Welcome to Harry’s World

Denial is not just a river in Egypt. It’s Harry Reid’s perpetual state of mind.

The U.S. Senate majority leader bamboozled a Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday at the Four Seasons, never letting the facts or reality get in the way of his defense of big government.

There was no speech, just a series of boilerplate responses to softball questions. From the comfort of a chair on stage, Reid told his business audience that its greatest single concern, ObamaCare, has been great for the country and will only make things better going forward because it will provide Americans with choices.

Where Reid sees a Monte Cristo sandwich, everyone else sees a cow pie. Just down the Strip that very day, the Nevada AFL-CIO — the foundation of Reid’s Nevada base — unanimously passed a resolution eviscerating ObamaCare. “The unintended consequences of the ACA (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) will lead to the destruction of the 40 hour work week, higher taxes and force union members onto more costly plans. … Our health plans only get worse,” the resolution said.

“We were told that if you liked the health insurance you had, then it would be left alone,” Danny Thompson, the Nevada AFL-CIO chief, told the Las Vegas Sun. “Well, it hasn’t been left alone.”

No kidding. In just the past week, UPS and the University of Virginia have announced they soon will kick employees’ spouses off their health plans if spouses can obtain coverage from their own employers or elsewhere. And Delta Air Lines, in a letter to Obama administration officials, warned that ObamaCare would boost the company’s health care costs by some $100 million next year alone. ObamaCare is hurting families and hurting businesses.

If there are any problems with ObamaCare, Reid said Wednesday, it’s Republicans’ fault. The GOP must stop obstructing the law’s implementation, Reid said. “It’s the law of the land.” Never mind the Obama administration’s decisions to delay for one year the implementation of the employer mandate, caps on out-of-pocket expenses and subsidy eligibility verification. “The law of the land,” indeed.

A simple question about job creation seemed to briefly stump Reid. Then he remembered his solution for every problem: more government. He said ending the sequester — more federal borrowing and spending — would boost the economy, as would spending huge money on infrastructure, such as roads and bridges.

Wasn’t that what the stimulus was for? “Shovel-ready” jobs, and all that?

Besides, if investment in infrastructure is such a great way to produce private-sector jobs, why hasn’t the Keystone XL pipeline been approved? Last week, the pipeline’s application turned 1,800 days old. That’s private money funding private-sector jobs.

Reid snuck in his customary digs at President George W. Bush — “tax cuts that weren’t paid for” and turning projected surpluses into budget deficits that now amount to peanuts compared with Obama administration spending — and rote praise for President Bill Clinton’s legacy without mentioning the role of a Republican Congress in the country’s prosperity at that time. Then he slammed this newspaper’s editorial pages for pointing out the lack of green jobs promised by Reid and Obama.

Billions of federal dollars have been wasted on loan guarantees to failed green companies and green-job training programs for jobs that didn’t exist. Last year, the Nevada Policy Research Institute reported that $1.3 billion in federal spending on Nevada geothermal, solar and wind energy projects since 2009 had created just 288 full-time jobs, costing the public more than $4.6 million per job.

Believe it or not, long ago Reid used to care about business. But his transformation from practical moderate to far-left extremist sped up as he climbed the Senate’s leadership ladder. And the more power he has gained, the less he seems to care about his home state and its nation-leading unemployment rate.

Heck, Reid stinks at the one thing the most powerful person in the Senate is supposed to be good for — bringing home the bacon for his constituents. Nevada has long ranked last in federal tax dollars received per capita. When asked about it Wednesday, Reid actually bragged to chamber members about the payments in lieu of taxes he scored for Nevada — the money Washington hands out as a de facto property tax payment for all its land holdings across the country. This year, Nevada received $23.3 million in PILT money, or about 40 cents per acre of federal land. That isn’t enough money to build a single freeway interchange or fill the budget hole of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

The standing ovations and polite attentiveness he received at Wednesday’s chamber luncheon were not rooted in adoration, but fear. Everyone in that room, from business leaders to the two dozen or so elected Nevada Democrats in attendance, understood that the ruthless Reid is not someone to argue with. He forgets nothing. He keeps score.

In Harry’s World, the economy functions only as he believes it should, laws have no unintended consequences, and nothing that goes wrong in America is his fault.

Hashtags & Headlines

The new school year starts Monday with new policies, new programs and new leaders. It’s a perfect time to talk about the state of local schools and where they’re headed.

On Monday, Sept. 16, the Review-Journal will launch a series of policy luncheons, called Hashtags & Headlines, with a talk on K-12 education. I’ll guide a discussion with new Clark County School District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky, State Board of Education member Alexis Gonzales-Black and Seth Rau, policy director for Nevada Succeeds, on important education issues.

The luncheon will be held at Texas Station’s Houston Ballroom from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets cost $40 and can be purchased at www.reviewjournal.com by scrolling down to the contests and promotions section and clicking on the Hashtags & Headlines Luncheon icon.

Glenn Cook (gcook@reviewjournal.com) is the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s senior editorial writer. Follow him on Twitter: @Glenn_CookNV. Listen to him Mondays at 4 p.m. on “Live and Local with Kevin Wall” on KXNT News Radio, 100.5 FM, 840 AM.

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