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NGA Keynoters Say Independents Can Eliminate D.C. Partisanship

LAS VEGAS — Independent grocers are among the most influential people in their communities and are therefore in a prime position to try to influence their customers and their congressional representatives to fix the nation's fiscal crisis, a pair of keynote speakers said Sunday evening at the opening session of the 30th annual convention of the National Grocers Association here.

"We are invited to speak at a lot of meetings, but we chose to come to NGA because of how influential you are in your communities," Erskine Bowles, co-chairman of The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, said.  "We're here to give you the facts and to stress how urgent this problem is.  You are a group that can help urge Congress to put aside partisanship."

NGA speakers Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson and NGA President and CEO Peter Larkin.

Partisanship is a big problem in Washington D.C., according to Alan Simpson, the former U.S. senator from Wyoming and the other commission co-chairman. "These guys are not interested in winning — they simply want to make sure the other side loses."

Calling independent grocers "the backbone of the nation," Bowles said they have the power to make sure candidates who support fiscal reform get nominated in their parties' primaries, rather than fringe candidates from the far left or right who run against incumbents to maintain a partisan atmosphere in Washington.

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"If you get rid of the Democrats and Republicans [at the extremes] who are not representing your views, we can move forward with new candidates and new ideas and get more realistic."

"You are the most effective bunch of people to get this done," Simpson added.  "People think government is too big, but you have wonderful contacts with your customers" to help bring about change.

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