Jay Inslee in Interviews during 2017-2019


On Drugs: Opposed marijuana legalization; now sees it as success

I actually did not support the initiative when it came up several years ago because I was concerned about youthful usage -- but what we have found is that those fears have not come to pass. We have not had adverse health results with our young people. We've not had ramping criminality in the distribution of marijuana. And it has been helpful by providing about $700 million of revenue so that we can help the health of our children in schools for our children.

It's time for the United States to decriminalize and legalize marijuana. The drug war has been one of the elements of such racial disparities in our judicial system. That's one of the reasons I was the first governor to offer pardons to over 3,000 people with marijuana convictions because the drug war has resulted in too much racial disparity.

Source: CNN Town Hall: 2020 presidential hopefuls Apr 10, 2019

On Education: Cut college tuition; provide assistance to neediest

One of the things we've done is we've reduced tuition. We haven't cut it in half, but we've reduced it. We have dramatically increased access to financial aid, and we've done it in a really smart way. We've probably 20 percent or 30 percent increase eventually we will have as to the number of students who are getting financial aid. We have targeted the financial aid to those who were really most in the need, which are the lower, you know, quintile or quartile of our students. And we've given them not just free tuition, but we've given them the full meal deal You have to be able to eat when you're going to school and you have to be able to buy books and take care of your transportation needs.
Source: CNN Town Hall: 2020 presidential hopefuls Apr 10, 2019

On Energy & Oil: Decarbonize economy; fund transition for coal/oil workers

We have to decarbonize our entire economy in the next several decades. This is massive re-industrialization of America. And third it has led people to recognize that we have to have a just transition to clean energy, where the first victims of climate change, which are marginalized communities, get help.

We are a fossil fuel-based economy largely right now, and we know we're going to have to go to clean energy sources by the midcentury. But while we do this, we have to make sure that people during that transition have opportunities along with everyone else. We need to do the kind of things we've done in Centralia, Washington, where we are closing our last coal-fired plant, to have about a $55 million fund to help those employees in training and transition assistance, to help businesses where we can make sure that local economy continues to thrive, and give a transition period of several years so that there's not, you know, trauma for these families.

Source: CNN Town Hall: 2020 presidential hopefuls Apr 10, 2019

On Energy & Oil: Research nuclear energy; many problems unsolved

On the Green New Deal: Number one, it's got people talking about climate change. Number two, it has also raised people's ambition as to the scope of the challenge.

I believe that the urgency is so great and the time period so short to decarbonize our economy that we need to be open to any low-cost or low-carbon or zero-carbon technology. That includes nuclear. But there would have to be four things happen before nuclear power would be able to become a major part of our portfolio. It would have to become cost-effective, which it is not. It would have to be much safer with passive safety systems, which have not yet been developed. It would have to solve the waste problem with the waste stream. And it would have to win public acceptance. My view is it is appropriate to make R&D investments to determine whether any of those or all of those can be surmounted.

Source: CNN Town Hall: 2020 presidential hopefuls Apr 10, 2019

On Gun Control: Lost seat over assault weapons bill; confront NRA again

I've known that it is time to confront the NRA and develop commonsense gun legislation for a quarter of a century. In 1994, when I was a freshman legislator, I was representing eastern Washington. We needed just a few votes to pass the assault weapon bill. And I knew if I cast that vote, I was probably going to lose my seat in Congress. I voted for that bill. I provided one of the critical votes to get it over the top. I lost my seat. But I have never regretted that vote because I do not believe any congressman's or politician's seat is more important than any child's life. We are not going to back up against the NRA. We have them on the run. This country's moving forward to commonsense gun legislation. I'm glad to be part of that.
Source: CNN Town Hall: 2020 presidential hopefuls Apr 10, 2019

On Health Care: Lower eligibility for Medicare; provide public option

We will have to expand federal health care dramatically. I believe we should lower the age for Medicare. I believe we should allow people to buy into Medicare so you can have Medicare for people who want it right now. I think we should explore potentially enrolling, you know, new folks into health care when they're born.
Source: CNN Town Hall: 2020 presidential hopefuls Apr 10, 2019

On Energy & Oil: Mixed score on "350 Action's 2020 Climate Test"

The environmental group 350 Action released a candidate scorecard known as the 2020 Climate Test to assess presidential hopefuls on three major metrics: support for a Green New Deal, opposition to new fossil fuel development and refusal to accept money from energy companies. [Candidates supporting all three issues]: Four candidates have supported two of 350 Action's three benchmarks.Three candidates have failed all three of 350 Action's tests, attacking the Green New Deal or making no firm pledges to work against fossil fuel companies.
Source: Mother Jones, "On Climate," on 2020 Presidential Hopefuls Mar 27, 2019

On War & Peace: Opposed war in Iraq; opposed use of torture

Inslee was a strong opponent of the U.S. war in Iraq, and introduced a bill to impeach Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez for approving torture by U.S. forces.
Source: Truthout.org, "War and Peace," on 2020 presidential hopefuls Mar 27, 2019

On Technology: Regulate internet to protect privacy & net neutrality

We have to do things that will protect Americans in this new Internet age, one of which is to protect our privacy. We passed one of, if not the best privacy bills in the United States, so that our privacy cannot be shopped and marketed and commoditized. That's extremely important, given what's going on in the world. Second, we have to protect our net neutrality. And I'm proud to have signed the first law in the United States by statute that will protect our net neutrality.
Source: CNN 2019 "State of the Union" on 2020 Presidential hopefuls Mar 10, 2019

On Abortion: Allow taxpayer-funded family planning clinics

On abortion rights, Inslee believes in a woman's right to choose and opposed the Trump administration's announcement that it would prohibit taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions.
Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls Mar 1, 2019

On Civil Rights: Backed legalizing same-sex marriage in his state

Inslee is a proponent of LGBTQ rights and backed legalizing same-sex marriage in his state.
Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls Mar 1, 2019

On Energy & Oil: Fighting climate change crucial, and profitable

Inslee will be the only climate-change candidate when he announces his bid. "It's less of a concern," Inslee says of his singular focus on global warming, "than being totally ignored in a presidential race." This isn't just about saving the planet, but about how much money can be made in moving toward clean energy. "Whatever the situation is now, it's going to be worse two years from now on the peril side, and it's going to be better on the promise side through clean-energy jobs."
Source: The Atlantic, "Risky Bet," on 2020 presidential hopefuls Mar 1, 2019

On Foreign Policy: Welcome Syrian refugees

Inslee supports refugees' rights, and has focused on people displaced by the conflict in Syria. Inslee wrote a letter to the State Department last year after U.S. airstrikes in Syria in which he criticized the Trump administration's restrictive refugee policies.
Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls Mar 1, 2019

On Health Care: Take initial steps towards universal health care

Inslee backed the Affordable Care Act when it was up for a vote during his time in Congress. In 2013, as governor, he expanded Medicaid under the ACA in his state. Recently he introduced a public option health care plan to help stabilize the state's health insurance exchange. Inslee said it would be an initial step toward creating universal health care in the state.
Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls Mar 1, 2019

On Jobs: Increase minimum wage; ensure gender pay equity

Inslee supports increasing the minimum wage, which is currently $12 in Washington state and will rise to $13.50 in 2020. Inslee signed into law a guaranteed paid family leave plan in 2017, granting eligible parents 12 weeks paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child or for a serious medical condition. He also signed an Equal Pay Opportunity Act that requires employees receive equal pay and work opportunities regardless of gender. Inslee opposes the Trump administration's trade policies. He has said that "any punitive tariffs to the Asian markets are felt deeply" in the state of Washington. Inslee believes in a positive working relationship with trade partners and open access to foreign trade markets.
Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls Mar 1, 2019

On Immigration: Choose greatness instead of stoking fear among immigrants

Responding to President Trump's call to "choose greatness," Washington state Governor and potential 2020 presidential candidate Jay Inslee said Trump should take his own advice--and choose greatness instead of "pursuing policies that stoke fear in communities and families across the nation."
Source: 2020 presidential hopefuls on 2019 State of the Union speech Feb 6, 2019

On Budget & Economy: Leading state in job growth & personal-income growth

Inslee talks about "the other Washington": the experiment in progressive governance that he's led for the past six years that's cut against the conventional wisdom of economics. On his watch, the state has boosted health care, increased access to early-childhood education and college, raised the minimum wage, expanded paid family leave, invested in infrastructure, and established in-state net neutrality, all while leading the country in job growth, overall personal-income growth, and GDP. As other states shed residents, people are moving to Washington. It's hard to drive through the parts of Seattle where Amazon has sprouted neighborhoods of coffee shops and artisanal seafood kitchens and argue that the lefty policies Inslee's been pushing have had the kind of economic downside that their opponents always warn they will.

Opponents say, "Market forces, consumer demands, commonsense policies would have done about the same thing that we've had under six years of Jay Inslee."

Source: The Atlantic on 2020 presidential hopefuls, "Climate Change" Jan 2, 2019

On Energy & Oil: Decade-long track record on climate change

Jay Inslee thinks Americans [will pay attention] when it comes to climate change. And that's why he's going to run for president. "When you've been working on something for over a decade, and now seeing people awakening to that, it's just really gratifying and heartening," the Washington governor recently told me, sitting in his private study on the top floor of the governor's mansion. When it comes to climate change, there now appears to be "an appetite for someone who has credibility and a long track record and, most importantly, a vision statement. It's changed to show an opening in a Democratic primary, I believe."

As the 2018 midterm campaigns came to an end, Inslee read through searing international and federal climate-change assessments, took a trip to view the wildfire damage in California--and he shifted [in his decision to run for President]. Now "we're laying the groundwork that would make this a feasible thing in the relatively short term," Inslee told me.

Source: The Atlantic on 2020 presidential hopefuls, "Climate Change" Jan 2, 2019

On Energy & Oil: Climate change threatens environment & national security

If there is a new Democratic president come 2021, he or she will get pulled in all sorts of policy directions. Inslee says he has one priority: global warming. It's not theoretical, or a cause just for tree huggers anymore. "Putting off dealing with it for a year or two or kicking it to some new bipartisan commission won't work," he says. He plans to focus on the threat that climate change poses to the environment and national security--the mega-storms and fires causing millions in damages, the weather changes that will cause mass migrations, the droughts that will devastate farmers in America and around the world.

Even more so, he wants to talk about the risk to American opportunity. "We have two existential threats right now: one is to our natural systems, and one is to our economic systems," he said.

Source: The Atlantic on 2020 presidential hopefuls, "Climate Change" Jan 2, 2019

On Energy & Oil: Spur green R&D; restrict power plants and emissions

As he did in Washington State, [to deal with climate change] Inslee would propose a mix of government investments and incentives to spur other investment, restrictions on power plants and emissions, and programs to promote R&D and job growth. An endless number of jobs can be created in the climate arena, Inslee says. It's the way to make a real dent in income inequality and have the Democratic Party bring tangible solutions to communities in rural America that have been left behind. With his inaction, President Donald Trump--Inslee calls him "the commander in chief of delusion"--is engaged in a "disgusting selling-out of the country," a "crime" against the aspirational optimism of America.

He's put together an email list of 200,000 climate advocates, which could become a beachhead of support around the country [in his presidential run].

Source: The Atlantic on 2020 presidential hopefuls, "Climate Change" Jan 2, 2019

On Energy & Oil: Establish solar-cell; expand use of electric ferries

[Among Democrats running for President], Inslee is the only one who has actually run a government that has made climate-change policy central. He points to the towns in Washington that have become solar-cell farms, among other accomplishments. There's also his plan to expand the use of electric ferries. "Without having a vision and having a sense of what could be, we would not be launching that effort right now," says the outgoing director of the state commerce department. "As a country, we're certainly not going to be able to do it if we're hiding from facts from the world around us."

Why climate change as a core issue? This is like gay marriage, he figures: America is at a tipping point. Things are about to change. And voters will be looking for leaders who were already out front on the issue.

Source: The Atlantic on 2020 presidential hopefuls, "Climate Change" Jan 2, 2019

On Gun Control: Arming teachers with guns is ridiculous

To Inslee, a key part of the formula for running against Trump is being ready to take him on directly. During the National Governors Association meeting, Inslee was at the White House with the other governors for a lunch. Every year, a few governors get up and ask questions, and so the night before the event, Inslee and a few staffers brainstormed how to make the best use of the chance.

The governor didn't like any of their suggestions, and ended up improvising a question inspired by his brother-in-law, a teacher, about the proposal Trump was pushing after the Parkland shooting to arm teachers with guns. Inslee called it ridiculous. He told the president to stop tweeting and start listening. He watched the president's arms cross into his telltale grumpy self-hug, his hands shoved back behind his armpits, elbows up, lips pursed. ("If he's ever carved on a mountain, it won't be Mount Rushmore, it'll be Mount Petulant," Inslee told me later. "And that's the pose.")

Source: The Atlantic on 2020 presidential hopefuls, "Climate Change" Jan 2, 2019

The above quotations are from Interviews during 2017-2019, interviewing presidential hopefuls for 2020.
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Page last updated: Jun 10, 2019