Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris hyped her proposed middle-class tax cut Friday during a North Las Vegas town hall, where she emphasized her plan to “make America work for working families.”
The California senator, who announced her Oval Office bid in January, said her initial priority as president would be repealing corporate tax cuts and implementing a tax credit up to $500 per month for middle-class families, which she described as those making less than $100,000 a year.
Harris took aim at President Trump’s frequent boasting about the economy, saying she has met too many Americans working multiple jobs, saddled with debt and unable to handle any financial curveballs. Her comments came in an early caucus state that has seen seen median income grow slower than median housing prices, despite a steep fall in the unemployment rate since the recession. Nevada’s current unemployment rate is 4.4 percent.
“The economy in America is not working for the people,” she said.
Harris said she intends to “prosecute that case” on the campaign trail while trying to woo Trump’s electorate. But she acknowledged the tough reality of today’s political world, where misinformation or propaganda can go viral via social media. She said Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election to erode Americans’ faith in democracy.
The presidential hopeful urged the standing room-only crowd at Canyon Springs High School to not let that happen again.
“Let’s demand that people speak truths and not spread falsehoods,” she said. “This election is too important. We’ve gotta get there, and it’s not going to be easy sometimes.”
Harris tied her comments back to voter suppression, saying she supports same-day voter registration, which has been proposed in Carson City, and making Election Day a national holiday.
On the immigration front, Harris called for comprehensive immigration reform but didn’t delve into many specifics. She condemned family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, calling it a “human rights abuse” that won’t fully reveal itself for years as the children age and deal with the traumatic experience.
Another trauma, she said, is separating undocumented immigrant families already living in the United States. The absence of any pathway for so-called Dreamers — immigrants brought here illegally as children — and their parents needs to end, she said.
“These are all issues that we have to confront,” she said. “We need to look ourselves in the mirror when we have these conversations, and we need a new president.”
The Oakland native also tackled health care and education during the forum, saying she supports Medicare-for-all and free community college. She wants to change the nature of higher-education conversations so that it doesn’t seem like society is “devaluing” post-high school pathways that don’t end with a college degree.
Harris said she really dislikes the term “unskilled labor.”
“All labor has skill,” she said. “We have to recognize that and then put resources into helping folks develop those skills to make the jobs of the 21st century.”
The frank-talking senator, who criticized numerous Trump policies along with his tweets, also struck a tone of unity heading into what’s likely to be a tense election cycle.
“The vast majority of us have so much more common than what separates us,” she said.
As several hundred people waited in the gymnasium Friday afternoon for Harris, 60-year-old Brad Byers proudly sported a tank top riffing on Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s relationship. The retired Boulder City resident said he’s voting for a Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 no matter what, but he likes Harris’ tough style, which he equated to a “movie prosecutor.”
“Republicans know how to kick ass,” he said. “We need to learn how to do that.”
Friday marked Harris’ first visit to Nevada since launching her presidential campaign. Just five days before the November midterm elections, she campaigned in Reno for now-Sen. Jacky Rosen.
Harris is the fifth Democratic presidential candidate to visit Las Vegas in recent weeks as the march toward 2020 heats up. Julian Castro, a former secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama Administration, campaigned in the city Thursday.