Opinion

Rossi brings nothing new to the table

TORRENS TALK

Running as a Republican has got to be tough this election year. After all, the head of the party, George W. Bush, has made such a mess of things that all smart Republicans are running as fast as they can away from him and what he represents.

They can no longer make Democrats out as the big spenders as the federal government has grown under Bush. The deficit is historic in its size, especially when one realizes the size of the surplus that Clinton left Bush when he left office.

They have constantly advocated that the private sector is the answer to all of the country’s problems. The Republicans saw nothing wrong with opening the government purse to private contractors, like Halliburton, who then managed to lose billions of taxpayer money. Let the free market determine prices, products and such. Too bad that free market has just about ruined the financial institutions of this country.

The quandary is so bad that Republicans are stooping to taking traditional Democratic messages and trying to claim them as their own. On last weekend’s Upfront segment on KING-5, Chris Vance, speaking for the Republican Party, stated that Rossi can win as long as he continues to stay on his message of change and the economy. Funny, that sounds like the Democratic mantra.

Rossi contends he will change what is wrong with Olympia. That Gov. Gregoire has put Washington in the hole with spending. Somehow the fact that the state is required by law to have a balanced budget is not mentioned. Nor that it is not the sole provenance of the governor.

The budget is accomplished through a negotiation that occurs mainly in the Legislature. The governor can either accept or veto items, but does not write the budget. After the voter-approved initiative that gave teachers cost of living increases was set aside in order to balance the budget when revenues were short, Gregoire and the Legislature put it back in when revenues were in better shape.

Is Rossi saying the will of the people should be denied? That teachers don’t deserve to have their wages attempt to keep pace with increased costs when revenues can handle it? Has he forgotten this state relies mainly on sales and property taxes to fund its activities and programs so when the economy suffers, so does the state revenue?

If he understands how Washington works, then Rossi and his supporters are being more than disingenuous with the attack ads concerning the state budget. If he wants any credibility on this issue, he should be specific in his proposals to trim the state budget and still preserve programs. If he can’t do that, then he offers nothing.

There are now attack ads that make Gregoire responsible for the rise in property taxes. Again, this means either the right is totally ignorant of how property taxes work in this state or they are using fear to sway votes. Either position doesn’t bode well for the electorate. A simple check will show that property taxes in this state are capped at 1 percent and any rises are due to rising property values — something the free market, not the governor can control.

Just like the presidential election, this race is about style versus substance. Gregoire has the substance. She knows her stuff but is not the slick salesman that Rossi is. He talks a good game but says nothing specific. That may seem smart because then no one can hold him accountable. Yet, that is precisely what he goes after Gregoire for: accountability. So, listen to what he says but don’t pay attention to what he doesn’t do?

Rossi wants to run on the traditional Republican platform of small government, deregulation, free market rule and no taxes. Unfortunately, all of those things are what has gotten this country into the big trouble it is in today. Government needs revenue to run and the free market needs regulation to curb its excesses.

Rossi offers nothing new. His solution to road congestion is an idea from the past: build more lanes, ignoring the high price of the petroleum-based asphalt that will be used. People always say they want someone who knows the issues. Gregoire is that person. The choice is clear: someone who does the job or someone who can sell himself.

Val Torrens covers local issues for the CK Reporter and North Kitsap Herald.

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