Has Harry Reid lost his mind?

Harry Reid is showing up the Occupy Wall Street protesters. He takes crazy talk to a whole new level.

Last week, the bard of Searchlight stood on the floor of the U.S. Senate. In front of C-SPAN and everybody, he said — and I’m not making this up — “It’s very clear that private-sector jobs are doing just fine. It’s the public-sector jobs where we’ve lost huge numbers.”

And all the good people of Nevada, along with all the wild horses, cattle, ground squirrels and sheep, lifted their heads and said: “Is Harry Reid out of his ever-loving mind?”

Nevada’s economy has been missing for so long it’s pictured on the side of milk cartons. And free-spending, deficit-hiking Harry Reid is listed as the No. 1 suspect.

When Harry tells the nation to “go left” economically, Nevadans instinctively lean to the right.

If being wrong were an art, Harry Reid’s work would be on display at the Louvre.

One can only wonder just where in his home state Sen. Reid sees the private sector doing “just fine.”

Has he been to the suburbs of Las Vegas and seen ground zero of the national housing bubble? It was a bubble caused in large measure by Sen. Reid and his Democratic Party, with special credit to his policy cohorts, Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank.

Has Harry stood at the dark northern edge of the Strip and seen the shuttered casinos, businesses and partially built hotels headed for implosion instead of opening?

Has he driven down Sahara Avenue between Interstate 15 and the Las Vegas Beltway, one of the main commerce corridors in the city? Closed and abandoned businesses sit idle in testament to Washington’s mishandling of the economy. It is not lost on Nevadans that our economic policy failures span both Republican and Democratic presidents, but coincide exactly with Sen. Reid’s time in charge of the U.S. Senate.

No, the private sector is far from fine.

Anecdotally, Harry is wrong.

Intuitively, Harry is wrong.

Statistically, Harry is wrong.

In the two years Reid and President Obama have controlled Washington, government jobs have increased 13.5 percent to 2.1 million.

During that same time, 2.5 million private-sector jobs were lost.

The unemployment rate in Las Vegas is 13.6 percent. The national unemployment rate hangs at 9.1 percent. But the unemployment rate for government workers sits at a mere 4.7 percent, the lowest of any category of worker.

In the face of all this, Reid says the answer is to pass a Senate bill called the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act. It would spend $35 billion Washington doesn’t have and allegedly “save or create” 400,000 jobs for unionized teachers, police officers and firefighters.

Let’s just call that what it is: Nothing but the same old government-uber-alles program designed to waste taxpayer money scratching the backs of unions.

The formula doesn’t work. It didn’t work for FDR, it didn’t work for Obama in 2009 when we spent a trillion dollars on “shovel ready” government jobs, and it won’t work in 2011.

This isn’t good economic policy. This is a politically inspired, short-term giveaway that creates few sustainable jobs. And it’s being done at the expense of the real issue: the need to spur private-sector job creation.

A better name for the legislation is the More Dues For Unions Act. It failed to pass. That’s a good thing.

But because Harry Reid’s perception that the private sector is “doing fine” remains, we’re far from a solution.

If you don’t think you have a problem, you can’t fix it.

That’s how crazy works.

Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, writes a column for Stephens Media. Read his blog at www.lvrj.com/blogs/sherm.

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