Tag Archive for: policy

Two Young Southerners Speak Up on Guns

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How do our youngest voters feel about America’s gun policy?

Our guests on today’s show are part of the school shooting generation. Each grew up with active shooter drills and worries that their school could be next, concepts that were unthinkable when most of today’s politicians were in the classroom.

Ahead of Common Ground Committee’s live event on September 27th, Finding Common Ground on Guns we hear from Sophie Holtzman and Jackson Hoppe, sophomores at The George Washington University. They are also joint vice presidents of their college’s chapter of BridgeUSA, an organization that creates spaces for students to have open discussion on political issues.

In this episode, Sophie, a liberal, and Jackson, a conservative, share stories of being raised in the South, their experiences with guns, and how listening to others’ opinions on the topic – even when they disagree – is a vital first step to finding common ground.

Join us on Let’s Find Common Ground.

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Ep. 66 – Two Young Southerners Speak Up on Guns

Sophie Holtzman

Sophie Holtzman is a sophomore at the George Washington University and the Co-Vice President of GWU’s BridgeUSA chapter. Originally from Villa Hills, Kentucky, she has worked extensively with the Kentucky Democratic Party and Kentucky’s Youth and Government programs. While she has previously worked in grassroots organizing for Senate, Congressional, and gubernatorial campaigns and in outreach for Kentucky’s public libraries, she now works as a student-teacher for GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs.

With her International Affairs major and Journalism minor, she hopes to pursue a Master’s degree in Global Communication and work in climate messaging or climate policy. Outside of academics, she volunteers with GW’s Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement, is an active member of her sorority, and spends her free time running and reading.

Jackson Hoppe

Jackson Hoppe is a sophomore at the George Washington University and is pursuing a degree in Public Policy and Marketing. Along with Sophie Holtzman, he is the Co-Vice President of GWU’s BridgeUSA chapter. Jackson grew up in Brentwood, Tennessee, where he has worked both on the campaign and federal levels for Republicans in the Volunteer State, including positions in both the House and Senate. Additionally, he has participated in numerous civic engagement programs, like Model United Nations and Youth in Government, rising to some of the highest officer positions in both programs and being given the opportunity to lobby for federal civics education legislation.

Jackson also serves as the Director of Public Relations for GW College Republicans, where he has engaged with national media sources and is the mouthpiece of the largest conservative organization on campus. He is also an engaged member of his fraternity. He is glad to be a VP for BridgeGW and is a proud Tennessean.

Want to hear more? Check out our podcast page to see all the discussions!

Primaries and Polarization: Is The System Broken?

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With low voter turnout and a wide partisan divide, are there better ways to pick candidates?

The primary election season in this midterm election year is now over in most states. Turnout was often very low—less than 20% of registered voters showed up in many places—while the partisan divide was as wide as ever.

In this episode, we hear from leading political strategists, scholars, authors and journalists about the American system for choosing candidates who will face each other in November’s election. We consider issues with the closed party primaries, and whether there are better ways to pick candidates for public office.

We look at proposed solutions such as ranked-choice voting and open primaries, where independent voters and those who are neither registered Republicans nor Democrats can participate.

Guests include Former Democratic Party Chair Donna Brazile, ex-Congressmen Will Hurd and Barney Frank, Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice, constitutional law scholar Rick Pildes, and journalists Salena Zito, Christa Case Bryant and Story Hinckley.

Join us on Let’s Find Common Ground.

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Ep 65 – Primaries and Polarization: Is The System Broken?

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How Problem Solvers Caucus Attacks Gridlock in Congress

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Is Congress as dysfunctional as it seems? Hear from two legislators in this candid conversation.

From the outside, Congress appears broken. Bills get bogged down in partisan fights, leaders openly smear each other, and animosity between members is at an all-time high. But our guests on today’s show demonstrate that if you look a little closer, you’ll find a group of dedicated politicians working together across the aisle to craft workable legislation and get things done.

Republican Congressman Don Bacon represents Nebraska’s 2nd District. Democrat Kurt Schrader represents Oregon’s 5th District. Each man is a member of the congressional Problem Solvers Caucus, a group equally split between Democrats and Republicans who are committed to finding common ground on key issues facing the U.S.

In this surprisingly candid conversation listeners get a peek behind the curtain at what’s really going on in Congress, how the infrastructure bill was passed into law, and the harmful effect the media has on Americans’ view of politics. On this episode of “Let’s Find Common Ground.”

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Ep 49 – How Problem Solvers Caucus Attacks Gridlock in Congress

Don Bacon

Growing up and working on a farm in Illinois, Congressman Don Bacon learned first-hand how the value of hard work and commitment contributes to the success of a small business. He moved from the family farm to attend Northern Illinois University, from which he graduated with a Bachelors of Political Science in 1984, the same year he married Angie, the love of his life. They have three sons, one daughter, and six grandchildren. One year later, he began his military career by joining the U.S. Air Force and serving nearly 30 years, ultimately retiring as a Brigadier General.

During his career in the Air Force, Congressman Bacon specialized in electronic warfare, intelligence, and reconnaissance. His career highlights include two tours as a Wing Commander, at Ramstein Airbase in Germany and Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska; group command at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona; squadron command in Arizona, and expeditionary squadron command in Iraq. In total, Rep. Bacon served 16 assignments including four deployments in the Middle East to include Iraq in 2007 to 2008 during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

Congressman Bacon’s military decorations include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, two Bronze Stars, two Legion of Merits, five Meritorious Service Medals, and the Aerial Achievement Medal. Additionally, he was selected as Europe’s top Air Force Wing Commander for his time at Ramstein Airbase, as well as recognized as a distinguished graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, Navigator-Electronic Warfare School, and Officer Intelligence School. Further, Congressman Bacon has earned two Masters Degrees, from the University of Phoenix in Arizona and the National War College in Washington D.C.

Upon his retirement from the Air Force in 2014, Congressman Bacon served as the military advisor to Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01), where he specialized in military affairs focusing on Offutt Air Force Base and the Nebraska National Guard. He also was an Assistant Professor at Bellevue University where he taught Undergraduate Leadership along with American Vision and Values (The Kirkpatrick Signature Series), until his 2016 election to Congress, representing Nebraska’s Second Congressional District.

Presently, Congressman Bacon serves on two committees within the House of Representatives: the House Armed Services Committee, and the House Agricultural Committee.

Kurt Schrader

Congressman Kurt Schrader is currently serving his seventh term in the United States House of Representatives. He represents Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, which includes all of Marion, Polk, Lincoln and Tillamook Counties as well as the bulk of Clackamas and small portions of Multnomah and Benton Counties. Before being elected to Congress, Schrader, a farmer and veterinarian for more than thirty years, established and managed the Clackamas County Veterinary Clinic in Oregon City and operated his farm where he grew and sold organic fruit and vegetables.

In 1996, Congressman Schrader was elected to the Oregon State House of Representatives. There he served as a member of the Joint Ways & Means Committee. Schrader was one of five legislators asked by their peers to guide Oregon through the budget crisis of 2001-2002. Schrader was elected to the Oregon State Senate in 2003 and was immediately appointed to chair the Joint Ways & Means Committee. He continued to serve in that capacity until he was elected to U.S. Congress in 2008.

Congressman Schrader attended Cornell University where he received his BA in Government in 1973. He received his veterinary degree from the University of Illinois in 1977.

Congressman Schrader currently serves as a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (E&C), which oversees a wide portfolio of issues ranging from health care to the environment. Prior to joining E&C, Congressman Schrader served on the House Committee on Agriculture, where he served on the Farm Bill Conference Committee that successfully passed a five-year farm bill, the House Committee on Small Business and House Budget Committee. In the 117th Congress, Congressman Schrader serves on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, the Subcommittee on Energy, and the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

Schrader is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, New Democrat Coalition, and the only bipartisan working group in the House, the Problem Solvers Caucus.

Want to hear more? Check out our podcast page to see all the discussions!

Convergence Center for Policy Resolution

How the Budget Mess in Congress Hurts All of Us

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Liberals and conservatives agree: the federal budget process is a mess. Can it be overhauled?

One of the key functions of Congress is to pass a budget. But often that seems close to impossible. Lack of agreement over federal spending regularly threatens to bring about government shutdowns, which affect millions of Americans. Yet few of us can even begin to understand the byzantine budget process.

Our guests on this week’s episode of Let’s Find Common Ground want to change that.

In this show, we meet two experts from different sides of the political aisle who came together with other policy experts to make the budget process simpler, more efficient and more transparent.

At the time of the Convergence dialogue, Alison Acosta Winters was a Senior Policy Fellow at Americans for Prosperity. Emily Holubowich was Executive Director of the Coalition for Health Funding. Alison is a fiscal conservative while Emily is an advocate for greater government support for health care. Still, each agrees that the current budget process is a mess and keeps Americans in the dark about how their money is being spent.

Brought together by Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, Alison, Emily and other stakeholders from diverse backgrounds spent months working together to come up with several major proposals for overhauling the budget process – proposals they hope will shine some light on how our government works. These proposals are currently being considered in Congress and enjoy bipartisan support.

This podcast was co-produced in partnership with Convergence Center for Policy Resolution and is one of a series of podcasts that Common Ground Committee and Convergence are producing together. Each highlights the common ground that resulted from one of Convergence’s structured dialogues-across-differences. Learn more about the Convergence budget dialogue and read more about the Convergence dialogue recommendations.

Join us for an interesting lesson in simplifying the arcane process of federal budgeting on “Let’s Find Common Ground.”

Read the Episode Transcript

Ep 48 – How the Budget Mess in Congress Hurts All of Us

Alison Acosta Winters

Alison Acosta Winters was most recently a Senior Policy Fellow at Americans for Prosperity and the Charles Koch Foundation where she worked on trade, economic, and fiscal policy. While there, Winters participated in the Convergence Building a Better Budget Process dialogue with a broad array of stakeholders that resulted in a series of policy recommendations that have received attention in Congress.

Prior to that, Winters was the Director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy at the Heritage Foundation. She wrote on a wide variety of economic issues, including co-authoring the Heritage Fiscal Plan Saving the American Dream. While at Heritage, Winters participated in the Fiscal Wake Up Tour which brought together policy experts from different perspectives to educate Americans about the unsustainable fiscal path the nation is on and policy choices that could address the problem.

Winters has appeared in numerous media outlets including Bloomberg, CNN, Fox, PBS and NPR. Her work has been seen in USA Today, Politico, The Hill, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and more.

Emily Holubowich

Emily joined the American Heart Association in 2019 as the Vice President of Federal Advocacy with more than twenty years of experience in health and fiscal policy, government relations, strategic communications, and coalition management. She is frequently sought out by the media for her expertise on public health and fiscal policy, serves as a lecturer in health policy and management at The George Washington University, and is called upon by national organizations to lecture on the policy environment and best practices in strategic communications and advocacy. In a volunteer capacity, Emily serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. Previously, Emily was a senior vice president at CRD Associates, where she worked with several clients in the public health community—including the Coalition for Health Funding as its Executive Director. Prior to CRD Associates, Emily was the director of government relations for AcademyHealth and a senior health policy analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Emily holds a Master of Public Policy from The Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Want to hear more? Check out our podcast page to see all the discussions!

To stop coronavirus, we must set aside partisanship. Here’s how we can do it.

This USA Today piece by CGC Co-Founders Bruce Bond and Erik Olsen calls for citizens and politicians to stop using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to push partisan politics and cites cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians as an example we can follow. Three of the Common Grounder Attributes are used to show how we can put our differences aside.


– This article was published in USA TODAY on March 20, 2020.

‘It’s a 50-50 nation’: Chris Wallace on Fox News, Trump and America’s great divide

This article from The Guardian explores Chris Wallace’s thoughts on bias in the media and the role of journalists, quoting comments he made as a panelist at our Finding Common Ground on Facts, Fake News & The Media forum at Columbia University on February 25th, 2020.


– This article was published in The Guardian on March 7th, 2020.

Chris Wallace ‘horrified’ by CNN’s Acosta’s conduct: ‘It’s not our job to one-up presidents’

This article from The Hill focuses on panelist Chris Wallace’s comments about Jim Acosta of CNN, quoting him as saying journalists should not be picking fights with the president. It is mentioned that the comments came from our Finding Common Ground on Facts, Fake News & The Media event on February 25th, 2020 and a link was included to our website.


– This article was published in The Hill on February 26, 2020.

Chris Wallace says Jim Acosta’s behavior ‘adds to people questioning the credibility of the media’

In this article from the Washington Examiner, they focus on Chris’s comments about Jim Acosta of CNN and quotes him as saying journalists should not be picking fights with the president. It is mentioned that the comments came from our Finding Common Ground Facts, Fake News & The Media event on February 25th, 2020 and a link was included to our website


— This article was published in the Washington Examiner on February 25, 2020.

Chris Wallace Says He’s “Horrified” by Jim Acosta’s Press Conference Behavior

In this article from the Hollywood Reporter, they focus on Chris’s comments about Jim Acosta of CNN and quotes him as saying journalists should not be picking fights with the president. It is mentioned that the comments came from our Finding Common Ground Facts, Fake News & The Media event on February 25th, 2020 and a link was included to our website


— This article was published in the Hollywood Reporter on February 25, 2020.

Engaging in tough conversations is worth it. Even if we can’t find agreement.

In this opinion piece Bruce Bond and Erik Olsen co-founders of Common Ground Committee argued that the point of common ground is not to force an agreement on issues – it’s to foster conversations that lead to greater understanding.

They also position CGC as one of many members of the common grounder movement, and a link to the 10 attributes of a common grounder is included.


— This article was published in USA Today on January 23, 2020.