Sinking the schip
Speaking to a packed room of supporters in the 500-seat Village Theatre in Issaquah on the morning of October 25, Dino Rossi kicked off his long-anticipated do over.
Since losing to Governor Christine Gregoire by just 133 votes in 2004, Rossi, 48, a real-estate broker and former state senator, has been running a nonprofit called Forward Washington, which seemed suspiciously like a campaign front group.
His announcement, which got a few standing ovations and lots of supportive shout-outs, played up standard GOP themes: the Democratic incumbent has raised taxes, released felons, and increased government spending.
That last point was picked up by the mainstream press, which parroted Rossi's sound bite: Under Gregoire, state spending has gone up 30 percent. No mention in the mainstream press that revenues—thanks to remarkable job growth (not tax hikes)—have also gone up 30 percent.
Rossi says he would fight to give those extra revenues back to the people. Unless those people are children, I guess.
Indeed, Rossi's campaign told me this week that Rossi supports President Bush's veto of a bill that would expand children's health-care coverage, SCHIP. The SCHIP program would bring in about $90 million to Washington State—helping fund our state's own children's health care expansion. Last session, the State legislature (at Gregoire's insistence) passed a bill that—working in tandem with the feds—would expand children's health coverage, eventually adding 65,000 children to state Medicaid coverage.
Governor Gregoire has taken a strong position on the federal bill (she sent a letter to members of our delegation urging them to override Bush's veto).
This brings me back to Rossi's speech in Issaquah, where he bashed Gregoire's blue ribbon health care study. "Have you seen your health-care costs come down? If you were to read the news releases from the governor's office, you would think our health-care problems were solved."
After the speech, I asked Rossi if he thought Congress should override President Bush's veto to save the bill passed in Olympia. He told me, "I'm not in Congress."
A few days later, coming out in support of Bush's veto, Rossi's campaign summarized his position: "The majority of children that are going to be coming on are either illegal or currently have health insurance from the private sector."
Actually, there are 26,000 kids in our state without health insurance who wouldn't get it if Bush's veto stands. The State admits, for what it's worth, that it doesn't know how many are "illegal."