Opinion logrolling, corporate zeroes, ‘official time’…



►  In today’s (Everett) Herald — Don’t cloud issue for voters (editorial) — A new initiative being pushed by a coalition of private retailers and restaurateurs appears to be the best distillation of ideas yet, and could very well appear on this November’s ballot. But a partial, vastly inferior plan passed late in the just-concluded legislative session threatens to confuse the issue. Gov. Chris Gregoire should use her veto pen to keep that from happening.

►  In today’s Seattle Times — Governor should veto bizarre liquor bill (editorial) — By all appearances, the liquor bill on Gregoire’s desk is an effort to short-circuit the people’s vote on I-1183 by putting part of the state monopoly into private hands before Election Day.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Is it coincidence that these two papers have run these essentially identical editorials this morning? No. It’s more evidence that commercial newspaper opinionmakers simply regurgitate the talking points provided by business lobbying groups on legislative issues. Both editorials advocate in support of Costco’s next initiative (I-1183) to privatize liquor stores, dismissing voters’ rejection of two such initiatives last fall. (“It changes some of the things the public opposed last year, and voters are likely to go for it,” predicts the Times.) Both fret that the legislation on the governor’s desk could confuse the issue by not fully privatizing the system. Both recommend the same solution: vetoing the emergency clause. It appears that both newspapers got a phone call and a fax from a corporate lobbying group — or perhaps from Costco’s political consultant — before crapping out these twin editorials.

►  In today’s Olympian — Gregoire favors legal test over two-thirds vote standard — Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday she thinks a court challenge is needed to show whether tax increases in the Legislature actually require a two-thirds vote to be enacted. Several House Democrats set the stage for a possible court challenge when they brought a bill closing a bank-tax exemption to a floor vote May 24. The bill got 52 votes, enough for a majority, but it failed to meet the supermajority test of 66 yes votes required by Initiative 1053.

►  In today’s (Everett) Herald — To woo businesses from Washington, other states add a special touch — Add an iPod Touch to the tools other states are using to recruit Washington businesses. Virginia’s governor used one to reach out and tap high-tech businessman John Sabey last week just as Washington legislators, on the final day of the special session, balked at extending a tax break the company sought for expanding its business of building data centers.

►  At Publicola — 2011 Best Lobbyist Award: Washington Education Association — Despite the nationwide movement and broad coalition in the house and senate, the teachers’ union held on tight to their pilot projects and fought back every attempt by reformers to tie teacher layoffs to evaluations.




►  In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing, FAA investigate 777 landing-gear installation problem — A Boeing employee familiar with the incident said self-inspection by mechanics is increasingly the norm within the factory, and no quality inspectors signed off on the work independently of the mechanics who rigged the landing gear. “This is a case of hurry up and get it done,” the employee said.

►  At — 9,000 busted for not seeking work while on unemployment — If you’re getting unemployment checks, you know you’re supposed to be applying for three jobs a week. But state officials said they’ve busted more than 9,000 people who failed to fulfill that requirement while collecting unemployment benefits last year.

►  In today’s (Everett) Herald — Death again stuns Monroe prison — A corrections officer and friend of slain officer Jayme Biendl reportedly died of a suicide in Oak Harbor.




►  At The Hill — Study finds many corporations have effective tax rate of zero — Citizens for Tax Justice released an examination on Wednesday that said that a dozen major companies had, between them, an average effective tax rate of roughly -1.5% between 2008 and 2010 — well below the top marginal corporate rate of 35%. General Electric came in with the lowest tax rate of the dozen, -61.3% over those three years, after The New York Times earlier reported that it had paid no 2010 taxes and claimed a $3.2 billion tax benefit for that year. Jeffrey Immelt, GE’s chief executive, is the chairman of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Seven other companies — American Electric Power, Dupont, Verizon, Boeing, Wells Fargo, FedEx and Honeywell — had tax rates between -0.7% and -9.2%, according to CTJ.

►  In today’s Washington Post —Tax ‘subsidies’ at GE, IBM and Boeing targeted — Eleven U.S. corporations including General Electric Co., Boeing Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. together reported $62 billion in domestic profits in 2010 while paying a negative 3.6 percent federal tax rate, according to data released today by Citizens for Tax Justice. The group hopes the data will help persuade President Barack Obama to abandon his efforts to rewrite the corporate tax code without collecting additional revenue. The organization said the figures make the case for using a corporate tax overhaul to generate more revenue.




►  At TPM — Poll: GOP Medicare-ending budget a bigger political fumble than thought — Not only does a new poll show huge opposition to Ryan’s plan to replace Medicare with a voucher system, the poll shows Democrats winning the credibility war when it comes to Medicare and “protecting the middle class.” And — in a jolt of good news for the White House and Democrats — the numbers show that when voters are given Ryan budget messaging from opponents, support for the Democratic health care law actually goes up slightly in response.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Every Republican member of Congress from Washington state supported Rep. Ryan’s plan to cut Medicare and turn it into a voucher program. In fact, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler continues to reiterate her support for it.

►  From Reuters — Private payrolls disappoint, add 38,000 jobs in May — U.S. private-sector payroll growth slowed sharply in May, falling to the lowest level in eight months and prompting some economists to lower forecasts for job growth in Friday’s U.S. government report.

►  In today’s NY Times — Pressing Obama, House bars increase in debt ceiling — The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a measure to increase the government’s debt limit, acting on a vote staged by Republican leaders to pressure President Obama to agree to deep spending cuts.

►  In today’s NY Times — Who needs health care reform? — Two recent studies have documented the urgent need for the health care reform that Republicans are so determined to repeal.

►  At — President names Boeing director Bryson to be Commerce Secretary — President Obama has chosen Boeing board member John Bryson as his nominee to replace former Washington Gov. Gary Locke.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The revolving door between corporate boardrooms and presidential cabinets — of either parties — continues to spin. Meanwhile, nominate a labor leader to a federal post and it becomes a scandal that merits unabashed (and silly) Republican obstructionism involving pretending to be working when they have all left town.

►  In The Hill — Obama Commerce pick sets up showdown on trade — By nominating a former CEO who has extensive ties to corporate America, Obama continued his aggressive courtship of the business community, which began almost immediately after Democrats lost their House majority last year. Yet Senate Republicans quickly warned that Bryson’s nomination would be stuck until the administration sends Congress legislation implementing three trade deals, with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

►  In today’s Washington Post — Federal workers’ use of “official time” for union activity is scrutinized — “Official time” allows the government to pay the wages of employees while they are doing some union work. Internal union business, including elections and conventions, are not covered. Labor representatives can use official time to participate in labor-management workshops, represent employees in meetings, negotiate contracts, implement workplace initiatives and represent workers in grievance and disciplinary proceedings. The cost of salaries and benefits for union reps using official time was $129 million in fiscal year 2009, less than two-tenths of 1% of the budget for employees covered by union contracts. Republicans and conservatives want it abolished or severely limited.

The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m. Make this electronic “clip service” your first stop each morning! These links are functional on the date of posting, but sometimes expire.

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