Congressman talks trade during Issaquah stop
July 9, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 6:25 p.m. July 9, 2010
Congressman Dave Reichert emphasized trade as a prescription to revive the stalled economy during a meeting with Issaquah business leaders Friday afternoon.
Reichert, a Republican and a former King County sheriff, stopped at Blakely Hall in the Issaquah Highlands for a 90-minute discussion about how recent federal legislation affects businesses.
The congressman called on the federal government to make ports in trade-dependent Washington more attractive to businesses, because, he added after the Issaquah meeting, the state cannot afford to lose trade to ports in neighboring British Columbia.
“If our ports start to lose business, the businesses here that are supported by importing and exporting goods will begin to falter,” he said.
The fallout, he said, could impact businesses throughout the Eastside — the population center in the congressional district Reichert has represented since 2003.
President Obama appointed Reichert to the President’s Export Council in May. The group — lawmakers, federal department chiefs, and business and labor leaders — advises the president on trade issues.
Reichert offered support for a White House goal to double U.S. exports by 2015.
“His mission, which I applaud, is to double exports in the next five years,” Reichert said. “I’m going to bring some ideas on how we might be able to do that. One of those would be: We need to pass trade agreements.”
The congressman said a proposed free trade agreement between the United States and South Korea could help meet the goal. Though the Bush administration negotiated most of the pact, the proposal has been stalled since 2007.
Reichert launched a bipartisan group last month to speed up ratification.
But the congressman and Obama differ on other issues. Reichert joined other House Republicans to oppose recent health care legislation.
The highlands group raised concerns about how the sweeping law might affect businesses. The discussion included representatives from Costco — the largest employer in Issaquah — highlands developer Port Blakely Communities and small businesses.
“One of the overarching themes that I heard was, there’s too much government regulation,” Reichert said. “We need to have a little bit more freedom in operating our businesses. We need to free up our revenues, our capital to invest and reinvest into our businesses.”
The health care law, for instance, requires companies to issue additional 1099 tax forms to every person and corporation that does more than $600 in business with the company. The provision takes effect in 2012.
“It’ll create a lot more paperwork,” Reichert said.
The measure reflects a widespread unease small business owners feel about the law, he added.
“They’re worried about the taxes and the cost of health care, and the fact that they may not be able to provide health care to their employees,” Reichert said.
The highlands stop came as Reichert embarks on a bid for a fourth House term. The race has attracted eight challengers, including Democratic nominee Suzan DelBene.
Issaquah and other 8th Congressional District voters will pick the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, in the Aug. 17 primary election.
Issaquah Chamber of Commerce CEO Matt Bott applauded Reichert for stopping in Issaquah during a swing through the district.
“It’s really important to businesses that our elected leaders are in touch,” Bott said.