By Dylan Keller, Communications intern
On Tuesday night, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) and America Speaks joined George Washington University’s Face the Facts USA for a unique role-playing scenario. Against the backdrop of a fictionalized fiscal crisis, ten panelists - from journalists to former senators – assume various roles to examine the question, “Can we Americans still do great things?”
[Pictured from the left: James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic; Former Mayor Pam Iorio; Neera Tanden, President, Center For American Progress; Former Governor Bill Richardson; U.S. Representative Donna F. Edwards; Frank Sesno, Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University; U.S. Representative Scott Rigell; Former U.S. Fred Thompson; Former U.S. Senator and Bipartisan Policy Center Senior Fellow Robert Bennett; Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina; and Farai Cheideya, journalist, author and blogger]
BPC Senior Fellow and former U.S. Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) pondered a solution to stalemate by noting previous times—the Civil War and World War II, among others—that tested America’s resolve. Bennett quoted Winston Churchill stating, “The Americans can always be depended on to do the right things…after they have exhausted every other possibility.” He proposed an outlook for entitlement reform, remarking that, “The demographics are irreversible and will ultimately drive the right and the left to the reality that we have to make some kind of changes.”
[Pictured: U.S. Representative Scott Rigell; Former U.S. Fred Thompson;Former U.S. Senator and Bipartisan Policy Center Senior Fellow Robert Bennett; Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina; and Farai Cheideya, Journalist, author and blogger]
Another panelist, former Mayor Pam Iorio (D-Tampa, FL), brought history into the conversation:
“In fact, our country has always been passionate, it has always disagreed, and politics has always been a mess… and we just happen to think that it’s messier now then it’s ever been, but that is a lack of historical perspective.,. You can go through, at any point, in our history and say, ‘How in the world did we reach consensus and move forward?’ What we’re debating today is, really, nothing new. It’s just part of America and it is really the best system in the world, while messy, it tends to work out, because people ultimately do come to agreement.”
[Pictured: Jason Grumet, President, Bipartisan Policy Center and Frank Sesno, Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University]
BPC President Jason Grumet, expanded on Iorio’s comments about America’s sometimes hectic governing style by adding, “The idea that the public getting comfortable with that messiness is really going to be another part of the political cover that’s going to be required in order for Congress to have the opportunity to make the uncomfortable agreements that will be necessary.”
At the end of the program, a live audience and online poll indicated that poll participants were more confident that Congress and the President could agree on a pro-active plan of action than they were before the program began.
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