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On Other Blogs Today: Transit Funding, Obamacare, and the Federal Shutdown

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By Erica C. Barnett October 8, 2013


1. The Columbian reports that a meeting yesterday in Vancouver—part of state senate Republican leaders' "listening tour" to find out what Washington residents' transportation priorities are—was dominated by tax opponents, not surprising in a corner of the state where legislators, including Vancouver state Sen. Don Benton (R-17) have consistently opposed funding the proposed new Columbia River Crossing bridge.

Last session, the state senate failed to pass a proposed transportation package that would have raised gas taxes by 10.5 cents and increased revenues by about $10 billion a year; the legislation would have also given King County Metro the ability to ask voters for more revenues, forestalling a looming service cut of up to 17 percent. 

The listening tour makes its stop in Seattle at 6pm on October 14 at the First Presbyterian Church, 1013 8th Avenue

2. The Washington Post has an absolutely seething editorial blasting U.S. House Republicans for shutting down the government, accusing them (justifiably) of wasting billions of taxpayer dollars, damaging millions' of Americans' livelihoods, interfering with key government operations, rattling the financial markets, slowing an economy in recovery, and interrupting potentially lifesaving research. 

After that damning list of "accomplishments" ("check, check, and check") from shutting down the government (here's an even longer list from the Huffington Post), the WaPo asks rhetorically whether Republicans managed to "derail the hated Obamacare," the issue over which they're holding the government hostage. "Ch . . . — oh, no, wait a minute. That was the GOP’s ostensible purpose for this travesty of misgovernment, but the online insurance markets created by that law opened on schedule last week and continue to operate."


3. Meanwhile, also at the WaPo, blogger Sarah Kliff uses the example of Washington state to make the case that when Obamacare works, it works really well. Using a hypothetical where she moves back to Seattle, moves in with her parents, and makes $20,000 a year working at a coffee shop, it takes Kliff about ten minutes to find out what her premium would cost and what kind of federal subsidies she would be eligible for.

"This isn't what Obamacare looks like in the federal marketplace, where it's still difficult to even create an account or browse options," she writes, but "it is what it looks like when Obamacare works."

4. Capitol Hill Seattle Blog, which co-sponsored last week's mayoral debate at Barboza, has the results from an informal survey of debate attendees on the race, including what issues they consider most important, which candidate they support, and which candidate they think will win.

Transportation, no surprise, was the top issue, and 52 percent to 48 percent of respondents said they thought incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn would be a better mayor for Capitol Hill; however, an overwhelming majority (67.4 percent to 32.6 percent) believed challenger Ed Murray, who lives on Capitol Hill and represents the neighborhood in the state senate (D-43), would win. 

CHS also has an edited video of the debate.  

5. The Tacoma News Tribune has an editorial screed against the GMO-labeling initative I-522, which argues that consumers in Washington state should not have the same information as consumers in the European Union because I-522 would require "screaming headlines" "emblazoned" on the front of food boxes letting them know that a product was created through genetic engineering. The idea being, I guess, that if you hide the information on the side people will be less likely to see it? Which kind of makes the case for putting a "screaming headline" (note: Not an accurate description of the actual proposal) on the front? 

Anyway, my own support for GMO labeling is twofold: First, more information is always a good thing. And second, I don't think GMOs—which decrease crop yields, inhibit biodiversity, and increase reliance on herbicides and pesticides, never mind the fact that they essentially hand ownership of our seed stock to a handful of massive corporations—are something I want to be purchasing or putting in my body, and if I have a label that lets me know a crop is genetically modified, it gives me a chance, as a consumer, to opt out. 



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