“Obama budget likely to play same old song”
Former Congressional Budget Office director and American Action Forum President Douglas Holtz-Eakin editorializes in POLITICO, “Exciting as watching paint dry — that’s the usual assessment of a budget document. And Wednesday’s release of President Barack Obama’s budget promises to be as underwhelming as it is overdue. Will there be anything of interest at all? Not likely. However, if you believe in long shots — think of drawing three cards for a royal, straight flush while watching a 2013 Pirates World Series game seated next to Donald Trump, who does not use the word ‘I’ for nine innings — there is the following. The U.S. has huge budget challenges. And for the first time in years, we will have three budget proposals to carefully consider — instead of speeches and talking points. Thus, the House, the Senate and the White House will all have plans on paper from which one could hope a serious grand bargain on the debt might emerge. For that to happen, the president’s budget will have to be chock-full of detailed and serious entitlement reform proposals, tax reform specifics and mechanisms to enforce an agreement to keep the debt on a declining trajectory. Unfortunately, the administration’s pre-release spin notwithstanding, that is too far a break from history to bet on. Instead, look for a spending-heavy, gimmick-laden budget proposal that never balances and refuses to get to the heart of our debt crisis.”
Obama’s Budget Falling Into “Yawning Political Void”
The Washington Post reports, “President Obama will unveil his 2014 spending plan Wednesday, 65 days late and several trillion dollars short, by Republican standards, of effectively reining in the national debt. But the more relevant fact about the White House budget may be the yawning political void into which it is about to fall on Capitol Hill. Administration officials say their plan offers a path to compromise, a centrist course that avoids the extreme spending cuts of the House Republican budget as well as the $1 trillion tax hike endorsed last month by Senate Democrats. The president’s proposal contains the same set of policies that Republicans rejected just a few months ago during the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. Putting that plan into writing has failed to change many GOP minds, but it allows Obama to argue that he has met their demands to cut Social Security and Medicare. And it sets him up to blame Republican intransigence over taxes if a deal fails to materialize before Congress faces another showdown over the federal debt limit this summer. An actual deal remains elusive, however. It is not even clear who will do the negotiating.”
“Two months late, Obama’s budget proposal irks both sides”
CBS News reports, “President Obama’s budget arrives two months late, faces skeptical Republicans, irate Democratic activists and carries the burden of trying to erase $1.2 trillion in spending cuts under sequestration the White House dislikes but has failed to persuade Congress to reverse or amend. … House Republicans consider Mr. Obama’s document a tardy irrelevance. Democrats in the Senate are focused on fights over gun control legislation and the drafting of a sweeping immigration reform bill. Democrats will welcome Mr. Obama’s budget politely but pay it little respect. In fact, Senate Democrats ignored the biggest and most combustible idea in Mr. Obama’s budget: $230 billion in 10-year savings derived from a new formula for calculating annual cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security and other federal benefits. The adjustments are designed to help retirees on fixed incomes keep pace with inflation.”
Obama Sends Congress His $3.77 Trillion Dollar Blue Print for Spending
The Associated Press reports, “President Barack Obama is sending Congress a $3.77 trillion spending blueprint that seeks to achieve an elusive ‘grand bargain’ to tame runaway deficits by raising taxes further on the wealthy and trimming popular benefit programs such as Social Security. The president’s proposal being unveiled Wednesday includes an additional $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, bringing total deficit savings to $4.3 trillion, based on the administration’s calculations. It projects that the deficit for the 2014 budget year, which begins Oct. 1, would fall to $744 billion. That would be the lowest gap between spending and revenue since 2008. … Obama’s plan is not all about budget cuts. It also includes an additional $50 billion to fund infrastructure investments, including $40 billion in a “Fix It First” effort to provide immediate investments to repair highways, bridges, transit systems and airports nationwide. Obama’s budget would also provide $1 billion to launch a network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes across the country, and it earmarks funding to support high-speed rail projects.”
Obama Proposing Revenue-Neutral Corporate Tax Reform
POLITICO reports, “President Barack Obama is expected to use his budget proposal to call on Congress to overhaul the corporate tax system in a way that doesn’t generate additional revenue, a move that is sure to anger liberal Democrats in the Senate. The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment on the expected language, which several sources said would be included in the fiscal 2014 budget proposal that will be unveiled Wednesday. Beyond calling for revenue-neutrality, it’s not clear how deeply the president’s budget will wade into the choppy waters of corporate tax reform.”
Liberals Furious Over Potential Cuts to Entitlements
Dana Milbank editorializes in The Washington Post, “Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, red in the face, took off his jacket and rolled up a shirt sleeve — but there was no relief from the discomfort of his affliction. The poor guy is suffering from triangulation. The man triangulating him, President Obama, has proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare as part of an attempt to find a middle ground in the budget debate. For Sanders (I), a liberal member of the Senate Democratic caucus, the betrayal stung so badly that he literally took to the streets, joining left-wing activists for a protest Tuesday afternoon outside the White House. … [T]he progressives’ street protest did Obama a favor. He needs to have the likes of Bernie Sanders against him. It strengthens his hand and helps him negotiate a better deal with Republican leaders, who can now see that liberal backbenchers and interest groups can sometimes be as intransigent as conservatives. At a Republican presidential debate in 2011, all eight candidates on the stage said they would reject a budget deal that raised taxes even if it had $10 of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases. At Tuesday’s protest, I put the reverse question to participants: Could they accept a dollar of cuts in Medicare and Social Security benefits for every $10 of increased taxes on corporations and the wealthy? All those I asked said they would decline.”
Fed Pension Program Expected to Be Exhausted in 15 Years
The Washington Guardian reports, “The federal program that protects workers in multiemployer pension plans expects to be exhausted in 10 to 15 years, and the financial hit will most likely land on retirees, a new report said this week. The Government Accountability Office said the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation will be overwhelmed because so many multiemployer plans are so seriously underfunded that they will soon be unable to meet their obligations to retirees. The plans have suffered from various factors, including losses in the stock market, the impact of the recession on the companies that sponsor the plans, and the growth in the ranks of the retired. … Beneficiaries are certain to feel the impact. Many plans, struggling to stay solvent, have already reduced benefits and increased employer contributions – which, in turn, reduced the amount of money employers could devote to pay raises or other benefit programs. When a multiemployer plan becomes insolvent, PBGC sends it money to keep benefits flowing to retirees and to fund the plan’s administrative operation. The aid is nominally a loan, although the money is almost never repaid, the report said.”
“New defense budget means more financial uncertainty for Pentagon”
Reuters reports, “The Obama administration is poised to roll out a 2014 defense budget that is billions of dollars higher than legally mandated spending caps, setting the stage for another year of financial uncertainty and turmoil at the Pentagon, defense analysts say. The White House will propose a $526.6 billion defense budget on Wednesday when it unveils its spending plan for the fiscal year beginning October 1, U.S. officials say. That is $51 billion above the spending caps set by a 2011 law aimed at controlling government deficits. The White House budget plan proposes spending reductions and revenue increases that officials say would make defense cuts under a process known as sequestration unnecessary. But a deal on taxes and spending with the Congress seems unlikely, given that President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have been trying for two years to achieve one. As a result, the Pentagon appears to be headed toward another round of forced budget cuts in October with no plan in place for absorbing the reductions, even as it struggles to implement a $41 billion budget cut for which it was ill-prepared.”
Majority of Americans Have Unfavorable View of Tax Code
The Washington Post reports, “A clear majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of the federal income tax system, according to new Washington Post-ABCNews polling. But, in a somewhat remarkable finding, a majority of Democrats view the tax system in a positive light while Republicans and Independents carry the exact opposite view. Fifty-three percent of self-identified Democrats in the Post-ABC survey view the income tax system favorably while 43 percent see it unfavorably. That’s a stark contrast to the 66 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of independents who have an unfavorable opinion of the tax system. … Whatever the reason, the data is intriguing given that President Obama will release his budget proposal today even as the two parties continue to circle one another in the seemingly endless dance of how to solve (or at least address) the nation’s debt problems. Reforming the tax code has long been a priority for Republicans who insist it could reduce the deficit while averting a tax rate increase. But, at least according to these Post-ABC numbers, Democrats don’t see the tax system as broken and may well put up a fight if and when their GOP rivals push tax reform over tax increases as a solution to the country’s fiscal problems.”
Obama’s Budget Eyes Millionaires and Sequester Cuts
Reuters reports, “The White House on Wednesday proposed a budget that sharply trims the U.S. deficit over three years by forcing millionaires to pay more in taxes and enacting spending cuts that replace the ‘sequester’ reductions that went into place last month. President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget blueprint ensures that those making $1 million a year or more would have to pay at least 30 percent of their income, after gifts to charity, in taxes, officials said. That increase, along with spending cuts and a 28 percent cap on tax deductions for high earners, would bring the U.S. budget deficit down to 2.8 percent of GDP by 2016, senior administration officials told reporters. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office in February projected the U.S. deficit to be 5.3 pct of GDP this year. … Obama’s budget proposal would replace those cuts with his original deficit reduction proposal from December. That offer included $930 billion in spending reductions and some $580 billion in tax revenues. The president’s budget includes spending on policy priorities such as infrastructure and early childhood education. He would pay for those programs with additional new taxes and the elimination of some tax breaks for the well-off.”
President’s Nominee to Run Entitlements Vows to Run Them Like A Business
Reuters reports, “President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the huge agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid got rare bipartisan praise on Tuesday, but faced tough questions about healthcare reform and a recent controversial decision on Medicare Advantage payment rates. Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, which will decide whether to advance her nomination, Marilyn Tavenner said her role would be to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as a business, and as a partner with many healthcare entities for the benefit of all. … ‘We have an $820 billion dollar business to run that a large amount of this country has a stake in, from beneficiaries to providers to hospitals to insurance companies to Congress to the administration to our CMS employees and contractors,’ Tavenner said. ‘We need to operate CMS as a business and act like business partners.’ In a sign of her bipartisan appeal, she was introduced by one of the nation’s most prominent conservative lawmakers and a longtime foe of Obama’s Affordable Care Act, fellow Virginian and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who worked with Tavenner when she ran the state’s Medicaid program.”
Spending Daily | March 7, 2013
Congress Angered Over Contract for TSA’s $50 Million Uniforms
POLITICO reports, “Members of Congress are decrying the Transportation Security Administration’s decision to sign a $50 million contract to buy uniforms just a week before sequestration took effect.TSA defends the deal — noting that its old contract had expired, and saying that without a new one it couldn’t have continued buying uniforms for airport screeners. And the agency says $50 million is aceiling, not the amount it intends to spend on uniforms in the next year. But the optics of such a big, badly timed contract are horrible, lawmakers said Wednesday. ‘When we’re losing essential services and they’re closing down or threatening to close down all sorts of important government activities, to have them cut the deal on $50 million for uniforms is absolutely outrageous,’ John Mica (R-Fla.) told POLITICO. Mica, a former House Transportation chairman, is a frequent critic of TSA and now helms an Oversight panel with broad jurisdiction over government spending. He said he’s ‘working feverishly’ on digging into TSA’s finances.”
WaPo Fact Checker: Four Pinocchios for Obama on Janitor Pay Cut Claims
Glenn Kessler writes in The Washington Post, “At a news conference last Friday, President Obama claimed that, ‘starting tomorrow,’ the ‘folks cleaning the floors at the Capitol’ had ‘just got a pay cut’ because of the automatic federal spending cuts known as the sequester. The president very quickly earned Four Pinocchios for that statement, especially after senior officials at the Architect of the Capitol (AOC), the federal agency that employ janitors on the House side, and the office of the Sergeant at Arms (SAA), which employs janitors on the Senate side, issued statements saying the president’s comments were not true. Still, the White House has kept up its spin offensive, claiming that a cut in ‘overtime’ was a de facto pay cut and thus the president was right — or at least not wrong. … Apparently, the president assumed — incorrectly — that the janitors on Capitol Hill would get a pay cut. Rather than admit an error, White House aides doubled down on their talking points about overtime being essential to their livelihood, without actually knowing the truth. Clearly, the sequester is hurting segments of the government and will cut the pay of some government workers. It would be better to focus on those people rather than imaginary victims.”
Congressional Pay Won’t Be Docked in Sequester
The Washington Post reports, “U.S. lawmakers won’t have their $174,000 salaries affected by across-the-board government spending cuts going into effect this month, but there’s little clarity about how the bank accounts of senators and representatives were spared in the so-called sequester. The spending cuts hit every budget account with a few exceptions that were written into the law that set up the federal budgeting process more than two decades ago, known as the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act. Compensation for the president is specifically exempted, but there’s no mention of pay for members of Congress. So how did lawmakers’ pay escape the axe? Turns out that’s a mystery with conflicting explanations that lead deep into a rabbit hole of federal budgeting arcana. The Office of Management and Budget, the agency in charge of executive branch money matters, hasn’t said how it determined that lawmakers’ salaries would continue to flow from the Treasury unscathed.”
Planned House GOP Budget Accepts Tax Increases
The New York Times reports, “House Republicans will preserve Medicare cuts that their presidential nominee loudly denounced last year and accept tax increases they sternly opposed just months ago in a new tax-and-spending blueprint that would bring the federal budget into balance by 2023, senior Republicans said Wednesday. But the politically charged proposal, which emerged as the Houseeasily passed legislation to keep the government financed through Sept. 30, is not expected to include workers currently 55 and over in major changes recommended for Medicare, after more moderate Republicans objected. The vote on the short-term spending bill was moved up because of a predicted storm thatfailed to meet expectations but that still shut down the federal government. ‘Our goal is not to pass a budget and forget about it,’ said Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee. ‘Our goal is to get a down payment on this problem for America. The value of a Republican majority ought to be, at the very least, to help delay a debt crisis from hitting this country.’”
Senate to Tackle Avoiding Government Shutdown
The Associated Press reports, “Efforts to stave off a late March government shutdown shifted to the Senate after House Republicans swiftly passed legislation to keep federal agencies running, while also easing some of theeffects of $85 billion in budget cuts. The House legislation, approved Wednesday on a bipartisan vote, is the first step toward averting a possible fiscal showdown this month. If another budget crisis can be avoided, it could clear the way for lawmakers and President Barack Obama to restart talks on a longer-term deficit reduction plan. … While no real breakthroughs appeared to emerge from Wednesday night’s two-hour meal, the mere fact that it happened was significant given the lack of direct engagement between Obama and rank-and-file Republicans over the past two years. … It would take months for compromise talks on a broad deficit reduction deal to bear fruit, and there is little sign of shifts on the key difference that separates the parties. Obama is seeking higher taxes as part of his deficit-cutting approach, while Ryan, author of the House GOP budget, previewed a longer-term plan Wednesday to erase federal deficits without raising taxes.”
Report Uncovers $60 Billion in Waste And Abuse Used to Rebuild Iraq
The Hill reports, “An ‘appalling’ report on the misuse of U.S. reconstruction funding for Iraq shows the need for a ‘top-to-bottom’ review of the State Department and its aid agency, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Wednesday. ‘The extent of waste and abuse in the $60 billion of Iraq reconstruction funds coupled with the instability still evident in Iraq is appalling and highlights real failures of planning and execution that must be corrected to make U.S. foreign assistance a more effective tool for advancing the national interests of our country,’ Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said. ‘At the same time, this final Iraq reconstruction report also highlights some approaches that worked and could be applied to future reconstruction efforts, especially the billions of dollars in remaining reconstruction funds for Afghanistan.’”
Fed: Gradual Economic Growth January-February
Reuters reports, “Economic growth continued to improve gradually in January and early February as consumer spending picked up and the country’s battered housing market maintained a broad-based recovery, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday. In a cautiously optimistic report from its 12 regional branches that delivered largely positive feedback from business contacts, the U.S. central bank also highlighted downside risks caused by ongoing budget battles in Washington. … Although consumer spending picked up, retail sales slowed in several districts. Many of the 12 regional Feds pinned the blame on the expiration of a payroll tax holiday in January, higher gasoline prices and the impact of new healthcare laws.”
Ryan and Obama to Lunch
The Wall Street Journal reports, “President Barack Obama’s outreach to congressional Republicans continues today, as he lunches at the White House with Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), the leading budget-writer in the House. It’s the latest sign that Mr. Obama is trying to reignite conversations with the GOP aimed at producing a ‘grand bargain’ on deficit-cutting, entitlement spending and taxes. Debate over those issues has produced near-gridlock and a series of deadline-driven budget crises in Washington, which now threaten to divert attention from Mr. Obama’s second term goals of passing an immigration overhaul and expanding early-childhood education, among other things.”
“Paul Ryan, Patty Murray hold the keys to any budget deal”
The Washington Post reports, “After two years of anxious, high-wire negotiations over the federal budget, an exhausted Washington is about to hand the mess back over to the experts: the chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees. In the next few weeks, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will roll out competing proposals for taming the national debt. If lightning strikes, both sides hold out hope that a Ryan-Murray conference committee could become the forum for litigating the partisan dispute over taxes and spending. Especially if President Obama makes headway in his new outreach campaign to Republicans, a Ryan-Murray summit could produce the big deal that would let Congress avoid another nasty fight over the federal debt limit, which is once again looming in August.”
Donald Trump said on Wednesday that if President Obama releases his college records and his passport application, the mega-millionaire developer will give a $5 million check to charities of Obama’s choosing.
Trump tweeted a video of himself in which he offers Obama a “deal that I don’t believe he can refuse, and I hope he doesn’t.”
Spending Daily | October 4, 2012
“Deficit Cutting Plan Was Debate’s Star”
The Wall Street Journal reports, “One of the most confusing—but also important—exchanges in Wednesday night’s debate was a lengthy clash between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney overtheir competing tax proposals. Both candidates hurled giant numbers at eachother—$5 trillion here, $4 trillion there—but the crux of their divide was much simpler: What role should taxes play in an economic recovery, and should tax increases be used as part of a deal to reduce the nation’s budget deficit?” Buzzfeed writes, “Both candidates for president offered warm words Thursday night about the Simpson-Bowles plan to close the federal deficit, which would have cut the deficit by $6.3 trillion over ten years with a blend of spending cuts and revenue. … If Simpson-Bowles — which neither candidate in fact supports in full, and which Romney accused Obama of letting languish — was the unexpected star of the debate, the largest dog that didn’t bark in Wednesday’s debate was the so-called ‘fiscal cliff,’ the mix of tax hikes and spending cuts that, if allowed to take effect at year’s end, could steer the economy back into a recession.”
“Romney puts Obama on defensive on deficit”
The Hill reports, “GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney was able to put President Obama on the defensive on the deficit in the first presidential debate. Coming into the debate, the deficit was Romney’s strongest issue and he moved aggressively to shore up the lead he has built up in that area. Obama largely failed to delve into his own lengthy attempts to forge a grand bargain on the deficit with Congress last year, or to put the blame for its failure on the House GOP’s unwillingness to raise any taxes — a key Democratic talking point. This allowed Romney to argue the president is unable to compromise and to talk about his own achievements as a governor. … ‘I think it’s a moral issue,’ Romney declared at one point. He said Obama’s $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan ‘doesn’t get the job done’ on the budget. … Obama, appearing annoyed, tried to detail how the size of Romney’s budget cuts— larger than Obama’s, because he would keep low tax rates on the wealthy in place — would devastate essential services, but Romney was able repeatedly to claim that specific cuts, such as to Medicaid or to education, would not in fact hurt the middle-class.“
Romney: ”I Like PBS, I Love Big Bird,” But We Can’t Keep Spending
The LA Times reports, “When moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS asked each candidate to describe the difference between his plan to attack the deficit and his opponent’s, Romney couched the issue in moral terms. ‘I’m glad you raised that,’ he [Romney] said. ‘I think it’s frankly not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing that those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation. They’re going to be paying the interest and the principal all their lives, and the amount of debt we’re adding — at a trillion a year — is simply not moral.’ … Then, looking at moderator Lehrer, Romney said, ‘I’m sorry, Jim, I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS…. I like PBS, I love Big Bird — I actually like, you too — but I am not going to keep spending money on things [we have] to borrow money from China to pay for.’” Click here for the video from CBS News.
Fiscal Cliff Source of Anxiety for Small Business Owners
The Wall Street Journal reports, “Many small-business executives said they have little confidence that lawmakers and the president will be able to avoid a fiscal cliff by December 31. A survey of 833 business owners released Wednesday found that 47% of small-business owners and chief executives said they don’t expect the country will avoid the tax increases and deep spending cuts that are set to take effect at year-end unless Congress and President Barack Obama agree on a new deficit-reduction plan. In comparison, 38% of respondents said they thought lawmakers would be able to reach an agreement. Another 14% weren’t sure.” Clint Greenleaf who owns a small Austin based publishing company says he dreads the uncertainty. “’He explained that a one-year extension ’is the worst thing that can happen,’ says Mr. Greenleaf, whose 15-year-old firm has 35 employees and close to $11 million in annual revenue. ‘Whether I invest tomorrow will entirely depend on my taxes going forward,’ he said. … More than two-thirds of the respondents said they plan to vote for Mr. Romney, versus 19% for Mr. Obama. Only 30% of those surveyed believed Mr. Romney would win, while more than half expected Mr. Obama to be re-elected. “
Weekly Jobless Claims Rise
MarketWatch reports, “The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 367,000 in the week of Sept. 23- 29, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected claims to rise to 370,000. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 363,000 from an original reading of 359,000, based on more complete data collected at the state level. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, was unchanged at 375,000.”
$16 Amtrak Burgers
According to the New York Times, Amtrak’s Food and Beverage Service has lost $834 million since 2002. In the fiscal year 2011 alone, Food and Beverage Services suffered an $85 million direct operating loss. The majority of this money is federally funded and coming out of the taxpayer’s pocket. What’s causing such a tremendous loss? One such cause is the difference between what it actually costs Amtrak to purchase the food and drink and what they charge passengers. USA Today revealed that each cheeseburger costs Amtrak, and the taxpayers, $16.15 but they charge passengers only $9.50. Drinks cost $3.40 and passengers are charged $2. Labor also adds nearly 60 percent to food and beverage costs. Click here to read more.
From the Reno Gazette-Journal:
Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, locked in a tight campaign with Democrat Shelley Berkley, toured three Sparks businesses Wednesday to help him gauge the strength of the Northern Nevada economy.
The message Heller received from the businesses – Western Nevada Supply, Dynamic Diesel and ITS Logistics – was that business is getting a little better.
“I told him (Heller) that we have a saying around here, that we refuse to participate in the recession,” said Malinda Campbell, who along with her husband Kevin, owns Dynamic Diesel. “So with dedication, hard work and doing what we say we’re going to do, we have survived and we are doing OK. We have seen a little bit of a pickup, but it is not enough.”
She even had a job offer.
“I would love to find another qualified diesel mechanic,” Campbell said. “So for any of your readers, a qualified journeyman mechanic can have a job here just like that.”
The news at ITS Logistics was even better.
“(The year) 2010 was the worst year,” Daniel Allen, an ITS executive, told Heller. “Last year was a good year. We were real busy last year and this year we are pretty optimistic. Already this quarter, this is the best first quarter we’ve had in our business.”
Heller felt more confident in the strength of the economy after listening to the business owners and workers in Sparks’ industrial area.
“I listen to government and everybody is painting a rosy picture,” Heller said. “But if businesses are telling me things are picking up, then I have confidence in the direction of the economy.”
A stark statistic dims Heller’s optimism.
“We still have 12.3 percent unemployment in Nevada today,” Heller said. “It is improving, but it is not good enough. It’s not even close to being good enough.”