Sen. Patty Murray will air the issue of government subsidies to Airbus and Boeing Tuesday on the floor of the Senate. Back home, Dino Rossi seems to have inadvertently made it a campaign issue.
As the two aerospace companies compete for an Air Force contract to build the next generation of refueling tankers, the World Trade Organization has slapped both companies for receiving improper subsidies.
The subsidies to France-based Airbus were larger, and Boeing supporters like Murray want them taken into account as the Pentagon awards the contract. The News Tribune editorial board asked Rossi today if he feels the same way: if the WTO’s accusations should be taken into account.
“No, not as far as I’m concerned, no,” Rossi said. Here’s our video (the exchange occurs about 21 minutes in, but you have to wait a while for that much of the video to load.)
Murray and Democrats leaped onto the statement as evidence that Rossi “thinks that French workers should have an unfair advantage in bidding to build our military’s tanker as our state’s Boeing workers in Everett,” as Murray said in a statement.
Rossi’s campaign spokeswoman, Jennifer Morris, said Rossi wasn’t talking about the Airbus subsidies — just the Boeing subsidies.
So that begs the question: Is Rossi arguing only one set of alleged subsidies should be taken into account, and for some reason the other should be ignored? Or is he saying neither of them should be factored in? So I asked more specifically: Does Rossi think Airbus subsidies should be taken into account? Morris said she’ll ask him.
For Democrats, the timing is good. Murray is scheduled to introduce an amendment tomorrow to a defense bill (a debate already loaded with issues of gay rights and immigration) that would force the Pentagon to take those subsidies into account. (It’ll be similar to this amendment in the House.)
Morris said the attack on Rossi is just an attempt by Murray to distract and that “Dino Rossi will be a strong advocate for Boeing on the tanker and on issues like health care, card check, and opening new foreign markets through trade.” (More here on the role Boeing is playing in the Senate race.)