You have only to listen to Congressman Jay Inslee’s kickoff announcement of his candidacy for Governor to realize his is absolutely the wrong person to put in charge of running Washington State. Like all politicians, he says he wants to improve the state’s economy and promote job creation, but exactly how does he plan on doing that?

He says now isn’t the time to discuss raising taxes, but as we’ve seen with the current incumbent, Gov. Christine Gregoire, he doesn’t mean tax hikes are off-limits during a recession, but during an election campaign. Inslee’s already admitted he’s open to increasing tax revenues by eliminating tax deductions; does he believe that all businesses need to turn things around is more taxes?

He advocates the State taking greater action in providing capital to new start up firms and research centers, to boost high tech business across the state. He plans to get the money to do this from the state pension funds, making risky loans with the state employee’s retirement funds. These are the same plans that are already seriously underfunded, due to the effects of the market downturn in 2008 on the aggressive investing needed to attempt to get an 8% return.

There is, of course, the old standby of economic development through massive state projects, such as the new bridge across the Columbia. Whether a new bridge’s multi-billion dollar price tag is worth the cost, or whether the State can even afford the money to build it, is yet to be seen.

With the usual promises of improving the funding and quality of education in the state comes the idea of reducing health care costs by weeding out inefficiencies and putting the savings towards education. This is remarkable coming from a Congressman who voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which, in spite of its name, has actually driven health care costs up. Moreover, the PPACA threatens to completely overwhelm the state’s budget when it takes full effect and hundreds of thousands are added to the State’s Medicaid rolls.

Firmly committed to public sector employee collective bargaining rights, it is hard to imagine Inslee will be very successful in holding the line on escalating state workers pay and benefits. Likewise, we shouldn’t expect much budgetary restraint from a member of Congress that has run up trillion dollar plus deficits for three years in a row.

Jay Inslee talks of being committed to bringing “new blood to Olympia”, apparently spending two terms as a state representative before becoming a Congressman doesn’t qualify as “old blood”.  Still, it’s difficult to see how he can successfully portray himself as an outsider; I don’t think many people will be reassured by the slogan “I’m from Washington D.C. and I’m here to help.”


[photo credit: flickr]