ELKO — U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said President Barack Obama and his administration like to talk about inherited problems, but the question is “who inherited what?”
Heller told the Elko County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner audience to “keep in mind Congress was in control for two years before the president got in.”
He said the debt was $8.4 trillion in 2007 and is $12.8 trillion today, while the budget deficit is $1.6 trillion.
The unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in 2007 nationwide and is now roughly 10 percent, while Nevada’s jobless rate was 6 percent in 2007 and 13.3 percent now, Heller said.
Also, the Dow Jones average was roughly 12,600 points in 2007 and is now in the neighborhood of 10,200 points, Heller told the gathering at Stockmen’s Hotel & Casino Friday night.
He said the average home price in Reno in 2007 was $386,000 and is now $235,000, while the average house price in Las Vegas was $326,000 in 2007 and is $136,000 now.
“How much of this did the president inherit?” Heller questioned, also lambasting the Democrats over promises that the stimulus package would prevent the unemployment rate from reaching above 8 percent.
“Six percent of Americans believe the stimulus package created jobs. More Americans believe Elvis is still alive,” Heller said.
Nevada lost 61,500 jobs, he said.
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.
“Is the government now creating hobos?” he asked.
Heller also said Elko County’s unemployment rate at around 6 percent is due to the mining industry that provides good quality jobs with good pay, and he “struggles back in Washington” to fight mining law reform every time the legislation is proposed.
The latest mining law reform legislation is still in committee.
Now, Heller said he fears the Nevada Legislature may raise taxes on the mining industry.
Gov. Jim Gibbons brought up the idea of reducing the amount of allowable reductions mines can take before they pay net proceeds taxes in Nevada as part of his effort to raise revenue as the state faces a nearly $900 million budget shortfall.
“This is not a time to start raising taxes. It’s not a time to punish successful businesses,” Heller said.
Looking at the campaign season, he said he doesn’t believe this is an “anti-incumbent year. It’s an anti-establishment year,” which means incumbents considered part of the establishment face major challenges in November.
Heller also criticized an administration proposal under the Antiquities Act to name two sites in Nevada as national monuments without public input, including the portion of the Owyhee Desert in a remote areas of Elko and Humboldt counties and in Oregon.
He said there no longer will be grazing rights, water rights, mineral rights or public access.
Another area is called the Heart of the Great Basin, and that national monument that includes petroglyphs would affect Lander and Eureka counties, and such national monuments can be created without public input, Heller said.
Elko County Republican Party Chairman Chris Comfort said at the dinner he believes Republicans can “beat Democrats up and down the ticket,” and they can vote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., out of office.
He called the senator “Rubber Stamp” Reid.
Seven candidates for U.S. Senate who want to be on the GOP ticket against Reid attended the Elko dinner and had a limited time to speak, including Assemblyman Chad Christensen, R-Las Vegas, who said in a short interview after the speeches he is an “unannounced candidate,” but he is “leaning in the direction” of running for U.S. Senate.
Right now as the Republican whip, he said he is focused on the special legislative session to be held Feb. 23.
He told the dinner audience he has seen Nevada families struggling economically, and he wants to help.
“It’s all about helping the little guy,” Christensen said.
Candidate and former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle of Reno said she wants lower taxes, less government regulation and more personal freedom for Americans.
“My three main issues are economy, economy, the economy, and the simple answer is pay back, cut back and take back,” she said, which means pay back the debt, cut back spending and take more power back for the states.
Senate hopeful John Chachas of Ely and New York said he is a problem-solver and would tackle problems in Washington as a businessman and financial adviser.
He said those in office in Washington are afraid to take action because they are too worried about re-election, while the “people are angry that Washington is not living up to its bargain.”
Chachas said Reid has “outlived his usefulness.”
Bill Parson of Moapa said this country is failing to follow the U.S. Constitution, and he said he was impressed that there was a copy of the Constitution on every table at the dinner.
Parson said he had 23 years of experience solving problems in the military and 11 years solving problems as a project manager in civilian life, and he said it is time for this country to change direction and to honor state sovereignty.
Candidate and former Nevada Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Lowden of Las Vegas said she is worried about what is happening in this country, and she is concerned about the future of our children.
She said she is a businesswoman and has made payroll so she understands the concerns of business people.
Danny Tarkanian of Las Vegas said the federal government was “created for limited purposes, and should stop trying to solve all the social ills.”
He said he favors eliminating all the “pork” in legislation, cutting taxes to help businesses survive, going back to “reasonable” government regulations and stopping the “coddling” of terrorists.
State Sen. Mark Amodei of Carson City said the mining industry pays high wages, and the employees own their homes and have health insurance, which means less burden on the state.
He said he opposes efforts to increase taxes on mining but predicts that when Reid gets out the Democratic vote, those same voters will approve the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada’s proposal on mine taxes.
Candidates for governor
Elko County Republican Party Chairman Charlie Myers also allowed two Republican hopefuls planning to run in the primary against Gov. Jim Gibbons to talk at the dinner, which dinner organizer Lynne Hoffman said drew 240 people.
Former North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon said in his 12 years as mayor, the city grew from more than 80,000 people to 220,000, and he left it in better shape than when he took office.
He said he believes one of the solutions to Nevada’s economic troubles is to become competitive and pursue businesses.
Former U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval also said Nevada should be competitive for business and create an environment so businesses will hire people.
He said he quit the bench after four years to run for the Senate because he is “very passionate and committed to the people of this state,” and Republicans need a strong candidate to beat Reid’s son Rory, the Clark County Commission chairman who is running as a Democrat for governor.