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Gang of 8: Smoke-filled rooms don't cut it

Date published: 10/28/2012

Gang of 8: Smoke-filled rooms don't cut it

As reported by Politico, Sen. Mark Warner hosted a "Gang of 8" meeting recently to find a bipartisan solution to the nation's "fiscal cliff," a financial crisis that will happen in January if Congress fails to pass a budget.

Government funding isn't an abstract numbers game that remains on paper and in the halls of Congress. It is often quite literally a matter of life and death.

Many seniors cannot meet their basic needs without Social Security. Disabled veterans who are unable to work cannot support themselves without the government safety net that protects them. Millions of other people rely on government programs when they have fallen on hard times.

The secret, bipartisan approach didn't work in last year's budget negotiations, and it won't work now. I am a member of Virginia Organizing, a grassroots organization that works to get people active in their communities, and Warner hasn't responded to our recent requests to meet with him to discuss policy issues that affect the people we work with.

It amazes me that the senator is so out of touch with his constituents that a behind-doors wheeling-and-dealing session is considered democratic, when he won't even meet with the people he represents who are directly affected by the issues he is talking about.

The process should be in the open, discussed by our representatives, so all can see. Democracy is an open system, not a closed one. Dark, smoked-filled rooms are supposed to be a thing of the past.

Patrick Victor