Across the Great Divide: A Party, Minus the Tea

Published in Barron's

Citizens frustrated by the political debate or lack thereof and Washington’s inability to get things done can take heart: Civil discourse between the parties exists, but behind the scenes.

Elected officials of all stripes and from both sides of the aisle broke bread with journalists and members of the business community at a recent gathering sponsored by Mark Bloomfield, head of the American Council for Capital Formation, a business-advocacy think tank. They engaged in a wide-ranging discussion of everything from the fiscal cliff and what to do about it to the advent of energy independence in the U.S.

Talk It Up: Hope for the country is reborn at “Washington’s last salon,” a private schmooze-fest for folks from both parties.

Bloomfield has been hosting the monthly off-the-record gatherings, dubbed “Washington’s last salon,” for 30 years, and concedes that there is a “general alienation and frustration in the body politic” that mirrors the extreme alienation of the middle class.

Though nothing was solved, attendees, who included congressmen from the South, New England and the New York metro area, agreed that the lame-duck Congress would likely achieve some sort of compromise on the deficit and expiring tax cuts that would satisfy everyone and no one. Says Bloomfield: “If you get public officials out of the limelight, you become optimistic.” We’ll drink to that.