Las Vegas Sun

April 17, 2014

Currently: 81° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

For Obama, re-election turf is tricky in Nevada

Image

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

President Barack Obama gestures as he addresses the crowd during a town hall meeting at ElectraTherm, Inc. a small renewable energy company in Reno, Nev., Thursday, April 21, 2011.

Obama in Reno

President Barack Obama gesture during a town hall meeting to discuss reducing the national debt, Thursday, April 21, 2011, at ElectraTherm, Inc. in Reno. Launch slideshow »

Sun Coverage

At a town hall Thursday, when an earnest college student pleaded with President Barack Obama to help higher education stave off serious budget cuts, Obama launched into what could be a pat answer in almost any other state.

He touted the $787 billion stimulus, which included a substantial amount of money to help states with their budget deficits.

“For two years, we were able to prevent some of the worst choices states might have to make about laying off teachers, police officers, firefighters,” Obama said. “Now the economy is growing again, and state revenues are getting a little better.”

Halfway through his answer, however, Obama seemed to remember where he was speaking: Nevada.

“I understand here in Nevada the economy has been the slowest to recover, because this is also where the housing boom was hottest,” Obama said. “So that’s put bigger strains on the budget here.”

Indeed, the unemployment rate is higher in Nevada than anywhere else, foreclosures top the charts and state lawmakers are dealing with a $2.5 billion budget hole opened in part by the evaporation of the stimulus money that had helped Nevada limp through the last two years.

The fact is, the nascent recovery that is taking hold in other parts of the country has yet to sprout here.

And that makes this presidential battleground state, which Obama won by 12 points in 2008, difficult terrain to traverse in his newly launched re-election bid.

“Where we are in this sort of spectrum of recovery versus recession is different,” Democratic consultant Dan Hart said. “The conditions are far more extreme here than in most other states. He’s got to tread very carefully here.”

In his answer to the college student, Obama quickly acknowledged Nevada’s economic situation.But as Obama faces his own difficult budget problems, he had little more than advice to offer Nevada lawmakers.

Click to enlarge photo

President Barack Obama gestures while addressing the crowd during a town hall meeting at ElectraTherm, Inc. a small renewable energy company in Reno, Thursday, April 21, 2011.

“I recognize a state like Nevada has to make tough choices,” he said. “I think it is very important, when making those choices, not to be shortsighted.”

Obama acknowledged “additional revenue” might be needed to blunt education cuts in Nevada, but then pivoted once again to make sure the audience knew he had helped negotiate a middle-class tax cut effective this year.

“How many people here know that not only did we cut your taxes when I first came into office, but back in December we just cut your taxes again?” he said. “You wouldn’t know it from watching TV, you would think I’m just raising everybody’s taxes.”

The pivoting is yet another symptom of Obama’s careful gait into re-election mode.

Obama’s visit to Reno was one of three in a campaignlike swing to sell his vision for reducing the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade.

Contrasting his plan with one from Republicans to cut $6 trillion, Obama calls his a “balanced approach” designed to dramatically cut spending, raise taxes on the wealthiest and preserve social programs important to Democrats.

The plan, Obama hopes, will appeal to a broad swath of voters, establishing him once again as the consensus candidate after he pushed through several Democratic initiatives in the first half of his presidency.

That could be key to swinging independent voters, who he carried handily in Nevada three years ago, back into his column.

“Last time, he had the underpinnings of a great economy,” said Michael Dermody, a Reno businessman who has contributed money to both Republican and Democratic candidates and who was invited to attend Obama’s speech by Gov. Brian Sandoval. “Without that, independent voters are a lot wiser.”

If Obama can’t run in Nevada on an economic recovery he helped spur, he can run as a candidate “who gets it,” Democratic strategist Billy Vassiliadis said.

Indeed, several times during his speech, Obama picked up that theme, recounting personal experiences struggling to do his taxes and driving a gas guzzling “beater” when gas prices were high.

The key message in Nevada, could be to at least replace success with empathy.

“I’ve been there,” he said. “It hurts.”

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 8 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Why doesn't the President mention that he cut payroll taxes for businesses last year, and that most Republicans opposed him? I saved about $1,400 on that deal. Then last December, he wanted another payroll tax cut for employers for this this year, but Republicans stopped him. I would have saved a lot of money on that. I don't understand why Democrats don't talk about it.

    In addition, everyone who has a job saves 2 percent on their payroll taxes. NOT YOUR INCOME TAX. Get it? It's 2 percent off the top, for the entire year. If you make $500 gross wages on your next paycheck, you'll get 10 dollars more. If you make $30,000 a year, you'll keep an extra $600 for the year. If you make $50,000, you get an extra $1,000. If you make $100,000, you save $2,000. The President got that for you last December while Republicans got the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy extended. I can't figure out why Democrats seem to want to keep this a secret.

  2. When you really get down to the facts and I mean real facts, This is the most incompetent president that this country has ever had from its start. I give him credit for his ability and the ones behind him to hide the facts about him and his background. Consideration of facts is not in the Liberals playbook.

  3. Hey, Nick...
    I prefer coffee.
    Black. Stronger the better!
    Is that Tetley's?
    You need cream & sugar?
    How do you STOMACH that crap?
    HEY, Check out this little vid on the "Worst President ever"! It's pretty good... frankly though, what's the diff?
    Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Bush, BUSH...peas in a pod.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsziT-oDg...

    Refill?

  4. cignettis - Did you consider that fact that Obama cut payroll taxes for businesses in 2010? That really helped small business owners like me. Too bad the Republicans killed that idea for this year, I would have saved some more money.

    Do you have a job? At the end of this year, multiply your gross wages by 2 percent. That is how much money you'll save on your taxes. You can thank Prsident Obama for that. The Republicans fought for, and got, an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

  5. One of the problems with President Obama's messages, nothing seems to get done, but things are getting better. News outlets are focused on the 24-hour news cycle generated by Washington-Speak, sound-bites, radical comments by Republicians and Demcratics.

    The numbers show us there is slow progress, but we don't receive the hard numbers on the front pages of newspapers or from online news outlets. Fear and drama are placed front and center each day to direct the weak minded to follow.

    Politically, one would think President Obama is the only Democrat in America. He's the lone voice talking about Democratic values. This is the perception of many independents, independents who are searching for that dying breed, a Real Democrat. Yes, it is said they only come out at night, or on election day.

  6. What the President's reply makes obvious: if we are to save education in Nevada, we must write to our legislators and demand that they not "sunset" the 2009 tax add-on. With such a budget deficit in our state, now is not the time to cut what revenue sources there are. The choice is clear: more tax cuts for the rich or save higher education.

  7. Steve: He cut the payroll withholdings. He didn't cut the income taxes, just what was taken out of your check. There's a HUGE difference. What that means is that if you were expecting a return it will be smaller than last year. With this "cut" my effective net income tax rate remained unchanged this year from 2009. Next lie to debunk please.

  8. The article states that:

    "Obama's visit to Reno was one of three in a campaignlike swing to sell his vision for reducing the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade.

    Contrasting his plan with one from Republicans to cut $6 trillion, Obama calls his a "balanced approach" designed to dramatically cut spending, raise taxes on the wealthiest and preserve social programs important to Democrats.

    The plan, Obama hopes, will appeal to a broad swath of voters, establishing him once again as the consensus candidate after he pushed through several Democratic initiatives in the first half of his presidency."

    The article fails to mention that there is no new Obama plan. Just his original budget from two months ago, which adds trillions more to the federal debt, and some vague ideas he threw out during a speech, which are mainly new government spending rather than spending reductions. Meanwhile, he misses no opportunity to bash Congressman Ryan, who actually did put put out a plan with specific cuts.

    So the real question becomes: Will President Obama really put out a deficit reduction plan? Remembering that the Obamacare legislation was actually written by Harry Reid's staffers, you can't be too sure about this...