Morning Fizz

Soundbites and Platitudes

By Morning Fizz August 30, 2012

Caffeinated News & Gossip. Your daily Morning Fizz.

1. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna squared off in a televised debate last night at WSU's Vancouver campus. It was hosted by KATU TV and moderated by KATU anchor Brian Wood.

It was a heated debate, with McKenna on the attack.

For example, McKenna accused Inslee of: 1) "careful parsing" to avoid admitting he planned to raise taxes; Inslee said that was a "red herring" and that he "voted against the income tax initiative ... and I will not be for the income tax"; 2) having a "Solyndra-style economic policy with the government picking winners and losers" (a dig at Inslee's plan to give tax incentives to biotech and clean energy companies; Inslee said he was simply promoting Washington's track record of "unique talent" and entrepreneurship—his big pitch other than tax credits is to monetize  university research—and said "the only winner we're picking is Washington State"); and 3)  "not having concrete plans attached to numbers" and of speaking in "soundbites and platitudes" (a fair criticism given that Inslee abstractly and repeatedly referenced "Lean management practices like they've used at Boeing" and even more frequently relied on citing "preventive health care" as his magic bullet solution to reviving the state budget without saying much more.

McKenna wouldn't cede the private sector rap to the Democrat: "It’s not the state’s job to restructure the economy. It’s the state’s job to reduce burdens of job creators to let them do what they do best, which is to act on their entrepreneurial instinct.”[pullquote]McKenna accused Inslee of  "not having concrete plans attached to numbers" and of speaking in "soundbites and platitudes."[/pullquote]

However, the only real specific McKenna laid out—though it was certainly meatier than anything Inslee proposed—was his well-known proposal to cap non-education spending at six percent of revenue growth and spend the balance, estimated to be another three percent, on education. That plan has come under fire from Democratic state house ways and means chair, Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina), for necessitating harsh social service cuts, particularly to the elderly, and if McKenna comes across as the smartest guy in the room, you haven't met Hunter.

A couple of other noteworthy moments in the debate: Inslee said light rail must be part of the Columbia River Crossing between Vancouver and Portland; McKenna, well known for his opposition to light rail, said that choice was up to the voters. Inslee said he was for accepting federal Medicaid dollars as part of Obamacare while McKenna wasn't committed to it, saying it would make one in three people eligible. McKenna said the US Supreme Court didn't actually rule against the lawsuit against Obamacare (McKenna was one of the state AGs who signed on to the suit), arguing that the court said the health insurance mandate wasn't kosher under the commerce clause and that states didn't have to accept Medicaid expansion. Inslee got off one of his better lines of the night in response, suggesting that saying the ACA lawsuit was successful was "like saying Custer won at Little Big Horn."

He added that he was glad the lawsuit was rejected (which in fact it was), citing benefits of the ACA such as guaranteed coverage for breast cancer coverage. This led to another heated moment—McKenna said he "deeply resented" Inslee's attempt to politicize breast cancer, citing his mother's own battle with the disease. Inslee awkwardly apologized, "I know you were a good son." Super weird moment.

Watch the full debate here.

2. Seattle Port Commissioner Gael Tarleton, a Democratic candidate for the 36th Legislative District state house, got the endorsement recommendation of the 36th District executive committee last night over her opponent, Progressive Majority Director Noel Frame. The full group will take up the committee's recommendation on September 19.

3. Two of the state legislators who signed last week's letter accusing Seattle's port commissioners of falling down on the job by allowing Port CEO Tay Yoshitani to join the board of private shipping logistics company Expeditors International pressed their case on Facebook yesterday.

State Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-33, Des Moines) wrote:
I am stunned that our elected Port of Seattle Commissioners are allowing this to happen. First, they support policies that replace middle class jobs at the airport with poverty-wage jobs, then they give their CEO a pay-raise, and now they let him take a $230K/yr side gig with a private corporation impacted by the obvious conflict of interest to anyone but his own attorney and the Port Commissioners. Absolutely unbelievable and indefensible.

And state Rep. Zack Hudgins (D-33, Tukwila), the house government appropriations chair  who orchestrated last week's letter, posted:
People asked me what to do if concerned about the Port CEO's side gig (not up on the issue? there are a few links on my FB page). You can write to the Commissioners via email, or call their ethics hotline Ethics & Compliance Hotline 1-877-571-5237 from:
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