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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Editorial: McMorris Rodgers still best choice for Congress

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is seeking a fifth term as 5th Congressional District congresswoman, her path impeded by Rich Cowan, former owner of the region’s largest movie company, North by Northwest Productions.

We like Cowan, an astute candidate who knows the challenges small businesses face as well as anyone, but believe McMorris Rodgers has served the district well as U.S. representative, and before that in the Washington Legislature. No matter who wins the presidency, or a majority in either house of Congress, the immense challenges immediately ahead – the fiscal cliff, defense cutbacks, Mideast policy – require someone who knows the legislative process, and has the power to effect solutions.

McMorris Rodgers has worked her way up the House Republican leadership to vice chairman of the party’s caucus. If re-elected, she says she will press for the chairmanship, which would make her the third-ranking GOP member, and the highest-ranking woman in the House or Senate party leadership.

She also has the confidence of Mitt Romney, who appointed her his liaison with the House, in part as a reward for her early endorsement. What benefit that might have for McMorris Rodgers and the district will be unknown until the votes are counted next month.

Her ascendance comes with its drawbacks. Too often she appears the ideologue in her solidarity with House leadership more intent on solidifying its conservative bona fides than solving problems in tandem with the Democrat-controlled Senate.

McMorris Rodgers proudly notes her votes against Obamacare, the stimulus package, and the bank bailout – the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which she argues was a failure – without acknowledging that it saved Spokane’s biggest home-grown financial institution.

All those measures were flawed, at best, but “no” is not always the right answer. If that’s the best the House can come up with, the nation will head over that cliff. Not good.

But McMorris Rodgers has shown she can work with Democrats on measures like the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act, which the House passed unanimously in July. The bill would speed the permitting of small hydro-generation equipment that could be placed in canals and other waterways.

She is also sponsoring the Rural Hospital and Provider Equity Act of 2012, which would address some of the policy and cost disadvantages that threaten small hospitals.

She has been a champion of Fairchild Air Force Base but has gone beyond that by co-founding the Military Families Caucus.

Cowan has a very good grasp of the issues. He supports a version of the Simpson-Bowles blueprint for balancing the budget, would halve the corporate tax on 100 percent U.S.-made goods and, if successful, would seek out a seat on the Agriculture Committee, where Washington is unrepresented.

He notes he left his own company debt-free, adding, “That’s my value.”

Amen. We encourage Cowan to find another outlet, public or private, for his values and talents. For the next two years though, McMorris Rodgers would be the more effective voice for Eastern Washington.