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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Sunday Spin: The Boeing blame game

OLYMPIA – These are the dog days of the summer around the state capital.

It’s not as uniformly sunny as Eastern Washington. But morning fog and low clouds – a pattern Seattle’s television weather heads describe with the more elegant-sounding title of “marine layer” – give way to bright warm afternoons during which it is difficult to work up much fervor over anything.

So it seemed last week as Republicans made a half-hearted stab at playing the latest round of “who’s losing Boeing?” after the aerospace giant said it will move some 375 engineering jobs to California. When Boeing moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago in 2001 and a built a 787 production line to South Carolina in 2009 there were major political earthquakes. . .

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This time there were some predictable complaints about workers compensation costs and a business-unfriendly climate. But the readings on the political Richter scale were several whole numbers lower.

It could be that the engineering slots, while admittedly good-paying jobs, are much smaller than an entire assembly line and less prestigious than a world headquarters.

Maybe the standard complaints about Washington’s relative job competitiveness – high labor costs, high development costs, big government bureaucracy – don’t work as well when the boogie man is California. Or that one of the things Boeing reportedly wanted from the late, great Legislature was a transportation package that the Senate Republicans helped scuttle. Or that something which could make Senate Republicans into Boeing’s BFF is something they can’t deliver: turning Washington into a right-to-work state.

Not that Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, didn’t try that last one during the first special session. But no one else even signed on to his bill. Where’s the love in that?

Maybe there’s some realization that Boeing’s a big multi-national company and when it needs to move pieces around its chess board of operations, it’s going to do that no matter how many nice things the state does for it.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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