Thursday, December 28, 2006

Washington's Case for Bill Richardson

Note: Emmett O'Connell is co-author of this post.

In response to Andrea’s challenge, here is Washington’s case for why Bill Richardson should be President in 2008.

Border Security – As the Governor of a border state, Governor Richardson understands the issue of securing our borders to safeguard our national security. In December 1999, Ahmed Ressam was caught entering the United States through Washington at Port Angeles with materials and a plan to blow up Los Angeles International Airport on New Years Eve.

Washington has several border crossings with Canada (some more manned than others), and though there isn’t an immigration problem with Canadians illegally entering our country, clearly terrorists have attempted to come here. Bill Richardson as President would make it tougher for terrorists, drug and human traffickers, and other criminals to enter our country illegally.

Economics – As Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson has cut business taxes and fostered growth among burgeoning industries, for example by increasing a tax credit for film production and investing in a Spaceport. Washington has a growing biomed/biotech industry and with large research institutions, his economic policies would bode well for business in this state. In addition, with many scenic locales Washington has been a good place for the film industry in the past, but recently has been losing out to northern neighbor British Columbia due to economic reasons. Governor Richardson has shown that he knows how to stimulate business in his state, and would do the same for the entire nation as President.

Diplomacy - Washington, probably more than any other state depends on the good will of its neighbors. Not Oregon and Idaho, but rather China and Singapore. Washington is truly an international state. Our governors have been making regular trade missions to Asian countries for the past two decades, securing trade deals that ensure Washingtonjobs are safe. An open, honest and reciprocal international relations are important to the Washington economy. Richardson the diplomat – a former UN Secretary and diplomatic troubleshooter in his time in congress -- will ensure Washington doe not lose its ties with our Pacific neighbors.

Energy – During the past year and a half, Western states, but particularly the Pacific Northwest states, have been paying higher prices for gas than other states. Last year. Washington’s legislature spent $17 million to support our state’s growing biofuels industry. In addition, to help assure farmers that there is a market for biofuels, the Legislature developed minimum renewable fuel content requirements. By the end of 2008, all automotive fuels sold in Washington must contain at least 2 percent biofuels: either biodiesel – a fuel made from vegetable oil – or, in the case of gasoline, denatured ethanol. It’s not the be-all, end-all but it’s a start.

In 2005, the state adopted the California emissions standards for cars to reduce air pollution and waived the sales tax for purchasers of hybrid vehicles. We became the first state in the country to adopt “green” building standards for new state-funded buildings and public schools. We required that new appliances with primarily commercial uses must meet energy efficiency standards to be sold or installed in the state. To promote renewable energy, we reduced the B&O tax rate to the manufacturing of solar energy systems.

As a former Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson understands that our future lies in the production of alternative fuels and not in selling out to oilmen like the Bush Administration has repeatedly done. Richardson knows that we can’t just end our dependence on foreign oil today, but must slowly wean our nation while developing viable alternatives. Bill Richardson also understands that dependence on foreign oil ties directly to national security. With Bill Richardson as President, Washington state moves closer to independence from Saudi sheiks and Middle Eastern oil.

Intangibles - Plus, you have to love the man who holds the Guinness World Record for shaking hands. Richardson has also held thousands of town hall meetings as a congressman, governor and cabinet secretary. Also, as governor he has held dozens of open office days around the state when any citizen can come and have a few minutes of time. His politics is accessible, not exclusive, and we Washingtonians want to be engaged and involved.

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