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We Attended the Washington Policy Center’s Annual Summit So You Didn’t Have To

On April 14 and 15, 2020, we attended a virtual conference of the Washington Policy Center (WPC). The WPC claims to be a legitimate think tank, but in reality, they’re a front group for right-wing billionaires that have declared war on working people in this country. Their allies have even shamefully attacked first responders and healthcare workers battling on the front lines of the pandemic.

Their speakers outlined a vision for Washington State that would further empower the rich at the expense of working families. Their policy recommendations’ ideas are equally laughable and disturbing. Join us as we recap the best of the worst of WPC’s summit:

Trump appointee tells us Trump is doing an excellent job on the pandemic
Trump’s local director for the U.S. Department of Health, John Graham, said to us what a fantastic job his boss is doing. Beyond COVID-19, he told us one of Trump’s plans is to reduce prescription drug prices, but not by imposing price controls, because “we want investors to keep investing…” Of course, the WPC would choose a speaker that prioritizes investor profits over affordable medicine. This makes sense because Trump supported a 200 billion dollar giveaway to drug companies after taking 4.6 million from them already in his 2020 re-election campaign.

At least he did not advocate for injecting yourself with Lysol.

If you tax the rich, how will they buy horse ranches?
Director Jason Mercier from the Center for Government Reform brought on an uber-rich investor to explain why he doesn’t want to pay taxes. This “Average Joe” shared his personal journey – how he left California with a $2.5 billion hedge fund as an over-taxed “economic refugee.” But lo and behold, by moving his company to Washington state, he was able to buy a 40-acre horse ranch with all the savings because we don’t have an income tax on the rich.

The rich can “buy” college graduates on the cheap
The investor also bragged that he could “buy” a “college degree person for the… same price that you get sort of day labor.” As a group that throws around words like “liberty” and “freedom,” the Washington Policy Center probably shouldn’t be talking about buying people.

Save the bags, destroy our forests
“Environmental Director” Todd Myers was peddling some impressively hollow solutions that would do nothing to protect the environment and everything to enrich timber barons. His extremist ideas include cutting down more trees so developers can build houses faster “rather than just letting a forest sit,” and re-legalizing single-use plastic bags.

Free the people by taking away their healthcare
WPC analyst Dr. Roger Stark would reform our healthcare system by abolishing employer-sponsored health insurance. Stark wants to let the newly uninsured people “use their own dollars.” But no recommendations to increase wages. The Washington Policy Center and its allies have staunchly opposed increased wages, including the minimum wage.

The WPC’s Cold War
While the rest of our nation is flattening the curve of COVID-19 infection, WPC’s Chris Cargill is obsessed with a different kind of curve. The one that shows our youth bending towards socialism! Not to worry, WPC hatched a plan to get on the same level of the socialist-curious youth – they’ve hired a hip agency that makes pro-capitalism rap videos.

Goodbye public schools, hello home-schooling
A week before Rep. Vicki Kraft (LD-17) urged on the right-wing anti-quarantine rally in Olympia; she dropped by WPC’s summit. She was promoting a bill that could extract tax dollars from Washington public schools, re-assigning that money to for-profit charter schools. This is simply a ploy from an anti-union legislator and former Freedom Foundation staffer to bust the unions representing educators.

Carpet-bagging big agriculture activist scolds us Washingtonians about sustainable farming
Pam Lewison, from WPC’s big Agriculture department, imported a Virginia cattle rancher to talk about farming in Washington (Makes sense.) The rancher passionately scolded us, “Most people would say, ‘Well I know the difference between almond milk and cow milk…’ Well, do you? I mean, I’m not trying to be rude, but DO YOU?” (We do.) The rancher went on to assure us that chickens hate not being in cages. As for sustainability on family farms? Our state’s productive organic farms went un-mentioned, perhaps they’re not ‘sustainable’ enough for WPC’s “Big Ag before Small Farmer’s message.”

An award worth rejecting
The WPC summit was livecast at TVW.org, a media entity that also received an award from WPC during the presentation. It seems like we’ve done our homework where TVW has not, discovering that WPC shares the same funding pipeline with another radical group with an equally deceptive name, The National Policy Institute. Led by neo-nazi Richard Spencer, the National Policy Institute is a white supremacist organization that helped organize the deadly “Unite the Right” Rally in Chalottesville, VA in 2017. Both the WPC and Spencer received funding from the Rotella Foundation of Washington for their work. TVW tarnishes its non-partisan reputation by engaging so deeply with the WPC and its extremist politics.

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