Category Archives: Patty Murray

Spotlight on Patty Murray, y’all

ED NOTE: There is at least one element of the budget Congress is about to pass that is causing significant heartburn locally. Inflation guarantees for military retirees younger than 62 were reduced. Tom Philpott, whose column appears in the Kitsap Sun, addressed the issue this week.

Spotlight on Patty Murray, y’all
(Yeah, Yeah)
The press is all aghast
(Yeah, yeah)
She got a budget passed
(Yeah, yeah)
Oh yeah! Oh oh yeah.

— Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music”, as written by a reporter who happens to be wearing tennis shoes at the moment.

There would probably be no better time for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray to run for another term in the Senate. Washington’s Democratic “Mom in Tennis Shoes” is being heralded at Christmastime as the Senator who saved the holiday for many. To do it she worked with the House Republican who would have preferred to be Vice President about now. Together they crafted a budget deal, something we’ve seen scant few of in recent years.

That deal has something for everyone to dislike, for sure, but the bar is really low right now for the things we celebrate out of Congress. Murray worked as the Senate rep with House Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. The deal was timed so well politically Speaker of the House John Boehner felt the moxie to knock the heads of a subgroup of Tea Party conservatives within in his own party, something lots of folks noticed.

Murray and Ryan got to a deal by working their own rooms, by keeping their negotiations out of the press spotlight, and by keeping the White House more or less out of the process. Murray had to get support from House Democrats, which was not easy particularly because of the cuts to federal retirement benefits, including for military retirees. She told them that Ryan wanted much bigger cuts, and for many of them that was at least enough to get support.

Kitsap’s congressman, Democrat Derek Kilmer, had long said Congress needed to at least get a budget done, and that was the tone he took in his comment following his vote.

“While there are parts of this budget I don’t like, I have spent the last year calling on my colleagues to set aside their partisan differences and pass a budget. I’m encouraged that Democrats and Republicans have found a way to work together, help avert a government shutdown, and halt most of the damaging across-the-board cuts that have hurt our region. Congress must now continue to work together on a plan that deals with our long-term fiscal health and grows our economy so we can get folks back to work.”

Murray’s effort has generated tons of media attention.

From CNN: Patty Murray emerges as bipartisan figure after budget deal

“Murray, a Democrat from Washington state serving her fourth term, is considered a steady hand in the Senate who shuns grandstanding and garners respect from both sides of the aisle.
“She is a liberal, but can be pragmatic and has some conservative thoughts on budget issues.”

From Politico: How Patty Murray won over Dems on budget fight

“President Barack Obama was on the phone repeatedly with Sen. Patty Murray during the high-stakes budget talks and asked how he could help.
“Murray’s response: I got this.”

From U.S. News & World Report:The Real Value of the Budget Deal

“House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, a conservative Republican and his Senate counterpart, Patty Murray of Washington, a liberal Democrat, should be praised for breaking an impasse that has stymied the most basic function of a government over the last many years – adopting a budget. Even if the agreement falls short of addressing the fundamental federal budgetary challenges that confront the country’s future, and it does, it nonetheless demonstrates that two very different political philosophies can still find common cause in a polarized country and a divided Congress.”

There are naysayers about the budget bill.

From Katrina vanden Heuvel in the Washington Post: Undeserved applause for Ryan-Murray budget deal

“There’s something troubling, even farcical, about lawmakers applauding their own mediocrity, handing themselves medals of participation for showing up to work on time.”

Murray herself acknowledges the deal isn’t perfect in a column on Huffington Post, but urges the Senate to pass it so government stops “lurching from crisis to crisis,” such as another potential government shutdown. The Senate voted to end debate on Tuesday, meaning the budget bill is ready for a vote in the chamber. It only needs to a one-vote margin for approval. With 67 senators voting to end debate, bill passage seems likely.

It’s enough to make people watching politics to shine a spotlight, and to sing. I’ll spare you that and leave the singing to the experts.

Kilmer, Murray on Syria

With Syria within sharp focus, Kitsap’s representatives in Congress remain undecided on whether they should vote to support U.S. military action in Syria.

In an email U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer sent out on Friday he tells constituents that he has not yet decided which way he would vote, what he is against and what questions he wants answered before he decides. The entire letter follows, but the main bullet points are that:

  • Kilmer does not support sending in troops;
    He does not support starting something that will create a larger regional fight;
    He does not support empowering extremists;
    Kilmer wants to know what success looks like;
    He wants to know what the effect will be in the short, medium and long terms;
    He wants to know what the price of inaction is.
  • Kilmer asked for your feedback and receives email at or you may call any of his offices.

    Sen. Patty Murray’s statement, in which she also says she is undecided, follows Kilmer’s and her contact page is at

    I don’t see an official statement from Cantwell, but news reports show her as undecided.

    The full statements follow.
    Continue reading

    Federal spending will not go down

    The State of the Union speech to be delivered this (Tuesday) evening by President Obama is likely to call for a couple of things aimed at the budget.

    First, he’ll join Republicans in calling for an end to earmarks.

    Second, he’ll call for a five-year spending freeze on non-security discretionary spending.

    On the second point, “The problem there is you’re talking about 13 percent of the federal budget,” said George Behan, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair.

    Dicks’ position of leadership even though he is again in the minority party is spelled out pretty well in a (Tacoma) News Tribune story by McClatchy Washington Bureau reporter Rob Hotakainen.

    The story also references the call for no earmarks and the problems locally (think Port Orchard) that presents.

    “I (Dicks) may have done it,” he said in an interview in his office on Capitol Hill last week. “I’ve been here 34 years. I may have done the best I can.”

    Behan said Dicks takes issue with the president’s apparent willingness to leave defense out of the spending cut picture. Dicks gave a speech on the House floor Tuesday (The video appears below.) referencing $78 billion in defense cuts recommended by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

    Behan said that in times like these, Dicks believes cuts need to be made everywhere. “He’s as strong as anybody on defense but he doesn’t believe you should exempt the Pentagon,” Behan said.

    Incidentally, Dicks still doesn’t have a copy of the president’s speech, late by Washington standards. An excerpt of the Republican response to the speech has been posted on Facebook.

    Non-discretionary spending is far and away the big chunk of the federal budget, items in defense, Medicare and Social Security. An overall freeze of spending would cap all spending at whatever it is this year, but the federal government would have a tough time doing that, because spending on defense, Medicare and Social Security go up every year just by maintaining the same level of service. That’s why a freeze is essentially a cut. Cutting non-discretionary spending is harder to do, Behan said.

    Also part of the president’s speech tonight is . U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, spoke to that this morning on the floor of the House.

    “As we’re coming out of this very deep recession, many of us believe that one of the brightest spots on our economic horizon is our ability to develop hundreds of thousands of new jobs in this country, so that America can fulfill its detiny of leading the world in clean energy development.”

    The entire speech follows, as does the one from Dicks.

    Continue reading

    Democrats Voted Here

    If you are wondering why Democrats held on so well in Washington while across the nation they did not do well at all, the basic answer appears to be that they voted here. Democrats in Washington, despite the dire predictions for them nationally, mailed in their ballots. A Portland pollster makes that case, as well as the one contending that Washington is getting bluer.

    Some of the information is included in a story about the county certifying the Nov. 2 election.

    Moore Information of Portland, Ore. sent out an analysis (posted below) suggesting that Dino Rossi, Republican challenger for the U.S. Senate here, did better among Republicans than any other Senate candidate in the country. He also won the vote of independents by big numbers. He lost, according to Moore, because incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray did even better among Democrats, and there are more Democrats than there used to be and they didn’t get too depressed to vote here.

    Of course, if you read our story from Nov. 1, this may not surprise you at all. The last two paragraphs said this:

    Turnout was markedly higher in 1998 and 2006. Carl Olson, Kitsap County Democratic Party chairman, said his party’s get-out-the-vote effort is tracking as well as it did in 2006, when turnout was 68.2 percent.

    “My personal sense tells me there may be some surprises,” he said, meaning Democrats may do better than expected. Whether the party’s tracking of those who are solid or lean Democrat means they voted Democrat again, he said, he doesn’t know.

    While Democrats lost ground in Washington, what their voters did by voting was prevent a party disaster. They maintained control of both chambers in the state. Locally every Democrat incumbent had a closer race, but they all won.

    My hunch is this also explains why late votes, those counted after those from election night, did not break Republican as they have in past elections. Democratic margins, in fact, grew larger.

    Moore’s analysis, co-written with Hans Kaiser, also with Moore Information, follows:

    Continue reading

    Party Roots of Patty Murray and Dino Rossi

    Jerry Cornfield at the (Everett) Herald gets to the questions of how the candidates ended up in the parties they chose in the race between U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. and Republican Dino Rossi.

    Cornfield points out that both had influences in their lives that could have pushed them in different directions. From the story:

    Patty Murray, 59, and Dino Rossi, 50, are not party ideologues and neither engaged fully in partisan politics until comfortably in adulthood.

    Both come from large, middle-class families. Each has six siblings; Patty and her identical twin, Peggy, are the second and third eldest while Dino is the youngest.

    Both grew up in small suburban cities Murray in Bothell and Rossi in Mountlake Terrace. Their fathers are World War II veterans and their families each hit by hardship that tested their will.

    While there are parallels in their lives as youngsters, by the time each reached college, their life’s journey was driven by very different political values.

    I continue to periodically point out stories worth reading in the block of stories above, but this one deserves special mention. It confirms to me that the embracing of any political philosophy is not exclusively an intellectual exercise or a response to self interest.

    By the Way, There Will Be an In-Person Town Hall

    I admit it. Sen. Patty Murray’s press secretary Alex Glass is right. Members of Congress have been coming to the community and talking about health care and not getting much attention until now. “I honestly think it was because there wasn’t this frenzy, and people like to watch the frenzy,” Glass said.

    Murray, herself, was in Bremerton in July for a health care workforce event at Harrison Medical Center. As for town halls, that’s not a forum she prefers, said Glass. The interaction is better at smaller, round-table events. She probably won’t be in Kitsap during this recess, Glass said, but will be traveling the state discussing health care. And she has had the telephone town-hall meetings.

    I’ve called the office of U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, but have yet to hear back on his plans over the break.

    U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell has had nine forums on health care this year. She doesn’t have any planned over the break, but will have three events during the break that are open to the public. I know of one, so far. It’s next Friday in Pend Oreille County where she’ll address multiple issues, including health care.

    U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, said he will have two town halls, probably within the first couple weeks of September. One of those will be on this side of the water. They’re still working on dates, times and location.

    Even if you blanche at the sight of the name “Paul Krugman” or “New York Times,” I think you might find his take on the town halls today interesting. He believes the people shouting at these events are not just shills trucked in from elsewhere, even if he thinks some of their anger is misguided.

    ” . . . while the organizers are as crass as they come, I haven’t seen any evidence that the people disrupting those town halls are Florida-style rent-a-mobs. For the most part, the protesters appear to be genuinely angry. The question is, what are they angry about?”

    I won’t spoil the ending for you, or the beginning for that matter. Seriously, go read it.

    Embargo Works, Millions Fail to Notice

    Last week I received a preview of the speech Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain planned to give Saturday on the radio, something he’s doing once a week from now to at least November, maybe until 2012. Before that, though, I received a link to an mp3 that would go live once Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray gave the Democratic response to President Bush’s weekly speech . Both were embargoed, McCain’s by explicit instruction and Murray’s by the fact that it wasn’t live.

    Ignoring embargo instructions is kind of a not all-too uncommon practice at some dailies. I suppose it’s held for certain situations, ones in which the information is critical to know now and others when more than 37 people care.

    I checked online and from what I can tell no one broke either embargo on this one. Also from what I can tell, neither radio address received widespread play. McCain’s criticism of Obama, which was similar to what he said in passing on his Conan O’Brien appearance , was referenced, but not covered. Murray’s comments appear even less frequently.

    On Earmarks

    This weekend the News Tribune ran a set of stories on congressional earmarks. The package as a whole creates a fair discussion about something that tends to be dominated by the obvious bad offenders. There’s a database of Washington earmarks included, and U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, figures prominently in the stories.

    “It robs the public of a fully transparent debate,” Jason Mercier, director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center, a nonprofit group that lobbies for more transparent government, said of the earmarks process. “People just kind of slip these things in there.”


    Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, noted that the U.S. Constitution gives Congress, not the White House, the “power of the purse.” And that’s as it should be, he said. “They know better what’s needed in their districts than some OMB bureaucrat,” Dicks said, referring to the Office of Management and Budget.

    Reid, Pelosi National Champs

    Knowlegis has just released its congressional power rankings and the numbers are quite a bit different from two years ago.

    That’s when Hansville (and former Bremerton Sun) political columnist Adele Ferguson wrote:

    Washington, once the mightiest bastion of power in Congress, with Senate President Pro Tem Warren G. Magnuson, Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson as the leading national congressional voice in defense, and Speaker of the House Tom Foley, is in the basement.

    Ferguson’s story ran in 2006 and referred to 2005 power rankings, when Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat was ranked 93rd out of 100 in Senate power. Had Ferguson used that year’s current numbers, Cantwell would have dropped to 99, for which she was gladly re-elected.

    The change in power has served Cantwell well. Well, she is down 12 points this year, but that’s from 36 a year ago.

    For some reason Republican Trent Lott of Mississippi isn’t included.

    Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican is the lone senator to fall behind Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, the Republican who had a wide stance in a Minnesota airport public bathroom.

    Ferguson’s column also included these rankings:

    Freshman (Dave) Reichart achieved a higher score than tenured members McDermott, Inslee and Hastings because he had a “sizzle” factor, i.e., a unique background and experience. The former King County Sheriff was famed for his pursuit of the Green River Killer. “Baghdad Jim” McDermott sits on Appropriations but his anti-Bush mouthiness may have given him a “fizzle” factor, Inslee has tenure but does little other than echo McDermott’s criticisms of bush.

    For the record, Republican Dave Reichart ranked number 167 (out of 435) that year, while McDermott came in at 210 and Inslee at 366.

    Switch party control in the House and what do you get?

    Inslee is at 68, McDermott is at 39 and Reichart is at 401.

    Sen. Patty Murray is 21st in the Senate and U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks is 22nd in the House.

    The state ranks 20th in Congressional power.

    Economic Stimulus

    The president is asking Congress for an economic stimulus package so that if the economy isn’t already in a recession, that it not go there.

    U.S. Sen. Patty Murray stopped by our offices Thursday and had some thoughts on whatever’s proposed. She’s on the Senate Appropriations and Budget committees and said she was called this week by Treasury Secretary Henry J. Paulson, who asked for input.

    We asked whether she thought “rebates” work and she answered that it depends. She was largely non-committal on specifics, though she said removing the 2010 expiration date on the Bush tax cuts doesn’t solve the immediate problem.

    The Times story linked here does get into some discussion about the efficacy of “rebates.” The intent is to get people to spend money now.

    Most economists agree that tax rebates are one of the fastest ways to lift consumer spending. They also agree that stimulus measures are most efficient when aimed at low-income or middle-income people, because they are more likely than affluent people to spend any extra money rather than save it.

    According to estimates several years ago by Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s, the measures that produced the biggest “bang for the buck” were increases in unemployment benefits, which produced about $1.73 in additional demand for every dollar spent. Tax rebates to all citizens generated about $1.19 for every dollar spent, while reductions in tax rates produced only 59 cents per dollar.

    I’d argue, first of all, that they’re not really rebates. A rebate means you paid, for example, $100, and will get $70 back. Technically it could be true if the money the government sent you was because of a tax cut. If there’s no tax cut, the $1,600 is more like an advance, because you’ll have to account for it at the end of the year.