Towards Common Ground

By Brian Rae of Portland, Oregon. Brian is the Consumer Protection and Tax & Budget Advocate at OSPIRG. He has also worked on several local and state election campaigns in Oregon.

The super committee tasked with cutting 1.2-1.5 trillion dollars from the federal budget has been a hot topic in many political circles nationally and in Oregon. That is not surprising, as the national tax discussions impact Oregon taxpayers greatly.

What is disappointing, however, is that much of the debate has focused in on the disagreements that Republicans and Democrats have on issues such as revenue and entitlements. Would it not make more sense to begin with our similarities, and then move on to the differences?

OSPIRG did just that in teaming up with The National Taxpayers Union to develop $1 trillion in spending reductions, detailed in a new report, Toward Common Ground. Recommendations include:

Now, of course both OSPIRG and National Taxpayers Union individually support cutting (far more) than what is in this report.

But the point is this: if OSPIRG and National Taxpayers’ Union can agree on $1 trillion in cuts, why can’t Congress do the same? The answer: they might. But let’s be clear: if they don’t, it will have less to do with “partisanship” and more to do with the immense power of special interests to keep their sweetheart deals regulated to the backrooms of Washington.

Many of the items on our list challenge long-standing subsidies to narrow special interests. While these expenditures serve little or no continuing public purpose, there will no doubt be intense lobbying efforts to preserve the handouts. However, the general public is in favor of cutting these wasteful programs, it’s a matter of standing up, taking action and changing the conversation we are having.

As we approach the upcoming legislative session and on a national scene let’s look towards our similarities’ first, then duke it out over the differences.

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    If OSPIRG proposes to get cozy with the National Taxpayers Union, so be it, but I would remind you of an old saying: "If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas".

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    Gregory, I don't understand your position. Is it forbidden, by you or some grand authority, for progressives to talk to the opposition (including tea party supporters), to negotiate with them, and even to agree with them on some issues as above? What do progressives have to fear? It's true that Obama gives it all away in negotiations, but that's because he actually (sometimes covertly) agrees with the Republicans on many issues that have come up. Progressives don't have to work that way. Besides, it's possible for the right wingers to be right about some things, including perhaps some aspects of the military-industrial complex.

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    perhaps the problem with our politics these days is that people assume that anyone with a differing point of view is "a dog".

    understanding where someone is coming from and finding common ground with them will lead to a more peaceful, just society.

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