Cantwell pushes for aerospace training, financial reforms

By:  Kurt Batdorf
EVERETT — When Maria Cantwell talks, people listen.

The U.S. senator's
speech at the Greater Everett Chamber of Commerce's annual federal issues update
luncheon June 4 drew dozens of interested business leaders and elected officials
to hear what the Democrat had to say about what's going on in the other

Cantwell made it clear she's focusing on aerospace jobs
training, the U.S. Air Force's aerial refueling tanker bid and freeing up
capital so more banks can approve loans for small businesses.

The newly
opened Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center at Paine Field will
help fill the need to train aerospace workers in evolving fields, including the
use of composites. Cantwell said it's a continuation of a University of
Washington composites research center that opened eight years ago and Edmonds
Community College's existing composites training program, both of which
benefited from federal funds.

Federal money, she said, helps with
training and extends the expertise of the local work force.

Cantwell said
she favors Boeing's 767 tanker bid because the company has a proven track record
of market-driven innovations and success. Airbus and its parent company, EADS,
have long relied on subsidies from European governments to cover the costs of
launching new aircraft designs, which the World Trade Organization has called

She said she and Sen. Patty Murray will support a House bill
sponsored by Democratic Reps. Jay Inslee and Rick Larsen that tells the Defense
Department to consider the WTO's ruling on subsidies when it awards the
contract. The Larsen-Inslee bill passed 410-8.

“I can't say enough about
how important it is to keep us leading in aerospace products and manufacturing,”
Cantwell said.

She acknowledged that the struggling American economy is
clearly a pressing need, especially the difficulty small businesses are having
getting loans and access to capital. She said senators will focus on that when
they return to the capitol. Among the possible discussion points are elimination
of the cap on capital gains taxes small businesses pay and higher limits for
Small Business Administration loans.

“We have a challenging economy, no
doubt about it,” Cantwell said.

She criticized the costly Wall Street
bailout that did little to support the banks on Main Street. Cantwell suggested
the federal government loan money directly to community banks to lend to small
businesses at annual percentage rates of one to 10 percent.

Heritage Bank CEO Cathy Reines thanked Cantwell for her May 19 vote against
financial reforms when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pressed ahead without
votes on two amendments Cantwell sought.

The senator said complex
financial derivatives and other “dark markets” at the heart of the market
meltdown require regulation. She compared the problem to the deregulated energy
market that led traders, including Enron, to profit from their own market
manipulation in the 2001 West Coast energy crisis.

On a lighter note,
Port of Everett executive director John Mohr asked Cantwell if the Seattle
Mariners will find a way to get back in the pennant race.

“Let's hope the
(All-Star) break ahead gives us a chance to regroup,” she said.