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Is Bipartisanship Possible? Wyden Thinks So

June 16, 2010

Washington, D.C. - Whether Congress can set aside party politics long enough to get anything done without a fight is the topic of an all-day conference today (Wednesday) in the nation's capitol - and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) throws the first pitch. He is the keynote speaker at "Breaking the Stalemate," where politicos, reporters and former members of Congress will examine the causes and effects of partisan gridlock, and what to do about it.

The Oregon Democrat says he'll discuss the process of writing a new tax reform bill with Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH). Wyden says it would lower tax rates for most individuals and businesses, ends special interest tax breaks – and gives both parties something to embrace.

"What we've been able to do - not out of political convenience, but through principled bipartisanship - is show that a Democrat and Republican, instead of having the parties beat up on each other, can go out and take on these big interest groups that drain the revenue out of our nation."

Back home in Oregon, Wyden convinced such unlikely allies as conservation groups and timber companies to sit down and negotiate a settlement to allow both forest restoration and logging in Eastern Oregon. He has high hopes for similar compromises by lawmakers, and says even those who have not yet been elected ought to address the issue of working together.

"I hope, as we go into an election season, that every candidate ought to explain, if they're elected, what major bipartisan initiatives are they going to pursue and how will they go about turning them into actual, concrete achievements?"

Wyden says it's not impossible to disagree respectfully, adding that it helps to have an alternative to suggest. He thinks there is common ground on some of the toughest issues Congress now faces - and that Democrats and Republicans should be working harder to find it.

Sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center, the conference begins at 9:30 a.m. at the National Archives Bldg., Washington, D.C.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR