Akron Beacon Journal: “National bus tour to call attention to debt”
Thursday, July 26 2012
National bus tour to call attention to debt; Brunswick stop to focus on 16th Congressional District
By Stephanie Warsmith
Beacon Journal staff writer
Published: July 25, 2012 – 11:15 PM
A second national group is planning a voter-engagement event focused on the hotly contested 16th Congressional District race.
David Walker, a former U.S. comptroller general, will hold a town hall meeting Sept. 15 in Brunswick that will be part of a national bus tour to call attention to the need to address the federal debt and other economic issues.
“We’re going to address the American people on issues of critical importance at a time that matters and in places that have a disproportionate impact on the presidential election,” Walker said Wednesday in a phone interview.
Walker, who heads the nonprofit Comeback America Initiative, announced his “$10 Million a Minute Tour” Wednesday that is aimed at highlighting how much the country’s financial hole grows — $10 million deeper every minute, according to the group.
The tour will begin Sept. 7 in New Hampshire and travel through 16 states — most of them swing states — hitting 20 cities, including Columbus on Sept. 13 and Cleveland on Sept. 14. The venues for the Columbus, Cleveland and Brunswick stops have not been finalized. The Brunswick town hall meeting will be from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
This is the second national group to announce stops in the area because of the 16th District, which features a matchup between U.S. Reps. Jim Renacci and Betty Sutton. They were thrown into the same district because of a redrawing of congressional boundaries.
Promoting Healthy Democracy, which was just renamed Jefferson Action, will begin its citizen-jury process this weekend at the Radisson Fairlawn/Akron aimed at determining what 16th District voters think are the most important economic issues and how well the candidates address them.
It is also the latest of several local efforts to promote civility and positive political discussion on difficult issues.
Walker’s town hall meeting in Brunswick, which will be different from the other stops on the tour, shares that goal. The event will bring together a demographically representative 300 voters from the 16th District and surrounding areas. They will listen to a panel discussion on financial issues facing the country, be given potential solutions and use hand-held devices to vote on which steps they think should be taken.
“We want to focus campaign conversations to real solutions and real options out there — away from the things we’d rather not see in elections anymore,” said Sue Lacy, an Akron consultant working with America Speaks, a Washington, D.C.-based group that will recruit and screen participants for the Brunswick event.
Renacci, R-Wadsworth, and Sutton, D-Copley Township, will be invited to the Brunswick event, as will U.S. Senate candidates and the presidential and vice presidential candidates. Walker said the candidates who attend will be given the chance to address the crowd briefly, outlining their plans to address the economy, jobs and fiscal responsibility.
“That’s what we need to hear,” Walker said. “Substance and solutions.”
Walker said the group decided to have a special event in the 16th District because most pundits call the race a toss-up and millions of dollars are expected to pour into it from both sides.
The tour’s stops in other cities will be held at universities and other venues, with some open to the public and others geared to a particular group. Details of the Cleveland and Columbus events will be posted on www.10millionaminute.com when they become available.
The group will bring its U.S. Financial Burden Barometer on the tour, which replaced the National Debt Clock and is said to be a better measure of the country’s financial situation because it includes total liabilities and obligations to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. The barometer will start ticking on the tour at around $70 trillion and increase by $10 million a minute, according to a Comeback America news release.
The group already has numerous supporters for its tour, including former Chairmen of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker, former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot Sr., and former Lockheed Martin CEO Norm Augustine.
Walker, who calls himself a political independent, doesn’t think either President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, the presumed GOP candidate, have “laid out a plan specific enough or adequate enough to restore fiscal sanity.” He urged voters to become informed and involved and “vote based on who they think will do the best job on the issues.”
“They need to confront the candidates with tough questions,” he said. “Let their voices be heard.”
Published in the Akron Beacon Journal on July 25, 2012. View the article here.