WASHINGTON — The Concord Coalition last night honored 38 “economic patriots” in the U.S. House for their courage in voting for a comprehensive, bipartisan deficit reduction plan earlier this year.
Former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, a Concord co-chairman, praised the “Great 38” for standing up to pressure from colleagues and special interests to support the reform legislation that had been introduced by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio).
“They point the way, very courageously, that must be followed by our nation,” Nunn said in presenting Concord’s 2012 Paul E. Tsongas Economic Patriot Award to the House members — both Democrats and Republicans — at a dinner in Washington marking the 20th anniversary of Concord’s founding.
Nunn praised the honorees for “putting their country before their party” and for embodying a “spirit of bipartisanship and fiscal stewardship.”
In addition to Cooper and LaTourette, the honorees are:
|Rob Andrews (D-N.J.)||Jim Himes (D-Conn.)||Tom Reed (R-N.Y.)|
|Charlie Bass (R-N.H.)||Tim Johnson (R-Ill.)||Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.)|
|Dan Boren (D-Okla.)||Ron Kind (D-Wis.)||Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.)|
|Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa)||Rick Larsen (D-Wash.)||John Shimkus (R-Ill.)|
|Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.)||Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.)||Heath Shuler (D-N.C.)|
|John Carney (D-Del.)||Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.)||Mike Simpson (R-Idaho)|
|James Clyburn (D-S.C.)||Pat Meehan (R-Pa.)||Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.)|
|Jim Costa (D-Calif.)||Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.)||Mel Watt (D-N.C.)|
|Henry Cuellar (D-Texas)||Collin Peterson (D-Minn.)||Frank Wolf (R-Va.)|
|Charlie Dent (R-Pa.)||Tom Petri (R-Wis.)||Don Young (R-Alaska)|
|Bob Dold (R-Ill.)||Todd Platts (R-Pa.)|
|Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.)||Jared Polis (D-Colo.)|
|Chris Gibson (R-N.Y)||Mike Quigley (D-Ill.)|
Cooper and LaTourette accepted the award on behalf of all of the honorees, most of whom attended the dinner. Their legislation was based on the recommendations of a bipartisan majority of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (the Simpson-Bowles commission). Cooper-LaTourette was the only budget plan to receive bipartisan support in the House this year.
In an era of partisan gridlock that has left the country on a “very dangerous fiscal path,” Nunn said, “such cooperation is all too rare.” He added: “It is not a matter of ideology. It is a matter of simply adding and subtracting, and we in this nation are flunking the course now in arithmetic.”
In accepting the award, Cooper and LaTourette praised the other honorees for their courage in taking a stand for fiscal responsibility.
“This was not an easy thing to do,” Cooper said. “And yet they did it. They did it for the good of the country.”
“It was a tough vote for everybody,” LaTourette said. He noted that within a matter of hours as the legislation was being considered, heavy pressure from special-interest groups reduced the number of House members who indicated they would support the legislation from more than 100 to 38.
Both Cooper and LaTourette said advocates of fiscal reform must continue their efforts.
“We’ve got to grow the Great 38,” Cooper said. “This is just the small seed of a beginning. . . . Let’s not get 38 next time. Let’s get a majority.”
Cooper and LaTourette were joined for a panel discussion on the nation’s fiscal challenges by former Rep. Michael Castle (R-DE) and former Rep. John Tanner (D-TN), both members of Concord’s Board of Directors.
The Paul E. Tsongas Economic Patriot Award, named for one of Concord’s founding co-chairmen, honors those who have demonstrated a commitment to fiscal and generational responsibility. Over the years it has been given to individuals of varied backgrounds and political affiliations for their lasting contributions to America’s economic health.
The Concord Coalition is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to fiscal responsibility. Former U.S. Senators Warren B. Rudman (R-N.H.) and Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) serve as Concord’s co-chairs.