Much of America is concerned about the negative impact of the nation going over the fiscal cliff.
But Gov. Chris Gregoire is more than concerned for Washington state. She sees devastation in this corner of the country if the automatic spending cuts — particularly to the military — are allowed to kick in.
Her analysis seems to be on the mark.
So let’s hope Gregoire, a Democrat, can convince Sen. Patty Murray, a fellow Democrat — one of the key negotiators in Congress trying to broker a deal — that it would be a monumental mistake to allow the nation to go over the fiscal cliff.
The military has a huge presence in Washington, particularly in the Puget Sound area and in Spokane. Gregoire said she is worried 40,000 military jobs in the state will be lost due to the automatic spending cuts. In an interview with McClatchy Newspapers, she said she was scared cutbacks might cause a delay in responding to a leak of radioactive waste from a double-shelled tank at the Hanford nuclear dump site.
In addition, she said in the interview, the cuts combined with middle-class taxpayers losing the Bush-era tax breaks will cause consumers to lose confidence and reduce their holiday spending, plunging the sales-tax dependent state back into recession.
“In my opinion, the worst thing that can happen is that we go over the fiscal cliff, and I just hope everybody listened to what the voters had to say,” Gregoire said.
While Gregoire has been busy advising members of her state’s congressional delegation to reach a deal, according to McClatchy Newspapers reporter Rob Hotakainen, Murray has been arguing it might be necessary to take the plunge if Republicans refuse to raise taxes on top earners as part of a budget deal.
“I don’t want that to happen. I really believe that the consequences of that are severe,” Murray said. But, she said, the impact of enacting a solution that doesn’t include revenue “is much more severe on the people that I care about.”
If the state’s economy is in tatters, all her constituents — regardless of their income or the life challenges they face — are going to be suffering.
Gregoire is thinking clearly, Murray is not.
The governor’s assessment of the election is also correct.
The voters did not give Democrats or Republicans — liberals or conservatives — a mandate. The voters’ message seemed to be that they wanted to see cooperation between the parties in Congress and they want to see results. Voters want the nation to be weaned off deficit spending and they want to see the national debt reduced.
Voters simply want the members of Congress to act like responsible stewards.