NTU Executive Vice President, Pete Sepp, was a panelist at yesterday’s “Unstoppable: A Gathering of the Left-Right Convergence” conference sponsored by Ralph Nader and the Center for Study of Responsive Law. The conference was held in conjunction with launch of Nader’s latest book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.
The conference featured speakers from across the political spectrum who identified potential areas of cooperation on topics such as civil liberties, pentagon spending, and corporate welfare – the panel in which Sepp participated along with Ryan Alexander of Taxpayers for Common Sense, Lisa Gilbert of Public Citizen, Greg LeRoy of Good Jobs first, and James T. Bennett, an economist at George Mason University.
LeRoy highlighted three states where activists on the left and right are working to bring transparency and accountability to economic development incentives at the state and local level. For example, in Arizona, the Goldwater Institute has teamed up with the state chapter of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) to bring to light misuse and crony deals made by the Arizona Commerce Authority. Bennett noted the serious social welfare impact of corporate welfare, pointing to the high price of food due to Marketing Orders that confiscate crops in order to artificially inflate prices.
Sepp discussed NTU’s annual Common Ground report done in conjunction with U.S. PIRG where, despite our disparate views on the role and scope of government, the groups have been able to agree on the need to end the Export-Import Bank and rein in costly crop insurance premiums.
Sepp also explained that NTU works closely a wide variety groups on issues such as reforming or eliminating the Renewable Fuel Standard and reducing wasteful spending at the Pentagon. Transitioning to corporate welfare outside DC, Sepp’s assertion that the political right needed to work harder to end sports welfare that saddles taxpayers with expensive, unnecessary stadiums, noting that Common Cause of Georgia and leftist groups in Minnesota are doing an exceptional job at tackling the issue in their states. This received a huge round of applause from attendees.
Pete concluded his remarks by urging listeners to work hard to protect ballot initiatives, saying that this form of direct democracy was the best tool activists have for holding out-of-control legislators accountable.