Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011 | 2 a.m.
Dear Republican presidential candidates:
Welcome to Nevada. We are grateful that you will be attending the debate tonight in Las Vegas. We’re eager to hear what you have to say.
We like debates. We like when candidates share their ideas and opinions — even when they’re opposed to us. What we don’t like is all of the empty platitudes and rote answers crafted by focus groups. We’d love to see a real discussion on the issues.
To help you out, we’d like to suggest a few things you — and the major media covering your debate — should discuss. We’d love to hear your views. Please, we don’t need to know what you think about the president and his policies. (It’s clear you’re not a fan.)
• Housing: As Anjeanette Damon reported in Monday’s Sun, none of you are really talking about the housing crisis. This is a big deal here.
Nevada leads the nation in the rate of foreclosures. We have heard conservatives say things like, “Those people were in homes they couldn’t afford,” but the reality is, many of “those people” could afford the homes when they bought them, but it’s tough to make mortgage payments without a job. Many homeowners lost jobs because of the economic crash caused by Wall Street. Yet, to add insult to injury, the banks that made risky loans got bailed out, and homeowners didn’t. Now, the economy is suffering terribly. So, what will you do about foreclosures, and what will you do to help homeowners?
• Jobs: We’ve heard a lot of talk from conservatives about government “handouts” and “entitlements,” not to mention “socialism” creeping into the country. Let’s cut through the rhetoric: Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the nation, and sound bites don’t put bread on the table. So, if you were president right now, what would you do?
Do you support extending unemployment insurance? Job retraining? Infrastructure programs that would create jobs, at least temporarily?
Before you answer, please consider that proposals to cut regulation haven’t been shown to do much, if anything, regarding job growth, especially in the short term. Also, remember that cutting government jobs is cutting, well, jobs.
• Yucca Mountain: For decades now, the nation’s plan to store nuclear waste has been to cart it cross-country and shove it in a hole in the ground just 90 miles northwest of where you’re standing. We know the nuclear industry and its lobbyists tell you it’s safe, but the science doesn’t support the plan, and there are very serious safety issues.
Realize this: Yucca Mountain isn’t really a mountain — it’s a porous volcanic ridge in an earthquake zone. Most Nevadans don’t support the plan. Nuclear waste can be stored much more safely and cheaply at reactor sites in huge steel and concrete containers called dry casks. Yet many members of Congress still want to force the waste down our throats. What do you think?
• Caucus: Several of you are promising to boycott Nevada’s caucus over some goofy party fight. One of you, whom we won’t mention, is even boycotting tonight. (He probably just wanted to save some money — it’s tough to come by when you’re so far behind in the polls.) As we noted this weekend, Nevada’s not the problem. This is an issue caused by Florida and exacerbated by New Hampshire. So why take it out on Nevada?
Yes, yes, we know, you really love us, you just don’t think what the Republican state party is doing is right and blah, blah, blah.
If you just don’t want to tick off New Hampshire’s voters because it’s a must-win state, say it.
This is important to know during your stay in Nevada: Whatever you do, don’t patronize us. If you disagree with us, and think Nevada should become America’s nuclear waste dump, say so. If you think Nevadans should just suck it up and deal with this lousy economy because you’re philosophically opposed to government and federal aid, don’t candy-coat it.
Nevadans would find that type of candor refreshing. It might not earn our support, but it will earn our respect.
What do you think? Send your thoughts in a letter — no more than 250 words. Include the writer’s name, address and phone number. Anonymous letters will not be considered. E-mail: [email protected].