Bipartisanship on the rise?

As we all know, when Barack Obama was running as a candidate, he promised a more bipartisan tone when he came to Washington. The catch words “change” and “hope” were prevalent throughout the campaign and have now become sort of a caricature of themselves. But it appears that Mr. Obama’s new tone has started to reap some benefits in the great state of Nevada. Both the Republican Governor and the Democrat Mayor of Las Vegas finally agree on something: they’re both angry with Barack Obama!

Let’s go back a few months. In February, one of the new President’s first trips out of Washington was to Elkhart, Indiana, to promote the passage of his stimulus bill. Elkhart is home to manufacturers of RV’s and has been badly hurt by the economic downturn. During his speech to the workers in Elkhart, the President said this:

“You can’t get corporate jets. You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer’s dime.”

In a press conference the day after Mr. Obama’s speech, Mayor Oscar Goodman, a Democrat, said he was “hotter than fish grease.” In a letter to the President, he said,“The assumption that all meetings, events, and incentive travel (to Las Vegas) are wasteful is wrong. Now more than ever, we need businesses to travel and hold meetings and events.” But perhaps the Mayor’s concerns are premature. Could an offhanded comment to a group of RV factory workers really have an impact on an economy hundreds of miles away?

Well, since then, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, over 400 conventions and business meetings scheduled to take place in Las Vegas have cancelled. That translates to approximately $100 million to the Las Vegas and Nevada economy. And that’s before you count the gaming revenue. So it appears that the Mayor’s outrage was valid. Despite being very vocal about his outrage, there has been no response from the White House.

Now comes the announcement that Mr. Obama himself is planning a trip to Las Vegas! So despite his admonition that corporate America not take trips to Las Vegas on the public dime, that’s precisely what he’s doing. Well if the President has decided to contradict himself and go to Vegas, it must be for a good reason – national security, economic summit, something important, right? You decide. He’s going to Vegas to hold a fund-raiser for Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. Well it’s not exactly solving world hunger, but I guess it’s important. . .NOT!

So in the spirit of bipartisanship, the Republican Governor of Nevada, Jim Gibbons, has asked the President for some time to meet with him when he comes for his fund-raiser to talk about his comments. And in a spirit of bipartisanship, the President said, “No!” We know this because the Governor has outed the President in a statement he released yesterday:

“I am disappointed at the hypocrisy shown by this Administration. President Obama is coming to Las Vegas later this month for a political fundraiser, but he will not help the struggling families in Las Vegas and Nevada who are out of work because of his reckless comments. . .apparently our money is good enough for the President, but our tourism, jobs, and economic future are not. This is politics, pure and simple. President Obama stood for change, but all he has done is brought negative economic change to Nevada.” Ouch!

Sounds like the Mayor and the Governor are on the same page. So who can we turn to to ease the tension between Nevada officials and the White House?  In these trying and stressful times, maybe we should remember the words of that wise man from the east, Deepak Chopra. I wrote about him a few months ago in an article called “Vacation is NOT a four letter word!” Mr. Chopra reminds us, “When you take that trip, you’re giving employment to the people who work in the airline industry. If you go to that restaurant, that waiter is going to get a tip. In fact, the more you circulate the money, the more you increase confidence and trust that everything is OK.” After all, isn’t that why we gave the money to bailout companies in the first place – to help stimulate the economy? Perhaps the Mayor and the Governor should just be grateful that the President has decided to lead by example and not challenge his “hypocracy.” After all, I’m sure people will realize that by going to Vegas, the President is simply saying, “Hey, that stuff about not going to Vegas? I was just kidding!”

The fact is people do listen to the President and do take him very seriously, especially those companies who have been helped by the bailouts. They have their corporate lives in the palm of his hands. The President needs to stop demonizing them for doing what he himself is doing and help out the  people of Nevada and get this economy going.

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3 Comments

Filed under economy, politics

3 responses to “Bipartisanship on the rise?

  1. fancybeggar

    How unfortunate that the mayor misunderstood the comment. It says nothing about not taking a trip to Las Vegas. It only speaks to who pays the bill. Of course, necessary meetings and trips are… well… necessary; but many times these trips are not really necessary, and taxpayers shouldn’t pay for that.

    I know my own company has made it clear that only people who really need to travel to meetings in other cities should be authorized to go. It cut way back on the big company meeting that is held annually in Puerto Rico that about 4 of the 12 people who work here used to attend. This year I think it will be more like 1 or 2 people. That announcement also happened to roughly coincide with the president’s Las Vegas comment, as did the loss of business the mayor describes, but my company certainly didn’t do it because the President made a comment about taxpayers paying for people to travel. The President just happened to make the comment during a period of economic downturn in which many businesses and government organizations are experiencing losses.

    I’m sure the mayor is doing the same belt tightening all of us are, and is simply venting some anger and frustration. But to be so publically angry about someone saying that the taxpayers shouldn’t pay for people’s trips to Vegas seems strange. And mayor’s business expenses are paid for by taxes, are they not? I must admit that it makes me wonder what is behind this odd overreaction on his part. His case would have obvioulsy been much better served by taking the opportunity to get in the news by making fun of the comment and reminding everyone why Vegas is such a fun place to go. Now it just makes me think of it as the place with the mayor who has put himself in the position of disagreeing with a statement that taxpayers shouldn’t pay for government employees to go to the Superbowl. Very odd.

  2. reedkeys

    Well, I’m not sure if the Mayor overreacted or not. It seems to me that those companies who received taxpayer dollars would be the MOST able to have company meetings in Las Vegas. After all, if we’re serious about using taxpayer dollars for stimulating the economy, I can’t think of a more direct way of doing that than having a company go to Vegas and throw around a boat load of money! But when the President of the United States used his bully pulpit to demonize those companies, it doesn’t take long for the rest of the companies to get the message. Not to mention the fact that both the Mayor and the Governor have been doing their jobs a LOT longer than Obama has been doing his. I think they know what they’re talking about.

  3. fancybeggar

    Thanks for the kind compliment. I’d just like to explore one of your comments a little further. You mentioned that you can’t think of a more direct way to stimulate the United States economy than my observation about using taxpayer money to send government employees from across the country to Las Vegas to spend our tax revenues in hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that support tourism. I’m so glad that you are thinking about how we can most directly work to redistribute our country’s great wealth to benefit us all. However, I’m sure if you think about this statement some more, you will be able to see that there are, actually, more direct ways.

    For example, I think the most direct way would be to contact hotel maids, restaurant servers, and other low-wage hospitality workers in Las Vegas directly and give them the a portion of the tax money we collect. This idea of a “direct way” to stimulate a macro economy by redistributing the wealth amassed by individuals to less-wealthy individuals is (to my limited understanding)similar to the way socialist governments approach economic policy. Perhaps you could build off this idea and work out a solution that would best incorporate those principles into a capitalist structure and publish the resulting paper. I’ll bet you would come up with some great ideas that might even get the people with the power to implement them motivated. Your ideas could make a positive difference in our world – consider it!

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