Tag: Patty Murray

Sen. Sessions to Sen. Murray’s Budget Team: ‘You Can’t Flip-Flop Baselines Around Here’

Ranking Republican on Budget Committee Forces Democratic Staffers to Admit Details of Budget Are Not As Public Have Been Told

SessionsDemBudgetTeamIn news this week from the U.S. Senate, Thursday’s dustup between U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) on 2nd Amendment questions stole much of the media spotlight, but elsewhere an ongoing battle of wills between the two ranking members of the Senate Budget Committee – Democratic chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) – heated up early in the budget talks that are soon to be the center ring act in the sequestration circus.

Murray’s announced earlier in the week the first budget Senate Democrats have produced during Pres. Obama’s entire time in office, a progressive counterbalance to a conservative House Republican plan that chisels away at federal spending, proposes demolition of Obamacare and redesigns how future generations will receive entitlements such as Medicaid and Social Security.

If Americans really do crave stark contrasts in their political choices, the Murray plan as sold will fully satisfy those desires.

But if Sessions is right, Murray and Democrats have seriously misled the public about the size of deficit reductions and tax increases in the plan. While Murray peddles a figure of $975 billion in targeted tax increases on the wealthy to achieve $1.85 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years, the Senate Republican budget staff finds $1.5 trillion in tax hikes and a mere $300 in deficit reductions over that period. Democrats are not denying that their plan also increases spending by $1.1 trillion.

In Thursday’s Budget Committee hearing, Sessions asked Democratic budget staffers to explain the discrepancies inducing a game of semantic cat and mouse that produced a rare moment of honesty from Deputy Democratic Budget Committee Staff Director John Righter.

SEN. SESSIONS: “Can you honestly say that under this budget you can achieve $1.85 trillion in deficit reduction and eliminate the sequester with only [$975 billion] in new taxes?”

RIGHTER: “No.”

The gotcha moment takes place near the 6:30 mark in an edited video of the hearing (right) and one almost hears tires screeching outside the Dirksen Senate Office Building as Murray quickly interjects, giving Righter a moment to compose himself and make a quick getaway.

Sessions, however, was nowhere near finished with his preliminary audit of Murray’s fiscal plan.

Is the rest of the 12-minute dialogue between Sessions, Murray and her budget experts wonky and weedy? Yes, because despite the fact that the use of double-accounting is considered unethical (in some cases criminal) by the financial accounting profession, discussing it never boils down into sexy soundbites fit for low-attention span political chit-chat. But, oh boy, is it ever important. With the manner of a calm country physician expressing infection from deep within a wound, Sessions coaxes forth the truth and blows a monstrous hole in Murray’s and Senate Democrats’ $1.85 trillion deficit reduction claim.

“Are you counting the $1.1 trillion in added expenditure by the turning off of the sequester?” Sessions asks the Democratic team at one point. Without a straight answer at first, Sessions – a former Attorney General of Alabama – circles back to make his challenge more direct.

“I believe you are not counting – not believe, it’s a fact – you’re not counting the additional $1.1 trillion that increases spending when you change the sequester and as a result you can’t use your new tax revenue and some other cuts to pay for it,” Sessions charged.

“You can’t flip-flop baselines around here,” Sessions chided Righter. “You claim under your baseline that you’re going to eliminate the sequester which would add $1.1 trillion – with interest – in spending.”

“If we can’t agree on a trillion dollars, we are really showing how it is that our country is in such a financial state,” Sessions concluded.

After the day’s hearing, the Murray Budget was approved on a straight party-line vote and moves to the full Senate.

Tell Senator Murray No New Taxes on Job Creators

The Congressional “Super Committee” is examining a lot of options in order to find ways to reduce the federal deficit; some good, some bad, but there is one that is absolutely the worse. The plan to raise taxes (mostly by changing rules on various tax deductions) on the oil and gas industry is a disaster in the making. While trumpeted by the White House in their populist campaign to demonize “Big Oil”, these increased taxes will have negative impacts in a variety of ways.

The proposal to tax domestic producers on international earnings already taxed puts them at a disadvantage to foreign competitors. When combined with a loss of manufacturing tax deductions, this will lead to decreased domestic investment and production, fewer jobs, higher energy prices and an increased dependence on foreign energy.

Increasing taxes on the oil companies will inevitably result in higher gas prices. The economy has already suffered as we have flirted with $4 a gallon gas, now is not the time to raise taxes on the production of gasoline. The more expensive the government makes domestic production, the more oil and gas we have to import, and the more we rely on sometimes hostile foreign countries for our energy. A study found that by 2020, these tax increases will have resulted in a loss of 48,000 jobs, $29 billion in lost government revenue and a decline in domestic production of 700,000 barrels of oil a day.

Given the current condition of the economy, this moves us 180 degrees in the wrong direction. The American energy industry is one of the few sectors that is still productive, adding jobs and contributing to the Treasury instead of looking for handouts and bailouts. Rather than levying more punitive taxes, we should be looking at how the government can promote more production, creating new jobs and providing more to the public coffers through growth. A study by Wood Mackenzie predicts that if we worked to promote greater oil and gas development, by 2020 we could create more than a million new jobs, increase government revenues by $127 billion and produce an additional 4 million barrels of oil a day here in the US.

“Super Committee” members like Senator Patty Murray need to understand that the real way to reduce the deficit is not through tax increases that stifle the economy. This especially applies to the oil and gas industry, the one segment of the economy that, if allowed, could actually lead America back to a healthy economy.

We need to tell Senator Patty Murray – Do not levy new taxes on oil and natural gas companies.  Adding even more taxes serves only to hamper job growth, chill capital investment and harm energy security and national security. Increased taxes aren’t the answer – less spending is.

Call Senator Murray at (866) 481-9186 to make your voice heard!

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[photo credit: DonkeyHotey]

Murray Lobbies for More Gov’t Spending One Day After Appointment to Debt Reduction Committee

One day after Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was thrown into a storm of controversy by her curious appointment to the congressional debt reduction supercommittee, the senior senator from Washington State may have given her critics additional fuel.

While visiting a manufacturing firm in Richland, Wash., Murray pushed for passage of a new workforce training law that would require even more spending by the federal government.

From KNDO/KNDU-TV:

Sen. Murray toured SIGN, an orthopedic implant manufacturing facility in Richland today. She is working to pass new Career Pathways legislation. Murray says getting high school and post high school students trained in technical skills will help them get these skilled jobs.

“What are you going to do with your life? They have no idea. We need to tell them there are engineering jobs, there are health care jobs, there are manufacturing jobs. These are the skills you need to know to get them,” said the Senator.

Murray also talked about getting the Workforce Enforcement Act passed, which is a plan to retrain laid off workers.

Murray’s call for a new program requiring federal spending comes amid a raging debate concerning her appointment yesterday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to the so-called “Super Congress” debt reduction committee.

As the implicit objective of the Super Congress committee is to find spending cuts, Murray’s inclusion in the group is as peculiar as her thrustless rise to power.

Murray’s appointment raised immediate red flags from both liberals and Republicans primarily because of her role as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the political fundraising arm of the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate.

The senior senator from Washington State has never been pinned as a budget hawk (unless one counts preying on chunks of loose pork) and as chief Democratic fundraiser (who can forget her recent promiscuous solicitation of the Dems’ public enemies numbers one and two – the Koch Brothers) makes her an odd choice if the Democratic leadership intends to portray themselves as genuinely interested in debt reduction.

The conflict of interest compelled even traditional allies in liberal groups to offer Murray a choice: She can be a spending hawk or a fundraiser, but not both.

From an article appearing Wednesday in The Hill,

A coalition of liberal groups is calling on Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, to stop all fundraising while serving on the debt-reduction “supercommittee.”

If Murray does not pledge to stop her fundraising activity for the reelection efforts of Senate Democrats, she should step down as DSCC chairwoman, some say.

“It really sends a bad message to the American people when you’re the chief fundraiser trying to come up with this balanced approach to deficit reduction,” said Adam Smith, communications director of Public Campaign. …

“She should step down or say ‘I’m not going to raise any money,’” Smith said.

Republicans were less subtle in their reactions to the Murray’s appointment.

“Appointing Senator Murray as the Co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is like asking a fox to guard a hen house,” said Washington State Republican Party chairman Kirby Wilbur in a statement released Tuesday.

“Senator Murray has absolutely no history of cutting spending, ever. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I do not know of a single substantive vote she has ever cast to cut spending,” said Wilbur.

In his statement to the press, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Preibus called for Reid to commit to a genuine debt reduction process by yanking Murray from the committee.

“Harry Reid’s appointment of Patty Murray to Co-Chair the Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is absolute proof that Democrats are not serious about deficit reduction.” Priebus said. “The Select Committee is no place for someone whose top priority is fundraising and politics. Majority Leader Harry Reid should immediately withdraw her appointment.”

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[photo credit: flickr]

Patty Murray Caught With Her I.Q. Down… Again.

For Washington state’s weary GOP, Thursday night happy hour just got a little happier courtesy of Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

It’s really just a case of one brain cell not knowing what the other is doing. While Murray’s DSCC staff has been cranking out fundraising letters using the Koch Brothers as a convenient enemy-of-the-moment, Murray has been stalking their company asking for donations.

In a letter sent to Murray on Thursday, Koch Industries president Philip Ellender expressed his extreme befuddlement. Only a short time after the Koch Brothers were used as a derogative in a DSCC mailer attack on Republicans, Koch Industries received a letter from Murray asking for a five-figure check to support DSCC political activities.

Awkward.

As if mixed-message mailings were not sufficient cause for confusion, Murray followed up the letter with a personal voicemail message (Koch has been kind enough to share the audio) inviting them to a posh private retreat, at which time they could run elbows with some of the other Democrat officials working hard to sully the company’s good reputation.

Really awkward.

For her role as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, it might be unrealistic to expect Murray to be personally aware of each corporate contributor on the DSCC target list. But it does not seem extreme to hope that she might keep a set of crib notes about which Americans have been targeted in Democratic smear operations.

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Washington Congressional Delegation Should Stand With Boeing, Not NLRB

On Wednesday the unelected National Labor Relations Board threatened action against aerospace giant Boeing if the company would not agree to build a new assembly line for the 787 Dreamliner in Washington State, a warning made in direct challenge to the company’s decision last fall to build planes in Charleston, South Carolina.

As Angie Vogt wrote today at RedCounty.com:

The NLRB has moved with an order that seeks to actually prevent Boeing from completing construction of it’s 787 plant in South Carolina, where 1000 hired workers are due to begin working in July and force it to continue doing business with the hostile unions of Washington state. Joe Trauger, a vice president at the National Association of Manufacturers, stated that if the complaint order succeeds,”no company will be safe from the NLRB stepping in to second-guess its business decisions on where to expand or whom to hire,” he said.

Prior to Boeing’s announcement of the South Carolina decision last October, it was the desire of most in the Puget Sound that every one of the company’s newest commercial jet – the sky-dominating, groundbreaking 787 Dreamliner – should be assembled exclusively in the Pacific Northwest. It was therefore a punch to the gut of local aerospace workers and civic leaders when the Boeing Company decided last fall to choose South Carolina as the site of its second 787 production line.

Yet, while many lamented the loss of future jobs—and an ever-weakening claim to the title Jet City—there also seemed to be a bittersweet appreciation for the business reasons underlying the company’s choice. Faced with rising costs of labor in its Washington workforce, perpetual union demands for wage and benefit increases, and fierce price competition from an overseas rival fed by heavy subsidies, Boeing needed to get drastically creative. The South Carolina decision was the result.

Despite the free market realities faced by Boeing, the NLRB in its complaint lashes out, abandoning logic like a spurned lover, alleging that the decision was only a way of retaliating against the victimized unions. In order to save face, the NLRB suggests that the building of a new 787 line in Washington will put a broken house back together again. In reality, it would only create additional burdens on Boeing as it fights to retain its position in the internal market for aircraft putting the company back to square one in its attempt to fend off Airbus.

But the NLRB’s recipe for reconciliation is itself a perverted concept of justice, based on a one-sided presentation of the history of the relationship between Boeing and its labor unions.

It can hardly be argued that Boeing’s decision was not a direct result of rising costs of Washington state labor and heightened frustration with union negotiating tactics, though the company will try to keep a straight face and do so). But to suggest that the manufacturer’s actions were only a matter of retaliation skips past an important fact. In the history between Boeing and organized labor, the machinists unions repeatedly exacted their own manner of pain on their employer. Over the years, strikes have cost the company billions and caused months in accumulated production delays, impacting the bottom line feeding all mouths–stockholders, line workers and executives.

It would be naïve to assume that the NLRB would present a full accounting of that raucous chronicle—they are an unelected, unaccountable, taxpayer-funded advocate for organized labor, not employers or Boeing’s stockholders. Though the President, in theory, represents the interests of all his constituents equally, it’s folly to expect him to bite at his union leash.

It will, therefore, fall then on the shoulders of Washington State’s Congressional delegation to avoid temptation to directly or indirectly support the NLRB’s efforts. Riding shotgun with a do-over on a development that was bad for local communities would be a tacit endorsement of the use of federal power to interfere with the decisions a business makes to ensure its own future.

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[photo credit: flickr]

[This article first appeared at Redcounty.com]

Did Patty Murray’s Campaign Ask A State Worker To Use Gov’t Resources For Political Organizing?

WorkSource employee felt that veterans blew her political email “way out of proportion”

Eighteen pages of emails obtained from the Washington Employment Security Department contain communication suggesting that Sen. Patty Murray’s re-election campaign met with a state worker with the purpose of asking for campaign work to be done using state resources.

On August 12th of this year, WorkSource employee Sally Garcia sent an email using her official state account and computer to a list of military veteran clients of Employment Security, with the purpose of motivating support for Murray’s campaign in the Vancouver, Wash. area. Almost immediately, responses trickled in from annoyed and infuriated vets and Garcia opened a line of communication with management.

In one email sent by Garcia to WorkSource business services manager Patrick Williams on the same day her political email was sent, Garcia implied that the idea for sending a state-sponsored email to solicit veterans to get out and vote for Patty Murray came via an August 11th meeting with the Murray campaign. Garcia also suggests that she should have had the foresight to know that veterans would “blow it way out of proportion.”

Kerala Hise — the individual named as a point of contact on Murray’s campaign in Garcia’s original email to veterans — is identified as a field organizer for People for Patty Murray in a separate email sent from Hise’s pattymurray.com email address to Garcia’s official Employment Security account. To date, all requests for comment sent to Murray spokeswoman Julie Edwards have failed to receive any reply.

On August 12th, as the seriousness of Garcia’s actions became evident, she included her union representative in the chain of communication, forwarding nearly every email sent and received during what must have been a frazzling summer afternoon.

Meanwhile, Williams went up the ladder to Employment Security southwest Washington area director Robert Brown. Brown subsequently directed Garcia by email to “cease communication on this or other matters using your veterans email list until further notice.” Other emails imply that an order to recall the original email was given, and a meeting was called for the morning of August 13th at which Garcia, Williams, Brown and the union representative were to be present.

Although the details of the August 13th meeting and any subsequent disciplinary actions are a confidential personnel matter, Employment Security spokeswoman Sheryl Hutchison confirmed earlier this month by email that the department “takes this matter very, very seriously, and the disciplinary process is under way and moving rapidly.”

In that same email, dated Sept. 13th, Hutchison also stated for the first time that the entire matter had been referred to the State Executive Ethics Board for review. The news of the ethics complaint filing came nearly a month after Employment Security officials had met with Garcia, a local manager and a union representative to discuss what had transpired. Hutchison defends the interval as a period during which the agency was conducting its own inquiry.

“In the early going, the WorkSource managers and our H.R. Office were focused on investigating the potential violations of our agency policies and activating our internal disciplinary process,” Hutchison told me by email this afternoon. “Once the bulk of our investigation was completed, we then had the necessary information to craft an ethics complaint that contained the details needed by the Ethics Commission.”

Although the Board officially neither denies nor confirms the existence of a complaint, a source close to the Board has confirmed receipt of the complaint. If the Board takes up the matter for investigation, the results of their work may not be available for months, possibly until after the November 2 election.

Other messages within the eighteen pages of emails sent and received by Garcia on her state computer on August 12 make it clear that before she and her managers moved to mitigate the damage, several veterans voiced their disapproval regarding the political communiqué. Three of the four replies from veterans contained in the department’s public document release register condemnation ranging from light finger-wagging to outrage.

“I do believe there is a conflict of interest for you to endorse a particular candidate,” one veteran politely wrote in reply. “You may want to rethink your position before you send out emails such as this one in the future.”

Although there is no evidence suggesting that the Murray campaign requested the email be sent, other infuriated recipients saw it as an open door to voice indignation for the incumbent Senator.

“I queried [Murray] long ago about the problems with the rewording of the Vietnam-era GI Bill,” another vet explained, asserting that a change in verbiage narrowed the window of time in which veteran’s could use certain benefits. “I received a nice letter from her… which amounted to not wanting to do anything about this matter… I had to drop out of school because my benefits ran out when the wording was rewritten and she didn’t care.”

I learned that one particularly acute reply — devoid of any nuance that might have distracted from its message — came from candidate for state representative in the 49th district Bill Cismar who wrote, “My oath to defend the constitution and this country has not expired and is not so cheaply held that this charlatan should offer me a trifle so that I sit quietly while she destroys my beloved nation.”

An early takeaway for Murray and Republican challenger Dino Rossi might be in recognizing that 75 percent disapproval – even from a focus group of four – is a poor indicator that Murray’s battle to win the hearts of minds of servicemen and women is a winning one.

State Worker’s Email Asking Vets To Support Patty Murray Prompts Ethics Investigation

An email sent by a Washington State employee to veterans that urged support for Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-Wash.) re-election effort are now the focus of an official complaint before the Washington State Executive Ethics Board, the five-person nonpartisan commission charged with investigating accusations of unethical behavior by state employees and officials.

According to a source close to the Ethics Board, a complaint was referred by the Washington Employment Security Department concerning WorkSource employees – Employment Security’s partner agency – using state resources to campaign for Patty Murray. Employment Security spokeswoman Sheryl Hutchison confirmed by email that her agency was the source of the referral, although she could not provide any further details about the complaint.

Until the complaint is made public, it will not be known if it focuses only on the actions of the one employee currently known to have been involved in sending out the emails, or if other parties will also subjects of the investigation.

Although chalking the entire matter up to a single state worker acting alone may be tempting, emails already released by Employment Security offer a reason to believe that her actions were not independent.

Released documents show that the WorkSource employee forwarded one interested veteran’s response to a third party, writing to that person, “This is the first one I received.” It would not be hasty to assume that the purpose of the communication was to provide a progress report, however informal. As more information about the identity of the third party becomes available, questions about the possible sharing of private information outside of state agencies, or the more insidious possibility that WorkSource employees were coordinating their actions with outside parties, may be resolved.

The Ethics Board is scheduled to meet Friday morning in Olympia. It is unclear whether this matter will be on the agenda.

Doc Release Confirms Patty Murray Campaign Materials Sent To Vets By State Employee

The Washington Employment Security Department has released the email sent by a WorkSource employee who used government resources to organize support for Sen. Patty Murray’s campaign. In the email, WorkSource employee Sally Garcia asks veterans to contact Kerala Hise, either by telephone or at a pattymurray.com address, to get involved in a ‘”walk and knock” to remind people to vote” for Murray’s re-election.

Garcia’s email also suggested that recipients “[t]ake a look at the attachments I”—Garcia—“have included.” Employment Security unequivocally stated that no attachments were sent with the message but that Garcia did send a file to recipients who responded with interest. The file contains three People for Patty Murray flyers (click to download the file), an advertisement for a get out the vote event, a bulleted list of Murray’s awards from veterans organizations, and a promotion for Murray’s campaign kickoff rally in Vancouver.

Last week, Employment Security spokeswoman Sheryl Hutchison confirmed that the email represented a breach of agency policies and suggested it might potential violations of state and federal law. Hutchison indicated at that time that disciplinary steps would be taken.

Attempts to call the phone number listed in the email for Hise were not answered and there was no opportunity to leave voicemail. The Murray campaign has not responded to repeated requests for comment about Hise’s role with the campaign and her involvement with the sending of the email.

A request for records of communications between Garcia and the Murray campaign, and between the Murray campaign and Employment Security, is still being researched.

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