The mess we’re in and Cantwell

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian editor

Published:

 
photoLou Brancaccio

I had some fun a couple of weeks ago when I suggested our Occupy friends and Tea Party friends should get together. Hey, both groups believe they are being squeezed. One by big business. The other by big government.

So I formed the “Let’s Squeeze Together” movement.

So far, I count four of us in the movement. Yes, that includes me.

But before you simply dismiss this idea, we all really should open our eyes a bit.

Look, big business is just as bad as big unions, which are just as bad as big government. And all of us poor saps who aren’t part of that corrosive cocktail … well, we’re left with empty pockets.

Some examples:

Bernie Madoff is in the news again. He says he’s pretty happy in prison after being sent there. The folks he screwed out of several billion dollars? Not so happy.

Bad news big business.

Then there was this New York Times story:

Eleven people, including two doctors and a former union president, were charged on Thursday in a “massive fraud scheme” in which hundreds of Long Island Rail Road workers made false disability pension claims that could have cost a federal pension agency about $1 billion, according to court papers.

Wow. Guess who has to pay for this scam? Bad news big unions.

And the government? Well, they’re often compliant with the big boys above. They’re not playing with their own money. They’re playing with our money. And you know what happens when it’s not their money, right?

To be sure, there are many good people in all three areas. But the bad ones will squeeze you.

We should squeeze back together.

Running into Cantwell

For my two cents, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell is one of the good ones. Certainly I don’t agree with everything she does.

But I like her. She’s good people.

I was down at my Starbucks earlier this week when I ran into her. She was in town to help promote competitiveness in aerospace manufacturing.

She was just hangin’ like the rest of us. No big entourage. No line of limos waiting outside. No phalanx of state troopers. No gaggle of advisers. Just her and one guy.

I sat down and chatted a few minutes with her. Caught her up on a few things that were going on in the ’Couv.

Then I asked her what she thought the chances were that this supercommittee would actually get something accomplished.

You remember the supercommittee, right? It’s the 12-member deficit-cutting panel Congress established under last summer’s budget and debt deal. If they can’t figure out a way to cut the federal budget, automatic cuts go into place.

There are six Republicans and six Democrats on this thing.

So I wondered what odds Cantwell gives this committee to actually cut a deal. Actually do something.

“About 50-50,” she says.

I snicker. OK, I laugh. She looks surprised.

“That’s pretty optimistic,” I say.

But she sticks to the idea that it’s an even-money bet.

Fair enough. Still, the way I see it, the Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on anything. Why they’d come together suddenly is beyond me.

I sure hope I’m wrong and Cantwell’s 50-50 tips slightly in favor of action.

If not, you know where to find the Squeeze movement.

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505 or lou.brancaccio@columbian.com.