Monday, Nov. 17, 2008 | 1:30 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Rep.-elect Dina Titus is in town, taking her freshmen class photo this morning on the Capitol steps and attending orientation sessions for newcomers.
No word yet on where the Democrat will set up her office – though Republican Rep. Jon Porter, whom she defeated during this month’s election, needs to vacate his by early December.
Congress resumes for a final lame duck session this week with the economy at the forefront of the agenda.
Nevada nearly tops the nation now in the rate of personal bankruptcy filings, the New York Times reported on Sunday. Nevada’s bankruptcy filings
in October were up 70 percent compared with last year.
No surprise here — families are maxing out on credit cards as they struggle to pay upside down mortgages as jobs evaporate.
And it may be the tip of the iceberg. The paper of record puts it this way:
“Not surprisingly, filings are increasing most rapidly in states where real estate values skyrocketed and then crashed, including Nevada, California and Florida...
"Bankruptcy lawyers report that they have been having more consultations with middle-class families with six-figure incomes — including many who either bought a home during the boom or pulled out most or all of their available home equity just keep to up with the cost of living. Also caught up in the bankruptcies are real estate investors, who hoped to flip properties they had bought near the height of the market….
“There are a lot of foreclosures that haven’t taken place yet because people still have available credit,” said Jeffrey H. Tromberg, a bankruptcy lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “We don’t see them until they’ve maxed out their credit cards.
“A similar pattern has emerged in Las Vegas, where more people are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection because it makes more financial sense to walk away from their homes. Real estate values have plummeted, and now the local economy is also suffering. Car salesmen and casino dealers are being laid off. Valet parking attendants and masseuses are collecting less in tips….
“Ellen Stoebling, a bankruptcy lawyer in Las Vegas, added: “People are using their cards to try and hold onto their property for as long as possible in hopes they can somehow talk some sense into their lender and stay in the property.”
Other news today from the Capitol:
— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a photo op with six new Democratic senators who were elected earlier this month: “Having been the majority leader for the past two years — many times with no majority — this is an exciting time for me,” Reid said. (But don’t think getting close to a 60-seat majority in the Senate means Reid will punish Lieberman.)
— The big omnibus public lands bill on this week’s agenda will be punted to next year. The bill includes important land transfers in Southern Nevada, including the land for the new cancer center, as well as in Carson City. Reid said this morning the bill has a better shot in January when he will make it a priority.
— Sun colleague Charlotte Hsu mused after the election that President-elect Barack Obama may become the first president wired to speak directly to the people. She was on to something. The president-elect delivered the Democrats’ first weekly radio address over the weekend as a Web video – and promises to make it a regular thing. Simon Rosenberg at the progressive group NDN says think of it as a 21st Century fireside chat.
— Lastly, I’ll leave you with this artistry by President-elect Obama: Recognize anyone from Nevada? Obama doodles the Senate here.
Check back later for more political news from Nevada.