By all appearances, Democratic Washington state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) has moved into the top spot on his own party’s most wanted list. After recently having been the target of withering attacks by the state teachers union, now Hobbs’ office is being advertised as a featured stop on the protest circuit by grassroots organization Washington Community Action Network.
With a scant 571 days left until Election Day 2014 – when Hobbs could again face the voters – the official WashCAN Facebook page reports that canvassing of the [pullquote align=”right”]…[C]oming as it will on Apr. 15 – U.S. Tax Day – WashCAN’s foamy-mouthed opposition to the debt reduction goals of Fix the Debt seems as irrational and counterproductive as protesting sunny days and green grass on the first day of Spring.[/pullquote]44th legislative district with hate mail for Hobbs is going swimmingly. Now the group plans to lay siege on Hobbs’ Olympia office on Monday, Apr. 15. Their objective? Nothing less than to coerce Hobbs to pledge that he will abandon all common sense regarding state spending.
WashCAN’s initial demands are for Hobbs to “drop out of ‘Fix the Debt,’ and support raising revenue by closing corporate loopholes.”
Of course, in reality Hobbs is far friendlier to eliminating some of the tax incentives than most of his colleagues in the Senate Majority Coalition, certainly than most Republicans in the caucus. But most odd among all of WashCAN’s demands is the exhortation that Hobbs recant his support for Fix the Debt, the nonpartisan national group co-founded by former Clinton Administration official Erskine Bowles and former Republican U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, the same Erskine and Bowles who were asked by Pres. Barack Obama to chair his first-term blue-ribbon commission on deficit reduction.
Yet, coming as it will on Apr. 15 – U.S. Tax Day – WashCAN’s foamy-mouthed opposition to the debt reduction goals of Fix the Debt seems as irrational and counterproductive as protesting sunny days and green grass on the first day of Spring.
Hobbs’ involvement in Fix the Debt at the state level indicates his interest in reducing the state’s reliance on debt, in particular the phantom debt iceberg of unfunded pension liabilities that roams somewhere along our current fiscal path. Debt of any size – from credit card-sized borrowing by average union workers to multi-billion leverages by governments against the output of their citizens – is best used when the size of expenditures far exceeds our ability to pay in cash. Capital projects certainly fall into that category, operating budgets do not and Hobbs is on the right side of the debate.
A Tumblr site titled “Lk Stevens residents have a message for Sen. Hobbs” on which WashCAN has posted photos from its canvassing also claims that “[Hobbs] recently voted for a Senate budget that raises no new revenue and would slash health and social service programs.”
Again, the truth is far less damning than WashCAN would like it to be. The state Senate budget Hobbs voted to pass is expected to raise new revenue, but it would not do so by increasing general taxes (or creating new ones) to do so.
Ordinarily, nothing causes Republican pulses to race and cheeks to flush quite like a little Democrat-on-Democrat action, but this year in the Washington State Legislature is different. This Monday, some Republicans will almost certainly be rooting for Hobbs to win the day.