An interesting moment at yesterday’s debate between Rep. Dave Reichert (R-8) and his Democratic challenger, Darcy Burner, came when panelist C.R. Douglas, reflecting on the projected $500 billion federal deficit (not including the $700 billion Wall Street bailout), asked both candidates what they would cut.
Sounding like Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi (and just about every other Republican I’ve ever heard when asked a similar question), Burner did not specify what she would cut. Instead, she sounded a stern note about fiscal responsibility and “economic discipline.” She talked about “performance audits” and “pay-as-you-go” rules.
“If you increase the amount you’re spending,” she said, “you have to identify where you’re going to find the money. I you decrease the amount you’re bringing in, you have to identify what you’re going to cut.”
And she ended with this line: “I demand that our Congress live up to the basic standards that every household in this country has to.”
Certainly, the fact that Burner sounds like she’s reading from the Republican playbook has a lot to do with the failed Bush years. “Fiscal conservative” George Bush has actually saddled the country with the largest debt in U.S. history, between $500 and $600 billion.
For his part, Reichert sounded more like a traditional Democrat. First, like Democrats always do when hit with vague GOP economic tough talk, he criticized Burner for skimping on specifics.
He began: “I think what you didn’t hear from my opponent is what she would cut…”
But then, rather than answering the question himself—and saying what he would cut—he started sounding like Barack Obama (or Al Gore).
“When you talk about what we need to do and what we might cut,” he said (without talking about what we might cut), “what we really need to do is infuse money into new energy. We need to excite our economy by investing money into the newest technology to provide us with the future of energy source that will fuel our economy…”
As his time ran out, he did start drifting back to more traditional GOP talking points, saying sternly that we needed to look at how we were going to pay for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Another issue where Burner sounded like a Republican was on gun control. Audience member (and former Kirkland GOP state Rep.) Toby Nixon asked the candidates if they agreed with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in D.C. v. Heller . Heller upheld the 2nd Amendment.
Burner was emphatic. “I had a stalker when I was in college who threatened to kill me,” she said. She then told the story of how when she went to the police to get a restraining order, they encouraged her to get a gun and “learn how to use it” because “they wouldn’t be able to protect me.”
She concluded: “People who face real threats have the right to defend ourselves. The 2nd Amendment guarantees us that right to defend ourselves, and I agree with the S.C. decision as it applies even in Washington, DC.”
Her last caveat, “even as it applies in Washington, DC” separated her even further from the Democratic line. Many Democrats recognize that gun control in general is a losing issue, but stick to advocating targeted gun control in urban areas.
Reichert, who answered the question first, said simply: “Yes.”