Debt ceiling debate colors Nevada 2012 elections

By Cristina Silva

Associated Press

Published: Friday, July 8 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Berkley has supported lowering taxes before. She voted in April for a failed proposal to make permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for individuals with income below $200,000 and couples below $250,000. Heller voted against it. Berkley also voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009, the federal stimulus plan provided tax relief to families, first-time homebuyers, unemployed workers and some businesses. Heller voted against it.

Likewise, Heller hasn't always been anti-tax. As a state Assemblyman in the early 1990s, he voted various times to raise states taxes, including an inheritance tax, property tax, real estate transfer tax, school support tax and sales tax. At one point, however, Heller also voted against two of the three major taxes approved by the Legislature.

During the contentious 2006 Republican primary that ultimately saw Heller elected to Congress, he defended his record.

"There is nobody in the race who didn't raise taxes," Heller said at the time, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "One of the responsibilities the state has is educating youth. If you had a reason to raise taxes, then that was it."

Heller said the economy, not his policy views, has changed, demanding a more fiscally prudent position.

"I don't think you can compare one era decades ago to today's economic climate," he said. "You have to take a look at where we are in society and I just don't think there is any way you can compare 1990 to 2011."

Heller's position mirrors that of national Republicans in Congress, most of whom have signed a no-new-taxes pledge pushed by the conservative group, Americans For Tax Reform. Heller will meet with the founder of the group, Grover Norquist, during a conservative conference Saturday in Las Vegas.

Nevada's other Republican in Congress is following Heller's example. Rep. Joe Heck of Henderson said he wants negotiators to agree on short term and long term spending cuts before he will consider raising the borrowing limit. Heck is running for re-election in 2012, but the boundaries of his district are unknown, and he has yet to draw a challenger.

"Every agency is going to have to share in the pain, including the Department of Defense," he said. "It's very simple. Before we consider raising the debt limit we need to get government spending under control."

Heck signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge before he was elected.

"They said 'Look, Joe, it is not that we don't trust you, but we have been burned so many times by politicians in the past who said one thing and did another,' " Heck said.

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