Not long ago, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s bid for the presidency would’ve seemed like even more of a longshot than it does today. Washington is an often-overlooked corner of the country but that’s starting to change thanks to the state’s booming innovation economy.
Homegrown Washington companies like Amazon, Boeing, and Microsoft grab headlines daily as Big Tech becomes a marquee political issue. Inslee is leaning into his state’s newfound prominence as he makes a play for the White House in 2020.
Tech issues dominated Inslee’s appearance Monday on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” In just under 10 minutes, they discussed everything from Boeing’s latest safety issues to Amazon HQ2 and net neutrality to the minimum wage.
The famously cheerful governor is also learning to throw those some elbows. He took several jabs at President Donald Trump, particularly when discussing Inslee’s top campaign issue: climate change.
“I think it would be great to have someone who believes in science and gravity in the White House,” Inslee said.
Watch Inslee’s full interview with Noah and read highlights from their conversation below.
Defeating climate change: As always, Inslee stressed the importance of shifting from fossil fuels to clean energy. Noah brought up another Washingtonian, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who has said that clean energy alone can’t solve global warming without a technological breakthrough.
“We’re going to have to have a much more robust research and development program because we are going to need some additional technologies,” Inslee said. “This is the difference between me and Donald Trump. He is a pessimistic, fearful, insecure person. I am a confident, optimistic person who believes that America, who put a man on the moon, who defeated fascism, sure as heck can build a clean energy economy.”
Big Tech: Inslee conceded that tech giants, like Amazon and Microsoft, “have made our lives so much better in so many ways” but called for laws that rein in corporations. “That’s why I’m proud that I was the first governor to sign a bill guaranteeing net neutrality,” he said. “We need net neutrality and we need it nationally. We’ve done that in our state … I believe that we need to rein in the abuses of our privacy. There’s a bill I’m advancing through our legislature that I hope will be the template for privacy protection in the United States.”
Inslee adds his voice to a chorus of Democrats who have targeted Big Tech in their bids for the White House. Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled a proposal earlier this month to break up large tech companies and other candidates, like Senators Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar, have vowed to curb the industry’s power.
Corporate tax incentives: Without mentioning Amazon by name, Inslee criticized the company’s second headquarters sweepstakes, which had job-hungry cities competing against each other with tax incentives. “We have to find a way to stop these corporations from blackmailing communities,” he said.
Not so fast: Noah noted that Boeing received a multi-billion dollar tax break under Inslee’s leadership.
“If you’ve ever been mugged you understand what it feels like,” Inslee responded. He added, “I was not happy about the Boeing situation because what happens is, the corporations put a gun to your ribs and say, ‘you’re going to lose 20,000 jobs unless we get a tax break.’” Inslee’s solution? “We should use the tax code so taxpayers aren’t victimized like that.”
On the FAA and Boeing’s fatal crashes: “Here’s one thing I know about that situation, we have an administration that you can’t trust for anything … everything they’ve touched has been chaotic and ineffective. They really can’t run a two-car funeral when it comes right down to it. We need someone who has been a successful executive; who has helped build the number one economy in the United States, which is the State of Washington; who has stood up against Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban; who has done America’s best family leave policy, and one of the biggest minimum wage increases, and net neutrality, and transportation infrastructure. They can’t build a birdhouse in Washington D.C.”