Monday, May 21, 2012 | 8:08 p.m.
Republicans square off
The three leading Republicans vying for Nevada’s newest congressional district squared off in their first debate Monday, sparring mostly over just how much the federal government should involve itself in critical problems facing Nevadans.
In the lively debate hosted by Jon Ralston on "Face to Face," Republicans Barbara Cegavske, Danny Tarkanian and Dan Schwartz disagreed sharply over health care reform, how to deal with the foreclosure crisis and how to reduce government spending.
The trio are running for the 4th Congressional District. The victor in the June 12 primary will face Democrat Steven Horsford in November.
In particular, the three candidates differed sharply on just how much the federal government should intervene in the foreclosure crisis.
Cegavske took the most laissez-faire approach, calling for a repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act, a hefty banking reform bill passed by Democrats in Congress.
“The regulations we put on businesses, yes banks, is what hurts all the way down, trickles all the way down to the families,” Cegavske said. “And that’s what’s hurting us in Nevada. Repeal the regulations.”
Nevada suffers under the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, with one in every 300 homeowners receiving a foreclosure notice last month and an estimated 61 percent of homes still underwater.
Schwartz, a longtime businessman and political newcomer, took the most hands-on approach, saying the problem is too great for government to simply step out of the way.
“Ultimately there’s a middle ground here,” he said. “You have people who want to stay in their homes. You have banks holding loans that are underwater and I think the banks have really got to come to the table and be willing to take some form of a haircut.”
Pressed by Ralston, Schwartz said he believes the crisis is a “local problem” and that banks need to be given an incentive to negotiate with homeowners. He stopped short of saying the federal government should compel it.
Tarkanian, however, accused Schwartz of abandoning free market principles.
“That’s not capitalism to have the federal government force banks to take a haircut,” he said.
Tarkanian has proposed streamlining refinancing procedures to allow homeowners lower interest rates, eliminating FICO score requirements so it’s easier for people with a foreclosure on their record to qualify for a new home loan and allowing nonprofit groups to coordinate short sales for troubled homeowners who could then lease back the house.
“All three of those things are within the market principles,” Tarkanian said.
The trio also disagreed over exactly how to repeal the federal health care law.
Cegavske supported a total repeal.
“No we should not have universal health care,” she said. “Absolutely not.”
Schwartz advocated for keeping such provisions as allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ plans for longer and mandating coverage for pre-existing conditions. But he said he favored the Massachusetts approach to health care reform, upon which the federal law is largely based.
Tarkanian said he supports such things as tort reform, allowing customers to buy insurance across state laws and allowing workers to keep their health insurance if they lose their job.