Las Vegas Sun

April 19, 2014

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TRUTH SQUAD:

No way Titus could be responsible for all this

Anti-Titus ad

Republican Rep. Jon Porter is running another ad targeting his 3rd Congressional District opponent’s record on taxes. The ad calls state Sen. Dina Titus a “tax-and-spend politician.”

The Script: “Dina Titus. Under her leadership Nevada lost jobs. And we’ve lost homes. Titus voted for 25 different tax hikes, higher property and sales taxes, massive increases. Dina Titus’ taxes have affected us all. Now new challenges: an economy in peril. The last thing Nevadans need is another tax-and-spend politician in Washington. The stakes are too high. We can’t afford Dina Titus.”

The Video: Opens with a screen shot of Titus from one of her TV ads. Then, against a black screen, newspapers are depicted with the phrases: “Nevada’s 7.1% jobless rate worst since 1989” and “Nevada holds onto country’s highest foreclosure rate” and a quote from a Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial: “Ms. Titus never had enough tax money to spend.” Next is a screen grab of Titus’ ad with the words “MASSIVE INCREASES” and “Dina Titus’ taxes have affected us all.” The ad shows another newspaper headline about the general economy and ends with a fast montage of images, including a dollar, a gas pump and a man showing his empty pockets.

The Reality: First, the ad takes phrases from newspaper stories and makes them look as if they were splashed in large type on the front page of the paper. They weren’t.

The goal of the ad is to tie Titus’ votes in the state Legislature over the past 19 years to the current nationwide economic downturn started by the subprime mortgage turmoil. The ad starts with job losses. In fact, more than 600,000 jobs have been created in Nevada since 1991. Though Nevada does have a 7.1 percent unemployment rate and the nation’s highest foreclosure rate, UNLV economists say that is a product of the national economy and not triggered by anything done by the Nevada Legislature. Nevada has a higher foreclosure rate because real estate speculators were more active in fast-growing Nevada than elsewhere. The crash in the new-home market led to fewer construction jobs, which has contributed to the unemployment rate. And with the entire country feeling the financial pinch, fewer tourists are coming to Las Vegas, which also contributes to the unemployment rate. It is unfair to pin any of this on Titus’ leadership and her votes in the Legislature.

The ad also claims Titus voted 25 times for tax hikes. Only two votes led to major tax increases, each of which was prompted by a budget crisis and supported by Republicans and Democrats alike. The other prominent measure was a 10 percent tax on live entertainment. Many of the other bills were small tax increases for narrow purposes, such as a one-quarter of 1 percent tax in certain counties for operation and maintenance of public swimming pools and a 2.5 percent lodging tax within the city of Sparks for tourism promotion. Some of the bills supported by Titus provided exemptions to taxes.

Sun librarian Rebecca Clifford-Cruz contributed research to this story.

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