Chuck Muth: Goicoechea: That's French for 'surrender'

Fiscal conservatives literally are in a political war with the left over Nevada's budget. Alas, the GOP's commanding general in the Assembly is leading the charge waving a white flag.

Gov. Sandoval has said no new taxes, no new fees, and no extension of the 2009 tax hikes which are scheduled to sunset on June 30. All 10 of the Senate Republicans have seconded that emotion, in writing.

But Republicans in the Assembly have yet to make a similar definitive public statement. Instead, Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea has been ham-handedly, not to mention foolishly, trying to negotiate an extension of the sunsets even though he (a) knows the Democrats will never go for his deal, and (b) even if they did, the deal would never be approved by Gov. Sandoval and the Senate Republicans.

Nevertheless, Jon Ralston reported this week that "Goicoechea said he believes there is a chance a deal can be struck to exchange reform measures for lifting tax sunsets" and that Gov. Sandoval was not "interfering in the negotiations or pressuring the lawmakers not to make a deal."

Shortly thereafter, Goicoechea was summoned to the gubernatorial woodshed. After getting his butt royally chewed for misleading the public about the governor's position on extending the sunsets, the Minority Leader issued the following statement:

"We must continue to examine ways to get our fiscal house in order and rein in government spending while maintaining our commitment to no new taxes. Governor Sandoval has made it clear that he will veto any legislation that raises taxes or extends sunsets and our caucus supports his position."

At first you would think that finally reality had penetrated that hard head of Goicoechea's; that he and his caucus were finally on board and with the program along with their Senate colleagues.

Au contraire.

This was a very carefully worded statement which needs to be parsed in the same manner one once parsed anything Bill Clinton ever said (what the meaning of "is" is).

First, Goicoechea doesn't consider an extension of the sunsets "new taxes." Secondly, all Goicoechea was acknowledging is that Sandoval will veto whatever deal he comes up with, not that he was going to stop trying to cut a deal.

In other words, nothing has changed. Goicoechea still is quietly working to stab Gov. Sandoval and his Senate GOP colleagues in the back.

The only thing keeping the Legislature from finishing its business by June 6 are these Republicans in the Assembly who are keeping tax-hike hope alive by refusing to take the extension of more than $600 million worth of sunsets off the table, which would force the Democrats to face reality and accept that which they cannot change.

Conservatives and taxpayers have met the enemy. Alas, it's not the Democrats.

• Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach. He may be reached at


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