Obama ribs Republicans for campaigning on inflation with no plan to fix it

By: - November 2, 2022 6:02 am

Barack Obama campaigning in Southern Nevada Wednesday. “If there was an asteroid heading toward Earth right now, (Republicans) would get in a room and say, ‘you know what we need? Cut taxes for the wealthy. That’s going to solve it.’” (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Former President Barack Obama criticized Republicans for lacking plans to fight inflation despite campaigning on rising prices, and warned democracy was on the ballot in a final push to energize the Nevada Democratic ticket a week before the midterm election. 

Obama, who has made several recent campaign stops around the country to boost Democrats in close races, spoke Tuesday at a rally alongside Gov. Steve Sisolak, U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and other Democratic candidates at Cheyenne High School in North Las Vegas.  

Polls indicate Democrats are facing razor thin margins and are at risk of losing several races, control of the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate as well. Throughout the campaign season, Democrats have been concerned that inflation and rising gas prices could dampen voter enthusiasm and turnout.  

‘If there was an asteroid heading toward earth…’

Obama noted that current inflation is “one of the legacies of the pandemic” that “wreaked havoc on supply chains” beyond the United States, and said Republicans haven’t offered solutions to bring down rising prices. 

“The question you should be asking is who is trying to do something about it,” he asked. “If you watch these ads, Republicans talk about (inflation) a lot. But what’s their answer exactly? What is their economic policy?”

House Republicans listed the economy as a plank in their agenda in September. That part of document was short on details other than a goal of reducing federal spending.

Obama pointed to one proposal floated by several Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, to leverage a future fight over negotiations to increase the debt limit, which prevents the government from defaulting on its debts, as a means of forcing cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

“They want to gut Social Security and Medicare and then give their wealthy friends, the big corporations, more tax cuts,” Obama said. “That’s their answer to everything … If there was an asteroid heading toward Earth right now, they would get in a room and say, ‘you know what we need? Cut taxes for the wealthy. That’s going to solve it.’” 

Polls have also indicated inflation is playing a role in the race for governor, where incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak is in a close contest against Republican Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.

“I know our families are being pinched right now,” Sisolak said. “The truth is, I can’t solve the inflation problem. But I’m doing everything in my power to put money back in your pockets.”

Sisolak has allocated funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, a relief package that infused $6.7 billion into Nevada, to go toward creating affordable housing projects and expanding access to child care to help lower some costs people are facing.

We’ve made a lot of progress in the last four years and taken a lot of steps forward,” Sisolak said. “We cannot afford to go backwards.”

Abortion on the ballot, democracy at stake

In addition to inflation and rising costs, other top issues on the ballot include access to abortion following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June. 

Some congressional Republicans have introduced a federal abortion ban, along with dozens of other bills to restrict abortion access. A federal ban would supersede Nevada’s abortion protections. 

“If Republicans take back the House and Senate, we could be one presidential election away from a nationwide ban to access to abortion,” Obama said. “That might just be the beginning.” 

And democracy itself, he said, is at stake. 

Part of it comes down to the Republican agenda, Obama said.

If they control Congress, he said, “their top priority” is to investigate political opponents, with some Republicans in Congress vowing to impeach President Joe Biden. 

“They’re not sure why or what for yet, but apparently that’s beside the point,” he said. “Let me ask you a question. How is that going to help you pay your bills? How is that going to build more affordable housing in Nevada? How’s that going to lower gas prices?”

Similar to races across the country, Nevada is at risk of electing candidates who have pushed conspiracy theories, including baseless claims of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election. 

Cortez Masto is facing former Republican Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who as state co-chair for former President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign in Nevada launched a series of lawsuits falsely alleging election fraud. 

Laxalt “filed bogus lawsuits and pushed phony claims of voter fraud,” Obama said. “He has no actual evidence of voter fraud because there is no widespread voter fraud. But he’s not going to let that stop him. He’s going to look under every rock in the desert to try to find an excuse. Although if he wins I guess he’ll be less concerned. All those votes will be legit. Funny how that works.” 

During her speech, Cortez Masto said Laxalt helped “fuel the mob that attacked the Capitol” on Jan. 6. 

“Not once has Laxalt ever condemned the insurrection or taken responsibility for his work to try to overturn that election,” she said. 

Cortez Masto noted that Laxalt has indicated if he loses the upcoming election he will challenge the results. 

Obama also criticized Lombardo for flip-flopping on issues, including abortion, and said Lombardo’s positions on election results and support for Trump has also changed depending on the crowd.

At a debate hosted by The Nevada Independent, Lombardo declined to call Trump “a great president.” A release sent out by the campaign later that day backtracked and declared “By all measures, Donald J. Trump was a great president.”

“He claims he’s not a politician but let me tell you he acts like the worst kind,” Obama said. “He says different things to different audiences trying to play both sides … You don’t need a governor who will go whichever way the wind blows.” 

Marchant gets a namecheck

Obama also stressed the importance of down-ballot candidates, especially the secretary of state race.

Democrat Cisco Aguilar faces Republican Jim Marchant, an election denier who has spread false claims around the 2020 election and called for ending early voting and universal mail-in ballots.

“He’s trying to one-up all the Republicans spreading lies about the 2020 election by saying all elections in Nevada from the last 15 years have been fake,” Obama said. “He’s going around rural Nevada spreading lies about how you can’t trust electronic voter machines. But apparently you can trust an election denier to oversee volunteers hand counting ballots.”

While speaking alongside Trump at a rally in Minden, Nevada, Marchant told the crowd “when my coalition of secretary of state candidates around the country get elected we’re going to fix the whole country and President Trump is going to be president again in 2024.”

Obama said an election denier like Marchant is not “someone you want in charge of your elections.”

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Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.