Lawmakers honored at awards dinner in D.C.


U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz was one of 38 mem­bers of the U.S. House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives to re­ceive an award from an or­gan­iz­a­tion that stresses solu­tions to budget de­fi­cits and rising en­ti­tle­ment pro­gram costs.

The Con­cord Co­ali­tion re­cently honored 22 Demo­crats and 16 Re­pub­lic­ans at a din­ner in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., to cel­eb­rate its 20th an­niversary.

The law­makers re­ceived the Paul E. Tson­gas Eco­nom­ic Pat­ri­ot Award, named in memory of the former Mas­sachu­setts sen­at­or and pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate.

In March, the House re­jec­ted by a vote of 382-38 a plan put forth by Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Steve La­Tour­ette of Ohio and Demo­crat­ic Rep. Jim Cooper of Ten­ness­ee.

Schwartz (D-13th dist.), a mem­ber of the House Budget Com­mit­tee, was among the 38 people who voted for it.

“We’re will­ing to look at the big fisc­al chal­lenges fa­cing the na­tion,” she said.

The La­Tour­ette/Cooper bill was fash­ioned after the re­com­mend­a­tions of the Na­tion­al Com­mis­sion on Fisc­al Re­spons­ib­il­ity and Re­form, chaired by former Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyom­ing and Er­skine Bowles, who served as chief of staff for Pres­id­ent Bill Clin­ton.

The bill would cut $4 tril­lion over the next 10 years. Two-thirds of the sav­ings would come from spend­ing cuts. One-third would come from tax re­form.

“It was truly bi­par­tis­an,” Schwartz said.

Demo­crats wer­en’t eager to sup­port the bill be­cause of cuts to So­cial Se­cur­ity and Medi­care. Re­pub­lic­ans did not fa­vor the pro­posed elim­in­a­tion of tax breaks. Lib­er­al and con­ser­vat­ive or­gan­iz­a­tions lob­bied for law­makers to op­pose the bill.

The co-chair­men of the Con­cord Co­ali­tion are former Re­pub­lic­an Sen. War­ren Rud­man of New Hamp­shire and former Demo­crat­ic Sen. Sam Nunn of Geor­gia.

“We sa­lute Rep. Allyson Schwartz for her cour­ageous sup­port of the Cooper-La­Tour­ette le­gis­la­tion, which was the only bi­par­tis­an budget to be voted on in the House this year. In do­ing so, she put the na­tion­al in­terest over par­tis­an and pa­ro­chi­al con­cerns. We wish that more of her col­leagues will fol­low her ex­ample,” said ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or Robert Bixby.

The din­ner also in­cluded a pan­el dis­cus­sion with Cooper, La­Tour­ette, Bixby, former Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware and former Demo­crat­ic Rep. John Tan­ner of Ten­ness­ee.

Schwartz said the coun­try could gain firmer fin­an­cial foot­ing by elim­in­at­ing tax breaks for oil and gas com­pan­ies and the wealth­i­est 2 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans. She fa­vors mak­ing gov­ern­ment de­part­ments more ef­fi­cient and hold­ing all of them, in­clud­ing the De­fense De­part­ment, more ac­count­able for their spend­ing. She’d keep pro­grams that are work­ing and get rid of ones that aren’t. As for fur­ther spend­ing at a time when the na­tion’s debt is more than $16 tril­lion, she called for “stra­tegic in­vest­ments.”

The House is not ex­pec­ted to re­turn to ses­sion un­til after the Nov. 6 elec­tion.

Schwartz wanted to stay in ses­sion to de­bate tax and Medi­care is­sues, a farm bill and a strength­en­ing of a vi­ol­ence against wo­men law.

The con­gress­wo­man will also have to wait for pro­gress on two bills she in­tro­duced in the sum­mer.

One would give col­lege stu­dents and their par­ents ac­cess to com­plete in­form­a­tion re­gard­ing stu­dent loan op­tions. The oth­er would in­centiv­ize in­nov­a­tion and re­search and de­vel­op­ment by re­du­cing taxes for com­pan­ies that man­u­fac­ture pat­en­ted products. ••End­Frag­ment 

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