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Tag: Political Smell Test


Political Smell Test: Dueling Reichert, DelBene TV spots on taxes

Republican incumbent Congressman Dave Reichert and his Democratic challenger Suzan DelBene are currently airing dueling TV spots that generally accuse each other of supporting tax increases.

What the ads say:
Reichert’s ad features a woman telling viewers that DelBene wants “bigger government, higher taxes and thinks the health care takeover didn’t go far enough.” A footnote in the ad cites various news articles to substantiate the claims, specifically referencing a SeattlePI.com story published on May 4, 2010 to support the ad’s “higher taxes” claim.

DelBene’s ad features a man’s voice intoning that “Reichert promised he’d never raise taxes, then turned around and voted for $31 billion in higher taxes on families and small businesses.” A footnote in the ad cites Reichert’s Dec. 9, 2009 House vote on H.R. 4213 (Roll Call No. 943).

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Smell Test: Matt Richardson mailer falsely calls candidate a veteran

District 31 state Senate candidate Matt Richardson‘s website and a mail piece he planned to send out to 48,000 homes today refer to the state Senate candidate as a veteran.

He is not.

WHAT THE CAMPAIGN SAYS: Both Richardson’s campaign website and  mailer feature prominently an endorsement statement from Ron Weigelt, a Democrat who was defeated in the primary election when voters advanced Republicans Richardson and Sen. Pam Roach to the general election. Weigelt’s statement, in full:

Matt is a conservative Republican, but it is not about political party. It is about who can best represent us in Olympia. While his opponents sling mud at him and his family, I have personally verified the truth and his record of service before making this endorsement. As a fellow Veteran and former City Council member, I see in Matt Richardson the drive and sincerity we need in the Senate. We do not need business as usual, we do not need 24 years of the incumbent hurting our district. Matt is clearly the best choice in this contest. – Ron Weigelt, Senate Candidate

WHAT WEIGELT SAYS: When I asked Weigelt about this today, he said he thought Richardson was in the Navy Reserve. Weigelt then sent an e-mail to Richardson asking him to remove the material from his website. He said: “You should have corrected me when I referred to you as a ‘fellow veteran’.  I believe you have intentionally tried to give the perception that you are in the Navy when you are not.  Not telling me you are not a veteran was deceptive and clearly a lie by omission.  I also never endorsed you.”

THE FACTS: Richardson, a Sumner city councilman, has worked as a military contractor. He says that as an employee of Central Texas College, a community college that contracts with the Navy to place instructors on board vessels, he has done one assignment: a three-month stint in 2006 on the Stennis teaching subjects like sociology, government and philosophy.

WHAT RICHARDSON SAYS: He has told me and others repeatedly he is not a veteran or a member of the military.

When he first announced his candidacy, his campaign literature referred to his military ties this way: “He also holds a DoD security clearance as an Adjunct Professor of Government & Philosophy for the US Navy’s NCPACE program based in Bremerton.  He was last assigned to the USS Stennis (CVN 74).”

Based on that, a Political Buzz post in June referred to him as a veteran. But he e-mailed us to clarify: “You are repeating that I am a Navy veteran, and I am not.”

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Smell Test: Smith, Muri each put pay at issue in congressional race

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, and Pierce County Councilman Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom, are trading barbs over pay in their race for Congress. Here’s a look at them.

The Claims:

Adam Smith criticizes Pierce County Councilman Dick Muri for voting to raise his own pay. “Dick Muri is a politician who wants a promotion,” a Smith ad says. “But his record on the Pierce County Council shows he doesn’t deserve one. In fact, about the only thing Muri has accomplished on the council is to dramatically increase the pay for himself and other county politicians…” The Smith ad says Muri’s pay has gone up to $110,000.

Dick Muri’s campaign responded, that Smith’s salary – thanks to automatic pay raises – has gone up from 34 percent since he was elected “and now tops $176,000.”

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Political Smell Test: False claim that $3 billion in waste was ignored

Deficits in Olympia and Washington, D.C. pose monumental challenges to whoever is in charge next year. Politicians have ideas for how to reduce the deficits, but some of them don’t add up. This is the second claim I’m looking at.

WHAT CANDIDATES SAY: A number of Republican candidates for the Legislature are citing State Auditor Brian Sonntag, a Democrat, in making the case that the Democrat-controlled Legislature failed to curb waste in state government.

They say Sonntag identified more than $3 billion worth of potential savings to state government in his audits, only to have the Legislature ignore his proposals.

At a candidate forum last week, 28th District House candidate Steve O’Ban said:

Brian Sonntag, a Democrat who I support because he’s doing his job well, has come out with $3 billion of savings for our state government, efficiencies, redundancies, not just in the ferry system but across the board, and virtually none of those have been adopted by the Legislature, even though the Legislature’s controlled by his party.

At another candidate forum months ago, 26th District Senate candidate Marty McClendon said: “When we were facing a $2.6 billion deficit, no other options were on the table except for raising taxes … Brian Sonntag found $3.8 billion worth of waste. (That) was not addressed.”

It’s an attractive talking point because it gives candidates an answer when asked where they would cut, without having to name specific programs.

In interviews, 26th District House candidate Doug Richards and 28th District candidate Paul Wagemann have both cited Sonntag. Richards said a projected deficit of $4.5 billion could be mostly solved by cutting “$3.2 billion” in waste and inefficiencies found by Sonntag: “That’s three-quarters of the problem right there.” Wagemann said Sonntag has issued more than 700 recommendations in his audits: “Our Legislature has virtually ignored these recommendations.”

THE FACTS: You can see all of Sonntag’s performance audits here. Their benefits do indeed add up to nearly $4 billion, and Sonntag highlighted the total in a December 2009 report that looks at the status of 705 recommendations:

From February 2007 through June 30, 2009, performance audits identified nearly $3.6 billion in cost savings, unnecessary expenditures and economic benefits.

The key phrase there is “economic benefits.” By far the largest savings, $3 billion, comes from a report he issued on reducing congestion in Puget Sound. It’s the amount that would be saved over five years — in economic impact to drivers and businesses.

In other words, it’s not savings to government. The recommendations don’t help state legislators balance their budgets.

The $3.6 billion number isn’t being described correctly, Sonntag said in an interview. “That captures a whole lot more than just what could be saved in a current state budget,” he said.

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Political Smell Test: Dino Rossi uses outdated numbers on bank bailout

Deficits in Olympia and Washington, D.C. pose monumental challenges to whoever is in charge next year. Politicians have ideas for how to reduce the deficits, but some of them don’t add up. This is the first of a couple claims I’m looking at.

WHAT ROSSI SAYS: When answering questions about what he’d do to bring down the deficit, Republican Senate candidate Dino Rossi names off what he says is about $800 billion in cuts, including $400 billion from ending the bank bailout.

He said it at least twice last week, in an interview and a question-and-answer session with Rotarians at Edmonds Community College, where he told the audience:

Just sitting here looking at what could be done: How about ending the stimulus, that’s there, that’s still sitting in the account, that’s $275 billion that could be applied to deficit reduction. Why should federal employees have a better deal than the people who are footing the bill? How about no raises for a year, and with that, that’s another $30 billion. How about reducing the federal workforce back to pre-Obama levels by only hiring back one for every two that leave? You don’t have to fire anybody. That’s $35 billion. Ending the bailout, TARP: There’s $400 billion. I just gave you about 800. It’s all there.

THE FACTS: In 2008, Congress approved up to $700 billion for TARP (the Troubled Asset Relief Program) to spend, mostly on loans to banks, insurance company AIG and car companies. But it reduced that cap to $475 billion in July 2010 as part of its overhaul of financial regulations. (More here, Page 9.)

The full $475 billion has been committed. At least $388 billion of it has been spent, according to the Treasury Department.

So at most, if the government broke its remaining commitments and kept the money, some $87 billion in spending might be avoided, not $400 billion as Rossi claimed.

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Smell Test: Murray takes Rossi answer to radio host Laura Ingraham show out of context

In a press release issued Wednesday afternoon, Patty Murray‘s campaign criticizes challenger Dino Rossi for what the campaign portrays as an attack on public workers, including troops, teachers and firefighters.

“In an offensive and bald attempt to continue to smear his way to victory, 18 year politician Dino Rossi this morning insulted millions of Americans troops and others who serve their country,” the release states. It also includes in the headline what the campaign claims to be a direct quote from Rossi’s appearance on conservative talker Laura Ingraham’s show: “American Troops, Teachers, Firefighters ‘Have Never Held a Meaningful Job In Their Adult Lives.’ ”

But the audio file that was sent along with the press release shows that Ingraham asked Rossi about the business background of the White House staff, specifically advisers to President Obama. Rossi says of those people: “Well, you have a bunch of people that are in charge that have never actually had a private sector job, and a meaningful one, in their adult lives.”

Rossi on Ingraham CLIP 101006

Rossi isn’t talking about all public sector workers. And the reference to “a meaningful one” doesn’t appear to be a claim that only business jobs are meaningful. Instead he appears to be saying that no one among Obama advisers has held a meaningful business job.

Here’s the transcript of the segment of the interview released by Murray’s staff.

Rossi: I come from a world that I think is gonna be unique for a U.S. Senator. I come from a world of no guaranteed salary, no guaranteed benefits.

Ingraham: Good.

Rossi: If you don’t work, you don’t eat. I understand the free enterprise system. I’ve actually signed the front side of a paycheck.

Ingraham: “No, I love that, Dino. And I’ve been saying this consistently. First of all the administration itself in Washington, how many businessmen actually are working within the White House. Can we name one prominent adviser to the president who has actually had to make a payroll? I can’t name one. They brought in this guy Austin GoolsbyAustan Goolsbee, another academic. Larry Summers is on his way out and he was an academic. And they have all these people who have been living off the taxpayers’ dime for years and years as a government employee and meanwhile they’re like, huh, I wonder why people think they’re anti-business? Duh.

Rossi: Well, you have a bunch of people that are in charge that have never actually had a private sector job, and a meaningful one, in their adult lives.

UPDATE: Murray spokeswoman Julie Edwards saw the above post and sent this response:

I think you missed the mark. Rossi was very clearly talking about what kind of experience is “meaningful” and he doesn’t think public sector jobs count.

That whole conversation was about what kind of experience Rossi and the radio host think is important and worthwhile – and he has no value for folks who work in the public sector.

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Another way to look at Murray and debt

Dino Rossi‘s campaign insists one of its claims I looked at in my Political Smell Test earlier this week, that Patty Murray has voted to double the national debt, is true. The campaign says I should look at different numbers.

Rossi’s claim was that Murray’s vote for the 2010 budget was a vote to double the debt in five years. To arrive anywhere near that conclusion, one would have to:

  • Count the five-year period starting at the end of (fiscal year) 2008, not the period starting at the end of 2009. That’s an odd way of assessing

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Political Smell Test: Dino Rossi and Boeing

In a TV ad, Sen. Patty Murray has seized on Dino Rossi’s answer to The News Tribune editorial board about the role of subsidies in awarding the Air Force tanker contract.

WHAT THE AD SAYS: Next to video of Rossi, the screen reads: “Should Boeing workers have a level playing field?”A voiceover says, “When Dino Rossi was asked if Boeing workers should have a level playing field, he said,” — cut to video of Rossi — “No, not as far as I’m concerned.”


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