Though he looks like your average Brooks Brothers Republican, over the last couple of months Dino Rossi—the sole GOP candidate in the race to fill the seat recently vacated by Congressman Dave Reichert—has been busy constructing an alternate reality like any other potential Trumpian acolyte.
In a brief interview with NCW Life, Rossi interrupted himself to say, "I mean, I'm the guy that balanced the biggest deficit in state history without raising taxes and still protected the vulnerable, and I did it with getting the Republicans together, but still bringing some moderate Democrats with me."
He said the same thing in a puff piece from the Issaquah Reporter, which Rossi reprinted on his website: “I balanced the state budget with the biggest state deficit in history, and I did it by working across party lines — something that’s not happening in D.C."
Rossi has been spreading this myth about balancing the 2003 budget while protecting the vulnerable all without raising taxes since his failed bid for Governor in 2008. But just because he keeps saying it doesn't make it so.
As the Seattle Times explained back in 2008, "the 2003-05 budget raised about $14 million from a 42 cent-per-liter surcharge on liquor, according to legislative analysts. It also charged nursing homes a tax of $6.50 per bed, per day." The Times goes on to report that the state returned a lot of that tax money back to nursing homes, but those not funded by public dollars—"roughly a third of all beds in the state"— didn't get their money back even though they paid the tax. So it's misleading for Rossi to claim he balanced the budget while protecting the vulnerable, when in reality the budget raised taxes on little old people in nursing homes, not to mention anyone who drinks by the liter to cope with being lied to by politicians all the time.
Rossi might claim that the budget he initially proposed contained "no general tax increases," but that's not the bill that passed. And even if it was, he couldn't then go on to say that that budget he proposed protected the vulnerable, nor could he claim much ownership over the bill.
As former Stranger writer Goldy pointed out back in 2010: "It was Democratic Gov. Gary Locke who first proposed an all-cuts budget, and Rossi who merely followed up a couple months later with a few modifications to make it even more draconian."
Goldy goes on to quote a report from the Seattle Times in April of 2003 with the headline, "Senate budget in line with Locke's:"
The Republican budget has much in common with the all-cuts plan that Democratic Gov. Gary Locke unveiled in December. In fact, Rossi opened a press briefing yesterday with a PowerPoint presentation titled: "Following the Governor's Lead."
By the way, the modifications that made the Republican bill more draconian, Goldy and the Times note, include "eliminate[ing] coverage for an estimated 46,000 children in the state Medicaid program," cutting prenatal care for undocumented immigrants, cutting raises for state employees, and "increase[ing] tuition at colleges and universities by 9 percent."
Cutting Medicaid. Cutting education. Dismissing the needs of immigrants. Any of that sound familiar? That's how Rossi defined "fiscal responsibility with a with a social conscious" back in 2003. I doubt that much has changed in 2018.
I long to live outside the world of speculation, of course, but Rossi, like Reichert, refuses to say anything meaningful about any pressing issue whatsoever, and he refuses to respond to any of my questions for comment.
Right now in D.C., for example, the House is set to pass a spending bill that would increase the deficit by $300 billion, but Rossi didn't respond when I asked him if his deep commitment to "fiscal responsibility" would prevent him from voting for it. He also hasn't said one word about whether he would have voted for the Republican tax bill, which amounted to a massive transfer of wealth from the "vulnerable" to the rich. All we have from him now is this bullshit he dishes out to broadcast journalists and a some data from the FEC.
On that note, Democrats are eager to spread the word about Rossi receiving donations from Mike Pence's Great America PAC, as well as an endorsement from the Koch-adjacent Club for Growth. The argument here is that Rossi will be beholden to Pence's evangelical agenda (which he already is) and the interests of these donors, which include big Pharma and big Tobacco. But Democrats take money from big industries, too, and they get to run around claiming they vote against their donors' wishes all the time.
What's most alarming to me is Rossi's willingness to walk around Washington's 8th congressional district, look people in their eyes, and tell the same lie he's been telling for a decade.