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January 28, 2015

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Line of Attack: Did Shelley Berkley vote for a ‘new massive energy tax?’

Line of Attack is a weekly feature in which we parse a political attack, looking at the strategy behind it, how the campaign is delivering it and what facts support or refute it. We’ll assign it a rating on the fairness meter: Legit, Eye Roll, Guffaw, Laughable or Outrageous.

Attack: Democrat Shelley Berkley voted for “a new massive tax on energy” that would force gas prices and home heating and cooling bills to rise.

Method of Delivery: Berkley’s Republican opponent Dean Heller is delivering the message in Spanish this time, reprising a similar English-language ad from earlier in the campaign.

Strategy: For all the talk of Medicare and ethics, both candidates believe this race will turn on so-called pocketbook issues. With this ad, Heller is not only trying to peel away Hispanic voters from Democrats, but convince them that Berkley favors environmental policy at the expense of a family’s livelihood amid a difficult recession.

Fairness Meter: This ad really comes down to parsing semantics—but don’t they all.

In this case, the “new massive tax on energy” that Heller says Berkley supports was the cap-and-trade energy bill from 2009, which passed the House but failed in the Senate.

Technically, and legally speaking, the cap-and-trade schema is not a tax. In fact, lawmakers opted for the cap-and-trade system, instead of a straight up “carbon tax,” in part to avoid exactly that attack.

Still, the system by which carbon emissions are capped and companies are forced to purchase or trade permits in order to exceed the cap, would unquestionably result in more revenue going to the government, as well as increased energy prices. The question is by how much.

And every partisan group, trade group and think tank has a different way of calculating it. The Congressional Budget Office put the average family’s potential cost increase at $175 a year. Low-income energy tax credits included in the bill would have helped offset that for poorer Americans.

An industry trade group report used by the Heller campaign says it could have cost the average family as much as $1,017 by 2030.

All in all, calling it a tax makes for an easy attack line, but it’s not accurate. That earns an eye-roll.

But calling attention to Berkley’s support of an environmental policy that would raise energy costs is legit.

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  1. "This ad really comes down to parsing semantics--but don't they all."


  2. Heller and Berkley are both borrow and spenders who have no plan to balance the budget. They both support corporate welfare, the war without end in Eurasia, the War on Drugs, Foreign Aid, and NDAA.

  3. The real problem with this ad is the part where Dean Heller says: "I approve this ad."

    The ad complains about something that has never become law. Why is Dean Heller wasting our time over things that never were, aren't, and probably never will be?

    In another ad, Dean Heller, praises himself for saving us from taxation by writing a Bill which never became law. And I've seen yet another ad in which he lambastes Congress for not passing a Budget during the time he was in Congress.

    Running ads against what your opponent didn't do and ads about what you didn't do just wastes our time and someone's money. But apparently there is a whole Washington Industry that APPROVES wasting time and money.

    It seemed to me that before he went to Washington, Dean Heller was a decent, sensible person, but, now, I look at his ads and I find myself wondering why anyone would run such ads.

    Before he went to Washi

  4. My post is kind of off topic but it does deal with Berkley. I moved back to Illinois three years ago. Obviously, I am no longer a resident of NV or a registered voter in NV. BUT....that doesn't stop Berkley's people from sending me campaign literature!! They are addressed to me at my former address here in Illinois (my sister's house - Confused the heck out of her - she wondered who the hell Shelley Berkley was and why did she never hear of her before....until she read the stuff and realized it was from Nevada!!))

    I've gotten 4 of these mailings in the last 2 weeks. Your tax dollars at work.

    What is wrong with this picture??