Tacoma - Coming to Tacoma for his first public speech since upending the race for U.S. Senate, Dino Rossi said the federal government is grabbing for too much power.
“They’re controlling car companies, banks, insurance companies, student loans and health care,” he told a crowd of fellow Republicans at the Weatherly Inn on Thursday night.
Such remarks will send heads nodding among his party’s base and tea party groups, although in an interview with The News Tribune, the former state senator didn’t go as far as some of his GOP rivals in calling for scaling back government.
Two of the other challengers to Democratic Sen. Patty Murray – Eastern Washington farmer Clint Didier and state Sen. Don Benton of Vancouver – have called for ending the federal government’s role in education.
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Didier promises his first bill as a senator would abolish the U.S. Department of Education.
“It’s not part of my agenda. It’ll be part of theirs,” Rossi said. He stopped short of opposing the idea, and he praised the idea of local control of schools. However, he said he prefers examining spending line by line to taking a “wholesale ax” to areas of the budget.
He made those comments in his 24th interview of the day, an indication of the media attention awaiting Rossi after he announced his candidacy Wednesday. The former real estate agent brings to the race a recognizable name and proven ability to raise money after two unsuccessful bids for governor.
In the interview, Rossi vowed to push to replace the health care reform bill passed this year with a more market-based approach.
He said it would be a mistake for Congress to allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military before a study by the military is completed, saying the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy seems to be working. The House voted Thursday night to repeal that law.
Rossi also criticized the legislation pushed by the Obama administration to tighten regulations on financial companies.
It’s intended to stop some of the practices that led to the 2008 financial crisis, but he said it leaves out some of the key players responsible.
“I think one of the troubling pieces was that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, one of the big causes for the meltdown, was exempted – one of the big contributors to Patty Murray,” he said.
The Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group that tracks contributions, said in 2008 that Murray had received $30,000 since 1989 from the government-sponsored lenders later taken over by the government. The financial sector was not among her largest contributors.
Rossi said that without further study, he doesn’t know how he would have voted on the financial regulator reform bill that passed the Senate last week, with four Republicans joining the Democratic majority in support.
Also needing further study, he said, is if commercial and investment banks should be separated, as Sen. Maria Cantwell has proposed, or whether banks should have to spin off their trading in the derivatives that helped cause the meltdown.
Such regulations could make it more difficult for banks to lend, he said.
“It’s difficult right now, and if you make it more difficult, you’re going to see more of a collapse,” he said.