Sandoval delivers GOP weekly address, chooses "facts" wisely

The national Republicans, fresh off a dark week of Capitol Hill seppuku on Obamacare, couldn't have chosen a sunnier voice for the regular Saturday radio address.

Gov. Brian Sandoval is presiding over a slowly recovering economy. He has stratospheric poll numbers considering how deep the fiscal hole was/is. And he projects a face -- literally -- many national Republicans see as the future.

So Gov. Sunny took the opportunity to do what he does best: Accentuate the positive and massage the negative. (Ironically, the same day Sandoval's choice was announced, the Nevada Policy Research Institute's boss delivered a scorching evaluation of the governor and the unemployment news was not so great.)

During the  nearly six-minute address, the governor glossed over the truth about his fiscal record, which includes consecutive sessions of allowing hundreds of millions in expiring taxes to continue and a 2013 agenda that poured half a billion dollars back into education (he boasts of this) and allowed three proposals to raise hundreds of millions in taxes to be heard by local governments. Forget what you think of the merits of any of these moves -- the fact is that Sandoval has not governed as Scott Walker. He has returned to his moderate roots we first saw a couple of decades ago in the Assembly -- he talks the no-tax talk, but his record is dissonant because he sees himself as a compassionate conservative more than the "no new taxes" guy he claims to be. Indeed, there are so many asterisks now next to that tax pledge that I have lost count.

Also, during the week of Obamacarehate by the Republicans, the man they chose to give the national address has expanded Medicaid and set up some of the first health exchanges. His approach: I don't like it, but I have to live with it.

Think Ted Cruz would agree? Or even Dean Heller?

Here's a link to the speech and below is the script with my helpful annotations:

“Hello, my name is Brian Sandoval and I have the honor of serving as Governor of the Great State of Nevada.

“When I first came to office, our country was in the depths of the great recession.  And, no state had been hit harder than Nevada. (So far, so good. No arguing here.)

“At our peak, Nevada’s unemployment rate was almost 15 percent, and we led the nation in foreclosures and bankruptcies.

“Jobs disappeared almost overnight, leaving behind steel skeletons of half-built buildings to memorialize the day the economy froze and the work stopped.

“But, despite those dark days, I knew that a brighter future was just around the corner. (Always sunny!)

“Nevadans and all Americans are resilient.  Overcoming adversity is a part of our national heritage.

“Mere survival, though, was not enough. We needed decisive action and a significant course correction to meet the challenges that lay ahead.

“Upon taking office, I ordered an immediate freeze to all state regulations until they could be reviewed. (Hey, this is a Republican thing, right? Its impact on the economy? Hmmmm.)

“Because our state’s budget situation was so dire, we reduced spending by more than $500 million, eliminated approximately 600 positions across state government, and merged or eliminated more than a dozen state agencies. (Yes, he did that.)

“Unlike Washington, we had to balance our state budget as Nevada could not borrow its way out of problems.

“While working to balance the budget, we began putting in motion our plans to help create jobs and get Nevadans working again. (I missed that plan.)

“Economic opportunity has been and continues to be the foundation of this country and is the source of the American Dream.

“And I sensed that the future of the American Dream was at risk.

“Like then-Governor Ronald Reagan stated in 1964, I believed that we faced a ‘Time for Choosing.’ (Gipper! Drink.)

“So, we chose a simple approach to state government: it should be a protector of rights and a partner in prosperity.

“To that end, I fought against excessive tax increases, and instead was able to expand tax exemptions for businesses, and extend tax abatements to encourage businesses to grow. (This is where it gets tricky. By "excessive tax increases," he surely means the Democratic plan to raise a variety of taxes in 2011 Sandoval didn't have to fight anything. It was DOA. And after promising not to allow $600 million in temporary taxes to continue, after the state Supreme Court put some of his budget into question, he reversed course and extended the so-called sunsets.)

“When it comes to growing jobs, it is my responsibility to leave no stone unturned when it comes to getting Nevada working again.

“Can you just imagine what our economy would look like today if Washington would just take that approach?

“Like Washington, Nevada has a politically divided government, but that hasn’t stopped our efforts to grow Nevada’s economy. (He has met with and had meals with lawmakers. But there has been no sense of bipartisanship in the capital during his term, although it's hardly just Sandoval's fault. He has had his agenda, such as it is, and the Democratic leaders have had none.)

“Good executives, like all good leaders, must expect opposition when making decisions or when making or enforcing the law.

“But executives must engage those that disagree with them.

“They must listen to all ideas, persuade when possible, and respectfully and firmly disagree when necessary.

“And despite having a politically divided government, in the last two years, Nevada has been able to accomplish much.  We have strengthened employment, our economy, and education in our state. (We! He only cooperated with the Democrats in 2011 because of that court decision. The state was headed for arguably the worst train wreck in history before the court stepped in. In 2013, Sandoval found little to disagree with the Democrats about because they proposed very little that was controversial. See hoary "he plays chess, they play checkers" metaphor.)

“In large part because we sit down, put partisanship aside, talk through our disagreements, and find common ground. (I missed this part of the last two sessions.)

“Now while I will be the first to say there is still work to be done, Nevada has now experienced 31 straight months of economic growth, we have had the second strongest decline in unemployment in the country, and we continue to add much needed jobs. (The economy here stinks. Period. We are digging out of the hole. But it was very deep.)

“The list of companies wishing to relocate to Nevada once fit on an index card; now it is long and diverse. (Oh? Perhaps longer. But diverse? We are getting data centers, maybe, and the usual low-hanging fruit. But what else? To be fair, there are some hopeful signs. But until the K-16 system gets a better reputation, the state's opportunities will be limited.)

“When it came to our schools, we eliminated teacher tenure to improve education for our children, and are now focusing on ensuring that our kids read and write at grade level, which benefits everyone. (So we are trying to get our kids to "read at grade level," now? My goodness. Such lofty goals.)

“Fortunately, good policy, true principles, and effective leadership work whenever they are tried.

“When we reduce government, balance budgets, and keep taxes as low as possible, states respond in a positive way. (Didn't he say earlier that the budget had to be balanced by law? And taxes are not as "low as possible" because he has now twice allowed those so-called sunset taxes to continue past their dates of expiration. He -- and many others -- would argue the money was essential. But there are conservatives who would say those moves were not....conservative.)

“When tough times force tough choices, we act decisively and move forward.

“It’s no accident that the fastest growing states with the best economies are all led by Republican governors.

“These states differ geographically, economically, and even politically.

“But our ideas have and continue to work.

“Our founding fathers got it right.  Free enterprise and limited government have made, and will continue to make, this country great.

“Despite all we have endured, I could not be more proud and optimistic about the greatest nation on earth.

“I am confident that our core convictions provide the surest path to an America where economic opportunity still abounds, hard work still rewards, and dreams are still realized.

“We just need Washington to pause, reflect, and see what is possible in our great nation.

“Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.

“God bless the Great State of Nevada and God bless the United States of America.”