Tag Archives: Shelley Berkley

Swinging through the Swing State: Nevada Roundup

Rep. Joe “Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme” Heck (R-NV3) and his Democratic opponent John Oceguera took part in a campaign debate in which Rep. Heck, unable to speak to his record on women’s issues, took it upon himself to remind voters for the umpteenth hundredth time that Mr. Oceguera retired early as a firefighter.  [LV Sun] [Nevada Progressive]

Remember when? “At the October 11 debate, Joe Heck looked into the camera and told the audience in no uncertain terms that he supports a woman’s right to choose in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the woman is in jeopardy.  Unfortunately, his voting record does not reflect that claim.  On July 31, Heck voted for H.R.3803, a bill banning abortion care after 20 weeks in Washington, D.C. – a proposal that has no exception in cases of rape or incest.” [NRDC]

Republican Danny “Do You Recognize My Last Name” Tarkanian is pleased to tell us that ‘higher education is not a right,’ and anyway we can’t afford to help young people go to college “in this economy” (translation: because we can’t ask millionaires and billionaires to pay Clinton era tax rates). [NV Progressive]

Mr. Tarkanian also appears to have glommed onto the Balanced Budget Amendment Hoax of the Season.  Review: This is a really silly really really bad idea as explained here, and here, and here.

The Sin City Siren has a handy voting reference post for Nevada voters.  Official information on voting and early voting can be found at the Secretary of State’s office website here.   Volunteering opportunities available here at Progress Now Nevada.

The Mourdockian Controversy spills into Nevada politics, as described in Slash/Politics here and here.   Is Heller the Mourdockian Candidate?

Note this statement from the Nevada Democratic Party:

“Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s reprehensible remarks about rape are demeaning and insulting to all women.  Yet, Mitt Romney refuses to demand the extreme candidate pull down the TV ad featuring his endorsement and Senator Dean Heller has been silent on the offensive remarks.  This should come as no surprise given that Mitt Romney, Dean Heller and Richard Mourdock hold the same extreme views on women from taking away a women’s right to choose, defunding Planned Parenthood, opposing equal pay for equal work and restricting access to basic health services like birth control, mammograms and cervical cancer screenings.”

Senator By Appointment Only Dean Heller’s record on women’s issues is given an in depth treatment by his opponent, Representative Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) — actions do speak louder than words.

The Damned Pundit opines:

“Probably because his advisers told him it would be good for his own political future if he stands with the team now, and not just Romney-Ryan but the Nevada Republicans who are running for things. And one of those Republicans, Dean Heller, was on television the other night saying that he thinks President Romney should nominate Sandoval to the U.S. Supreme Court. Perhaps Sandoval thinks a little political support now wouldn’t hurt on that front.

Well, Heller’s a bit dim. Unless and until Sandoval renounces his pro-choice position, Obama is more likely to appoint Sandoval to the bench than Romney is.”

Well said.

Click on the maps for complete information on the presidential electoral college and the state senate races.

Comments Off on Swinging through the Swing State: Nevada Roundup

Filed under 2012 election, Berkley, Heck, Heller, Nevada politics, presidential polls, presidential race

Mourdock and Heller: Closer Than You Think

Thus much for the “moderate persona.”

“News of disgraced Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s view that pregnancy resulting from rape is a “gift from God” spread across the country yesterday, but what Nevadans should know is that their own Republican Senate candidate Dean Heller stands shoulder to shoulder with Richard Mourdock.  Heller even started joint fundraising accounts with Mourdock and has received $107,000 from their joint fundraising efforts. ” (DSCC)

FEC reports show the following:

“Heller & Mourdock Were Both Members Of Two Joint Fundraising Committees. The campaigns of Dean Heller and Richard Mourdock were both members of two joint fundraising committees, the Founders’ Committee and the 2012 Senators Classic Committee. Founders’ Committee Transferred More Than $60,000 To Mourdock’s Senate Campaign & More Than $70,000 To Heller’s Campaign.

According to FEC records, the Founders’ Committee transferred $60,903.47 to Hoosiers For Richard Mourdock and a total of $70,293 to Dean Heller’s Senate campaign.  2012 Senators Classic Committee Transferred Nearly $40,000 To Mourdock’s Senate Campaign & More Than $37,000 To Heller’s Campaign.  According to FEC records, the 2012 Senators Classic Committee transferred $38,561 to Hoosiers For Richard Mourdock and a total of $37,259.16 to Dean Heller’s Senate campaign. “

This would make sense given than Senator Heller voted for the Blunt Amendment, voted twice against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and voted twice against the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Again, Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) is a far better choice for Nevada women.  Voter information located here.

Comments Off on Mourdock and Heller: Closer Than You Think

Filed under 2012 election, Berkley, Heller, Nevada politics, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Berkley Better on Health Care

Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) says he wants a serious discussion about Medicare, thus seeking to justify his votes in favor of the Ryan Budget which turns Medicare into Coupon Care — because it’s the only plan out there. [LVSun] Not. Quite. There are the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which extend the life of the popular health insurance program for seniors, and there are suggestions that Medicare be able to negotiate with pharmaceutical corporations for lower prescription drug prices.

Senate candidate Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) responded.

“Berkley criticized the Ryan plan for use of government vouchers that would be used to purchase private insurance, saying bringing in for-profit companies would hurt consumers.

She advocated for better checks in the Medicare system for eliminating fraud and waste, allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies, and the re-importation of medicines to cut costs of the program.”  [LVSun]

And, then there’s Medicaid.   The Nevada budget draft calls for increases in education funding by $18 million and an increase in the Medicaid population estimated to require about $104 million. [NNB]  Nevada can reasonably expect about 136,563 total new enrollees [Kaiser pdf] Those would be primarily low income individuals who are single parents with dependent children, and/or who are aged, blind, or disabled. [Kaiser pdf]  This is precisely the group under assault in the Romney/Ryan budget which would transform the Medicaid funding into block grants.

Then what? Assuming the FY 2013 budget suggested by the Romney/Ryan Campaign, we can expect:

“Ryan’s budget turns Medicaid into a block grant that cuts the program by $810 billion over the next decade.  That is a 22% reduction to the Medicaid program from the block grant.
Ryan’s budget repeals the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion, cutting an additional $643 billion from Medicaid over the next decade.
In total, Ryan’s budget cuts Medicaid by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, cutting the program by one-third.
By 2050, Ryan’s budget cuts the Medicaid program by nearly three-quarters, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).”  [DEC] (emphasis added)

So, while the number of individuals who need Medicaid may increase given current population trends, the Romney/Ryan plan would all but eliminate the program by 2050.   Consider the impact of this on those who have elderly parents or relatives in nursing care facilities?

Representative Berkley’s position:

“Shelley Berkley has fought to protect the Medicare program that hundreds of thousands of Nevadans rely on. Shelley Berkley has never voted to cut Medicare. The healthcare law ends taxpayer subsidies to private insurance companies and cuts out waste, fraud and abuse to save the Medicare program $716 billion. This attack is particularly hypocritical given that Heller himself voted to retain these so-called “cuts” when he voted for the Ryan budget. Heller said he was “proud” to be the only politician in Washington to vote twice to end Medicare as we know it by turning the program over to insurance companies, cut benefits and increase out-of-pocket costs by $6,000.”

The Affordable Care Act, which Heller opposes, garnered Berkley’s support for its improvements in basic policy coverage; its prescriptions against insurance corporation abuses of recessions, limited lifetime benefits (junk policies), and its extension of more eligible individuals in the Medicaid program.

So, if a person’s family includes an eligible low income elderly or disabled person in need of health care services — the intelligent choice is Rep. Shelley Berkley.

** For details on the Romney/Ryan tax and spending plan click here.

Comments Off on Berkley Better on Health Care

Filed under 2012 election, Berkley, Heller, Medicaid, Medicare

Berkley Better on Financial Regulation Reform

There’s one very direct way to get to my heart — support common sense regulations to curb the excesses of Wall Street which threaten the interests of Main Street.  Representative Shelley Berkley’s (D-NV1) done this.  Senator Dean Heller has not.

Case in Point:  Here’s a segment of Senator Heller’s response to Rep. Berkley’s charge that he has placed the interests of Wall Street over those of Main Street.

“Fact: Dean Heller voted against Dodd-Frank bill, legislation masked as “Wall Street reform.” This bill would institutionalize bailouts, harm job growth, and create new taxes by intrusive and unaccountable government agencies and offices. (Paul Sperry, “Dodd-Frank Rules Will Crush Employment,” Investor’s Business Daily, December 13, 2011)”    [Heller]

In order to accept Heller’s “fact” we have to accept that the Dodd Frank Act (1) institutionalizes bailouts, (2) harms job growth, and (3) creates unaccountable government agencies.”  Three falsehoods do not create a FACT.

Does the Dodd Frank Act institutionalize bailouts?  NO.  The Dodd Frank Act expressly forbids financial regulators from bailing out a failed institution.  As I’ve repeatedly pointed out on this site, Dodd Frank requires that a failing institution either (a) be placed into bankruptcy or (b) go into resolution.   So, what could Senator Heller be talking about?

There is a provision in the Dodd Frank Act which allows the Federal Reserve and the FDIC to provide “system wide support” in the event of a major systemic crisis.  Critics of the Dodd Frank Act have erroneously cited these elements to argue that the statute perpetuates bail outs.  Wrong. What perpetuates bail outs is the pre-Dodd Frank environment in which there was no authority to wind down failing financial institutions and prevent them from “infecting” other stable ones.

Even a modicum of common sense says that you don’t allow one bad apple to sour the entire barrel.  In the case of a financial bad apple (or actor) you put it in “resolution,” a term bankers like ever so much more than “bankruptcy,” and prevent it from taking the healthy parts of the  system down with it.

Does Dodd Frank harm job growth? NO. The article cited by Senator Heller comes from the  Investor’s Business Daily, which in turn quotes the outgoing chairman of the American Bankers Association.

But the banking industry says burdensome red tape is hurting economic growth and jobs in a still-sluggish labor market.

“The level of real GDP could be 2.7% less by the year 2015 than would otherwise be the case for the United States,” said Stephen Wilson, outgoing chairman of the American Bankers Association. “This could result in 2.9 million fewer jobs being created.” (emphasis added)

First, let’s deal with the “burdensome red tape” argument.  One of the more intriguing parts of the ABA’s assault on the reforms has been to send their lobbyists by the brigade load to help write agency rules to meet their needs, and then to complain vociferously that the rules are “too complicated.” The former head of the FDIC explains:

“As to complaints from the banks that overlapping regulations are adding complexity without benefit, Bair suggests that perhaps reforms like the Volcker rule would be less complex had bank lobbyists not pushed for so many exceptions and clarifications to accommodate for industry concerns.” [Forbes]

Secondly, what Senator Heller is taking as a “will,” as in the implementation of the Dodd Frank Act will cause job losses is actually a “could” in the original article he cites.  Furthermore, the ABA spokesperson is projecting out to 2015.  I could just as easily argue that problems in the EuroZone will depress the global economy by 2015, but that doesn’t mean we should stop doing business with France or Germany because issues their monetary system could affect us.

Third, it’s more than a little ironic to have Senator Heller seeking to substantiate his Independence From the MegaBanks and Wall Street by citing the arguments made by MegaBanks and Wall Street (ABA) in opposition to the Dodd Frank Act, in a publication the editorial policy of which represents Wall Street interests.

Finally, compare the “could cost” jobs contention with the reality that self regulation and de-regulation in which the Housing Bubble Blossomed, the Mortgages Melted Down, and the Financial Sector Seized Up, cost the real American economy all manner of REAL jobs.

Are there “unaccountable” government agencies and offices? NO.
There are two provisions of the statute which precipitated this charge.  The first, and most obvious, target was the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  “The bureau’s goals include scrutinizing major violations of mortgage disclosure laws and other infractions at firms that could cause consumers to unwittingly sign up for risky loans. It also examines whether credit card forms issued by big banks are misleading.” [NYT] Right off the bat we can tell these activities weren’t going to be popular with the MegaBanks and the Wall Street investment firms.

Arguments from the Bankers give the impression that the CFPB is some rogue organization out to haunt the bankers with little or no oversight. In reality the CFPB is a division of the Department of the Treasury.   Additionally, Section 1017(e)(4) of the Dodd-Frank Act gives the Bureau a statutory responsibility to present an annual report to the Congress. Thus, the leadership of the agency are subject to confirmation by the Senate, the bureau is under the administrative jurisdiction of the Treasury Department, and it is required to prepare annual reports for the Congress.  Hardly the structure of an “unaccountable agency.”

The hard truth is that the bankers, mortgage originators, mortgage securitizers, and the credit card companies didn’t want ANY agency, and if one had to be created they wanted it to be ensconced in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an agency which sees its mission as protecting banks  and not consumer advocacy. [ISLR] This would also be the same agency which over-ruled state consumer protection statutes beginning in 1998.* [ConsumersUnion]

Again, there’s no small amount of irony in Senator Heller’s claim to be independent of banking sector influence while touting the talking points from the bank lobbyists who tried their hardest to either kill the agency protecting consumers, or if its death weren’t an option, then to put it under the administrative jurisdiction of an agency well known for being more concerned with banks than with their customers.

The Financial Stability Oversight Council is a second target of the banker’s objections.  It, too, is under the administrative jurisdiction of the Department of the Treasury.  The function of this council, created by Title I of the Dodd Frank Act, is to “(1)  identify the risks to the financial stability of the United States from both financial and non-financial organizations, (2) promote market discipline, by eliminating expectations that the Government will shield them from losses in the event of failure, and (3) respond to emerging threats to the stability of the US financial system.”

In short, banks and investment operations will be scrutinized to see if they are creating a financial situation which threatens the stability of our economic system, and will be told in no uncertain terms that if they are a threat then NO BAILOUTS will be forthcoming.  Although, bankruptcy and resolution might be.

What the FSOC does is to get all the regulators in the same room.  The Secretary of the Treasury is the chair, and voting members include the Federal Reserve chairman, the Comptroller of the Currency, the director of the CFPB, the chair of the SEC, the chair of the FDIC, the chair of the CFTC, the director of the FHFA, the chair of the National Credit Union Administration Board, and one independent member appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.  [FSOC]

Ultra-conservative organizations allied with the bankers and Wall Street investment firms have thus far criticized the FSOC as an unconstitutional power grab and alternately as an organization incapable of getting anything done. [WaPo] [CEI]  Let’s return to the commentary pointing out that it is very difficult to get things moving, much less finalized, when industry lobbyists are pushing for exceptions and clarifications “to accommodate industry concerns.”

If Senator Heller is categorizing the FSOC as one of the “unaccountable government agencies and offices,” then he is objecting to a structure in which federal regulators have the opportunity to get on the same page.  The banking and financial sector fought the Dodd Frank Act oversight provisions saying that “de-regulation” and “self regulation” would suffice to prevent the next big market Bust.

If we aren’t convinced the bankers and financialists are still trying to make the argument for de-regulation and self regulation, then a snippet from last evening’s presidential debate from Governor Romney should make the point clearly:

“It’s been two years. We don’t know what a qualified mortgage is yet. So banks are reluctant to make loans, mortgages. Try and get a mortgage these days. It’s hurt the housing market because Dodd-Frank didn’t anticipate putting in place the kinds of regulations you have to have. It’s not that Dodd-Frank always was wrong with too much regulation. Sometimes they didn’t come out with a clear regulation.” [ABA]

And, a clear regulation would be what?  One that conforms to the interests of the mortgage originators? The bankers? The securitizers?  Of course the proponents of the Dodd Frank Act knew that regulations would have to be written to implement the bill — every bill requires that process!  What they also knew was that there would be industry/sector push back against any attempt to rein in the Wall Street Casino.

Apparently lost to Governor Romney is the fact that more stringent mortgage requirement are now in place, and the glut of no-doc subprime Heaven only knows what the rates will be mortgages which fed the securitization machine feeding in turn the Housing Bubble, is Kaput.  Unless, he’d like to go back to the Good Old Days of Synthetic CDOs based on those no-doc hybrid adjustable rate mortgages which proved so deleterious to the American economy?  We’ve tried self regulation and de-regulation and look what it got us in 2007-2008.

If Senator Heller is nostalgic for the days of self regulation and de-regulation then he’d by all means seek to dismantle the two government offices newly responsible for the oversight and supervision of our financial services.  However, to do so invites precisely the kind of behavior on the part of the financialists which got us in deep trouble — from which we are still trying to dig our way out.  His response to Rep. Berkley merely serves to illustrate his adoption of the MegaBank and Wall Street party line, and his ties to the financial sector rather than his independence from it. Or, as an elderly relative once put it: If you Quack like a duck, don’t get upset when someone calls you  a Mallard.

Representative Berkley’s support for the Dodd Frank Act, with its reforms of the oversight and supervision of our financial institutions, demonstrates a far better understanding of the necessity to restrain the excesses of a financial environment in which short term profits are given greater weight than long term economic stability.

References and Additional Reading:  “Dodd-Frank Rules Will Crush Employment, Banks Warn,” Investor’s Business Daily, Paul Sperry, December 12, 2011.  Representative Spencer Bachus, HFSC. citing IBD article.  “Real Talk With Sheila Bair,” Forbes, July 25, 2012. Jeremy Hobson, “Former Regulator…,” MarketPlace.Org, September 25, 2012.  CFPB report archives, as of October, 4, 2012. * “OCC’S AGGRESSIVE PREEMPTION OF  STATES’ CONSUMER BANKING PROTECTIONS, Consumers Union, July 17, 1998.   USPIRG, “Consumer, Civil Rights Groups Attack New Proposed Rule Preempting State Consumer Protection Laws,” May 26, 2011.   Bloomberg News, “U.S. Treasury Criticizes Currency Comptroller on State Rules,” June 28, 2011.   Jeanine H. Arnett, Director, Government Relations & Public Policy, AFP, “Geithner Gives New Life to Money-Market Fund Proposals,” September 28, 2012.  Congressional Research Service, “Financial Stability Oversight Council: A
Framework to Mitigate Systemic Risk,” (pdf) November 15, 2011. ABA Reform Tracker, Dodd Frank, October 4, 2012.

Comments Off on Berkley Better on Financial Regulation Reform

Filed under 2012 election, Berkley, Economy, financial regulation, Heller, Nevada politics

Berkley Better on Banking

Granted, it’s no surprise a progressive blog would endorse the candidacy of Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) for the Nevada Senate seat — but this isn’t a patellar reflex test.   Anyone who has been reading this blog for over a week knows that this is the place wherein a person should expect a heavy dose of “Please Can We Save Capitalism From The Wall Street Wizards Who Feel Entitled To Have Taxpayers Cover Their Losses While They Reap All The Profits.”  Or, can we please just save Capitalism?

Representative Berkley summed the regulatory situation up nicely,”As we rebuild our economy, we must put in place common-sense rules to ensure Big Banks and Wall Street can’t play Russian Roulette again with our futures. Wall Street may be bouncing back, but we know from experience they’re not going to police themselves.”

She’s located the problem creators precisely.  Big Banks and Wall Street investment firms played fast and loose with the U.S. housing market.  The aftermath is still visible on the Nevada landscape.  Foreclosures are still  moving forward in the Silver State.   And, yes, we do know that the Big Banks and the Wall Street investment firms have little inclination to rein in their trading activities if such action might cut into their revenues — and bonuses.

Personally, I didn’t get all I wanted from the Dodd Frank Act.   I’d have been a far happier camper if synthetic credit default obligations were flat illegal.  I’d have been happier if the betting with credit default swaps was more severely curtailed.  I’d have been gleeful if the act had made securitization more rational.  However, we did get (1) clearinghouse oversight of some derivatives, (2) a consumer protection bureau to supervise the more egregious practices of some mortgage marketers, (3) a rational system to determine systemic risk to our banking sector, and  (4) an orderly liquidation authority provision to replace the bankruptcy/bailout mentality on Wall Street and in Washington, D.C.

Representative Berkley supported the Dodd-Frank Act, on December 11, 2009 she voted in favor of the bill.  Representative Dean Heller (R-NV2) voted against it. [GovTrack]   There is more than a little irony in the protestations coming from Senator Heller about being “against bank bailouts,” when his vote was one to preserve the bailout/bankruptcy option status quo on Wall Street.  Far from being an affirmation of ‘bail outs,’ the Dodd Frank Act provides a resolution process to wind down banks which have the potential to cause chaos similar to the Lehman Bros. collapse.

To pound on this point a step further, the opposition to the orderly liquidation authority came from Wall Street and the Big Banks, and early in the game from Big Bank allies at Treasury and the FED.   The crucial question concerned who would get burned in the event of a meltdown.  Under the old system a Big Bank facing insolvency or illiquidity faced two options — (1) either collapse into bankruptcy; allowing the counter-parties to dodgy portfolios to grab their collateral and run, while battalions of bankruptcy attorneys fought endlessly over the remains; or (2) get “certified” as a Systemic Risk and have the Treasury Department organize a bail out.   The Big Banks calculated that the Treasury and Federal Reserve wouldn’t want a repetition of the Lehman Debacle and would ride to the rescue.

The arguments from the Big Banks were predictable — the new statutory requirements for the liquidation process weren’t  sufficiently transparent; this coming from Big Banks which had squealed the loudest about opening their books for inspection.  The new liquidation authority would cause increased bank consolidation — which was happening already because larger, better managed, banks were buying up the flotsam and jetsam in the wake of Washington Mutual, Wachovia etc.  And, finally new regulations were unnecessary because such commercial banks as Wells Fargo and Bank of America weren’t dependent on proprietary trading for their major income.  The latter is an interesting proposition because it’s perfectly possible to have a commercial bank with solid conservative management owned by a bank holding company which is a complete mess.

So, instead of a resolution authority which allows regulators to keep the bank stabilized while finding buyers for the good stuff, fencing off the bad junk, and preventing the counter-parties from running away with their stash before any other creditors can even get in line — the Big Banks wanted “better bankruptcy laws…” and the Good Old Days …with bailouts.  Then Representative  Heller was happy to oblige.   Not only did he oblige once, he obliged twice — voting against the conference report on the Dodd Frank Act H.R. 4173 on June 30, 2010. [GovTrack] Representative Berkley voted in favor of the conference report on H.R. 4173 (111th).

Want a Senator not quite so obliging and beholding to the interest of the Wall Street Wizards and the Big Banks?  The choice would be Berkley.

References and Additional Recommended Reading Hardee, North Carolina School of Law, “Orderly Liquidation Authority, 4/4/2011. (pdf) Guynn, St. Louis Federal Reserve, “The FDIC’s New Resolution Authority under the Dodd-Frank Act: Will it Work and Can It Prevent “Too Big to Fail”? Sept. 2010. (pdf) Erickson & Fucile, “Dodd Frank Reforms After 2 Years,” Center for American Progress, July 20, 2012.  Hal S. Scott, “The Reduction of Systemic Risk, Capital Markets Regulation, Nomura School of Business, Harvard University, (pdf).  American Academy of Actuaries, “Federal Insurance Regulations and Systemic Risk, links to articles.   Frank, “Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection,” U.S. House, Summary.   H.R. 4173 (111th Congress) Bill Summary and History, GovTrackCongressional Research Service, “Financial Regulatory Reform and the 111th Congress,” June 1, 2010.  SIFMA, (Dugan, Ryan) “Bloomberg View Op-ed: Ryan and Dugan – Too Big to Fail? Then Get a Living Will,” June 27, 2012.

Comments Off on Berkley Better on Banking

Filed under 2012 election, banking, Berkley, Economy, financial regulation

Nevada Senate Race News Roundup: With Hobos

And they’re off!   The Reno-Gazette Journal gives a blow by blow rendition of the match between Senator By Appointment Only™ Dean Heller (R-NV) and Representative Shelley Berkley (D-NV1).   Senator Heller denied ever ever calling Nevadans who collect unemployment benefits “hobos.”   The Las Vegas Sun also summarizes the rounds.   About that “hobo” thing

Here’s the original from February 23, 2010 from the Elko Daily Free Press (via LVSun)

Heller said the current economic downturn and policies may bring back the hobos of the Great Depression, people who wandered the country taking odd jobs.

He said a study found that people who are out of work longer than two years have only a 50 percent chance of getting back into the workforce.

“I believe there should be a federal safety net,” Heller said, but he questioned the wisdom of extending unemployment benefits yet again to a total of 24 months, which Congress is doing.

Spin Check Time:  Senator Heller didn’t exactly equate Nevadans drawing unemployment benefits with the hobos of the Great Depression (actually hobos have a much longer and more colorful history), but the use of the term in the same sentence with a discussion of those drawing temporary unemployment benefits was unfortunate, and a bit crude.

What Senator Heller did say falls into the Red Meat for the Tea Party types who associate any form of government assistance with “socialism” and who all too often draw upon racial stereotypes to bemoan an ideological myth of the “Dependent Society.”  This isn’t all that far from Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s line about the 47% of Americans who are freeloaders and moochers, in terms of decrying the availability of government programs to assist those in need, and those who don’t earn enough to be liable for federal income taxes.

One  hallmark of GOP/Tea Party ideology is that government programs have the potential to reduce individual initiative — a theory popularized by the publication of President Herbert Hoover’s Rugged Individualism speech given on October 22, 1928.   Almost exactly one year later, October 24-28, 1929 the speculation fueled stock market crashed in a heap.

The problem is that “rugged individualism” requires the revision of U.S. history — from a nation founded by groups of settlers, corporate in Virginia and religious organizations in Massachusetts, from traditions of communal barn raisings and quilting bees, and from wagon trains (only a few fools went west without company) to a nation supposedly inhabited by those who eschewed the accretion of communal power in the form of unions and government regulation of commerce.

There are distinct echos of President Hoover’s version of America in the rhetoric of Senator Heller and Governor Romney.

Meanwhile back to the debate, another report of the debate can be found in the Las Vegas Review Journal.    The Nevada Progressive has more, including the Hobo Narrative.

Comments Off on Nevada Senate Race News Roundup: With Hobos

Filed under 2012 election, Berkley, Heller, Nevada politics

Papers Please: Berkley, Heller, on Immigration

A Nation of Immigrants:  (Unless, of course, you happen to be Native American) Immigration advocacy groups are watching the Nevada Senate race between Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) and Senator By Appointment Only™  Dean Heller (R-NV).  Ideological descendants of the Know Nothings, a political party of the mid 19th century devoted to telling the American public about the dire consequences of allowing too many Irish immigrants inside our borders,  are supporting  Sen. Heller.

Efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform have foundered amidst nativists characterization of any ‘path to citizenship’ as a form of ‘amnesty.’  The McCain-Kennedy Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 hit these shoals, and even efforts by President George W. Bush in June 2007 were insufficient to save it from Congressional opposition.  Senator Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) S. 1258 version of Comprehensive Immigration Reform was introduced on June 22, 2011 and promptly went nowhere.  Efforts to alter the 14th Amendment are even more disconcerting.

Amendment XIV, Section 1: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. ” (emphasis added)

On April 2, 2009 then Representative Heller co-sponsored H.R. 1868, the Birthright Citizenship Act,  which “Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to consider a person born in the United States “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States for citizenship at birth purposes if the person is born in the United States of parents, one of whom is: (1) a U.S. citizen or national; (2) a lawful permanent resident alien whose residence is in the United States; or (3) an alien performing active service in the U.S. Armed Forces.”

Lost amid the anti-immigrant rhetoric is the obvious problem for every American family — IF a birth certificate is NOT considered the basic document for citizenship in this country, then all parents after the date of enactment would be required to prove that the child is born of a U.S. citizen, or of lawful permanent residents, or of a non-citizen serving in the U.S. military.  Immigration attorneys admit the process is cumbersome and can hinge on questions of the gender of the parent, or the marital status of the parents. [IPO]

In short, in a rather blatant effort to curtail immigration from Mexico and Central America, the Republicans would create problems not only for the Sanchez family recently arrived, but also for the descendants of the Sanchez family, residents of New Mexico since the arrival of the Spanish caravans in the Tewa village of  Ohkay Owingeh on July 11, 1598.

However, Senator Heller seems not to have contemplated the consequences of tinkering with the 14th Amendment to sate the appetites of the nativists,  and how that might affect all American families.   Seen from this perspective, Rep. Berkley should wear her “D+” from the anti-immigrant NumbersUSA as a badge of honor.

For additional information see the posting at this link.

1 Comment

Filed under 2012 election, Berkley, Heller, Immigration, Nativism

Clips and Quotes: Tuesday Morning News

** Governor Romney is back on the hustings with his Coupon Conservatism in full sail — this time on education.  This topic has been covered before, Federal funding for K-12 education isn’t a single large pot portioned out on a per child basis. The Governor would like to have Nevada schools enmeshed in a highly, and unnecessarily, complicated system in which funding follows the individual child — want a bureaucratic nightmare of Brobdingnagian proportions? This would do it.  Explanation here.

** Good news, the NV Progressive reports Democrats have a 65,000 person lead in Nevada voter registration.   The Gleaner takes on the Nevada senate race here and here. Ralston’s Reality Check (video) has some interesting points to make about Rep. Shelley Berkley’s ad questioning Sen. Dean Heller’s relationship with felon — it gets an A-.  Sebelius adds some insight and video at Slash/Politics.   Berkley and Heller debate on September 27, and the Washoe County Democrats are hosting a watch party; details here.

** Nevada’s own Sheldon Adelson continues to set records for spreading money in the expressed intent to promote his personal interests:

“Adelson has made history: He is the first person to spend $70 million to sway a presidential election, and he plans to spend more — perhaps as much as $100 million — by Election Day. An estimated $20 million to $30 million of the giving went to groups that do not disclose their donors and had not been reported before.”  [LVSun]

Mr. Adelson would, no doubt, like to make those pesky investigations into his operations in Macau go very very far away.   Ed Kilgore has more about “Adelson’s Ideological Dollars.”  Highly recommended reading.

** Since we qualify as a battleground state for some reason defying our actual number of electoral college votes, The Examiner reports President Obama leads on the Medicare issue.   Here’s a picture:

** Suppression Congestion:  The Pennsylvania lower court, instructed to re-hear arguments in the vote suppression scheme in that state, will take the case today. More at Crooks and Liars.   The Atlantic has an excellent piece describing the impact the Pennsylvania law has on elderly voters.    As former President Clinton put it back on September 4th — vote suppression is an act of desperation.

** Arithmetic:  The conservative economist whose work Governor Romney is fond of citing to support his tax shaft shift to middle income Americans — not…so…much:

“Conservative economists have tried make the numbers work. Martin Feldstein — a Harvard professor and president emeritus of the National Bureau of Economic Research — released a paper arguing that the targets could be met if “middle class” is defined downward — specifically if Romney increases the tax burden on incomes between $100,000 and $250,000 to pay for tax rate cuts for everyone else. Feldstein’s report ratified the Tax Policy Center’s broad thesis that Romney’s 20 percent tax rate cuts could not be offset merely by unwinding deductions and credits for the wealthy — families typically defined by both parties as middle class would also have to take a hit.”  [TPM]


Comments Off on Clips and Quotes: Tuesday Morning News

Filed under 2012 election, Adelson, Berkley, education, Heller, Medicare, Romney, tax revenue, Taxation, Vote Suppression, Voting

Walking Pigs and the Nevada Senate Race

Senator By Appointment Only™ Dean Heller (R-NV) would have us believe that Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) is “disqualified” from service in the U.S. Senate because of “ethical questions.”  A succinct recapitulation:  “Heller is using money provided by a disgraced skank and recurring star of CREW’s list to buy ads saying that Berkley can’t be in the U.S. Senate because she’s on CREW’s list. Hypocrite? Or just a Republican? Ha. Trick question obvsly.” [TG]

One evening in October
When I was about one-third sober
And was taking home a load with manly pride
My poor feet began to stutter
So I lay down in the gutter
And a pig came up and lay down by my side

The recurring headliner of the CREW list, Senator David Vitter (R-LA), has, indeed, been generous to Senator Heller:

Then we sang “It’s All Fair Weather”
And “Good Fellows Get Together”
Till a lady passing by was heard to say
She says, “You can tell a man who boozes
By the company he chooses”
And the pig got up and slowly walked away

Comments Off on Walking Pigs and the Nevada Senate Race

Filed under 2012 election, Berkley, Heller, Nevada politics, Politics

Senator Heller: Any Talking Point In A Storm

Nevadans have a relatively clear choice in the 2012 election between two Senate candidates who are examples of two entirely different political and economic philosophies.   Senator (By Appointment Only™) Dean Heller (R-NV), who has demonstrated a few precious moments of moderation, has more often illustrated the politics of the Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) brand of ultra-right side of the aisle protection of corporate and financial interests.  His opponent Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) has more often sided with the interests of middle class working families, consumers, and small business interests.

Our first clue that Double Dean Heller isn’t espousing a critical view of large corporate and financial institutions in America comes from his choice of buzz-words.  He is pleased to tell us that he voted against “taxing small businesses and job creators.” [Heller]

It should be remembered at this point that Senator Heller supports the Republican expansive definition of what constitutes a “small business,” i.e.  The differentiation between small business enterprises as they are commonly known, and small business enterprises as they are generously defined by the Republican Party has been discussed at some length previously; notably HERE, and  here in a 2010 post.   Cutting to the chase, the GOP definition includes K-Street lobby shops, some major law firms, and anyone else who can squeeze into the “small business” tent because they employ fewer than 500 people.

Secondly, Senator Heller’s use of the term “job creators,” is instructive.   There’s nothing particularly original about the term, in fact if we climb in the political time capsule and return to 1993 we’ll find the Republican members of Congress balking at President Bill Clinton’s upper income tax hikes, calling them “job killing.”  “At issue was President Bill Clinton’s $496 billion program of stimulus and upper income tax increases. And what Republicans then decried as disaster ushered in the longest economic expansion in modern American history, a period which produced 23 million new jobs and a balanced budget.” [Perrs]

Not only is there nothing new about the “job creators” term, if the object is to reduce the federal deficit and to create jobs in the United States, then the Clinton tax hikes and economic policies were Job Creating.  Witness the following chart from the Center For American Progress:

This somewhat elderly tried and true graphic shows the marginal tax rates at the bottom — note what’s NOT happening in terms of job growth in the left hand side of the chart.  While there may be several factors in play concerning tax rates and job growth, what cannot be demonstrated is a causal relationship between low marginal income tax rates and increased employment.

Additionally, IF balancing the federal budget is a desirable thing, and Senator Heller touts his votes for various balanced budget legislation, then one obvious way to do that is to follow the recent example of the Clinton Administration and raise the marginal rates on the wealthiest among us — the 0.1% — and seek to replicate the budget balancing accomplishment of the Clinton Administration which left office with a tidy surplus. [FactCheck]

There’s another graphic we should dust off and  haul out of the vaults one more time, because it serves to illustrate the difference between Budget Deficit Hawks and Budget Deficit Chicken Hawks, a Chicken Hawk being one who squawks loudly about “OMG the sky is falling we have a no-good horrible terrible heinous humdinger of a deficit/debt” and then supports the very policies that created the aforementioned debt.

Again, what’s that wide swath of burnt orange comprising the largest portion of contributing factors to the current deficit?  BUSH TAX CUTS.   Who still supports extending the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthiest Americans?  Senator Dean Heller (R-NV).

The Case of the Small Business Jobs Act

One piece of legislation we can use as a touchstone to measure willingness to support the interests of small businesses is the 2010 Small Business Jobs Act.

On Sept. 27, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Small Business Jobs Act, the most significant piece of small business legislation in over a decade. The new law is providing critical resources to help small businesses continue to drive economic recovery and create jobs. The new law extended the successful SBA enhanced loan provisions while offering billions more in lending support, tax cuts, and other opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners. [SBA]

When the bill came up for a vote in the House of Representatives on June 17, 2010 one member of the Nevada Congressional delegation voted in favor of the bill — Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV1); Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV2) voted against it. [GovTrack]

The Case of the Economic Development Revitalization Act

Section Seven of the EDR Act in the 112th Congress would have boosted the U.S. economy, with specific attention on public works construction projects and planning:

“Modifies provisions regarding grants for planning and administrative expenses for public works and economic development to authorize funding for: (1) fostering regional collaboration among local jurisdictions and organizations, and (2) facilitating a stakeholder process that assists the community or region in creating an economic development vision that takes into account local and regional assets and global economic change. Requires any overall state economic development planning assisted to be part of a comprehensive planning process that considers the provision of public works to support practices that enhance energy and water efficiency, reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, and encourage efficient coordination and leveraging of public and private investments.”

However, this provision and others in the bill which might have boosted the lagging construction sector faced the usual Republican filibuster in the Senate.  When a cloture vote was called on June 21, 2011 Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) voted to sustain the Republican filibuster. [roll call 94]

The vote is interesting given that in February 2011 the situation in the Nevada construction sector was pretty dismal:

About 70,000 of the 180,000 jobs lost in Nevada during the recession were construction related, said Bill Anderson, chief economist of the Nevada Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation.

Some of those workers told lawmakers that they are still out of work after being unemployed for two to three years.  [RGJ]

The problem with the opposition logic to public works bills is that if a significant sector is experiencing high unemployment a drag is created on local economies because of lost wages and salaries.  Lower wages or lost wages mean less demand, and less demand further depresses the local economy.  For all the fretting about the perils of inflation, it’s the deflation cycle which puts the greatest strain on economies.  If we’re truly worried about a long and tedious recovery from the Crash of 2008, then one way to speed up the process would be to relieve the drag created by long term unemployment in the construction sector.  This would benefit construction companies and their employees.

The Case of the American Jobs Act

S. 1549, sponsored by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), another attempt to move Congress off the dime and move on infrastructure needs and construction industry hiring, was introduced in the Senate on September 13, 2011 — and it’s still sitting there — locked in the logjam that has become the legislative process in Washington, D.C.

When a portion of the bill was brought forward to provide funds to hire teachers and first responders on October 20, 2011, Senator Heller voted against it.  [TPG]   Senator Heller castigated the bill as “another stimulus,” and pointed to the “failure” of the initial ARRA to put a dent in Nevada’s unemployment rate.  Senator Heller was at some pains to posit a direct correlation between a bevy of legislation and the increase in Nevada unemployment rate.  [YouTubeVideo] If anyone is looking for a classic presentation of post hoc ergo propter hoc this would be it.

That the ARRA failed is an article of faith among Republicans, and that’s all it is because the numbers don’t support the contention.

From the Congressional Budget Office: What did the Stimulus Bills do?

They raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product by between 1.1 percent and 3.1 percent,  Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.6 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points, Increased the number of people employed by between 1.2 million and 3.3 million, and Increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 1.6 million to 4.6 million compared with what would have occurred otherwise. (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers).

The Congressional Budget Office wasn’t the only source of optimism, “The End of the Great Recession,” authored by Mark Zandi (Moody’s) and Alan S. Blinder, Princeton University, (pdf)  noted what Senator Heller failed to acknowledge — that without the ARRA (Stimulus) and other federal interventions the Recession could have been far worse.  The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (pdf) also weighed in making an astute observation that economic multipliers may have differing impact on national and regional numbers, but the effect was essentially the same — ARRA saved jobs.

Both Ways?

Our first clue that Senator Heller is repeating Party talking points rather than offering substantive proposals for economic growth was the “jobs creator – small business” rhetoric.  It sounds ever so much nicer to speak of those in the top 0.1% of American income earners as “job creators” than to describe them as hedge fund managers, financial sector executives, and merger & acquisition specialists.

Our second clue is that Senator Heller seems impervious to hard data on the source of our current federal deficit and debt, and the lack of a causal connection between marginal income tax rates and actual economic growth.

The third clue is that Senator Heller has voted against or refused to support bills that would relieve unemployment in the public sector (teachers, police, firefighters) and to create jobs in the hard pressed Nevada construction sector.

The fourth clue is that Senator Heller relies on the post hoc ergo propter hoc   fallacy to justify his opposition to any legislation which might serve to enhance “economic multipliers” or to save or create jobs.  Again, he espouses the GOP Article of Faith (All Stimulus Measures Were Failures — which the Republicans were announcing before the laws took full effect) rather than look to the actual numbers.

Doubling down on talking points doth not an economic vision make.

Comments Off on Senator Heller: Any Talking Point In A Storm

Filed under 2012 election, Berkley, Economy, Heller, Nevada politics, Politics, public employees