Harris promises family tax credits, free community college in Las Vegas speech

By: - March 1, 2019 8:41 pm
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U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris speaks at Canyon Springs High School March 1 during her first presidential campaign visit to Las Vegas. Photo: Michael Lyle

During her first visit to Las Vegas on the 2020 presidential campaign trail, Sen. Kamala Harris told the audience that the economy is not working for American people, who often have to work multiple jobs just to stay afloat.

“In 99 percent of counties in our country, if you are a minimum wage worker working full time, you cannot afford market rate for a one bedroom,” Harris said.

Not only are people having to work two or sometimes three jobs, she said, an unforeseen expense such as a broken car has the power to devastate a family, which is why she wants to repeal President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and pass the LIFT the Middle Class Act.

“I’m proposing that if you are a family that is making less than $100,000 a year, you will receive a tax credit for up to $500 a month,” Harris said, calling the proposal her top priority in her first term if elected. “If you are paying more than 30 percent of your income on rent and utilities, you will get a $6,000 tax credit at the end of the year.”

Calling it “an investment in families,” Harris said that “the data tells me that in Nevada six out of 10 families would benefit from that.”

Part of the election, Harris told the crowd at Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas, was making sure people know they are “heard and seen.” In doing so, Harris worked to make the issues she says other Americans are facing as relatable to the people in Southern Nevada. As if to underscore the point, her campaign distributed headsets to attendees who wanted to hear her speech translated to Spanish. 

Talking about gun violence, which included support for passing an assault weapons ban and universal background check as well as highlighting the “sad truth” of active shooter drills in schools or buying bulletproof backpacks, Harris invoked the Las Vegas mass shooting in 2017.

“One October taught this community something no community should have to learn, which is the toll that (gun violence) takes on entire communities” she said. “Let’s not sell, and certainly let’s not buy, a false choice that suggests you’re either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away.”

After she was asked about the trauma of separating immigrant children from their families at the southern border, an act she referred to as a “human rights abuse,” Harris broadened the scope to say failed immigration policies has resulted in more trauma than people realize.

“Nevada has about 13,000 DACA recipients,” Harris said referring to the Obama-era Executive Order, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that protects certain undocumented children. “This president decided to get rid of (DACA) breaking our promise to these young people. On top of that, these young people are living in utter fear … that they will be, on a moment’s notice, sent to a country they’ve never known. Let’s talk about that trauma.”

She called for fixing the election process through same day registration, making a nod to Nevada passing automatic voter registration, and proposed a national holiday for Election Day. Without giving specifics, she addressed the importance of finding solutions to climate change. 

Additionally, Harris touched on her support for policies such as Medicare for All and free community college and stressed the importance of getting “dark money” out of politics.

She also called the audience to face uncomfortable truths such as women still fighting for the right to make a decision about her body, and African-American families having to have “the talk” with their children.

“They have to talk with him about how he may be stopped, he may be arrested, he maybe chased, he may be shot because of the color of his skin,” she said. “Let’s speak that truth.”

Her argument to the crowd was the Trump hasn’t done enough to tackle these issues. “And I’m ready to prosecute the case that the president’s policies haven’t worked,” she said. “There is a lot of evidence to show (the president’s) policies have not worked for working people.”

Like other candidates on the campaign trail such as Sen. Cory Booker, who spoke in West Las Vegas Feb. 24, Harris tried to balance a rebuke to the president’s policies and the current trajectory of the country with the hope that people realize “we have more in common than what separates us.”

“Let’s fight for the best of who we are,” she said.

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Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues.