Rep. Dave Reichert (R, WA-08) surprised attendees at a candidates' forum by confessing that he's unfamiliar with the Glass-Steagall Act.
The candidates' forum was held Saturday morning in Newcastle, Washington, ten miles east of Seattle.
Reichert gave a meandering speech that contained few specifics. At the end of the speech, the moderator asked for questions from the floor. A woman asked Reichert to describe his position on whether the Glass-Steagall Act should be reinstated. Reichert said he's not familiar with the act.
For a US Congressman to be ignorant of this basic legislation is quite surprising.
The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 established the FDIC and introduced banking reforms intended to control speculation. See this wikipedia article for details.
Many people blame the subprime crash on the repeal of Glass-Steagall.
Congressman Reichert is a third term Republican representative in Washington's 8th Congressional District, which runs to the south and east of Seattle.
Like most other Republicans, Reichert opposed the Democrats' Wall Street reform bill. See Wall Street reform: Vital to Main Street. During the forum, Reichert justified his opposition to the Democrats' financial reform bill by saying that it would have forced the taxpayers to bailout large firms. (From what I've heard, that completely distorts the facts.)
Near the beginning of his speech, Reichert mentioned that he's reading a book which blamed the Bush tax cuts for contributing to the recession. Reichert said it's surprising to hear a Republican like him say it, but he agreed that the tax cuts were unfair. Still, later in his speech he complained about high taxes and over-regulation.
That's all the Republicans can run on: lower taxes and reduced government regulation -- despite reckless deregulation and tax cutting leading to the subprime crash, the BP disaster, and deficits. Republicans can no longer run on the slogan "Fight Terrorism" (since Obama has stolen that slogan -- lol). And gay-bashing is getting tiresome. Republicans are just the Party of No.
There were several reporters and TV cameras in the room, so it will be interesting to see whether Reichert faces embarrassment for his ignorance about Glass-Steagall.
Soon after the speech, his advisers rushed him out of the hall.
Reichert's Democratic opponent for the 8th Congressional seat is Suzan DelBene, an ex-Microsoft executive and a successful businesswoman. The northern part of the 8th Congressional district is affluent but increasingly liberal. The south side of Seattle is less affluent and more conservative.
Another interesting issue that came up at the candidates' forum was I-1098, Washington's ballot initiative to establish a state income tax. Republicans Peter Dunbar and Steve Litzow both admitted that Washington's tax system is regressive and needs to be fixed but they said that I-1098, which will establish a high-earners' income tax on the top 1.2% of Washingtonians, isn't the right approach. (Dunbar made his admission at a separate candidates' forum earlier in the week.)
Even the Democratic candidates were wishy-washy on I-1098. None of the 41st LD Dems -- Judy Clibborn, Marcie Maxwell, and progressive Randy Gordon -- said they'd support it. Judy Clibborn, who is a 4th term state representative and a member of the Road Kill Caucus of centrist Democrats, said outright that she opposes I-1098. See The Battle over I-1098 in Washington State for more information about I-1098. See Centrists and Progressives Fight for Control of Washington State Democrats and Report on the 2010 Washington State Democratic Convention for information about the Road Kill Caucus.
I figure the issue of income taxes is too radioactive for candidates. Several times in the past several decades Washington voters have rejected a state income tax. Polls suggest that I-1098 is headed for defeat, even though it actually lowers taxes on the middle class and is targeted just at the wealthiest 2% of citizens. The voters vote against their own self-interest. Let's hear it for increasing concentration of wealth, regressive taxes, and cuts to government services!
Alas, looks like the Republican plan to drown government in a bathtub of red ink, corruption, and mismanagement is coming to fruition. Somalia, here we come.
Sen. Randy Gordon got a big boost from a police officer who was invited to give a 15 minute speech (longer than the legislative candidates' allotted time -- we were waiting for Reichert to show up). The policeman spoke about why voters should support a constitutional amendment revising how judges grant bail. Gordon wrote and sponsored the amendment, which passed unanimously in the State House and Senate. The police officer told how bail reform like the amendment's might have saved the life of a colleague recently gunned down by a repeat offender out on bail.
When the moderator opened the floor up for questions, I took the opportunity ask the policeman about the effect of further budget cuts. He said they'd cause Washingtonians to be less safe. The Justice system is all spread thin, and they've already had to release medium risk prisoners due to lack of funds.
This dailkos diary by Rob Sargent contains another audience's article about the candidates' forum.