The C Is for Crank

We DON'T LIKE the Seattle Times' predictable take on yesterday's announcement by  a pack of Democratic state legislators that they will add a specific cause of action to state law allowing women denied birth control because of their employer's personal beliefs to sue under state workplace discrimination law. 

The Times' news section got first crack at belittling the Democrats' proposal,  dismissively portraying the legislation as little more than a political stunt to get women to vote for Democrats—the announcement, the reporter notes wryly, comes barely "a month before the November elections" and included messaging "to drum up support for Democratic candidates."

Burn? Not really. Obviously, it's a political stunt, as we pointed out with our DISLIKE in this morning's Fizz. But that doesn't mean the legislation itself isn't necessary (which is why we LIKED the proposal itself.

(Elsewhere, the reporter asserts that the reason Hobby Lobby's owners oppose paying for their employees' birth control is their "strong Christian beliefs"—as if "Christianity" was a get-out-of-jail free card for political beliefs that run afoul of our state's constitution.)

Today, Times editorial board member Thanh Tan piled on, using the earlier news piece as a springboard for her own argument that "voters should be skeptical" of Democrats' efforts to "secure the women's vote" by backing reproductive rights, given that the bill is still undergoing revisions. Women shouldn't be fooled, Tan argues, into opposing "moderate Republicans" like Sens. Andy Hill, Steve O'Ban, and Mark Miloscia (a Democrat-turned-Republican who's running for senate) just because they aren't sufficiently "rabid about supporting abortion rights." 

I don't care whether my legislators are "rabid" about issues, but I do care when they routinely block legislation that's good for women. 

Personally, I don't care whether my legislators are "rabid" about issues (what a weird straw-man argument), but I do care when they routinely block legislation that's good for women—legislation like the Reproductive Parity Act, which would have required health-care companies that pay for maternity care to also cover abortions. And it's precisely those "moderate" senators who have consistently prevented bills like the RPA from coming to the senate floor for a vote. That's not failing to be "sufficiently rabid." That's actively blocking pro-woman legislation.

Moreover, Tan is being willfully naive by taking issue with the Democrats for opposing so-called moderates. It's a numbers game in Olympia, and keeping "moderates" like Hill, (he's actually a conservative conservative, not a moderate) in office gives the GOP the numerical advantage and thus control of the senate. Under GOP control, even with pro-choice Sen. Rodney Tom (R-48, Medina) as the leader for two terms,  the GOP caucus as a whole called the shots. (Meanwhile, it took two special sessions for "moderate" Hill to agree to amend the estate tax or repeal the telecom tax loophole to get a budget deal. And there's still no transportation package because the caucus' overall anti-tax orthodoxy outweighs the moderates who gave the Republicans their majority.)

Tan's next argument: Stop complaining; it could be worse. "If this were Texas," she writes, "I’d say go all out. Fight the good fight. But it’s Washington, the friendliest state in the nation when it comes to reproductive freedom and lack of barriers to birth control and abortion." No one's forcing women in Washington to wait several days, or travel across state lines, or undergo an invasive transvaginal ultrasound, to get an abortion, so the least they could do is stop complaining about employers denying them access to birth control.

And, she concludes, there are so many more important issues to worry about—like education funding: "Thanks for supporting gender equality, but legislators also need to offer up more details on how they will comply with the court, reform the school system and find billions more to educate the state’s children," Tan writes. 

Education funding is obviously critical. So is women's health. And it's possible to both support women and kids at the same time, rather than pitting them against each other. Thankfully, despite Tan's smirking insinuation ("thanks" for caring about women, but let's focus on the real issues first), lawmaking isn't a zero-sum game. 

And again, basic political math undermines Tan's argument that if the Democrats just focused harder on the more important issue of education funding, the legislature would come up with the money to meet the McCleary mandate. The fact that knee-jerk anti-tax Republicans are in control is why the state is in contempt of court on K-12 funding in the first place.

With additional crankiness from Josh Feit. 

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