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Southern Nevada’s plethora of Democratic congressional candidates no longer have an excuse to delay announcing which district they will run for next year.
Carson District Judge James T. Russell today approved new district maps drawn by his three court masters after weeks of public hearings and number crunching.
Neither Republicans nor Democrats voiced an objection to the maps that reject the GOP argument that Hispanic voters were entitled to a majority-minority district under the Voting Rights Act.
Lawyers for both Republicans and Democrats said they need to review changes that Russell made to the Senate districts drawn by the masters before deciding whether to appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.
Republicans had objected to the way the masters drew the Senate districts, arguing they gave an unfair advantage to Democrats in three Southern Nevada districts.
Russell rejected that argument, but said state Sen. Barbara Cegavaske’s district was too irregularly shaped to comply with the law. His changes had little impact on the partisan registration of the three districts Republicans objected to.
Rural lawmakers expressed dismay Tuesday with the latest redistricting maps that would add a big chunk of northern Clark County to the rural state Senate District 19.
While Washoe County would likely be represented by four state senators, the same number it currently has, rural Nevada would go from three representatives to two if not one.
“It dilutes the ‘cow counties,’ ” said Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka. (He’s a rancher, and therefore allowed to use the sometimes-pejorative vernacular for the state’s less-populated counties.)
“The rurals are entitled to be represented like any other minority.”
Eureka County objected to the Senate maps. Former Elko Assemblyman John Carpenter, who served 24 years in the Legislature, also lodged the same complaint, saying Elko County would also include parts of Clark County including west of North Las Vegas and Mount Charleston.
Carpenter said, “My greatest fear is that someday the northern rural counties, the cow counties, would be represented by a senator from Southern Nevada.”
A Stronger Health Care System for Nevada:
518,000 residents who are uninsured and 132,000 residents who have individual market insurance will gain access to affordable coverage.
311,000 residents will qualify for premium tax credits to help them purchase health coverage.
328,000 seniors will receive free preventive services and 58,200 seniors will have their drug costs in the Medicare Part D “donut hole” covered over time.
30,300 small businesses will be eligible for tax credits for premiums.
9,400 young adults will be eligible for quality affordable coverage through their parents
Premium Tax Credits to Expand Private Insurance Coverage in Nevada:
Reform will provide $5 billion in premium tax credits and cost-sharing tax credits for residents in Nevada from 2014 to 2019 to purchase private health insurance.
Health insurance reform will lower premiums in the nongroup market by 14 to 20% for the same benefits – premium savings of $1,380 to $1,970 for a family in Nevada.
Increased Medicaid Support:
The Federal government will fully fund the coverage expansion for the first three years of the policy, and continue substantial support, paying for 90% of costs after 2020, compared to Nevada’s current FMAP of 50.2%.
In total, Nevada could receive $3.6 billion more dollars in federal funds for Medicaid as a result of the expansion from 2014 to 2019.
Improved Value for Medicare Advantage:
The 228,000 seniors in Nevada who are not enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan will no longer cross subsidize these private plans, saving $45 in premium costs per year.
The proposal will gradually move toward a fair payment system that rewards performance.
While the White House tried to avoid predicting how many homeowners would benefit from the revamped refinancing program, the Federal Housing Finance Administration estimated an additional 1 million people would qualify. Moody's Analytics say the figure could be as high as 1.6 million.
Under Obama's proposal, homeowners who are still current on their mortgages would be able to refinance no matter how much their home value has dropped below what they still owe.
"Now, over the past two years, we've already taken some steps to help folks refinance their mortgages," Obama said, listing a series of measures. "But we can do more."
At the same time, Obama acknowledged that his latest proposal will not do all that's not needed to get the housing market back on its feet. "Given the magnitude of the housing bubble, and the huge inventory of unsold homes in places like Nevada, it will take time to solve these challenges," he said.
Under the new program, homeowners who are current on their payments, have government-backed mortgages and who are up to 25 percent underwater will qualify for refinancing to a lower interest rate.
Although the program doesn’t address principal balances, it would make monthly payments more affordable, giving homeowners more money to spend, stimulating the economy.
The new program would also increase the ability of major banks to compete for the refinancing business, eliminate the need for an appraisal in many cases and reduce refinancing fees — all good things for Nevada homeowners, said Nasser Daneshvary, director of the Lied Institute for Real Estate Studies at UNLV.
“This is huge,” Daneshvary said. “If this is implemented, people really can find solutions now.”
On one side are demographic trends that favor Democrats—rising levels of racial diversity, education, and urbanization. On the other is the ideological backlash that the party has repeatedly faced across the region, particularly from whites, when it has controlled the White House and implemented a national Democratic agenda.
President Obama and the Republican presidential contenders who gathered here on Tuesday for their most voluble debate yet all have much at stake in how those competing dynamics intersect in 2012. Obama could struggle in the graying blue-collar Midwestern states that once tipped national elections. That will increase the pressure on him to defend his 2008 victories in Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico, which constitute part of a new arc of youthful and growing swing states emerging across the Sun Belt. Once, the Mountain West was a luxury for Democrats; now, it looks like a necessity.
But Democrats were again routed across the region in 2010 (losing seven House seats and two governorships) as they faced both economic discontent and the widespread sense that Obama was spending and regulating too much. Like the backlash against Clinton, that avalanche raises doubts that Democrats, for all their demographic advantages, can solidify enough support for their national agenda to maintain a lasting edge in these states.
Next year’s election should offer more answers. With the economy still lagging, Obama’s regional standing “has not recovered at all” since 2010, says independent pollster Floyd Ciruli, who is based in Denver. Fewer Democrats talk of flipping Arizona or Montana. And the party faces tough battles in four regional Senate races.
If Obama has been so successful in foreign policy, why has he been so unsuccessful on domestic issues? [...]
So what’s the deal?
It isn't that he's escaped criticism on foreign policy. Republicans -- heck, even some Democrats -- have been critical of Obama's moves. But what he's done has, in the main, worked.
No, domestically the problem is that Obama's opponents have turned criticism into obstructionism. Unlike his foreign policies, Obama's efforts to fix the economy have been thwarted at every turn by Republicans. [...]
The bottom line? It's wrong to say the president's domestic policies haven't worked when those policies haven't even been given the chance to work.
Abroad, Obama has been allowed to set policy, and those policies have been given time to work. And, for the most part, they have.
Perhaps if Republicans gave the president that same leeway on domestic policy, we might be winning some battles at home, too.
Mitt Romney’s solution to the housing crisis in Nevada — foreclose on thousands of unlucky families so investors can scoop up real estate bargains that they can rent out — perfectly illustrates the real agenda of Wall Street and the GOP: return us to the two-class landlord system of Dickensian England, where the wealthy, aristocratic lords owned all the land, and the other 99 percent, the working class and peasantry, had to rent from them.
Wake up, America! When the middle class is gone, so is the American dream.
Hard as it is to hear for Las Vegas residents, Romney might be right, according to real estate experts and economists from across the spectrum.
Preventing the bubble by raising interest rates and enforcing tougher lending standards was the proper policy. Once the bubble inflated, however, it had to deflate and prices had to reach equilibrium before there could be any recovery. [...]
For whatever you think of Romney and his callous message to Nevadans, the lesson here is this: Once you’ve fallen for the scam — be it Tulips in 1630, Pets.com in 1999, or Las Vegas houses in 2005 — you shouldn’t expect to get repaid. The money wasn’t there in the first place.
The conservative whipping boy of the 2008 [financial crisis] was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.** The GOP did everything in their power to steer focus away from the deregulation of Wall Street banks. They blamed people taking on more risk than they could afford. They didn’t blame the banks for providing the mechanisms to attract people into the market in the first place. Mechanisms like no doc loans, adjustable rate mortgages and no down payment loans were created by the Wall Street banks in order to increase customers into the housing market.
(** Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are publicly traded companies on Wall Street)
Deregulation made this obtainable and possible. In a free market, banks should be allowed to offer what ever they want in order to attract consumption. The free market also allows mergers and acquisitions, thus creating TOO BIG TO FAIL.
If progressive policies were in place, all these financial mechanisms would be illegal. In fact, if progressive regulations were in place, too big too fail banks would also be illegal making this collapse of 2008 not even part of our history. There was a reason why there weren’t any bank bailouts from the 1940s to 1980s, it was progressive policies that were put in place by FDR and upheld by every administration until Reagan.
The 2008 collapse spurred the Dodd-Frank bill, and while this bill does not address as many problems as I and many other progressives would like, it does address financial mechanisms that attract people into the market that they would otherwise not be in. The Dodd-Frank bill creates a regulation mandating 10-20% down payment on mortgages.
The fact remains that 1 million homeowners are expected to go into foreclosure this year, producing a serious drag on the economy. As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a speech today, “the housing sector has been a significant driver of recovery from most recessions in the United States since World War II, but this time — with an overhang of distressed and foreclosed properties, tight credit conditions for builders and potential homebuyers, and ongoing concerns by both potential borrowers and lenders about continued house price declines — the rate of new home construction has remained at less than one-third of its pre-crisis peak.”
Nevada has moved its caucus date to Feb. 4, ending a long standoff between the state and New Hampshire, the state and the national Republican organizations, and several of the Republican candidates, including frontrunner Herman Cain.
"We just basically want to be the adults in the room here," Nevada GOP chairwoman Amy Tarkanian said. "This has turned into a huge debacle... It’s unnecesasary, it’s turned into a distraction."
"We will be the good guys in the end because we don’t need to be New Hampshire’s piñata," she said.
Today #nvdems doing voter reg & #NVcaucus recruitment all over state. #nvgop arguing over right to call someone a jerk at #nvgopcc.
For those of you unfamiliar with how a successful Caucus works, the idea pioneered by the Nevada Democratic Party in 2008 was: get as many people to turn out as possible, especially non-partisans. Register as many people on Caucus day as possible, especially non-partisans. Make the attendees socialize in a big, noisy hall and force them to literally "stand" for their candidate. A little disorder is OK in exchange for excitement and relevance on a national scale.
The Nevada Republican Party has managed to set up a Caucus Program that will achieve NONE of those points. For example, if you want to be part of the NV Caucus, you will need to be a Republican for 30 [days] IN ADVANCE of [February 4], and you better be prepared to prove it buddy! Stupid, paranoid decision. [...]
The lack of campaigning by potential GOP nominees in the run up to the Caucus will absolutely hurt the Republicans in November, in both a missed opportunity to build a base of volunteers, as well as missing the chance to dominate the local headlines with free newsprint with stories about visiting candidates.
Ironically Nevada is the only one of the 4 Official "Early Primary" states that is also potential swing state in November. The prize of an early voting status, is to parley that status into a win on Election Day. The GOP botching the Caucus may cost them any chance at a Red Nevada in 2012.
So, today, I can report that as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.
Over the next two months our troops in Iraq, tens of thousands of them, will pack up their gear, and board convoys for the journey home. The last American soldier will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops. That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.
But even as we mark this important milestone, we’re also moving into a new phase in the relationship between the United States and Iraq. As of January first, and in keeping with our strategic framework agreement with Iraq, it will be a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interest and mutual respect.
As for what to do for the housing industry specifically, and are there things that you can do to encourage housing? One is don’t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom, allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up. The Obama administration has slow-walked the foreclosure processes that have long existed and as a result we still have a foreclosure overhang.
Romney’s callous disregard for families losing their homes through no fault of their own is bad enough. But it’s also not true that speeding foreclosures is good for the economy, as every foreclosure drags down the value of the homes around it. The Roosevelt Institute Mike Konczal has pointed to research showing that “foreclosures were responsible for 15% to 30% of the decline in residential investment from 2007 to 2009 and 20% to 40% of the decline in auto sales over the same period.”
And, of course, focusing only on those homeowners entering the foreclosure process legally ignores the vas amounts of fraud that banks perpetrated in order to speed foreclosures, such as robo-signing and fake notarization of documents. Romney already has the lobbyist for a notorious foreclosure mill fundraising for his campaign — perhaps he should take a moment, while he’s in Nevada, to talk to those who are on the other side of the equation.
Cain is championing the same group whose bad mortgage loans helped spur the financial implosion of 2008, has left over 1 million Americans with foreclosed homes, and may push an additional 5.9 million Americans to that outcome over the next few years. Banks and their lobbyists have openly “delayed, diluted, and obstructed attempts to address the problem.” Instead, banks unleashed “robo-signers,” officials who sign foreclosure forms without reading them, and managed to set a foreclosure record last year despite their self-imposed foreclosure moratoriums.
What’s more, by calling for an end to the Dodd-Frank regulations to protect foreclosure victims, Cain is jeopardizing key consumer protections for those looking to own a home. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency — which Republicans are hell-bent on obstructing — is designed to stop predatory lending by helping prevent mortgage brokers from putting borrowers into higher interest loans, regardless of their long-term ability to pay. The Dodd-Frank bill also stops banks from selling off an entire loan to avoid the risk of mortgage default, another problem that contributed to the financial meltdown. The law requires lenders to retain 5 percent of every loan — a policy banks are desperately trying to repeal.
"The Republicans want to take us low-income people, they want to take more taxes from us and give to the rich," Las Vegas resident Quenton Gavin said. "They're robbing us for what we don't have."
Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the nation and an ongoing foreclosure crisis. The GOP debate held there offered few solutions, focusing instead on attacking undocumented immigrants, repealing health care reform, slashing taxes and easing regulations.
"It's just the same broken record," Las Vegas resident Judy Ostapow said. "Deregulate, cut taxes for the wealthy, and this is going to stimulate jobs. Well it hasn't stimulated jobs in all these years that they've had these tax cuts and deregulating and it hasn't done anything. It's just made the problem worse."
For months, Nevada Republicans have giddily anticipated how today’s nationally televised presidential debate and subsequent Western leadership conference would draw the eyes of the nation to the state and establish its first-in-the-West caucuses as a key contest for GOP contenders.
Instead, most candidates spent the past week pledging to boycott Nevada’s Jan. 14 caucuses over a dispute the state is having with New Hampshire related to its primary date. [...]
But Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, who placed first and second in the Nevada caucuses four years ago, were the only candidates to hold public rallies by the eve of the debate (which will be aired at 5 p.m. on CNN).
“Most of the candidates, they’re going to use us as a great backdrop ... but you start looking at their plans, and there isn’t really much in there for Nevada,” UNLV politics professor David Damore said. “My fear is that we get sort of taken as a prop.”
When Nevada elbowed its way toward the front of the presidential calendar, the idea was simple: No longer would candidates ignore the West and its issues. Rather, they would come here and speak to the concerns of people like Victor Tingley.
At 56, the former assistant casino manager has been jobless for nearly three years. His home in North Las Vegas, purchased more than a decade ago when the neighborhood was more desert than development, is worth less than a third of its former value.
Yet Tingley, a Republican-leaning independent, has heard nothing meaningful from the GOP hopefuls about the collapse of the housing market or the resulting implosion of Nevada's building industry, which, experts say, may take decades to recover. Not even from Mitt Romney, who took a well-publicized tour of Tingley's foreclosure-wracked neighborhood in April and held it up as an example of the nation's struggling economy.
"They don't give a [damn] about us," said Tingley, as he stood in his front yard surveying a gloomy landscape of empty and abandoned homes, many worth far less than their outstanding mortgages.
The virtual silence from the GOP field is not just frustrating to Tingley and his neighbors — "They're not really talking about it. Nobody is," said Republican Shirley Ayala, 77 — but also puzzling to business and economic analysts. They say the economy will not fully recover, here in Nevada or elsewhere across the country, until housing rebounds and the construction industry mends.
"Job creation" — which the candidates have emphasized — "is not, in and of itself, the answer," said John Restrepo, who runs a Las Vegas economic consulting firm. "You have to deal with the housing market, since that's one of the biggest assets most people have."
[... T]he GOP hopefuls have little incentive to raise the issue — or, for that matter, visit Nevada all that much. Compounding the snub, several said last week that they wouldboycott the state's Jan. 14 caucuses in a dispute over their timing.
Although Nevada is tentatively third in line to vote, Iowa and New Hampshire are still far more consequential. So the candidates are spending the bulk of their time in those two states, where the housing issue rarely comes up. While Nevada ranks first in foreclosures, New Hampshire and Iowa rank 15th and 33rd, respectively. Joblessness in the two states is less than half of Nevada's 13.4% rate, which also leads the country.