which form the core of local economies.  Possibly the view from inside the 0.001% bubble doesn’t allow for the possibility that products such as Koch Brother’s brands wouldn’t sell in such quantities without local retailers – local retailers who rely on middle income consumers to produce their revenue?

The anti-union, anti-labor perspective is ultimately unsustainable.  Yes, paper towels (like Koch’s Brawny brand) are basic household items, but put too much downward pressure on household income and people will discover that re-washable rags will work as well.  Every household needs toilet paper, like Koch’s Angel Soft, but households under pressure to save pennies may find cheaper brands to purchase.  While the Koch’s can fall back on Flint Hills energy products, local grocers can’t fall too far back from their local demand.  Grocers average a margin of 1-6%, [AZBus] which is not a large cushion to sustain too much drop in customer demand.

Perhaps it’s easier to sit back insulated by a top 0.001% annual income and think of Liberty, Freedom, Personal Accountability, and other abstractions, but the middle class consumer, including the middle class firefighter, police officer, teacher, social worker, or public health nurse doesn’t have that luxury.  Freedom for most people comes down to what Franklin D. Roosevelt called “Freedom from Want.”  The freedom which allows a family to procure all that’s necessary for basic needs, and leave  little left over for a home, for retirement, for an education for their children.  They want, and need, the freedom to breathe between paychecks.

Bills like AB 182 take the air out of the room.  If Republicans Kirner, Dickman, Gardner, Oscarson, Wheeler, Edwards, Jones, Hambrick, Ellison, and Nelson would pull this bill, people could all breathe a little easier.

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Filed under Nevada economy, nevada education, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Politics, public employees

If It Ain’t Broke, Whack It Anyway: “Pension reform” in Nevada

NV Retirement ALEC Back on July 21, 2014 Nevada Assemblyman Randy Kirner (R-26) ask for the drafting of a bill to create an interim task force to examine alternatives to the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System. (BDR 184)  A more useless bit of legislation isn’t quite imaginable.  Unless, of course, one has in mind the ultimate goal of changing the system from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. 

If this is the case, then it is right out of the ALEC playbook, which offers model legislation for this purpose.  The corporate interest group also offers model legislation in case the state decides to retain its defined benefit plan.  The defined contribution plan is a notion the Koch supported NPRI has been promoting since at least 2011.  The ‘solution’ was proposed again in 2013 in NPRI’s handbook for legislators. (pdf)  ALEC, the corporate bill mill, waded into these waters again in 2014 with its recommendations from the Public Pension Reform Working Group. (pdf) It might be of some interest to note that the private chair of the task force was held by Amanda Klump, of Altria Client Services, (that would be promoting the interests of the tobacco giant, which used to call itself Philip Morris.

A quick look at a 2014 publication of pertinent facts about state and municipal pension funds (pdf) and information on Nevada’s system from NASRA, should put one’s mind to rest, unless the unsettled portion is still churning through the misinformation and misleading conclusions drawn from publications of ALEC, the Altria Group, NPRI, and the Koch Brothers organizations.

One bill draft request, #185, from Assemblyman Kirner has made it to the light of day in the form of AB 3. Assemblyman Kirner’s effort would increase the size of the PERS Board to nine members, and three of whom would be individuals who: “have specified experience relating to the design or management of retirement plans; (2) are not employees of the State or its political subdivisions; (3) are not elected officers of the State or its political subdivisions; and (4) have never been active members of the System.”  Thus, there would NOT be a member of the board who is an employee of the state of Nevada or one of its political subdivisions,  is serving in a management position,  has 10 years of service, is not an elected official, and is not an active member.  In short – Assemblyman Kirner would remove the individual board member who has a direct interest in the positive outcomes of any policy decisions and replace the individual with three board members who are ‘technocrats,’ serving from the financial sector perspective. How convenient?

Assemblyman Kirner is evidently not pleased with a PERS board consisting of a former CFO of the City of Las Vegas, two members from the Police and Firefighters Retirement Fund Advisory Committee, a chief accountant with the department of Transportation, a former Clark County Budget Manager, a former Director of Payroll and Benefits from the Clark County School District, and a representative from SEIU.  Perhaps there are too many members who might have questions about turning the defined benefits system into a defined contribution scheme?

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Filed under Nevada budget, Nevada economy, Nevada politics