Debating AWB, health insurers’ record surpluses, union thugs…
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
► In today’s Seattle Times — Gubernatorial debate: First of the season — The first gubernatorial debate of Election 2012 airs live on TVW today from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in a match-up hosted by the Association of Washington Business. AWB’s debate has become a tradition. Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna will both participate in the Spokane face-to-face contest.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Why is this debate a “tradition”? The AWB is this state’s Chamber of Commerce, an increasingly partisan organization that has become an arm of the Republican Party and refuses to disclose which corporations are funding its attacks on President Obama and other Democratic candidates. At the time the AWB originated this debate “tradition,” it didn’t endorse candidates. Now, AWB’s PAC takes big bucks from Big Oil and other corporate special interests, and uses it to promote almost exclusively Republican candidates. The fact that AWB is waiting until right after this debate to formally endorse Rob McKenna is a laughable pretense. If McKenna doesn’t feel compelled to appear before the WEA, WSLC, or other union organizations to make his case for election, why should Jay Inslee feel compelled to show up at this one? Why can’t we have debates that are hosted by organizations that don’t endorse candidates?
► In today’s Olympian — Sonntag leads Democrats supporting McKenna’s bid– A dozen or so Democrats are publicly standing alongside Republican Rob McKenna in his bid to be Washington’s next governor. State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz: “We’ve been through Democrats for Dino and Democrats for Hutchison. We’re looking forward to the pattern of this failed stunt continuing with Jay Inslee winning this election and becoming our next governor.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — The entire staff of The Stand attended yesterday’s “news” conference on our way to the record store. The fact that the only current Democratic state legislator willing to stand alongside McKenna was Sen. Tim Sheldon (“D”-Potlatch), the leader of Democrats For Bush who appeared in ads on GDub’s behalf, tells you all you need to know about this.
► Meanwhile, in today’s Seattle Times — FTC probe of high West Coast gas prices a welcome step (editorial) — U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s call for the FTC investigation puts further pressure on the oil refiners to explain why, as the rest of the nation is paying less and less for gas, West Coast drivers have been paying more and more.
ANOTHER EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington’s highest-in-the-nation gas price is The Most Urgent Job-Killing Economic Issue facing the state’s employers and working families. And yet our State Attorney General, Rob McKenna, is too busy soliciting “Democrats” as surrogates and raising money from Big Oil in Texas for his bid for governor to do anything about price gouging at the pump. Thanks, Rob!
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Jon Haugen to hold Town Hall meeting in Longview– The public is invited to a town hall meeting Thursday in Longview with Jon T. Haugen, who is challenging Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Camas).
AGAIN WITH THE EDITOR’S NOTE — His opponent is afraid to face her constituents like this.
► In today’s Washington Post — As state revenues recover, health costs remain a burden — Many states are contending with costs rising faster than revenues are recovering, as help from the federal government dwindles. The biggest culprit has been Medicaid. State spending on the joint federal-state health-care program for the poor surged by 20% this year, following a rise of 23% in fiscal 2011.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Health insurers see record surpluses — Two of the largest nonprofit health insurers in Washington are sitting on record surpluses at a time when policyholders are paying more for their insurance premiums, the state’s insurance commissioner said. Premera Blue Cross and Regence BlueShield each now have surpluses of more than $1 billion for the three months that ended in March. Says Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler: “They’re building up a financial cushion for themselves, and it comes at an expense for people,” adding that insurers should use some of that surplus money to reduce rate increases for policyholders.
► In today’s Columbian — Vancouver council endorses sales-tax hike for light rail — The Vancouver City Council on Monday endorsed a sales tax increase to pay for light rail in Clark County, ending a fast-tracked search for funding options that ultimately ended right back where it started.
► In today’s News Tribune — Pierce Transit will seek tax boost — A sales tax increase to help Pierce Transit restore services and avoid further cuts will head to voters this fall. The agency’s board on Monday agreed to place a three-tenths of 1 percent sales tax increase on the Nov. 6 ballot.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Car-tab fees: $20 goes a long way in Grandview — Recent improvements to a tidy little residential neighborhood here were long overdue, residents say. But paying an extra $20 per year per car for the upgrades? “It’s good for the community,” Rocio Mendoza said.
► At HeraldNet.com — Wichita workers, not Boeing site, of interest to Airbus — An Airbus celebration of its 10-year anniversary in Wichita comes a few months after Boeing announced plans to leave Wichita. Says an Airbus executive: “I would imagine that Boeing’s decision will have some favorable impact to us and that there will be some talent we could add to our team here.”
► From Bloomberg — Stretched 787 may trump new 777 — Weighing choices for its next wide-body jet upgrade, Boeing executives say that developing a stretched version of the 787 Dreamliner may require less work than devising a revamped 777.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Recession wiped out 20 years of wealth you built, Fed says — The Federal Reserve said the median net worth of families plunged by 39 percent in three years, from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010. That puts Americans roughly on par with where they were in 1992.
► At Bloomberg — NLRB asks judge to reconsider ruling on 2011 Board vote — The U.S. National Labor Relations Board asked a federal judge to reconsider a ruling on the panel’s voting procedures, seeking to reinstate a measure that would allow for faster votes in union elections.
ALSO at The Stand — Union election fairness rule tossed on a technicality
► In today’s Washington Post — TSA reputation comes under fire (by Joe Davidson) — Incidents in Fort Myers and Honolulu are being used by House Republicans to smear the agency in a more significant way than the occasional overzealous pat-down. At Congressional hearings, Republicans are targeting the size of the TSO staff, which numbers almost 50,000, suggesting it could be cut by 30-40%. … With a starting annual salary of $25,000 for TSOs, Uncle Sam is getting help on the cheap for a demanding job dealing with sometimes-disagreeable passengers.
► In today’s Washington Post — Fired federal workers have limited route for challenging dismissals — Federal employees who were fired because they did not sign up for the U.S. draft may not challenge the constitutionality of their dismissals in federal district courts, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.
► At AFL-CIO Now — More evidence private prisons don’t work — A recent report dismantles claims by private prison industry and its backers — including the extremist American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — that private prisons are a better deal than publicly run facilities.
► At AFL-CIO Now — 29 of 76 unionists murdered in 2011 were Colombian — Despite promises made in the “Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights,” Colombia continues to be the most dangerous place to be a union member.
► In today’s Washington Post — Obama says he was too busy to campaign in Wisconsin recall election
EDITOR’S NOTE — But he did lift a finger to help! (Actually, two thumbs).
► From AP — Firefighters union blasts Romney — New Hampshire teachers and firefighters yesterday decried comments by Mitt Romney that called for fewer public sector workers. At an event Friday, the Republican presidential candidate accused President Obama of saying “we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers… Did he not get the message in Wisconsin?” Romney said. “The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
► In today’s NY Times — Vouchers unspoken, Romney hails school choice — Romney would seek to overhaul the federal government’s largest programs for K-12 education into a voucherlike system. Students would use $25 billion in federal money to attend any school they choose — public, charter, online or private — a system, he said, that would introduce marketplace dynamics into education to drive academic gains.
► In today’s Washington Post — Romney’s non-sensical claim about ‘Obamacare’ — FACT-CHECKER: Romney should drop this line four-Pinocchio line from his speeches. No amount of tweaking will get it right.
► At Huffington Post — The Wisconsin Blues (by George Lakoff and Elisabeth Wehling) — What happened in Wisconsin started well before Scott Walker became governor and will continue as long as progressives let it continue. The general issues transcend unions, teachers, pensions, deficits, and even wealthy conservatives and Citizens United. Where progressives argued policy — the right to collective bargaining and the importance of public education — conservatives argued morality from their perspective, and many working people who shared their moral views voted with them and against their own interests. Why? Because morality is central to identity, and hence trumps policy.
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