The Gristle

E Pluribus Unum

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

E PLURIBUS UNUM: While large parts of the rest of the country are aggressively trying to roll back the 20th Century—relitigating civil and personal liberties, voter suffrage, and refighting the Civil War and Crusades—the West Coast is employing states’ rights to create a better, more productive and creative society. And Washington is leading the charge.

As New York Times columnist and National Book Award-winning author Timothy Egan noted in a column last week, “To Trump, everything ‘Out West’ is like occupied territory. Almost daily, he issues legal missives and executive orders intended in some way to make life worse on the West Coast.

“But here’s the good news for E Pluribus Unum: He’s losing. Badly. The West Coast is crushing it against Trump. Using the law to fight a bully, the Constitution to challenge an authoritarian, and facts against Fox News-driven fantasy, California, Oregon, and Washington have stalled some of the most despicable of Trump’s retrograde policies.”

Certainly that’s been true across broad areas of public policy. Federal judges have repeatedly sided with the West against Trump attacks on air pollution, toxic pesticides and oil drilling. His administration has all but surrendered on attempts to rewrite clean water law and protections for endangered species. Assaults on providers of reproductive health care and family planning have been blown apart by the courts. And Trump’s attempts to destroy protections against immigrants and refugees have been reduced to little more than petty tantrums tweeted from the White House.

Washington’s attorney general, Bob Ferguson, has filed 36 lawsuits against the Trump administration and has not lost a single case.

But more than just passive resistance and stalling for time, the Left Coast has continued to advance a social dialogue well underway before the reactionary revanchism of the Trump years.

The produce from a strong legislative majority (and the first to finish on time in more than a decade) has begun to roll across the governor’s desk for his signature into law.

Among these, Washington became the first state in the nation to launch a public heath care option and long-term health care program. The effort pushes back against attempts by President Trump and congressional Republicans to undermine the Affordable Care Act, and ensures affordable insurance options for residents through the state’s Health Benefits Exchange.

“This builds on work we’ve done over the past several years to expand and protect health care under the Affordable Care Act,” Governor Jay Inslee said. “While our state continues to help lead the national fight for health care for all, this is one way our state is taking action now to ensure affordable care for more people.”

The long-term care security act is a companion policy, similar in design to a Social Security or Medicare payroll benefit. Because Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care, the benefit supports the growing numbers of workers and families who do not have long-term care-insurance and find themselves unable to pay for necessary health and care services.

Backers say the state-defined plans will be up to 10 percent cheaper than comparable private insurance thanks to a cap on rates paid to doctors and hospitals. But unlike existing government-managed plans like Medicare, Washington’s plans will be available for purchase without an income limit.

The core proposition of Washington’s overall plan, dubbed Cascade Care, is that it will save consumers money by capping payments to doctors, hospitals and other health care providers. This is an especially important consideration in Washington’s rural counties, many of which were already hit hardest by health care cost increases.

An issue like health care rightly belongs in the national domain, due to the complexity of providers across state lines as well as the much larger distribution of the insurance risk pool among tens of millions of users—as opposed to hundreds of thousands of state residents. The cost and financial risk to a state to lead on an issue where the federal goverment fails to lead (and in fact assumes a posture that is hostile and corrosive to that effort) can be prodigious.

To that end, Democrats in the Legislature last session attempted to address the state’s fearsomely regressive and mostly broken revenue profile, which is heavily dependent on sales tax on goods while the fastest growing portions of the state economy are services that remain mostly untaxed. Their work in this area was certainly a mixed bag and of limited success.

Their efforts include a new graduated real estate excise tax to replace the state’s regressive flat tax rate of 1.28 percent. Sellers of homes valued between $500,000 and $1.5 million will continue to pay 1.28 percent, but homes selling for between $1.5 million and $3 million will be taxed at 2.75 percent. Those over $3 million will be taxed at 3 percent.

And a new slate of taxes attempt to draw revenues from formerly minimally taxed service businesses, such as legal, insurance, engineering and smaller software companies.

Will these cause a drag on the state economy?

Certainly that’s possible, but as Egan writes, “Talent and capital can go anywhere. It’s drawn to the West Coast, because creativity doesn’t grow well in nurseries of fear and tired thinking. Washington was named the best state for business in 2017, and the best place for workers in 2018.”

That’s the right reward for trying to make a better place to live on the Left Coast.

Past Columns
Netse Mot

September 18, 2019

A Rising Tide

September 11, 2019

The Power of Change

September 4, 2019

Hands Against Hate

August 28, 2019

Ground Zero

August 21, 2019

Fire and Frost

August 14, 2019

The Fury and the Folly

August 7, 2019

Due East II

July 31, 2019

The Real Social Network

July 17, 2019

Due East

July 3, 2019

Thin Green Line

June 26, 2019

A Journeyman’s Journey

June 12, 2019

Her Story

June 5, 2019

Do Overs

May 29, 2019

The Millworks

May 8, 2019

State of the County

May 1, 2019

A Change in Climate

April 24, 2019

Events
Today
Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Singin' in the Rain, Jr.

7:00pm|Ferndale High School

Tuesdays with Morrie and On Approval

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

And Then There Were None

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Student warriors march for climate justice

9:00am

Skagit County Garage Sale

9:00am|Skagit County Fairgrounds

Wild Things

9:30am|Whatcom Falls Park

Whatcomics Call for Art

10:00am|Whatcom County

Voter Registration Event

11:00am|Bellingham Public Library

Books and Bites

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Ferndale Farmers Market

2:00pm|1750 LaBounty Dr.

Whatcom Museum Tag Sale

5:00pm|Syre Education Center

Open Mic Night

6:00pm|Deming Library

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

The Cody Rivers Show presents Baderson

6:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

The mystery and the mania

7:00pm

Trivia Night Fundraiser

7:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Downriver

7:00pm|Village Books

Edgar Allan

7:30pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Godlike

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Miss Fitts

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Improv Evolution

9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Tomorrow
Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Singin' in the Rain, Jr.

7:00pm|Ferndale High School

And Then There Were None

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Tuesdays with Morrie and On Approval

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Skagit County Garage Sale

9:00am|Skagit County Fairgrounds

Whatcomics Call for Art

10:00am|Whatcom County

Whatcom Museum Tag Sale

5:00pm|Syre Education Center

The Cody Rivers Show presents Baderson

6:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Godlike

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Miss Fitts

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Improv Evolution

9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Hamster Endurance Runs

8:00am|Lake Padden

Giant Pumpkin Festival and Weigh-Off

9:00am|Christianson's Nursery

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Mount Vernon Farmers Market2333

9:00am|Riverwalk Park

Twin Sisters Farmers Markets

9:00am|North Fork Library

Mindful Meditation and Combining Food Wisely

9:00am|Community Food Co-op

Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live!

10:00am

Boating Center Fall Hours

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|H Street Plaza

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Lynden Farmers Market

10:00am|Centennial Park

Purls & Pop-Ups Yarn Crawl

10:00am|Whatcom County

Correspondence Club

10:30am|Mindport Exhibits

Your Life is a Story Writer's Group

10:30am|South Whatcom Library

Persistence of Light

10:30am|Lynden Library

Backyard Fairies

11:00am|North Fork Library

Cemetery Tours

11:00am|Lynden Cemetery

One Planet

11:00am|Peace Arch Park

Fall Show Reception

2:00pm|River Gallery

Sedro-Woolley Brewfest

2:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

Remembering Ella Higginson

3:00pm|Deming Library

Nooksack River Walk

3:00pm|Horseshoe Bend Trailhead

Gardening Rount Table

3:00pm|North Fork Library

Wayne Carter Book Signing

3:00pm|Upper Skagit Library

Artist talk with Drie Chapek

4:00pm|i.e. gallery

PechaKucha Night

5:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

International Day of Peace with WPJC

6:00pm|The Majestic

Homeless for a Night

6:00pm| Allen United Methodist Church

The Sound and the Glory

7:00pm|Village Books

Blue Abode Comedy Show

7:00pm|Blue Abode Bar

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Modern Slavery

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Salsa Night

9:00pm|Cafe Rumba

Sunday
Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Tuesdays with Morrie and On Approval

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

And Then There Were None

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Whatcomics Call for Art

10:00am|Whatcom County

Miss Fitts

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Hamster Endurance Runs

8:00am|Lake Padden

Boating Center Fall Hours

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Homeless for a Night

6:00pm| Allen United Methodist Church

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Oyster Run Motorcycle Rally

9:00am|Downtown Anacortes

Brunch on the Bay

10:00am|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Birchwood Farmers Market

10:00am|Park Manor Shopping Center

Bellingham Handmade Market

11:00am|Goods Nursery and Produce

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Bellingham Veg Fest

11:00am|Depot Market Square

Walk to End Alzheimer's

12:00pm|Riverwalk Plaza

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

George Winston

2:00pm|McIntyre Hall

More than a piano man

2:00pm

Open Borders

4:00pm|Village Books

Skookum Rocks the Farm

7:00pm|Bellewood Acres

Seattle International Comedy Competition Audition Showcase

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

see our complete calendar »