US Representative and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jay Inslee announced a jobs plan, while speaking to an audience assembled at the MacDonald-Miller factory in South Seattle.
  • Goldy | The Stranger
  • US Representative and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jay Inslee announces his jobs plan during an appearance at the MacDonald-Miller factory in South Seattle.

Using a South Seattle factory floor as a backdrop, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jay Inslee introduced his jobs plan today, that focuses on government reforms, lowering health costs, improving education, and investing in critical industrial sectors like aerospace, life sciences, information technology, agriculture, and clean technology. And while the speech itself may have been a little thin on details, the 30-page white paper the campaign just posted online—"Building a New Economy for Washington"—will take a bit of time to digest.

Filled with all sorts of wonky deliciousness from investing in PTACs (whatever that is), to allowing "pre-revenue research-based companies" to accrue and sell R&D tax credits (again, don't ask me for an explanation), Inslee's plan includes a laundry list of ideas, goals, and specific proposals. It also represents a contrast in both style and substance from his Republican opponent, attorney general Rob McKenna.

In many ways, the GOP message is a helluva a lot simpler: Cut spending, lower taxes, and reduce regulations. Get government out of our wallets, and out of the way of businesses, and then sit back and watch the market do its magic. That's the Republican solution to growing the economy, and its awfully enticing.

So from a messaging perspective, Inslee's got his work cut out for him, because there's nothing simple or hands off about his approach. Yeah, sure, it's filled with the kind of "targeted" tax breaks we see from both parties (though he also calls for ending nonproductive exemptions and sunsetting the new ones), but implicit in Inslee's plan this notion that government has an active, aggressive role in courting and incubating new businesses, training workers, and setting industrial policy.

Whereas Republicans often warn against trying to "pick winners and losers," Inslee doesn't shy away from naming the core industries of the new economy. "The global demand for clean energy technology will only grow," Inslee asserts with absolute certainty, "The only question is where these jobs will be."

Inslee, of course, wants these jobs here, and his plan is shot full of bullet points on how to get them. And when the specter was raised during Q&A of the failed solar cell manufacturer Solyndra, and the half-billion dollars of taxpayer-backed loan guarantees that went with it, Inslee responded forcefully. "Of course there are failures," Inslee acknowledged, and it takes time to develop new industries, he explained. No doubt Republicans will grab Solyndra as cudgel for bashing all clean tech proposals anywhere, but Inslee, who has championed clean energy throughout his congressional career, wasn't about to back down on his insistence that this industry is crucial to Washington's economic future.

All in all, a pretty comprehensive plan. Read it for yourself. And I'll have more to say on it after I've had the chance to more than just skim.