IIW That

1. Isn't it weird that ... fiscal conservative state Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina), the leader of the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus, relied on a repeal of fiscally conservative scripture (the two-thirds rule for raising taxes) to orchestrate a GOP compromise last week?

The compromise would have been impossible a year ago, or even at the start of the session, before the state Supreme Court tossed the rule requiring two thirds votes to raise taxes.

The compromise over a Democratic house proposal to close a loophole in the estate tax, wasn't just a technical fix to a loophole, it also included a marginal tax increase on richer estates.

That move, pitched by the Republicans to make the package as close to revenue neutral as possible with the Democrats' initial proposal (it's about $8.3 million shy) while adding a new loophole for small business —would have been impossible a year ago, or even at the start of the session, before the state Supreme Court tossed out the Tim Eyman-inspired rule that had required a two thirds vote to raise taxes.



Sen. Tom, defending his integrity all year, has constantly cited his support for the two-thirds rule, noting that his Democratic district sided with the rule as well.

He, along with Seattle's East-side suburban Republicans—Sens. Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island) Joe Fain (R-47, Kent, Auburn, Covington), and Andy Hill (R-45, Kirkland)—who also voted for the compromise have similarly stuck to the fiscal conservative mantra that reveres the two-thirds rule. 

That crew of legislators, in swing districts like the Seattle burbs, needed to reach a deal or else face moderate voters who would have been susceptible to Democratic opponents attacking them for being doctrinaire ideologues who helped shut down the government.

Aren't they lucky then that Eyman's rule, which they supposedlylove, was tossed—so they didn't face the burden of getting more of their GOP comrades to go along with them to save their own seats?

2. Isn't it weird that ... Democrats actually won a political framing war?

With one press conference, Gov. Jay Inslee capsized the GOP mantra—"Reform before Revenue."

Once considered "reform" bills, the GOP wish list of business-friendly bills, such as a bill to loosen restrictions on payday loans and a bill to cap non-education spending, are being considered "ideological" "policy" bills ... aka ... partisan bills that frame the GOP as cranks.

The GOP has been successfully beating its "Reform before Revenue" drum, staving off revenue for a couple of years now ever since the Occupy movement put taxes and closing corporate loopholes on the table.

But now, GOP "reform" bills such as a cap on non-education spending and a bill undermining teachers' employment rights have reportedly been dropped in the budget negotiations.

And while a GOP call to  change to workers' comp regulations that would make it easier for companies to strike one-time lump sum settlements with injured workers, rather than paying into a longterm payout package, is still reportedly in play, it's not without risk to a Republican party that's been branded as selfish rather than reformist.


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