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|Articles - April 2014|
|Thursday, March 27, 2014|
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BY LINDA BAKER
It’s a Friday afternoon in late February, and Sen. Ron Wyden, a week into his new job as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has just flown into Portland from Washington, poised for a weekend of town halls around the state. “I’m kind of curious about how people will respond to the news,” he says, offering up a hypothetical question from the people. “‘So Ron’s chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; can he get me a 3% home loan?’ A big part of my job now is walking people through how this really works.”
With jurisdiction over taxes, trade and federal entitlement programs like Medicare, the Senate Finance Committee is widely considered one of the most powerful in Congress: a gatekeeper for legislation affecting every American. Known for his wonky enthusiasm on all manner of issues, Wyden, 64, has toiled for years on complex big-picture regulations and reforms that often seemed impossible to implement. Now Oregon’s senior senator has the bully pulpit and the resources to help turn grand ideas into action. “It’s going to be a very activist operation,” Wyden says. “The key is going to be strong bipartisan support.”
In a phone interview with Oregon Business, Wyden offered a glimpse of his plans for the committee. Tax reform is a priority, but with the Republican leadership focused on Obamacare, Wyden says, “we have to make this a two step approach.” Step one is renewing about 50 tax credits that expired in 2013, including deductions for state and local sales taxes, research and development, and renewable energy. “We then have to use the extenders as a springboard to comprehensive reform,” Wyden says.
It’s a project, he likes to say, in which he has invested “a lot of sweat equity.” In 2010, Wyden introduced the Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act, a bill co-sponsored by Judd Gregg, the former Republican senator from New Hampshire. (“He and I sat on the sofa almost every week for two years. Both of us felt we were going to walk out 15 times. We stayed put.”) That hard-fought legislation languished, but Wyden’s comprehensive tax-reform package uses the 2010 bill as a model. In broad parameters, the plan would simplify the tax code, reduce individual and corporate tax rates, and narrow the gap on taxation between investment and earned income by boosting capital gains and dividends rates.
Support for the middle class is a recurring theme in Wyden’s rhetoric about taxes — and trade policy. A liberal Democrat known for partnering with GOP colleagues, Oregon’s senior senator has been a consistent supporter of free-trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico (NAFTA). He also has close ties to outdoor-apparel manufacturers — Nike, Columbia Sportswear — and has sponsored bills eliminating tariffs on recreational clothing. But instead of green-lighting the latest plans to speed trade deals — including a fast track plan known as the Trade Promotion Authority, and a 12-nation trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership — Wyden now urges caution.
“We have a lot of issues to work though,” he says, namely, ensuring such deals don’t lead to a loss of manufacturing jobs at home. “Many folks hear the words ‘trade agreement’ and say it means more jobs in the front office, but what does it mean for the middle class that is hurting — the people who take a shower in the office?” asks Wyden. “Trade done right is very significant to the Oregon economy. But we need to expand the winner’s circle on these agreements.”
Monday, March 02, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
Portland-based healthcare provider ZoomCare said it plans to “remake American healthcare” by expanding its on-demand urgent care model to emergency, surgery, dental and primary care, among others.
Friday, March 06, 2015
BY JEFF DELKIN | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
As a local business owner, I believe it’s important to build our economy on a platform of conservation values.
Friday, February 27, 2015
BY OB STAFF
Oregon Business held its 22nd annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon celebration Thursday night in the Oregon Convention Center.
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR
Multilevel marketing, health claims and zyto scanner biofeedback machines: How dōTERRA thrives in Oregon.
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY APRIL STREETER | OB CONTRIBUTOR
Leslie Carlson channels the big idea.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
NBA commissioner: "I would love to end up having an All-Star Game in Portland. It's really just a function of ensuring that we can fit in town."
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
At Oregon State University, a 21st century version of the bad dream — nuclear terrorism — is alive and well. This winter, the Department of Nuclear Physics and Radiation Health Physics created a new interdisciplinary graduate emphasis in nuclear forensics, a Sherlock Holmes-sounding program that aims to identify how and where confiscated nuclear and radiological materials were created.
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The Port of The Dalles has run marine facilities since the 1930s, but they are part of a larger mission to strengthen the local economy. They focus on regional economic development with a strong bent toward adding good-paying jobs in high tech, manufacturing and other industries.
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Registration is now open for Portland Business Alliance’s Annual Meeting, one of the largest business gatherings in Portland each year.
The Commission helps to advance the professionalism, equality and efficiency of Oregon's judicial branch of government.