Ron talks exports, health care and tax reform at Oregon's Business Summit

Ron spoke Monday in Portland at the Oregon Business Council’s 14th annual Leadership Summit about the state’s export economy, health care and the need for comprehensive federal tax reform.

Speaking to an estimated 1,000-plus business, labor, community and government leaders, Ron outlined the major challenges and opportunities ahead for Congress in the new year.

On the topic of exports and trade, the senator said “Let’s be tough and let’s also be smart.”

As an example of that “tough and smart” approach, Ron detailed the bipartisan fight he is leading to ensure Canadian subsidies to softwood lumber don’t hamstring timber jobs in Oregon and nationwide.

As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, he also spotlighted the importance of protecting U.S. intellectual property from theft and ensuring forced or child labor is not used in imports.

And he highlighted his opposition to any effort that would weaken encryption by requiring “backdoors” in smartphones and other personal devices, saying that would damage high-tech companies in Oregon and nationwide.

On the topic of health care, Ron said he remains a strong advocate of Oregon’s Medicaid program. And he said he would fight to preserve the innovative approaches that the federal Medicaid waiver has freed up so the state can continue delivering high-quality care to vulnerable people.

And on the subject of federal tax reform, Ron spoke of his push to end “the tale of two tax codes” that sets apart well-connected people who can pay high-priced accountants to ensure they can decide what they’re going to pay and when they’re going to pay it.

He said two earlier bipartisan tax bills he wrote targeted that unfairness and sought to provide the certainty and predictability that’s absent in the current federal tax code.

I have written two bipartisan tax bills and I would love to be part of a third,” Ron said. “This would be a natural for people of good will to find common ground.