An email showed up in my inbox about a week ago from Senator Ron Wyden’s aid. He and Senator Cantwell (Washington) were setting up a meeting of local entrepreneurs and organizations, particularly geared around mobile, and wanted me to attend. There were about 50 of us at the roundtable yesterday, an excellent gathering.
We discussed a wide range of issues, including jobs, taxes, privacy, and investment, four issues that the Senators can impact at the national level since they both serve on the Senate finance committee. In particular, taxes are a hot-button issue as the Bush tax cuts expire this year and the Senators are gearing up for a fight.
I wanted to comment in particular on Senator Wyden. I have continually been impressed by the Senator. He reached out to a constituent that he sees as the future of the state but I’m sure is not one who is helping fund much of his campaign right now, looking for input on issues that he admitted he didn’t fully understand. He seems comfortable in his own skin (as did Senator Cantwell). I’ve met a few other politicians who spent the entire time telling you what they are doing for you rather than having a conversation. Neither Senator talked much about their accomplishments, instead content to lead an honest to goodness discussion on what they can do to help us out.
Senator Wyden was fairly unknown for a long time, although I think he started garnering recognition with a health care proposal he and Senator Bennett co-sponsored around the time the country was busy ignoring them and passing Obamacare instead. He became extremely well respected in the tech community earlier this year when he publicly opposed PIPA and SOPA and helped drive nails into the coffins of those terrible pieces of legislation.
He asked for some of us to volunteer, to discuss further some of the issues confronting our industry and help shape his policy perspective for the fall legislature. I am happy to help out. And I hope in return to learn some things, too, including deeper insight into the workings of Congress and the motivations of a single Senator to stand up when others are busy hiding behind benches.