There is no doubt that Nevada has been one of the hardest hit economies not only in the United States, but even the world. Our double-digit unemployment rate is the highest in the nation month after month – exceeding even Greece’s unemployment. Our housing market is second only to Detroit’s, with more than 70 percent of Las Vegas area mortgages under water and no signs of improvement any time soon.
The Silver State, which was once a shining beacon of entrepreneurship, growth, development and the American dream, has quickly become the epicenter of despair.
Yet, rather than focusing on “jobs” – which should be the number one issue in the minds of every Nevada politician, unemployed steel worker, Fortune 500 CEO or first grade school teacher – all that those in the business of partisan politics talk about is “revenue.”
During the 2011 legislative session, liberal groups, students and teachers alike all clamored for more “revenue” for education and social services. Even now, the AFL-CIO, Nevada State Teachers Unions, gaming and other corporations are insisting on creating more “revenue.” Both sides continue to debate both its definition and its political ramifications, but we all know what it really means.
“Revenue” means taxes, plain and simple. Taxes on services, taxes on profits, taxes on gross receipts – taxes on you, me, and the man behind the tree. They throw it all at the wall to see what sticks. In the 2011 legislative session, nothing stuck. The Democratic majority continuously ignored public statements by the steadfast Republican members of the executive and legislative branches that any and all tax increases would be dead on arrival. Thus, we were at a stalemate before the session ever began. If not for a late session Supreme Court ruling, we might still be at that impasse in Carson City. But, the number one issue of jobs was ignored.
We can all agree that our local, state and federal governments rely on revenue to provide the essential services that our citizens rely on. So, it’s legitimate for government to debate how it can increase revenue. But, when politicians go about it single-mindedly through hiked-up taxes, we lose jobs. And, when people are unemployed, they pay less in taxes. That approach ends up decreasing revenue … and decreasing jobs.
With a smarter approach, we can increase revenue and jobs by promoting business development and growth. We can increase revenue and jobs by limiting red tape and regulatory barriers to entry. We can increase revenue and jobs by allowing Americans to invest in their American dream, and by giving the small businesswoman confidence that the State of Nevada supports her pursuit of happiness.
Of course, that same entrepreneur needs to know that Washington’s got her back, too. And, the misplaced focus on revenue at the expense of jobs is even more apparent in Washington, D.C., where during the recent debt debate, both sides of the aisle insisted on raising the debt limit in an effort to increase “available revenue.” The problem with the deal that was ultimately struck is threefold.
First, $14 trillion dollars doesn’t exist. Nowhere in the world does $14 trillion dollars exist. How can we even begin to reduce this imaginary deficit number until it is a realistic, manageable amount that can begin to be paid down.
Second, the “super committee” established to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction has ultimate decision-making autonomy. They have carte blanche to raise taxes, cut taxes, cut spending or even raise spending. But, we elect our officials to lead – not to punt the decision to 12 members of their club.
Third, there is no promise of passing a balanced budget amendment – a budgetary tool that helps 49 out of 50 states stay out of this type of debt debacle. A government cannot spend what it does not have, period. The problem with this deal is it was a compromise, not a solution.
Carson City has the opportunity to show the folks in Washington how to dig out of a deep economic hole the right way. The elected officials that we send to Carson City need to work together to create more jobs and revenue through solutions-based dialogue, not back-slapping compromises.
Americans – here in Nevada and everywhere else – need to be able to trust that our elected officials will take a serious bite out of the unconscionable $14-trillion national debt and will actually work towards a balanced national budget. Nevadans need to stand up to both big business and special interest groups who spend a lot of resources so they can tell us how much and who to pay in taxes. When those things happen, revenues will increase because that’s when Nevadans will invest in the economy. And that is the day we’ll have more REVENUE, more JOBS, and MORE PROSPERITY.
By Adam Stryker, Americans For Prosperity