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September 22, 2019

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J. Patrick Coolican:

Hey, Kate Marshall: Stop talking. Now.

Kate Marshall

AP Photo/Cathleen Allison

Nevada Treasurer Kate Marshall testifies at the Legislature in Carson City on Wednesday, March 2, 2011.

Click to enlarge photo

J. Patrick Coolican

I try to be civil with this column: I don’t use the words “stupid” or “dumb” or “idiot.” I don’t tell people to “shut up.” I try to assume good faith motivations.

And so it seems as if God has sent Kate Marshall to test me.

Marshall is the state’s twice-elected treasurer running for Congress in the 2nd District as a Democrat, although she’s actually running like a Tea Party Republican.

The district comprises Reno and rural Nevada and a small fraction of Clark County, and so is usually a safe Republican seat.

Marshall, who gives off an unseemly flush of Macbethian ambition, has decided to run as a rock-ribbed Republican to try to fool the voters into thinking she’s one of them.

Watching it is disgusting.

In a debate with her opponent, former state Sen. Mark Amodei, on “Face to Face With Jon Ralston,” she implied that the 2003 tax increase Amodei voted for was somehow responsible for our current troubles: “One of the factors that goes toward Nevada having a higher unemployment rate than every other state that’s gone through this financial crisis is that we disincent our employers from hiring because we say when you hire you pay more taxes.”

To begin with, anyone who uses the nonword “disincent” should be disqualified from being in Congress. And although the payroll tax she’s referring to isn’t smart policy, it has nothing to do with our current problems, which were caused by overreliance on tourism and construction and failure to develop human capital through investment in education. That’s precisely why Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn asked for the revenue.

It took the Republican Amodei to point out Marshall’s folly: “I can point to nothing more significant than five years of phenomenal growth and prosperity after” the tax increase.

Marshall says she would have voted no, the only Democrat standing with Sharron Angle to take a butcher knife to schools and social services. Oh no, excuse me, she would “drive down costs in other ways and spend smarter.” Please.

Marshall has also said she would extend the Bush tax cuts, including for the richest Americans.

OK, Marshall, to pay for tax cuts for Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn, you have to make deep cuts to Social Security, Medicare, defense, environmental protection, roads, airports and on and on. So what should be cut?

Marshall visited the Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board last week and gave the conservatives there some tasty red meat. The headline of the news story: “Marshall rips Obama’s economic strategy.”

I wonder if Marshall brought a gun. That would have impressed them.

Here’s the opening paragraph: “Democratic congressional candidate Kate Marshall on Thursday criticized the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus package and bank industry bailouts, saying the measures didn’t create enough jobs.”

The original bailout, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, passed under President George W. Bush, not President Barack Obama. And while we can certainly agree that the government should have taken a tougher line on the banks, forcing them to give relief to homeowners with severely underwater mortgages, the bailout did work. It prevented the complete systemic collapse of the global economy, and because the banks have mostly paid back what they owed, it won’t wind up costing the taxpayers much at all.

As for the stimulus, the problem is that it was too small. But it worked, according to private-sector economists, in preventing a worse collapse. (I’m not talking political hacks here, I’m talking economists who sell advice to actual private clients, including IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody’s Economy.com. Unmentioned is the bailout and restructuring of the automobile industry, which has been successful and prevented the total collapse of American manufacturing.)

Without the stimulus, in Nevada, thousands of teachers, cops, social workers and nurses would have been laid off because state government would have been broke, or more broke.

Finally, there was this: “‘The federal government should start pulling out, and the private sector should start coming in” to fuel job growth, Marshall said.

But that’s precisely what’s happening, and it’s a drag on the economy. Morgan Stanley’s economist recently said sluggish growth has been “aggravated by the prospect of fiscal tightening in the U.S. and Europe.” Meaning, the wind-down of the stimulus, but also state and local spending cuts.

The latest federal employment figures show that 17,000 private-sector jobs added were offset by 17,000 government jobs that were cut.

Another interesting fact: As a percentage of gross domestic product — in other words, the portion of our total national income — total federal, state and local taxes are the lowest they’ve been in more than 60 years, according to one-time Reagan economist Bruce Bartlett.

If low taxes are the answer, why aren’t we swimming in good times?

So which is it: Is Marshall so sick with ambition that she’ll say anything to get elected? Or does she actually believe this stuff?

Of course you could easily say, who cares? She’s not going to win anyway.

But that ignores the fact that she’s using free media time to feed the Tea Party narrative, which will make it that much harder for real Democrats to make the case that government is an important player in creating a safe, just and prosperous society.

If I were a Democrat in the 2nd District, I’d write in the name of a real Democrat, perhaps Jill Derby or Assemblywoman Debbie Smith or state Sen. Sheila Leslie. And Democrats should never nominate Marshall for anything ever again.

God: I was as civil as I could manage.

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