by Félix Pérez/photo courtesy of Jeff Turner
As expected, Mitt Romney handily won the Saturday, February 4, Republican presidential caucus in Nevada. Surprisingly, though, the former Massachusetts governor sidestepped the three most pressing issues besieging Nevadans: home foreclosures, joblessness and the extension of unemployment insurance.
Nevada leads the nation in foreclosure filings, with 1 in every 16 homes being foreclosed upon. Nevada foreclosure filings are more than four times the national rate, which stands at 1 in 69 homes.
Romney has been careful not to repeat remarks he made last October in an interview with the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review-Journal in which he argues against foreclosure relief. “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.”
In comparison, President Obama outlined this month his plan to create new opportunities for responsible homeowners to refinance their mortgages and save $3,000 a year.
Nevada’s unemployment rate in January was more than four points higher than the national rate, 12.6 percent versus 8.3 percent. Overall, more than 110,000 Nevada residents are unable to find work.
On the campaign trail, Romney touts his experience as governor and his tenure as CEO of a private equity firm that bought and sold businesses off piece by piece for hundreds of millions of dollars in profits as proof that he is the best candidate to lead the economy. However, during his four years as governor from 2003 to 2007, Massachusetts was the only state with three straight years of a shrinking work force.
Currently, Congress is debating whether to extend unemployment benefits for the nation’s long-term unemployed. At a Republican presidential debate in Iowa August 11, 2011, Romney voiced opposition to an extension. “Unemployment benefits – I think they’ve gone on a long, long, long time. We have to find ways to reduce our spending on a lot of the anti-poverty programs and unemployment programs.”