(Mike Chamberlain/The Cranky Hermit) – Shelley Berkley appeared at a joint session of the Nevada Legislature yesterday to give her first campaign speech since the announcement of her candidacy for the Senate seat being vacated by John Ensign. It wasn’t officially a campaign speech but, aside from not mentioning her opponent, it had all the necessary elements and was chock full of her party’s talking points.
Berkley talked about the need to repair the nation’s (and Nevada’s) infrastructure. She repeated a dishonest example employed recently by President Obama, mentioning the St. Anthony bridge collapse in Minnesota in 2007. As Ed Morrissey of Hot Air discussed, contrary to the claims of Obama (and Berkley), this collapse was not an example of “crumbling infrastructure”. Morrissey asserted this bridge collapse
had nothing to do with any lack of maintenance, and in fact collapsed because of scheduled maintenance to the deck that inadvertently destabilized it to the point of collapse.
It’s dishonest in the extreme to use this tragedy as an argument that we neglected our infrastructure, and ghoulish to use the dead for a false political point. Obama should be ashamed of himself.
As should Berkley.
Furthermore, if improving our infrastructure is so important, why was so much of Nevada’s stimulus money spent on projects such as bus stops, median landscaping and tree-planting. As the Nevada News Bureau reported last July, $490,000 in federal stimulus funds was spent
to encompass an urban Clark County tree planting effort and related activities, including tree care training for Spanish-speaking workers.
The Nevada Department of Transportation’s American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA), aka “stimulus”, website reveals that millions of dollars was spent on projects that had nothing to do with improving infrastructure.
Among them, $3,477,042 was spent on landscaping at US 95 from Martin Luther King Blvd to Rainbow. Another $7,350,247 was awarded to “[p]urchase buses, facilities and shelters”. $329,214 was awarded on an item labeled “Maryland Parkway, E. Reno & Sahara”. I am personally familiar with this project, which removed the asphalt at 15 bus stops along Maryland Parkway and replaced it with concrete.
Berkley also warned,
gutting our education system is shortchanging our children and almost as importantly as that, it is undermining our ability to diversify our economy.
Left unsaid is that more money is no guarantee of results. The quality of education in Nevada, along with most other areas of government, did not improve even when granted significant increases in funding.
Berkley spoke out against a Republican proposal in Congress to replace Medicare with a voucher program, saying it would cost seniors, many of whom rely on social security to live, $6,000 in out-of-pocket health care costs.
Yet another dishonest partisan attack. As an editorial in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal pointed out, the plan for Medicare that President Obama (and Congresswoman Berkley) supports will be even worse for seniors than the Republican (Ryan) plan she criticized this evening.
Post-ObamaCare, Medicare’s administered fee schedule is set eventually to dip below Medicaid payments in many states, which are themselves already far lower than the rates of private insurers that reflect the true costs of health care. Medicare itself says these cuts will cause 15% of U.S. hospitals to become unprofitable in the next decade. Mr. Obama wants Americans to believe that his planners will wring out even more spending through the power of positive technocratic thinking.
As a practical matter, the more likely outcome is the political rationing of care for the elderly, as now occurs in Britain, or else the board will drive prices so low that many doctors and hospitals drop out of Medicare. Either alternative would create the kind of two-tier system dividing the poor and affluent that Democrats claim is Mr. Ryan’s mortal sin.
Messrs. Ryan and Obama agree that Medicare spending must decline, and significantly. The difference is that Mr. Ryan would let seniors decide which private Medicare-financed insurance policies to buy based on their own needs, while Mr. Obama wants Americans to accept the commands of 15 political appointees who will never stand for election.
Berkley, along with the President, is content to demagogue entitlements while ignoring the unsustainable nature of the programs and their massive long-term liabilities. She also showed that she is nearly as adept as the President at using polite language and a calm demeanor to mask vicious, dishonest partisan attacks against her opponents.