McConnell & the midterms, Schadenfreude watch, and that 2/3 thing

wait what
McConnell wishes Trump would go away, but fears Republicans can't beat people like Cortez Masto in 2022 without help from QAnon, the Proud Boys and Friends. (Nevada Current file photo)
wait what
McConnell wishes Trump would go away, but fears Republicans can’t beat people like Cortez Masto in 2022 without help from QAnon, the Proud Boys and Friends. (Nevada Current file photo)

The following was excerpted from last week’s Daily Current newsletter, the editor’s opinionated morning news roundup, which you can subscribe to here.

Mitch, Manchin & Cortez Masto (Feb. 15). Mitch McConnell and a majority of his Senate Republicans voted to continue to shame and disgrace themselves. Rather than do the right and just thing, they cowered behind a technicality. That technicality – that Trump couldn’t be impeached because he was no longer president, even though the acts were committed while he was president – had been denounced by a preponderance of legal scholars. So naturally McConnell & Co. made a beeline for it.

McConnell made it clear that a) he wishes Trump would go away, but b) he believes Republicans aren’t going to beat people like Catherine Cortez Masto in 2022 without help from QAnon, the Proud Boys and Friends.

Only seven Republican senators voted to impeach. There’s no way ten of them will vote for a coronavirus relief bill that would make things better, because the better things get, the worse their party’s chances in the midterms. So now that impeachment’s over, time for Democrats to exit Unicorn and Rainbow Pretendland where Republicans cooperate, and start passing stuff, whether through reconciliation and/or killing the filibuster. Time, also, for Biden and the Democrats to put niceties aside and start muscling Manchin around.

Aw, that’s sweet, NV Dems. Now do the 2/3 thing (Feb. 16). The orchestrated, party-wide outpouring from Nevada Democrats in support of renaming the Las Vegas airport for Harry Reid may be one of the most impressive demonstrations of solidarity and collective narrative framing the party has ever performed.

If only Nevada Democrats could muster one-tenth as much interest and effort in the cause of ridding the the state constitution of the two-thirds rule for raising taxes.

***

…When not issuing heartwarming statements of love and adoration for their sainted Harry Reid and his airport, Nevada Democrats are issuing heartwarming statements about the need for Nevada to displace Iowa and New Hampshire and be the state that all the national media pays attention to vis-a-vis presidential horserace horses**t. And yes, there’s a bill for that.

I’ve got complicated and mixed feelings about this that I won’t bore you with for the moment. But I’ve no doubt whatsoever I would much prefer to see Democrats focus their energy on something far more consequential, like doing the two-thirds thing.

***

…The Nevada State Education Association rallied in front of the legislative building Monday in support of the strongest of the mining tax constitutional amendments legislators approved for a first time last summer, the AP reports. Spoiler: Assuming your Legislature approves one of these a second time so it will go on the ballot, it will not be the strongest, it will be the weakest.

The story also reports that NSEA President Brian Rippett prefers the mining tax proposal to the the initiatives the NSEA’s arch-enemy, the Clark County Education Association, has qualified to put on the 2022 ballot.

Leaving aside the fact that it’s not an either/or…

Rippet told the AP the CCEA initiative to raise the sales tax is bad because sales taxes are already high and regressive. So far so good. But Rippet then said the CCEA initiative to raise the gaming tax is bad because, according to the AP story, he said taxes on gambling are already high. So there’s a public education lobbyist who needs some deprogramming ASAP.

And of course CCEA and NSEA need to come together and push legislators to do the 2/3 thing.

***

…Nevada Day is Oct. 31, but it gets observed by banks and schools and such on different days, to make for a 3-day weekend, I guess.  Now comes a Democratic legislator with a bill that says no, Nevada Day must be observed on Nevada Day, not some other nearby day (Sun).

Fine. Now do the 2/3 thing.

The reform that didn’t happen (Feb. 18). There were some Republicans at the time who proposed it. But in the years following the Civil War, the U.S. Congress could not/would not accept any legislation to redistribute land from the enslavers to those they had enslaved. Failure to redistribute land is often considered the biggest mistake of Reconstruction. All The Things that followed, from development of the sharecropping system to Jim Crow to mid-mod zoning and federal home financing and suburb development and so much more, exacerbated what continues to be a dearth of opportunity and intergenerational wealth that Black Americans have been deprived of, by deliberate public policy.

Dozens of Democrats in the U.S. House, including Nevada’s Dina Titus and Steven Horsford, are cosponsoring a bill to create a commission to study reparations for slavery. Whether and when any actual reparations policy ensues remains to be seen. But reparations has always been considered a fringe and/or radical idea in mainstream political/media discourse. That at least is changing.

A mere pittance (Feb. 18). As you may have noticed I am not and never have been bullish about Nevada’s oft- and long-promised lithium “boom.” So the environmental concerns at the heart of this AP story aside for the moment, this bit caught my eye: the mine is expected to generate $75 million in state and local tax revenue over a decade. $7.5 million a year. And this is a pretty good-sized mine. Yes, Nevada’s irresponsible industry-coddling mining tax policy is partly responsible for the paltry numbers. But even if the tax was double or triple the projection it would still be a pittance. For all the hype (including from your hype-happy governor), of any number of industries and enterprises that may develop in Nevada over the next decade, from an economic and employment standpoint, lithium will be among the least consequential. Probably mess up groundwater though.

Oh curb your Schadenfreude (Feb. 19). True, resisting the temptation to take pleasure in the humiliation of Ted Cruz would be a tall order for even the most empathetic and generous of souls. So that leaves me out.

But let’s remember that Cruz belongs to that cadre of elected Republicans, increasingly common in the party, who is more brand than business. He is far from a force in the Senate, perhaps not least because all his colleagues hate him. As Lindsay Graham, whose loathsomeness may differ from that of Cruz in kind but not degree, once famously said, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”

Cruz is an ineffectual backbencher. And he always will be, for the remainder of whatever is left of his Senate career.

Growth industry. Your sprawling Nevada quasi-public economic/workforce development bureaucracy/industry is, IMO, an unfocused wheel-spinning contraption laden with buzzwords and bloated with overpaid cheerleaders who enjoy hobnobbing with the mover-shaker set way too much. It is a professional subculture deeply dedicated to ignoring even the possibility that there are policies which can improve pay, working conditions, and quality of life of the workforce we actually have, in other words, truly developing the economy, and broadening prosperity in the process. And oh by the way nothing attracts new business and economic activity like a vibrant, prosperous consumer core and a pleasant quality of life. Apologies. Every two years the state produces a report on its workforce development grants & such, and the mere phrase “workforce development” frequently prompts me to launch a mini-rant.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.