Sen. Packwood addresses Gateway business group

Senator Bob Packwood has been out of politics for some time now – but see why folks who came to the Gateway Area Business Association were fascinated by his candid remarks …

Incoming President David Panichello greets members and guests of the Gateway Area Business Association at their first meeting of 2015.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

In addition to networking, and some buying lunch from the Meals on Wheels Center in the next room, members and guests of the Gateway Area Business Association (GABA) came to hear former United States Senator Bob Packwood speak during their January 8 meeting.

New GABA President David Panichello of Opti-Con Inc. welcomed attendees, and launched into introduction of 83-year-old legislator Packwood, who served from 1969 until he left the United States Senate in 1995.

“He is truly a friend to the Gateway area,” Panichello said, “And truly a product of Oregon, being a Grant High School and Willamette University graduate.”

Former United States Senator Bob Packwood addresses the Gateway Area Business Association.

“I have to talk about [the magazine bombing] that happened yesterday in Paris,” Packwood began. “This is going to causes changes. This is going to have every government want to have more power to monitor communications.

“You know the problem that [former FBI Director] J. Edgar Hoover caused when he had total power – it was abused,” observed Packwood. “And, I’m old enough to have lived through part of the McCarthy era with the trials, and the ban on Hollywood scriptwriters for 30 years, because they’d joined a group with communist tendencies.”

But, to live in an open society, Packwood opined, it doesn’t matter how much “security” is in place. “If someone doesn’t care if they lose their own life in the course of an attack, they could assassinate anyone, including the President of the United States.

“We do face of danger from terrorism,” Packwood added. “We also face the danger of shutting down too many liberties.”

The Gateway Area Business Association audience listens as Sen. Packwood speaks.

About the last national election, Packwood observed, “Republicans have taken control of the government, the question is can they govern? For example, if both houses passed a bill – and the president vetoes it – the Congress cannot be accused of not attempting to govern.”

Packwood said he expects the issue of “tax reform” to come up; but the chances of it passing are relatively low. Asked about a “flat tax”, Packwood took a poll of the room, asking how many are willing to give up their tax deductions for mortgage interest, medical expenses, and the like – very few were able to say that they would approve such a plan.

“Every group can potentially lose something they want to keep, which means many groups becomes fierce opponents of changing the tax code,” Packwood said. “And, when you have 40 or 50 groups, each concerned about a facet of the change, Congress is not going to pass it.”

Sen. Packwood talks about the current US President.

In conclusion, asked his assessment of US President Barack H. Obama, Packwood gave an evenhanded review.

“Obama has been a pretty good president, but has not been as effective as he might be, because he was not an ‘insider’ like President Lyndon Johnson – and not an ‘outsider’ like President Ronald Reagan who could get the people of the United States enthusiastic about a policy, Packwood said. “So, he’s had difficulties wooing like-minded groups and politicians, and he’s not been able to ‘sell’ many of his positions well to the American people.”

Mayor Hales speaks on February 12
Come meet with the members of the Gateway Area Business Association on February 12, when they welcome Portland Mayor Charlie Hales as their guest speaker. Networking starts at 11:30 AM. Meeting starts at 11:45 and ends promptly at 1:00 p.m.

They’re meeting at the Loaves and Fishes Center; 740 SE 106th Avenue (in the East Portland Community Center, between SE Stark Street and Cherry Blossom Drive). Lunch is available for $8.00 “suggested donation”. For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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