Congressman: Latino enthusiasm growing for Obama
In a pro-Obama campaign visit to Reno, Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., said Wednesday that enthusiasm among Latino voters is surging as they realize what’s at stake in this election and that they may be the key to deciding it.Becerra, at the University of Nevada, Reno to drum up support among student voters for the president’s re-election, told the Nevada Appeal in a telephone interview that the stakes are higher for Latinos, the fastest-growing voting group in the state and the nation, and they are starting to understand that.“How the economy goes really impacts the Latinos more quickly and more directly,” he said, adding that’s true of any community of people not as established and settled as other communities.“For any community trying to establish itself, the stakes are higher,” he said. “People may be surprised by the Latino turnout in this election. It’s a different day. The Latino community is beginning to recognize how important elections are.”“Over the last month or so, we’ve seen enthusiasm for voting in the Latino community jump,” he said. “I think they’re starting to see they could be the decisive vote.” Big issues for Latinos, who account for 27 percent of Nevada’s population, range from employment to education, health care and other issues, and “you can’t go through a conversation without talking about immigration reform,” Becerra said, adding that there is a sharp difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on that issue.Becerra has represented the 31st district in urban Los Angeles since 1992. He is vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a member of the Ways and Means Committee as well as former chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.He said the students he came to talk with at UNR also have a lot at stake in this election.“If they want to see interest rates double on student loans, want to see Pell Grants they may use for college reduced, if they’re willing to let their parents lose their college tax credit, then they can stay home,” he said. “But if they care about Pell Grants, interest rates on student loans and that their parents don’t have to spend any more than necessary, I’ve got to believe they’re going to be out there voting.”Regarding access to college, Becerra said middle-class students are harder hit even than lower-income families who can get more assistance to take classes. He said that’s why the Hope College Tax Credit allowing deductions for college costs is so important.“It’s for middle-class families, not wealthy families,” he said.As ranking member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, Becerra disputed claims that system is doomed unless major changes are made. He said over the more than 70 years Social Security has existed, it has received $15 trillion in contributions and spent $14 trillion. He said there is still $1 trillion in the trust fund along with $1.5 trillion in interest.He said real money has been replaced by treasury certificates but that is “real money.” “It’s a debt the federal government has always paid back,” he said.“You don’t have to privatize the system the way Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to,” he said.Becerra said he was campaigning in Nevada because the state, with six electoral votes, is crucial to Obama’s re-election.“It could come down to a 269-269 tie in electoral votes so Nevada could easily be the state that makes a difference,” he said.