Rep. Larsen addresses Marysville Rotary

U.S. Rep Rick Larsen, left, receives a paperweight of appreciation from Marysville Rotary President Chris Nation for speaking to his fellow Rotarians on Aug. 24. - Kirk Boxleitner
U.S. Rep Rick Larsen, left, receives a paperweight of appreciation from Marysville Rotary President Chris Nation for speaking to his fellow Rotarians on Aug. 24.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen knows very well how many citizens feel about Congress right now, and he told the members of the Rotary Club of Marysville that he sympathizes with his constituents’ frustrations.

At the same time, as Larsen visited the Marysville Rotary luncheon on Aug. 24, he expressed his optimism that the divisions within government could be healed, to help heal the country and its economy in turn.

“In a poll of words that people used to describe the recent debt deal negotiations, the words ‘stupid,’ disgusting,’ ‘disappointing and ‘frustrating’ came up,” Larsen told his audience. “Those are the same words I’d use.”

After repeating a joke he’d heard that “the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off,” Larsen grew serious as he criticized those in government whom he believed have “worked to keep that light turned off.”

Larsen advocated the view that government must be actively involved in fostering investments in infrastructure and education, and that elected officials can’t afford to wait for the economy to right itself. He cited the replacement of the USS Abraham Lincoln with the USS Nimitz at Naval Station Everett, as well as Boeing recently securing the Department of Defense’s “super-tanker” contract, as examples of how he and his fellow legislators have worked to attract and retain jobs in the local area.

Larsen likewise emphasized the importance of a six-year transportation bill to help out local engineers and contractors, in addition to improving traffic throughout the area, but he warned that the bill that’s set to pass Congress could cost Washington state alone close to 8,300 jobs next year. He touted federal funding of transportation infrastructure as having a historic precedent.

“Not only does it decrease the costs of transportation, but it also creates jobs and economic opportunities,” Larsen said. “Direct private sector investments can supplement the gas tax, but they can’t substitute for it. Simply maintaining our infrastructure will cost $60 billion. We have 108 separate federal accounts for these funds that need to be consolidated to make their use more flexible.”

Among Larsen’s transportation investment priorities are the state’s ferry system, which he classified as the largest in the country, as well as improving highway safety and freight mobility. He went on to acknowledge that he supports the “coal train” to which a number of community members, including Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, have already objected.

“We’re already pulling coal through that corridor into Canada,” Larsen said. “Questions about emergency access and the timing of trains on the roads affected are legitimate issues that need to be addressed, but I’d rather export American commodities than American jobs.”

When one attendee asked Larsen to assign President Barack Obama with a letter grade for his performance, Larsen gave him an “incomplete.”

“So you’re saying he’s failing,” the attendee said.

“No,” Larsen said. “An incomplete means that class isn’t over yet. All of you will get to decide his grade next year. I care more about my grade,” he chuckled, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Marysville’s Steve Fulton and Lake Stevens’ Jordan Brady both voiced doubts about America’s future, which Larsen sought to allay by recalling the number of previous crises that the country has weathered.

“It’s bad now, but it’s not as bad as it once was,” Larsen said. “If you don’t think you can improve things, you shouldn’t be in Congress.”


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