Candidate forum, ‘Obamacare,’ USPS cuts, not so ‘Mad’ tax rates…
► In Saturday’s (Everett) Herald — 7 candidates try to stand out in 1st District — A wide-open battle for the 1st Congressional District touched down at the Machinists Union Hall in Everett on Friday as seven candidates swapped views on creating jobs, protecting workers and preserving Social Security. The candidates each sought to sell themselves as the best friend of the 150 members of organized labor in the room and the most capable of defeating the one absent hopeful — Republican John Koster.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Q&A: The candidates for governor on aerospace — Are the industry’s unions here a strength or a weakness?
INSLEE: They can be a distinct strength in several ways. One is to be great spokespersons for skill development. Boeing is here because we have the best-skilled workforce in the world. They are a powerful force to help us make sure we increase the skill-set pipeline. … Second, we all benefited from this step forward (Boeing’s agreement to build the 737 MAX in Renton and a new Machinists contract) that took place with labor and management. That was one of the best things for the state of Washington since the world’s fair 50 years ago.
McKENNA: The unions have to be careful, though, not to overplay their hand, just as the company has to be careful not to overplay its hand. When unions came in late in those (2008) negotiations and demanded as a condition of signing a long-term agreement that Boeing commit to build every new airplane, current models and future models, in Washington state, I think they overplayed their hand.
► In the (Everett) Herald – State’s next challenge: Land the 777X and 787-10 — Yes, Washington secured work on the Boeing 737 MAX. But will Everett, or even the state, be where Boeing builds the 777X, the next generation of that wildly successful widebody? Or will workers here assemble the 787-10, the stretched version of the Dreamliner? Some worry about whether Washington has a workforce sufficiently skilled to handle the composite wings that Boeing is discussing — despite recent efforts to shore up state higher education and workforce training.
► In the (Everett) Herald — State won 737-MAX, but can’t afford to rest on its laurels — The Boeing Co. picked Renton as the final assembly site for the rejuvenated 737 after reaching a surprising deal with the Machinists union late last year.
► In the (Everett) Herald — 737′s long history in Washington gave state an edge
► In the (Everett) Herald –Apprenticeship program plans to help machinists become engineers — That’s what the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee is trying to do. Formed in 2008, the committee is charged with bridging the skills gap between the aerospace industry and would-be workers.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Community colleges put federal money to work on aerospace training — Last year, a consortium of colleges won a $20 million federal grant for workforce training. The group, Air Washington, consists of 11 community and technical colleges across the state.
► In the (Everett) Herald — State steps up its efforts to produce more engineers
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
► In today’s NY Times — Health act arguments open with obstacle from 1867 — The Supreme Court hearings on the constitutionality of the 2010 health care overhaul will begin today with a 90-minute argument on what a lawyer in the case has called “the most boring jurisdictional stuff one can imagine,” a 1867 law that some judges say forbids any decision now.
► In the Seattle Times — If ‘Obamacare’ fails, McKenna could pay political price — State Attorney General Rob McKenna has long said he isn’t trying to overturn the entire federal health-care law by joining a lawsuit against it. But those statements are at odds with the legal arguments plaintiffs in the case have made in McKenna’s name.
► Today at Politico — Pro-ACA demonstrators outnumber detractors — In the demonstrations outside today’s Supreme Court argument, supporters of the law were outnumbering opponents early Monday.
► In today’s Washington Post — President embraces ‘Obamacare’ label. But why? — The decision to throw their arms politically around “Obamacare” — initially a pejorative term coined by Republicans to deride the Affordable Care Act and compare it to Hillary Clinton’s failed “Hillarycare” effort — is a significant shift in how the president and his team talk about the law.
► In Saturday’s Spokesman-Review — Gregoire inks health reform– Gov. Chris Gregoire and other Democratic officials marked Friday’s second anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act with a signing ceremony of their own. Gregoire signed legislation to help set up health insurance exchanges in Washington, a system that would help individuals and small businesses shop for medical plans by 2014.
► In the News Tribune — Gregoire signs transportation budget– The governor signed a transportation budget with nearly $800 million in new spending Friday but vetoed a section that called for a study of the State Patrol’s radio upgrade.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Pressure building at jam-packed state prisons — With far too few beds in the state prison system, leaving a volatile population cramming into already-full cells, the state Department of Corrections is scrambling for housing options.
► In Sunday’s Seattle Times — Puget Sound Pilots: Job of risk, reward — Puget Sound pilots are the 52 elite mariners who guide vessels around local waters. Pilots, who each made about $340,000 last year, say they’re underpaid; shippers who pay their salaries disagree.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — City, union to resume negotiations, hope to avoid arbitration — Last week a 4-3 majority of the Yakima City Council rejected proposed contracts for police and firefighters over concerns that they were too expensive for an already strained budget. Both sides say they are still willing to talk, recognizing the gamble and potential cost of letting an outside arbitrator decide what’s best.
► In the Bellingham Herald — WTA to hold hearings on proposed bus service changes– WTA will hold a hearing Thursday, March 29, on proposed service changes in response to both on-time issues and the request for additional service.
► In today’s Washington Post — Senate turns attention to Postal Service — The debate over USPS’s future is poised to pit lawmakers from smaller, rural states against colleagues from larger, more urban areas. It puts close friends Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on opposing sides and sets up labor unions and business groups with vested interests in mail delivery against the reality that more Americans today rely on the Internet than on envelopes and stamps.
► In today’s NY Times — Industries fear ripple effects of proposed Postal Service cuts– “It’s not a stretch to say that many businesses literally depend on the Postal Service for their livelihoods,” said Benjamin Cooper, whose coalition represents some of the service’s biggest customers, including FedEx, which sometimes hands off shipments to the post office at the local level.
► In The Hill — NLRB plan to share workers’ email, phone numbers under fire — A proposal by the NLRB to include workers’ email addresses and phone numbers on voter lists for union elections could become the next flashpoint in the war between labor and business.
► At TPM — Recalled Wisconsin State Senator found not guilty of DUI after union-conspiracy defense — Former Wisconsin state Sen. Randy Hopper (R) was found not guilty by a jury Friday on a charge of drunk-driving, after mounting a court defense that his arrest in October was the product of a conspiracy by the public employee union members.
► In today’s NY Times — Not so ‘Mad’ ideas about taxes — In 1966, which is where the new season of “Mad Men” finds us, the federal income tax topped out at 70% on income over $100,000 (approximately $700,000 in present-day dollars), a figure reduced from 90% in a tax cut enacted two years earlier. Absent were any obvious incentives for amassing perverse amounts of money. In April 1968, Fortune magazine published a list of those Americans whose net worth exceeded $100 million; the list ended at 153. Today, those in the highest federal income tax bracket will pay 35%.
► In today’s NY Times — The rich get even richer (by Steven Rattner) — The bottom 99% received a microscopic $80 increase in pay per person in 2010, after adjusting for inflation. The top 1%, whose average income is $1,019,089, had an 11.6% increase in income. Even in a country that sometimes seems inured to income inequality, these takeaways are truly stunning.
► In today’s NY Times — What gender gap? Washington State has history of women who lead– Nationwide, women’s groups point out the glaring gender disparity in public life, noting that there are only 6 female governors and 17 female senators. Across the country, women make up 23.6% of state legislatures. But in Washington State, women’s serving in public office has been as consistent as the rain. When Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray and Chris Gregoire reflect on how their state became comfortable with female politicians, they emphasize that they had role models and that they are not the first women to hold high-level office in the state. That distinction goes to Dixy Lee Ray, whose 1976 gubernatorial campaign slogan was “Little lady takes on big boys,” and Bertha K. Landes who, elected as mayor of Seattle in 1926, became the first female mayor of a major American city. (Her slogan was “Municipal housekeeping.”)
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