Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Tag: Democrats


Politics doesn’t get much more personal than this

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Tomorrow’s a big day for state Republicans. They’ll gather in schools, community centers, lodge halls and church meeting rooms to conduct a highly personal brand of politics: the party caucus.

They will make and listen to impassioned speeches for the four presidential candidates – Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul – and select delegates to the county convention. A non-binding straw vote will be taken, with the winner getting bragging rights three days before the big Super Tuesday contests in 10 states.

The outcome of the straw poll is important enough that all four GOP candidates stumped in Washington at least once. The official winner won’t be named until the party’s state convention starting May 30 in Tacoma.
Read more »


Supercommittee’s failure bodes ill for nation

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Supercommittee? More like Sad Sack committee.

Today was the deadline for the 12 members of Congress charged with charting a path toward national solvency. By Thanksgiving, they were supposed to have produced a package of measures to reduce the U.S. government’s debt – which just exceeded $15 trillion – by $1.2 trillion.

The total reduction they came up with: $0.

All their fumblings and failures played out against a truly alarming background: the crumbling of Europe’s economy under the weight of unsupportable debt and many years of unsustainable spending by southern European countries. That crisis threatens to kill America’s weak, flickering recovery and drag us right back into recession.

You would think that the cataclysmic unfolding of Europe’s folly – that’s our future, folks! – would persuade Republicans, Democrats, anybody, to throw out the old partisan talking points and reach a serious deficit-cutting agreement. Instead we get partisan gridlock in Congress, which led to the creation of the supercommittee, which promptly settled into its own partisan gridlock.

Republican and Democratic leaders are frantically blaming each other for the collapse, hoping the voters will punish the other party in the 2012 elections. That tells you where their hearts are.

Within the supercommittee, there actually were moves toward compromise. On the Republican side, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania abandoned the GOP’s no-taxes-or-the-lady-dies posture and suggested $300 billion in revenue measures. Some Democrats were willing to pare back Medicare, Social Security and other entitlements.

In the end, though, the supercommittee – like Congress – didn’t have enough statesmen or stateswomen willing to put the nation’s interests above their party’s – or their own careers, for that matter.
Read more »


Belated damage control on a faltering budget

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The silence you’ve been hearing for months is the response of the Legislature’s Democrats to Washington’s fiscal emergency.

Now, on Gov. Chris Gregoire’s orders, they are finally about to act. After putting the job off since August, Democrats will join Republicans on Saturday in a special session to squeeze state programs by roughly $1 billion before the current biennium ends on June 30.

The urgency of convening the Legislature for damage control is a matter of simple arithmetic. Revenue shortfalls and the voters’ repeal of new taxes demolished the spending plan lawmakers jury-rigged last April to tide state government through next June. The gulf between that plan and the revenues needed to cover it has been broadening dangerously since summer.

Had the Legislature acted in August, the impact of the shortfall could have been spread over 10 months. Now the $1 billion of pain will have to be shoehorned into six months.

Better late than later. Dawdling until the full-blown haggling of the regular session begins in January might end in a nuclear strike on programs that serve some of the neediest Washingtonians.

The result would have been unconscionable and needless damage to the social safety net, higher education and other unprotected categories of state spending. The damage will be bad enough as it is.
Read more »


A brutal winter ahead for Olympia’s Democrats

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Washington voters could hardly have been crueler to the Legislature’s Democrats.
On Tuesday, the electorate left the Democrats in charge of the House of Representatives and Senate – although with shrunken majorities.

At the same time, the citizens repealed new taxes on soda, bottled water and candy that had barely – and only temporarily – balanced the budget.

After those taxes were enacted, increasingly pessimistic economic forecasts had thrown the budget into a $500 million-plus shortfall through June. The shortfall for the 2011-2013 biennium had been estimated at $4.5 billion. The repeal of the new taxes added $272 million to what was already a dire fiscal crisis.

Deliverance might have come in the form of the new income tax proposed by Initiative 1098. But the voters drop-kicked that idea into British Columbia, rejecting the initiative by a massive, don’t-ask-me-again margin.

They also slammed shut the door on other new revenues sources by passing Initiative 1053, also by an overwhelming margin. I-1053 restored a suspended requirement that any tax increase must be approved by two-thirds of the Legislature or be put to the voters.
Read more »


A hanging jury for Republicans?

You can’t fault the King County Municipal League for lack of transparency. Below is a memo we got yesterday from state Sen. Pam Roach, a Republican running for re-election in the 31st District.

From the looks of it, this conservative Republican will be facing a panel of two conservatives, one centrist, three liberals, two “very liberal” liberals and two who describe themselves as “left of center.” Seven identify themselves as Democrats, none as Republicans.

I was contacted by the Muni League to set an interview date. In the past I have gone in with all the extraordinary things that I have done for constituents, district efforts led, my efforts in Honduras, local endorsements…etc. I spent hours gathering things up..driving to the interviews (sometimes as far north as Fircrest) and I was never the token Republican “superior than my opponent” candidate.

After they left several messages I decided to call them. I told the nice young-sounding lady that in the last interview there were two trial lawyers on the interview panel and my opponent was, in fact, a trial lawyer. That, I said, did not seem too fair to me. I asked if I could see this year’s panel members assigned to my race….. I can’t believe she actually sent it! 

Here’s the response from Brit Sojka of the Municipal League of King County:

Read more »


A brutal lesson for Democratic leaders

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

To paraphrase George W. Bush, the Democrats took a thumpin’ Tuesday in Massachusetts.
It hard to imagine how a single state election could have served up more grief for President Obama and the Democratic leaders in Congress.

Massachusetts was, and probably still is, the bluest state in the Union. It had not sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972.

The election pitted Scott Brown, a flea on an underdog’s belly, against Martha Coakley, who’d won statewide election as attorney general. At stake was the Senate seat occupied by uber-Democrat Ted Kennedy for close to half a century.

Brown campaigned against the Democratic plans for national health care reform – the signature issue of Barack Obama and Kennedy himself. The Republican’s campaign took off when he began billing himself as the crucial 41st vote to block the legislation in the Senate. And, he won decisively. However inept a campaign Coakley ran, someone like Brown could not have upset a Massachusetts Democrat with a pulse unless the national winds were blowing hurricane-hard against Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their agendas.

Cause and effect: Within hours of Brown’s election, Obama was signaling his interest in a compromise health reform bill. Sen. Mark Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat, said, “Republicans have a lot of good ideas.” That’s likely to become a common theme – on a lot of issues – in coming months.
Read more »


A good night for the GOP

If you watch MSNBC or listen to “progressive” talk radio, you’re going to be hearing a lot about “New York 23″ for the next month. New York District 23 has elected a Republican Congressman for nearly 100 years in a row, but now it’s Blue. In last night’s off-year elections, Democrats took advantage of GOP chaos (the GOP candidate withdrew) to add one more vote to their ample congressional majority. Winning New York 23 is truly a feather in the Democrats’ cap. 

But then there were the Virginia and New Jersey elections.

Read more »