Defending her ideas on how to create jobs and spur the economy, Sharron Angle on Thursday called for lifting "the fog of taxation and regulation" on business.
That would include ending an estate tax she contends hurts family companies by taking capital that could be used to expand business and hire more workers.
"We need to create a climate here in Nevada and in the United States that actually encourages businesses to perform and to perform at their very best," Angle said at family-owned Brady Industries, which opened a laundry plant in December with 100 workers that will double to 200 by year's end.
Angle, the Republican candidate challenging U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, took only a few questions from reporters after signing a pledge to repeal permanently what critics call a "death tax." But she limited queries to the topic at hand, a day after refusing to take any questions at a similar event in Reno.
"Today, we're concentrating on what will get America and especially Nevada back on its economic wheels, if you will," Angle said when asked why she wouldn't talk about other issues. "We've seen this recession hit us the hardest here in the state. And that's why we've taken time today to focus on this. And that's why we don't want to talk about other things."
More than six weeks since the Tea Party conservative won the GOP primary, Angle's campaign is trying to control her message by focusing on how to fix the economy -- and on blaming Reid for Nevada's record high 14.2 percent unemployment rate and record home foreclosures and bankruptcies.
The Reid campaign has accused Angle of dodging questions by avoiding full news conferences and doing interviews mostly with friendly conservative TV and talk radio hosts. And Reid has been using Angle's own words in those interviews to pummel her in TV and radio ads, including a clip of the Republican saying it's not a U.S. senator's job to create jobs.
At Brady Industries, Angle said her job is to create an environment for private business to thrive. Asked how that would help the unemployed, she said more money for companies means more jobs.
"Labor depends on capital. That's what a capitalist society is all about, having enough money to pay wages," Angle said, adding that now companies are hanging on to cash out of fear. "We know that there are many corporations just like Brady Industries that are holding back $2 trillion that they want to spend on creating jobs, but they can't see through the fog of taxation and regulation at the government level."
Eliminating the estate tax "would be a great step in the right direction to clearing out the fog of taxation and regulations that (would) allow these small businessmen to see where they can actually spend their capital on hiring folks," Angle said.
The estate tax temporarily expired at the end of last year but is supposed to go back into effect automatically in 2011 at a rate of 55 percent on assets above $1 million if Congress takes no action.
Reid favors returning to 2009 rules when the tax rate was 45 percent on estate assets above $3.5 million. His campaign said it would affect less than 1 percent of families and only hit the richest. Eliminating the tax could add $500 billion to the deficit over time, according to the Reid campaign.
But critics like Angle and other Republicans argue it's excessive.
"This is double taxation," Angle said. "This is being taxed one more time on wages and earnings that have already been taxed. That's just wrong, and it's un-American."
Travis Brady's grandfather opened the janitorial supply company in 1947. Brady is now president of the company, which grew to 725 employees after opening a hotel linen service 10 years ago.
"The value of this company is sitting in the assets," Brady said, speaking over the sound of huge washers and dryers whirring in the background. If his father died and the company was hit with a 55 percent estate tax, "that's potentially devastating for a business like ours."
The Reid campaign took delight in Angle's venue, noting Brady is doing booming laundry business thanks in part to the new CityCenter complex Reid helped save last year.
The senator called banks to urge them to continue financing the $8.5 billion project, which employs 10,000 people. CityCenter's Aria, Vdara and Mandarin hotels, which have thousands of rooms, are Brady customers.
"Sharron Angle's hypocrisy would be laughable if it wasn't so extreme," said Jon Summers, spokesman for the Reid campaign. "For her to attack Reid at a business that was strengthened because he saved CityCenter -- something she would not have done -- just goes to show how far out of touch Sharron Angle really is. While Angle says it's not her job to create jobs, Senator Reid is glad the facility she was in today is putting Nevadans to work because CityCenter was completed."
Angle has said she would not have called banks to use her influence if she had been senator, arguing that private projects must succeed on their own and that other casino-hotels might have lost business.
After the Brady event, Angle delivered the same free-market message to the Spring Mountain Republican Women's monthly lunch, where she spoke to a group of about 160. She asked members of the GOP group to spread the word and help her "retire Harry Reid."
"We've been working very hard to do something that will change the direction of our country," Angle told the gathering, saying lower taxes and less regulation will lead to economic recovery.
Angle won applause by slamming President Barack Obama for expanding government with initiatives such as the $787 billion stimulus package, bank and business bailouts and the new health care law.
"We see a fog so thick over Washington, D.C., that Barack Obama thinks it's a bright new day," Angle said. "I think what is happening there is he's got his brights on and they're bouncing off that fog, and that's why he thinks it's a bright new day."
Angle also took questions written on note cards by attendees. They included queries about how she plans to allow some workers to opt out of Social Security and open personal retirement accounts.
She told the women, many of whom were senior citizens, not to believe commercials from the Reid campaign that say she wants to kill the program. Instead, she said she wants to restore the $2.5 trillion Social Security Trust Fund that has been "raided" and ensure benefits to "keep our contract with seniors" who paid into the system.
Asked how she would counter the Reid campaign's efforts to "vilify" her, as the questioner put it, Angle said she would raise enough money to counter with her own TV ads. "I'm going to spend millions to tell the truth," Angle said.
Angle won the loudest applause when she answered the last written question asking why she would make a better senator for Nevada than the powerful Senate majority leader.
"I'm not Harry Reid," Angle said with a big smile.
Contact Laura Myers at email@example.com or 702-387-2919.