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June 23, 2006

McGavick and the Ted Stevens strategy

Posted by David Postman at 3:43 PM

Mike McGavick's campaign just issued a press release to announce that Senate Republicans will maintain the state sales tax deduction from the federal income tax:

In a meeting yesterday, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee told Mike that state sales tax deduction provisions will be included in upcoming tax legislation.

Grassley also just hosted a fundraiser for McGavick. And this is the second time that McGavick's friends among GOP senators have helped him take credit for D.C. action. He's trying to become the non-incumbent incumbent, getting credit for the good things while continuing to criticize the dysfunctional nature of Congress.

Just like with his letter to Ted Stevens in March about oil tankers, McGavick says the Senate is doing what he asked.

From the release:

Mike sent a letter to Senator Grassley last month asking that the deduction be included in a future tax package.

"There have been reports that in the near future, the Senate intends to take up a second tax package and that extension of the state sales tax deduction may be included," Mike said in his letter. "Inadvertently raising taxes on Washingtonians and the residents of the other seven states who would benefit from the extension is not the right course to keep local economies growing."

The deduction had earlier been removed from pending tax legislation, prompting Washington's Democratic senators to speak out. "Patty Murray blamed Republicans for making no commitment to what she calls an issue of fundamental tax fairness," the AP reported, and Cantwell called the decision "outrageous."

McGavick's grab for the spotlight may not sit well with Rep. Brian Baird, D-Vancouver, either. He has been the state's foremost proponent of keeping the deduction and is credited with saving it for the previous two years.

The issue has come up in a Senate race before, and caused tension among the delegation.

UPDATE: Cantwell spokeswoman Charla Neuman says by e-mail that Canwtell and Baird were responsible for extending the deduction and have been fighting to make it permanent.

"Anyone who knows this issue knows that a permanent deduction is the only way to ensure Washington families truly get tax fairness. They have been working with their colleagues on both tax committees to make sure Washingtonians will continue to receive this tax deduction. It's a shame that it's become a political toy on the other side of the aisle, but the important thing is Washington families get the tax cut they deserve."

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McGavick's shot at Cantwell falls short

Posted by David Postman at 9:44 AM

By declaring that his campaign is all about civility, Mike McGavick was inviting close scrutiny of any criticism he levels at Sen. Maria Cantwell. And a shot he took at Cantwell on her environmental record falls short.

The Yakima Herald Republic this week ran a short story about Cantwell's introduction of a bill to increase fuel efficiency standards and included a response from McGavick:

"Cantwell's likely opponent in November, former Safeco Insurance executive Mike McGavick, said he's long supported increased vehicle fuel efficiency and suggested Cantwell is late to the issue. 'The senator's been on the energy committee so she's had plenty of time to work on CAFE standards. Too bad it didn't come up six years ago,' he said."

This set off a pretty thorough fact checking on the liberal blog Hominid Views that showed Cantwell's history of support for increased corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards and raised questions about what McGavick has done to show the long support he told the Yakima paper about.

It all grew out of a few sentences in a small story, but Hominid Views and the liberal bloggers who have been picking up the post clearly see this as an opportunity to put McGavick on notice.

I asked McGavick about the claims and he told me:

"I wasn't saying that Sen. Cantwell hasn't had a view on CAFE. But I do find the timing of the introduction of the bill, in the last six months of her term, relatively late. ... All I've said is this is interesting; a lot of introduced bills and a lot of press releases as of late, as opposed to a lot of steady action over the years that might have seen results."

Hominid Views points to a speech Cantwell gave on the subject in 2002 and a vote against an amendment that would have eliminated CAFE standards. But, in fact, Cantwell has a much deeper record than that on the subject. She has co-sponsored CAFE legislation since 2001, her first year in the Senate. This is easy to check by going to the Library of Congress' site and searching for "Cantwell and fuel" to find the bills.

McGavick told me that he has spoken about CAFE and thinks its "part of the puzzle."

But there's not much of a record of that. In January McGavick gave a major environmental speech in the Tri-Cities. He doesn't mention CAFE or fuel economy. On his Web site there is a video of McGavick talking about energy and again there is no mention of CAFE or fuel economy, except in relation to electric- and hydrogen-powered cars.

McGavick's speeches may not include references to the need for more fuel efficient cars, said his spokesman, Elliot Bundy, but the subject comes up often during Q&A sessions.

He did mention it at an appearance in Gig Harbor last month with former EPA director Christine Todd Whitman. The News Tribune reported that "He suggested pursuing alternative energy sources and higher vehicle fuel economy standards."

That doesn't really back up the claim that McGavick is a long-time supporter of increased CAFE standards, or more importantly the implied claim that he has a better record on the issue than Cantwell. But maybe that starts today. McGavick is the keynote speaker at the Washington Energy and Convenience Store Conference and Bundy says "it will be a topic in his remarks this morning."

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Librarians push their call for impeachment

Posted by David Postman at 7:49 AM

In New Orleans, Seattle librarians are lobbying delegates at the American Library Association conference in the hopes of getting their call to impeach President Bush adopted as an official ALA policy.

If you read the comments in the post below you can see the debate between those who think this is an important stand for librarians to take and those who wonder what difference it could make and what, if anything, impeachment has to do with libraries.

I asked those questions of Lynn Lorenz, a Seattle librarian and member of the AFSCME local that adopted the resolution.

"Libraries don't exist in a bubble. As stated by the ALA, democracy is the core value of libraries and we're talking about unprecedented and sweeping changes by the Bush administration that, taken as whole, comprise a radical remaking of society, a society that will no longer be a democracy. ... Is it radical? It's actually what the majority of people in this country and the world would like to see. So we said it."

But in addition to seeing some special role that librarians play, Lorenz argues that more professionals should do the same.

"I think the political terrrain and the political discourse in this country would be very different if people from all walks of life, all professions, all organizations, were making strong statements that repudiate the political direction being led by the Bush administration. Right now, things are way too silent and people are beginning to get used to things they would've never found acceptable just a couple years ago. Those of us who voted in favor of the resolution want this to help break the silence and paralysis that are setting in. It's every citizen's responsibility to not conciliate with the Bush administration's crimes."
  The ALA has 65,000 members worldwide and about 18,000 expected in New Orleans, Larra Clark, the ALA's spokeswoman told me. She said it's not unusual for the ALA to consider political issues at its conferences.

"Our membership is very diverse, so there are many, many kinds of resolutions that are considered; literacy issues to school libraries, destruction of libraries in other countries, issues in the news," she said.

The group has adopted resolutions about propaganda and disinformation related the Iraq war and the Patriot Act at conferences earlier this year and in 2005.

There's a process the Seattle librarians have to follow to get their resolution debated before the ALA'a governing body. Lorenz, who is not attending the convention, said she thinks they have gotten support from members of the ALA council, which is necessary to get the issue introduced and debated. She said the ALA's Social Responsibilities Round Table is supportive and that other groups will be proposing similar resolutions that she hopes results in "one unified resolution calling for the impeachment or resignation of President Bush."

UPDATE:
To see if librarians in New Orleans were talking about the Seattle librarians' campaign, I reached Jim Rettig, a veteran member of ALA and a research librarian at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

He has served 14 years on the ALA's council, which is the 180 or so member governing board that acts on resolutions. He says he hadn't heard much about the impeachment move but that librarians are really just starting to get to town.

The ALA is set up to foster debate and discussion, he said. "We truly are committed to freedom of speech and intellectual freedom. There's no hindrances to that within our governance structure."

He said the council has been "criticized by some groups as a tool for the left. But I'm completing my third term and I would describe most of its actions as very centrist." He also said the actions are rooted in the ALA's principles.

The librarians are split on their view of the president just like the rest of the country, he said, and there was no way to predict what would happen when business meetings get underway.

"I can't think of a good precedence for this to base a good guess on," he said.

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