(Ciara Matthews) – When American voters go to the polls on Nov. 2, 36 Senate seats will officially be in play. But as the results trickle in, many eyes across the country will turn toward Nevada, where voters will be faced with the crucial decision of whether to re-elect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Reid has served as a United States senator for 24 years, and any public official with such an extensive tenure must be judged based on his record. That record makes one thing abundantly clear: Nevadans simply cannot afford another six years of Harry Reid.
Reid’s supporters maintain that his re-election is essential to our state because of his vast Washington experience and the clout he wields as the leader of the U.S. Senate. They argue that he’d make a better representative for Nevadans than his Republican opponent, Sharron Angle, because he’d have more influence than a freshman senator. But it’s time for Nevadans to ask: What are we getting in return for Harry Reid’s supposed beltway gravitas?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate stood at 4.6 percent in January 2007, when Reid became Senate majority leader. By February 2009, the same month President Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, national unemployment had nearly doubled.
Harry Reid, of course, was an enthusiastic supporter of this so-called “stimulus package,” helping to sell it as a catalyst for job growth. Indeed, the American people were promised that its passage would keep national unemployment below 8 percent. Yet in October 2009, national unemployment peaked at 10.1 percent, and today it stands at 9.7 percent.
Locally, the picture is even worse. Nevada’s unemployment rateis second-highest in the nation at 13.7 percent, and in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, the rate stands at 14.2 percent. Harry Reid promised Nevadans that the stimulus would “create or save” 34,000 jobs in the Silver State. Since its passage, Nevada has lost nearly 70,000 jobs.
Harry Reid’s failure to deliver has hardly been limited to the jobs front. Reid and his fellow Democrats also assured the country that they would put an end to the tailspin that has plagued the nation’s housing market, and that their actions would trigger a significant rebound. Yet sadly, this has been yet another case of Harry Reid over-promising and under-delivering.
At the end of 2006, the number of homes nationwide sold at a loss – many of which were foreclosed properties – stood at 10 percent of existing home sales. By the end of 2008, that number had ballooned to 42 percent.
As in the case of unemployment, things have been particularly dire for Nevadans on the foreclosure front. This April marked the 40thconsecutive month in which Nevada posted the nation’s highest foreclosure rate,as 1 in every 69 housing units received a filing that month. Nevada’s foreclosure rate currently exceeds the national average by five times. In February 2009, the number of families facing foreclosure was 30 percenthigher than a year earlier.
Perhaps most egregious of all has been Harry Reid’s leading role in forcing the recently passed federal health care legislation on a citizenry that clearly did not want it. In fact, it’s likely the only things that rose faster than the percentage of Americans who opposed the legislation were:
a) the number of misleading or even blatantly false statements Reid made in his attempt to gain support for the legislation, and
b) the number of unethical, Washington-style backroom deals Nevada’s senior senator tried to cut in order to ram it through Congress.
As a result of this legislation, Nevadans can expect higher taxes, increased federal government intrusion, more out-of-control federal spending and unconstitutional mandates on personal financial and health care decisions. Nevadans’ health care will get worse, not better.
Harry Reid’s chief responsibility as a United State senator is to look out for the interests of the citizens he represents – the people of the great state of Nevada. And his supporters are indeed correct about one thing: As the majority leader, he has more power to influence the political and policy processes in Washington than do his Senate colleagues.
But that top-dog status only works to Nevada’s advantage if Reid is indeed willing to fight for the kinds of policies that benefit our state. Instead, he has done the exact opposite.
Harry Reid has proven that when he chooses to flex he political muscle he does so to the disadvantage of Nevada taxpayers. He has used his power and influence not to benefit his constituents, but rather to force upon the nation a radical, destructive, far-left agenda which, in being so at odds with the principles of limited government and individual freedom that shaped our nation’s founding, have done great damage to our economy and fundamentally, tragically, altered American society.
And most tragically of all, the damage caused by that agenda has been particularly severe in Harry Reid’s home state.
Nevadans deserve a United States senator who understands that his first responsibility is not to the corrupt D.C. establishment, but to the voters for whom he works. Harry Reid’s record proves beyond doubt that he is not that senator.
(Mrs. Matthews is Communications Director for the Nevada Republican Party)