I first met Rep. Chris Garrett when I was lobbying for Planned Parenthood at the State Capitol. I must confess, I was a bit caught off guard by how young he looks, but then I remembered he is not that young, I’m just that old. What impressed me most was his eagerness to be engaged and willingness to talk with us. As a gay man and a feminist, I feel fortunate to have him as my state representative.
Rep. Garrett was gracious enough to visit with me about the Debt Ceiling crisis and the recent passing of Senator Mark Hatfield. Just to show you how down to earth he really is, he called me at home and said, “Michael, hey this is Chris.” How nice to have an elected official that not only works to represent me, but strives to make people feel safe and heard.
How did you feel when you heard about the bill passed regarding the Debt Ceiling?
Relieved. I felt they would always get there in the end, but the whole episode has been very discouraging because it seems that with every passing year there are more people in Congress who would rather stick to a pure ideological position than make the compromises necessary to govern. The fact that they were willing to go all the way to the brink was scary. Some even said a default would “not be that big of a deal.” Too many Republicans are playing to the very extreme, uncompromising wing of their party.
How will the bill that was passed affect Oregonians?
It depends on how the federal spending cuts are implemented. Like all states, Oregon relies heavily on federal dollars for certain programs like Medicaid. Any decrease in federal entitlement spending would have an effect here in Oregon just like anywhere else. Unfortunately, spending cuts will affect the very people who need the most help getting through this recession.
Can you share your feelings about the loss of Senator Hatfield?
I admired Senator Hatfield and I think he would be horrified to see what has happened in the past few weeks. He was an example of someone who could have very strong, principled views, yet recognize the legitimacy of other points of view enough to work together and find common ground. At the end of the day, he knew that it was about governing, not just political positioning. That type of thinking seems to be more and more rare in Washington.
Do you feel Oregon is working well?
In some ways. The state is still hurting very badly economically, and we need to put some serious work into reforming our systems of public finance. But we had a pretty good legislative session here in Oregon and we do have people crossing party lines to work together, far more than we’ve seen in Congress. .
I want to thank Rep. Chris Garrett for taking the time to visit with me and for working to combat partisanship and actually providing leadership by working for the betterment of his constituents.